Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Eight Recent-Ish Kids Movies With Shockingly Adult Subtext

Believe it or not, there's a war being waged for your children's hearts and minds ... and the battlefield is at the local multiplex.


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

In his 1994 book Media Virus, author Douglas Rushkoff dedicated an entire chapter to the politicization of children’s entertainment. Kids’ television shows, he said, were the perfect place to insert hardened liberal propaganda, since a.) adults never watched them, and even if they did they wouldn’t suspect the programs of pushing an agenda and b.) children, by nature, are highly impressionable and especially vulnerable to candy-coated cultural indoctrination. Rushkoff matter-of-factly describes how popular children’s programming like Pee Wee’s Playhouse and Ren & Stimpy actively attuned children to accepting nihilistic consumerism and hedonistic homosexuality as legitimate lifestyles. "By freeing its viewers to enjoy all the grotesqueness they can tolerate, [it] is a statement against this sort of repression," the author states in one of the more telling passages in the book. "It is an invitation to reawaken the child's world-view and, more than that, to overthrow societal restrictions and possibly arbitrary barriers to self-expression."

What child of the 1990s can forget the constant bombardment of eco-friendly propaganda gussied up as pastel-colored ‘toons like Ferngully and Captain Planet, nor the diversity-uber-alles message of Power Rangers and X-Men? The same way children’s entertainment was manipulated as vessels of cultural engineering back then, today’s kids-targeted cinema likewise seeks to massage the unmolded minds of our gilded youth. But what’s interesting is how the greater culture war of contemporary society is manifest in today’s youth-centric entertainment. On one hand children are being bombarded by the usual entertainment “blue pills,” with singing and dancing CGI critters warming them up to the idea of urban supremacy, socialism and “gender fluidity,” but there also appears to be an ideological counter-push of “red pilled” children’s flicks cropping up as of late - youth-oriented films that thematically criticize multiculturalism, feminism and cultural Marxism.

Think I'm joshing you? Not after you take a look at the following eight kids-targeted flicks from the last few years, which send contradictory lesson to our children on the pros (and cons) of such mature themes as diversity, socioeconomics, gender identity and the rift between individualism and collectivism in modern society ...

Multiculturalism

The Blue Pill
Zootopia (2016)

Disney’s surprise 2016 hit has one of the bluntest “urban supremacist” messages in the annals of movie history. Every rural denizen in the film is depicted as backwards, prejudiced and irrationally hostile, while the grimy, dirty cityscape is depicted as a festive panoply of vibrant, good-natured characters (among them, an overweight cheetah with brazen homosexaul mannerisms.) A celebration of intrusive government (our heroine, naturally, is a traffic cop whom the audience is supposed to adore for writing parking tickets and generating beaucoup bucks for the city bureaucracy), Zootopia implores kids to refrain from making even the most general observations about differences in people’s behaviors, asking them to chalk up all violent and antisocial acts as an after-effect of bad childhoods and even worse reactions to psychotropic medications (yes, that actually is a prominent plot point.) The blunt-as-a-sledgehammer racial harmony message might have good intentions, but the unrealistically cheery depiction of multicultural society (and one so deeply entrenched in government control, at that) just shamelessly smacks of the post-Obama liberal orthodoxy.

The Red Pill
The Angry Birds Movie (2016)


The iPhone app-spawned CGI flick is the exact, 180-degree opposite of Zootopia. Whereas Disney’s movie encouraged kids to blindly welcome diversity as a social necessity, the heroes of The Angry Birds Movie quite literally wage war against enforced multiculturalism, in the process creating a movie with so many parallels to the ongoing European migrant crisis that it seems almost impossible to write the movie’s plot off as a coincidence. While nominally based on the omnipresent smartphone game, the film revolves around a take-no-bullshit everyman (err, everybird, I guess) whose reluctance to accept his environs' mandatory diversity Tao has him written off as, you guessed it, an angry bird who must be taught how to be more tolerant (i.e., less critical) of his surroundings ... and who he's surrounded by. This all comes to a head when a fairly swarthy gaggle of bearded pigs show up out of the blue one day and mesmerize the easily beguiled townfolk with their delightfully atypical ways. Only our hero recognizes their "Trojan horse" strategy, as the hoggish invaders seek to inundate Bird-Land with their "kind" in an attempt to rob the natives of their most precious commodity - their eggs (i.e., their children's future?) Call it a video game spinoff if you wish - deep down, we all know this is about as close to a film adaptation of The Camp of the Saints we'll ever witness.

