Citation

On the Lam: The Shifting Identities of the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay

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Abstract:

In late 2009, a rhesus-macaque monkey was separated from a colony of wild macaques living in Central Florida. Eluding capture from local authorities, the monkey acquired a public reputation for his perceived intelligence, emotional expression, and heroic feats of escape. The monkey, also known as the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay (MMTB), set off a flurry of international media attention and acquired a loyal fan base that established social media communities to discuss his whereabouts, feelings, and disposition. Public reaction to the ongoing four-year melodrama includes a host of characters, such as animal control workers, news media, online communities, and the general public. In this paper, I suggest that public commentary of the event draws from popular American cultural discourses, which serve as narrative frames for the MMTB’s actions. Using narrative and textual analysis, I review public commentary in news stories and social media sources at essential “turning points” in the story to demonstrate how the MMTB’s shifting and multiple identities reflect cultural and emotional codes circulating the public sphere. Furthermore, I suggest that during his life “on the lam,” the MMTB maintained multiple and shifting identities - fugitive, hero, lover - that reflect a cultural anxiety about socially defined boundaries between the human and the nonhuman world. The preliminary findings from this paper are drawn from ongoing dissertation research, and offer insights into how arguments, images, and rhetoric of animals and nature are conceptualized in socially circulating cultural narratives and enacted in public life.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

public (9), media (7), monkey (7), paper (6), social (5), narrat (5), tampa (5), shift (5), ident (5), mmtb (5), news (4), mysteri (4), cultur (4), commentari (4), lam (4), bay (4), florida (3), includ (3), damien (3), sourc (3), nation (3),
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Association:
Name: Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting
URL:
http://www.pacificsoc.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p707403_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Contessa, Damien. "On the Lam: The Shifting Identities of the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Marriott Downtown Waterfront, Portland, Oregon, Mar 27, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p707403_index.html>

APA Citation:

Contessa, D. , 2014-03-27 "On the Lam: The Shifting Identities of the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Marriott Downtown Waterfront, Portland, Oregon Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p707403_index.html

Publication Type: Research-in-progress presentation
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In late 2009, a rhesus-macaque monkey was separated from a colony of wild macaques living in Central Florida. Eluding capture from local authorities, the monkey acquired a public reputation for his perceived intelligence, emotional expression, and heroic feats of escape. The monkey, also known as the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay (MMTB), set off a flurry of international media attention and acquired a loyal fan base that established social media communities to discuss his whereabouts, feelings, and disposition. Public reaction to the ongoing four-year melodrama includes a host of characters, such as animal control workers, news media, online communities, and the general public. In this paper, I suggest that public commentary of the event draws from popular American cultural discourses, which serve as narrative frames for the MMTB’s actions. Using narrative and textual analysis, I review public commentary in news stories and social media sources at essential “turning points” in the story to demonstrate how the MMTB’s shifting and multiple identities reflect cultural and emotional codes circulating the public sphere. Furthermore, I suggest that during his life “on the lam,” the MMTB maintained multiple and shifting identities - fugitive, hero, lover - that reflect a cultural anxiety about socially defined boundaries between the human and the nonhuman world. The preliminary findings from this paper are drawn from ongoing dissertation research, and offer insights into how arguments, images, and rhetoric of animals and nature are conceptualized in socially circulating cultural narratives and enacted in public life.


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