Could penguin profusion be a cute, cuddly conspiracy?

Posted: Sunday, January 08, 2006


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  Illustration by M. Scott Moon

Illustration by M. Scott Moon

Penguins have long been regarded as the poster child for all things considered cute and cuddly. With their well-groomed tuxedo appearance, impish waddle and perpetual smiles, they have wheedled their way into the affections of people worldwide.

Not everyone has stepped in line behind the penguins’ waddling lead, however. There has been long-standing speculation among those who have always held them in suspicion that penguins have been getting organized. And recently, an increasing number of people have come to believe that penguins possess a much more nefarious character — one focused on world domination.

Editors at the Peninsula Clarion recently received information about an organization called the Penguin Marketing Society, or PMS, for short. The anonymous tip came from a self-proclaimed photographer who provided evidence to support his claim in the form of pictures and an explanatory note that appeared at the Clarion office in an unmarked envelope. In the note, the tipster claimed to have known positively about PMS for quite some time, but had been waiting until he collected enough photographic evidence to prevent any accusations of promulgating a “whacked-out conspiracy” regarding penguins.


Movies like "March of the Penguins" and "Madagascar" are propelling the penguins forward in their highly visible campaign.

Illustration by M. Scott Moon

Fearing that the assignment might be too dangerous to risk a valued member of their reporting staff — should the accusations of pernicious propensities leveled against the penguins prove true — the editors assigned the task to me, instead.

“One less humor columnist isn’t a big deal,” they explained, “but we really can’t afford to lose any more real staff. We’ll even give you an expense account of up to $6.78 — max.”


Not even wine bottles are safe from the "march of the penguins."

Illustration by M. Scott Moon

Immediately upon accepting the assignment, the first order of business was to contact the anonymous tipster, whom I assigned the code name “Shallow Maw,” or SM, for short. SM provided background information on the Penguin Marketing Society (PMS). PMS is the psychological and public relations section of the secret penguin movement. It is devoted solely to providing favorable propaganda and cover for penguins in the their quest for world domination.


Illustration by M. Scott Moon

In short order, SM pointed out the increasing commercialism of penguins; in every instance portraying them as cute and cuddly, or at the very least, benevolent. Examples included the recent hit, “March of the Penguins.”

“That was one slick piece of work,” SM explained. “Who did they get to narrate the thing? None other than Morgan Freeman. That’s right, Morgan Freeman, the man who has been in practically every film made in the last 15 years. A very clever way to give an air of respectability to penguins by working with a trusted icon of the entertainment business.”


Penguins are making their presence known everywhere from holiday greetings to newspaper advertisements.

Illustration by M. Scott Moon

Not only was the choice of narrator designed for the ultimate benefit of the penguins, but the subject matter was a masterpiece of propaganda, according to SM.

“They accomplished two things in the movie. First, they built sympathy for penguins, and second, they made people believe penguins are dedicated, selfless beings, willing to sacrifice all for love and family. It’s a beautiful piece of psyche-ops.”


Penguins are the popular critter of the moment.

Illustration by M. Scott Moon

One movie a conspiracy does not make, certainly. However, between SM and a little research on the Internet, pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place.

As SM explained, the ultimate goal of penguins is to populate the Earth. For that, they need to become a part of society’s fabric. For that, they have been insidious in installing themselves. Examples?

“Let’s talk about penguins in the National Hockey League,” SM pointed out. “For that matter, penguins have pushed themselves into prestigious educational institutions, too.”

One of the most shocking associations SM revealed was the one penguins orchestrated to become the official mascot of the New England Conservatory of Music. Their mascot is the “Fighting Penguins.” Oh, how music will sooth the savage beast? Perhaps not, when you consider New England Conservatory of Music is located in Boston, where it is known for being an active part of the music scene. So then, isn’t it strange that Boston is also the nexus of gangsta rap? Cute and cuddly? I think not.

