In the prior week, a certain film critic whose name rhymes with Eric Forthun* informed me that I should do a Bear Review for Ted 2, saying that the movie makes great leaps in the struggle for Bear Rights, because the movie makes the argument that bears are people too. Surprisingly, I take offense to this, and it’s my firm stance that bears are not people, and the shackles of human-dom would do nothing but set bears back several generations.
The first pertinent question is: are bears human? Well, let us look at this from a biological perspective. As a man trained in the fields of genetics and evolution, I feel qualified to make such an analysis. Bears have 74 chromosomes, while humans have 46. Right here we already have a clear point at which we can say that bears are not people, but let us look at the question from a taxonomical perspective as well. Both bears and humans belong to Class Mammalia, but they differ all the way back at the Order, a full five steps back from Species. The evidence is insurmountable: bears are not humans.
But science can be a fickle mistress, and perhaps it is more important to consider not whether bears are people, but whether or not bears should be treated as people. On this front, my answer remains a resounding no. This is the better option not for humans, but for bears.
Ask yourself: what does a bear have to gain by gaining person-hood? What does a bear want that she does not already have? Would a bear like to ride in a car? Maybe for novelty purposes, but when a beast can run 60 miles per hour on their own, what good does a car do? Perhaps a bear might want to take the family on a road trip, but is that worth having to get a 9-5 job to pay for gas and insurance, and to have to go down to the DMV and to make sure that the car can pass emissions? Is dealing with bureaucratic incompetency worth it to drive the bear cubs to Utah for a weekend?
Does a bear gain anything from learning how to fly a plane? Not really, when you consider that the Wisconsin variety already has the ability of flight. Does a bear gain anything from learning to pilot a tank? You may think it gains an improvement in offensive and defensive strength, but considering killing a bear already takes a bazooka, what significant advantage does a tank offer? Does a bear even want to be deployed in Iraq?
But moreso than the things a bear does not stand to gain by attaining personhood, is what a bear stands to lose. Is personhood worth a bear needing to get a fishing license to go catch salmon in the river? Does a bear want to have to dig a little hole in the ground before relieving his bowels and then having to cover it up? What will become of bear-and-feces-related rhetorical questions if bears are seen as equal to people under the eyes of the law?
Now some may see this as me arguing for the same kind of segregation mumbo jumbo that plagued this Union back in the day. I almost am, but not quite. That argument was based on the “separate-but-equal” stance, while mine is a “separate-and-unequal-stance.” The bear is not our equal. She is our superior. The only reason we made Planet of the Apes and not Planet of the Bears is that we fear we have underestimated the intelligence of bears, and that if we were to give them any ideas who knows what might happen. Do you want to deal with a Bear Caesar? Then allow these soulless, god-less killing machine to continue to feast of fish in the forest in peace, and keep the bears out of our courtrooms and as separate entities under the law. Ted 2 is an awful example of bear representation in the media. Is it the bear version of Birth of a Nation? Maybe not, but at the very least it’s the bear version of Driving Miss Daisy.
Grade: Zero/five bears
*I did like a Black Eyed Peas thing where I rhymed the word with the word.