NPR logo A Word About Our Name


A Word About Our Name

Why "Monkey See"?

Monkeys: You can study them to learn about human behavior, or you can dress them up in funny outfits and have them deliver telegrams. Which is to say, they lie exactly at the intersection of anthropology and comedy. (See Figure A.)

Venn diagram indicating that monkeys are common to anthropology and comedy

Figure A: Monkeys: Bringing research and humor together. hide caption

toggle caption

That spot — the intersection of high and low — is the territory this blog stakes out. You can, after all, learn a lot about people from what they choose to watch, listen to and read. You can also have a lot of fun viewing YouTube videos of local news anchors sneezing in the middle of a broadcast.

Of course, the name also plays off the famous three monkeys — the ones who see, hear and speak no evil. Because to us, despite a whiff at times of guilty pleasure, there's not much in the pop universe that feels "evil."

Our take: The more we can appreciate a variety of tastes, the better the conversations we can have. Our goal: to examine the sights and sounds of our media-drenched culture and "speak" about what it all means with our fellow curious creatures.

Then there's "Monkey see, monkey do," a motto of which we've adopted only half. Because while you'll see a lot out there, part of being a more discerning pop-culture consumer is figuring out how to sort through it all and find what you like.

The good news: We're here to help.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

The blog's header illustration is certainly cute, and cleverly the opposite of the traditional Three Monkeys. Apparently, you see evil with a telescope, listen to evil on an iPod, and speak evil on, one presumes, NPR. But it certainly took me a moment to figure out what that first monkey was doing. My initial thought was that it was jamming a TV remote into its eye! Which, given the state of most TV programing, seemed like an appropriate response but a bit inconsistent.

Sent by Mertseger | 6:39 PM | 8-25-2008

It just occurred to me that the first monkey kind of looks like he's poking himself in the eye, the second monkey looks genuinely pleased, and the third monkey looks like he cannot understand. It is a pretty good three-part picture of my relationship with pop culture in that sense, as well.

Sent by Linda Holmes | 7:13 PM | 8-25-2008

Having studied multiple primates and also having a fetish from Venn Diagrams, I am very happy to see these two categories frisking about together like chocolate and peanut butter. Awesome.

Sent by skye | 2:28 PM | 8-26-2008