The Magazine

Antarctic Story

Why human beings like "March of the Penguins."

Nov 7, 2005, Vol. 11, No. 08 • By JOE QUEENAN
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Ironically, the film's appeal to men also relates to child-rearing, but for exactly the opposite reason. A male penguin spends four months on the edge of death in Antarctica, but after that has no other responsibilities to his offspring. He doesn't have to feed them. He doesn't have to nurture them. He doesn't have to raise the cash to send them to college. Medical coverage is not an issue. Hand-holding sessions are not required. This is why men draw exactly the opposite conclusion from the film than women: Most men would willingly suffer hideous deprivation for four months during a savage Antarctic winter if it would free them from any further responsibilities to their progeny.

Speaking personally, with two kids at expensive colleges, the whole thing strikes me as a win-win proposition. So next reincarnation, I'm coming back as a penguin. Sounds like an intelligent design to me.

Joe Queenan is author, most recently, of Queenan Country: A Reluctant Anglo-phile's Pilgrimage to the Mother Country.