The Hare: Cute vs. Monsterous

My Reaktion book animal is the Hare. So far, I’ve read through chapter one and I’ve learned at least a few things about hares, as well as some of the differences between hares and rabbits. For instance, I’ve learned that rabbits and hares come from different genera – Hare comes the genus Lepus, while rabbits can come from one of eight (i.e., Pentalagus, Bunolagus, Nesolagus, Romerolagus, Brachylagus, Sylvilagus, Oryctolagus, Poelagus). One of the biggest evolutionary differences between hares and rabbits comes from the fact that hares do not burrow as rabbits do, which means that their primary defense is to run away rather than to run and hide. This means that they are over all larger and have more developed senses and physicality for escaping. The greyhound, a dog bred for speed, is still no match for the hare which has thigh muscles that have evolved not just for speed, but also evasion. Hares can change direction at the drop of a dime. You can surely find many videos of dogs sliding all over the place when they try to change direction too quickly.

Because of their evasiveness and the apparently difficulty in capturing them, as well as the reproductive qualities known to the Leporidae family hares have certain myths and fables surrounding them. They are seen as clever, though shy, animals because they spend most of their time alone. Hares are not as promiscuous, reproductively, as rabbits but females are known to have sexual relations while they’re already pregnant and to carry more than one fetus at more than one stage of development. Males are known to be quite aggressive during mating season, leading to the saying “mad as a March hare”.

Anyway, in fiction, I found 2 examples of hare characters that fit the monstrous and cute identifiers for this pin-up assignment. They are both from films. The first is Frank, the hare/rabbit from the film Donnie Darko, 2001. He is clearly the monster. I’m not exactly sure if he’s actually a hare, but he was mentioned in the Reaktion book so I figured it was OK. The quote is not actually something Frank says, it’s something Donnie says about rabbits, which seems relevant for the class.

The second character is the March Hare from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, 1951. This hare is admittedly not the most cuddly version ever of the hare, (which is not exactly a cuddly animal in comparison to rabbits), but coming from Disney I figured it was safe. They are both hand drawn reproductions of the original characters.

For the Donnie Darko quote, I actually replaced it with something Frank actually says, but originally I had something that I thought was relevant to the class. This is the quote, this time in context. I highlighted the best part.

[from the Extended and Deleted Scenes. The class is discussing Watership Down]
Karen Pommeroy: This could be the death of an entire way of life, the end of an era…
Donnie: Why should we care?
Karen Pommeroy: Because the rabbits are us, Donnie.
Donnie: Why should I mourn for a rabbit like he was human?
Karen Pommeroy: Are you saying that the death of one species is less tragic than another?
Donnie: Of course. The rabbit’s not like us. It has no… keen look at something in the mirror, it has no history books, no photographs, no knowledge of sorrow or regret… I mean, I’m sorry, Miss Pommeroy, don’t get me wrong; y’know, I like rabbits and all. They’re cute and they’re horny. And if you’re cute and you’re horny, then you’re probably happy, in that you don’t know who you are and why you’re even alive. And you just wanna’ have sex, as many times as possible, before you die… I mean, I just don’t see the point in crying over a dead rabbit! Y’know, who… who never even feared death to begin with.

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