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Mar 05

The FT Top 25 Animals – 24. Pig

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The pig is one of the most versatile animals in the kitchen (pork, sausage, bacon, scratchings, ears, trotters, rilettes, belly, all manner of fat-based goodness) and for this alone we love it. But its uses in rhetoric are almost as broad.

Greed is the root metaphor for pigs. The heroine in Spirited Away sees her parents transformed into hogs after they over-indulge – Odysseus’ crew meet a similar fate. Pigsy’s greed in Monkey expands to include other animal lusts. The symbolic pig is lazy, fat, ugly, greedy, a net consumer – the lusty elements we find in Pigsy also have echoes in the sobriquet “male chauvinist pig”. The identification of police and pigs is surely one of last century’s most effective insult-memes, dehumanising the figure of the cop and identifying him with odious greed instead of frightening authority.

No surprise then that positive pig portrayals have fought back. The bulky, slow-moving adult porker inspires some revulsion – it is the ultimate domesticated farm animal after all, meat-eating at its least decorative, a waddling bag of food-to-be with no purpose beyond eating, breeding and being et. But the young piglet is undeniably sprightly and cute, and this cuteness has formed the basis for most pro-pig fiction. Babe is the Peter Pan of pigdom – saved from the knife, yes, but with his less athletic future studiously ignored.

Defenders of the pig though can at least always fall back on the three core PIG FACTS.

1. They are very clever animals. (I have never seen proof of this.)
2. They are actually very clean. (I have never seen proof of this either.)
3. They have a corkscrew-shaped dick. (Thankyou, Channel 5 and R.Loos)

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