Society regards rats as animals that we associate with disease. In laboratories the natural rat has been transformed into a data-generating model and has thus become the representation of scientific progress: health overcomes sickness; good overcomes evil. The rat appears to have gained the twin status of being, on the one hand, a carrier of disease and, on the other hand, a data-generating adversary of disease. In view of this transformation a striking trend is apparent in the current media world: cartoon films with rats in the lead role. Perhaps these films can play an important role in liberating the rat from being a figure of data in the laboratory. Taking the films The Secret of Nimh and Ratatouille as case studies, this article considers to what extent the films express criticism about the use of rats in laboratories.

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

van Wengerden, Froukje. (2009). De rat: dier of data? Ratten en muizen in animatiefilms en laboratoria. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 12(2), 313–332. doi:10.18146/tmg.569