Friday, March 28, 2008

Politico-sociology at the Movies

We've known all along that Dr. Seuss had more than fanciful rhyming couplets in mind when he wrote most of his children's books. It's not really been that subversive. Reading between the lines in his work is often a fascinating discovery of the political and sociological context of the world Seuss was addressing. So it was with interest that I listened to a half hour discussion of his book Horton Hears a Who, which has been turned into a movie by the same name on The Current. Although I have not seen the movie yet James Anderson's article is whetting my brain for a cartoon. And if that isn't enough here's the trailer:

and true to form pro-lifers have latched onto the movie's epic mantra: a person's a person no matter how small - even though Giesel himself has strongly denounced this connection.

This practice of co-opting various aspects of children's entertainment as tools for a conservative agenda is not strange. Bans, protests and other action have been a common part of the interaction between Christian organizations and the entertainment industry. see here and here.

Unfortunately the perspective is often seen as an overly alarmist and tends to, "(target) minuscule elements within a much larger work and then (tries) to extract from that some kind of argument that borders on the paranoid is really misconstruing the general aim of this entertainment.'' It's unfortunate because this overly moralistic perspective tends to avoid the kind of deep engagement with the thematic content of the movie in a significant way. While it is clear that moral suggestions are evident in children's entertainment it is the deeper socio-political themes which get missed entirely.

Take the recent A BEE MOVIE. People getting lost in the statements that this movie makes about obedience and the environment are missing the strong criticism the film delivers on Marxian economics. The way this film reinforces the values of capitalism are profound indeed.

Everyone is paranoid about something I guess and everyone is looking to the externalize the perceived social collapse so that somehow we as individuals are no longer responsible. Blame Hollywood, the boob tube, or the internet. By objectifying the causes of what we see as moral decay, about the only thing we pass down to our kids is some notion of victimized oppression. How can the next generation really be a vanguard  of Christian value in the world if the posture we are teaching our kids is essentially sort of, 'assume the position'?

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