The surprise hit nature documentary, March of the Penguins, has, according to the New York Times, been co-opted by social conservatives as a sort of affirmation of their views on sex and marriage. The article quotes conservative pundit Michael Medved as saying that the movie “passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing.” And there is another review, written by Andrew Coffin of the right-wing Christian World Magazine, claiming that the movie makes a strong case for intelligent design:
That any one of these eggs survives is a remarkable feat—and, some might suppose, a strong case for intelligent design.
Sadly, that’s the sum total of his argument. It would be interesting to know why having a high mortality rate makes a good argument for ID, but I guess that’ll have to remain a mystery. Maybe it’s because these penguins live in such harsh conditions that he can’t imagine how they could have adapted to the cold so suddenly. But given the fact that penguins live at the equator, it wouldn’t have been sudden.
At any rate, this embrace of a nature documentary from people who probably don’t watch many nature documentaries has provoked a bemused reaction throughout the blogosphere. Ed Brayton notes that the existence of gay penguins doesn’t exactly make them good poster species for “traditional” marriage. And PZ Myers points out that these “monogamous” penguins get new partners each and every year. But the best is Carl Zimmer’s take. He gives us a list of would-be nature documentaries that showcase some, shall we say, non-traditional family values. When these movies come out, you’d better hide the kids. Or, depending on your species, eat them.