“For PMS, it’s all about appearances, and making those appearances look normal,” SM explained. “Think about the cola drink ad that played this last Christmas — polar bears crash a penguin party. Of course, the cutest and cuddliest of the penguins shares their cola drink with the bears, and all is well. Hey nothing wrong with that, right? Except penguins don’t live above the equator, at least not officially, or yet. And polar bears are only found in the northern arctic regions.”

My argument to SM’s statement was that Madison Avenue types have always played fast and loose with the two poles and their inhabitants.

“It’s not Madison Avenue, it’s PMS in Madison Avenue. The idea of putting penguins and polar bears together is just one more step in achieving acceptance of a global penguin presence. Once we have a generation or two who don’t know the truth about the true range of penguins, they can move about freely. What’s the difference between convincing an unsuspecting child that penguins roam the North Slope, and passing a penguin off as being perfectly at home in Coon’s Creek, Iowa? Nothing, it is all one and the same.”

As a point and further example to SM’s claim, and occurring several days following the interview, this very paper ran a full-page ad Wednesday, picturing penguins in the middle of a prairie. The caption? “How can you help protect the prairie and the penguin?” Association, to acceptance, to reality, to domination — it’s PMS in action.

Throughout the meeting with SM, a name kept coming up time and again: Mr. Pygoscelia. It seems Mr. Pygoscelia is very knowledgeable about PMS. It took some doing, but an interview was finally granted.

Following several phone calls negotiating times and places, Mr. Pygoscelia, who prefers to be called Skipper, agreed to meet me at the Pizza Boys outlet in Kenai. The first thing I noticed upon entering Pizza Boys was a penguin on the counter.

Skipper just smiled, “It’s their mascot, you know. They make a good Sicilian style here.”

It became immediately apparent at that moment that Skipper was someone in the know. Where in the pecking order he stood wasn’t clear, however, and he denied any direct connection to PMS throughout our conversation.

We took our pizza to a location that must, by agreement, remain secret. Once settled, Skipper produced a bottle of red wine by the brand name of Penguin to go with the pizza.

Things started to click. An Italian name, Sicilian style pizza, Penguin red wine; I found myself wondering if there might be some sort of Mafia connection. Mr. Pygoscelia wouldn’t commit one way or another.

“My life wouldn’t be worth week-old herring sushi if I give you anything concrete. Thing is, they know I’m talking, but they know I’m not saying anything. Still, I could wake up with a seahorse head in my bed.”

The folks behind PMS are serious — that is for certain. Yet, questions abound.

I asked Skipper if the penguins are currently, or ever were, involved in political machinations.

“What do you know about November 22, 1963, and the shadowy figure on the grassy knoll?”

“The Kennedy assassination?”

“Some say it was orchestrated by a group in our own borders, right? Who’s to say? I can tell you one of the most prolific publishers of works on JKF, and the assassination itself, is Penguin Publishing. That answer any questions? Oh, yeah, I almost forgot — since 1971, the penguin has been the official mascot of the U.S. Libertarian party.”


Penguins are making their presence known everywhere from holiday greetings to newspaper advertisements.

Illustration by M. Scott Moon

Mr. Pygoscelia wouldn’t comment directly on the possibility of a violent penguin uprising, but he did direct me to Sept. 27.

On that date, CNN carried a story saying that thousands of penguins have made it a habit to live in the mine fields on the Falkland Islands. Did that CNN article expose any effort by the penguins to train for an assault against a fortified and mined position of strategic importance? Again, PMS does its job well.

I’m finding it difficult to sleep at night, now. Dreams of hot, herring-tainted breath wake me frequently.

Post script: Mr. Pygoscelia has come up missing. So has the penguin mascot at Pizza Boys. As it was put in the movie “Madagascar,” “Smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.”

A.E. Poynor is a freelance writer who lives in Kenai. A.E. Poynor, Copyright 2006.

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