"Don't be so Modest, You're a Rat": Anthropomorphism, Social Class, and Renegotiation

Reuben Dylan Fong

"Don't be so Modest, You're a Rat": Anthropomorphism, Social Class, and Renegotiation in Ratatouille and Bee Movie


Abstract: One of the common fantasy stories involving anthropomorphized nonhuman animals in animated children's films is of humans and animals discovering they can communicate as equals. The human-animal relationship in the premise of these films exemplifies the idea of questioning and renegotiating ingrained social barriers. This article will analyze two such films (Brad Bird's 2007 film, Ratatouille, and Simon J. Smith and Steve Hickner's 2007 film, Bee Movie) using existing empirical research in child developmental psychology. I posit that these films use anthropomorphized animals and humans as allegories for the working class and middle class. These class allegories are often framed as ethnic stereotypes because children have a strong fluency of ethnic stereotypes from a young age. While these stories are ostensibly about the disassembling of social barriers, Ratatouille and Bee Movie ultimately model a heavy regulation on social mobility which largely reinforces existing status quos of class difference.


Keywords: Anthropomorphism, Children’s Films, Ethnicity, Human-Animal, Social Class


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