Capitalism

The Blue Pill
Sing (2016)

Essentially the musical version of Zootopia, this 2016 animated film paints the modern job market - and with it, the prospects of financial independence - as a wholly unattainable pipe dream. Under the guise of an American Idol like competition, a gaggle of miscellaneous furries - all of them down on their luck and facing at least one form of economic insolvency or  severe personal inadequacy - all try to get rich quick via, what else, the instant, monetized affirmation of their peers. Rather than teach kids to work hard, diligently and honestly, Sing promises them fame, fortune and popularity through the glitz and glamor of show business - which, as evident by the hundreds of thousands of underemployed baristas in the country, isn’t exactly the best occupational game plan to espouse to the children of the Great Recession. While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the film’s “follow your dreams” message, it’s guarantee that doing so will make you wealthy without ever having to break a sweat is a recipe for broken hearts - and lifelong resentment of the economic system that promised them everything but gave them nothing but credit card debt.

The Red Pill
Monsters University (2013)

Pixar’s 2013 sequel is - in many respects - the most realistic depiction of college life in movie history. Although the characters may have eight eyes and three heads, the movie absolutely nails the intricacies and quirks of U.S. higher education, from the overzealous “adult learners” to the hippy-dippy art school students with no intents to ever graduate. But perhaps the most resounding aspect of Monsters University is the message it delays until the very end of the movie - that, for all intents and purposes, college isn’t necessary to live a happy life and be economically successful. Rather, the film concludes with two recent dropouts beginning life as entry-level employees, who - through hard work, grit and determination - slowly but surely find themselves climbing up the corporate ladder. Rather than posit economic success as a birth rite, Monsters University is one of the few children’s films this decade to equate fiscal well-being with work ethic - a message downright heretical to the ideological orphans of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Masculine Roles

The Blue Pill
Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Imagine a scene in a children’s film in which a man repeatedly punches a female, to the point her face grotesquely swells and her shattered teeth fly across the scenery. While such is literally unthinkable in today’s cultural climate, the inverse is apparently A-OK with the suits at Disney, as Wreck-It Ralph features multiple instances of women characters mercilessly pummeling pitiful caricatures of men strictly for laughs. Not that the film’s primary plot - in which a hulking, clueless video game character becomes the protector of a snotty, unappreciative daughter-figure voiced by Sarah Silverman - isn’t without its own misandrist elements. This is yet another children's targeted film that depicts its female characters as strong, independent and intelligent while all of the male characters are depicted as brutish, ignorant and inconsiderate - in the process, painting a vivid double standard for young viewers as to which character traits are positive and which ones are negative depending solely on the gender of said character.

The Red Pill
Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Pop cultural promotion of the traditional family construct are getting rarer and rarer in Hollywood, which is why this 2013 kids flick seems to strike such a strangely countercultural tone. In Despicable Me 2, the adopted daughters of our anti-hero Gru goad him into finding them a mother, stating they are very much unfulfilled living life in a single-parent home. The Anglo-centric heteronormativity of the flick is off the charts, with a subplot revolving around a somewhat effete villain seeking to turn Gru's delightful banana-shaped Minions into a horde of slobbering, uncontrollable purple freaks, with yet another subplot positing a preteen Mexican Lothario as a shallow, conceited and unsympathetic asshole. And if that's not enough, there's even a lengthy physical comedy sequence in which Gru's date is accidentally drugged and her unconscious husk of a body is whipped to and fro on the ride home - aye, I couldn't imagine such passing muster in this, the post-SJW age of Hollywood.

Societal Integration

The Blue Pill
The Lego Movie (2014)

Some have likened the 2014 film to, of all things, John Carpenter’s rabidly anti-Reaganomics yarn They Live. Alas, while that movie was about rejecting the cattle call of mass consumerism, this film celebrates economic and cultural conformity like a Super Bowl victory parade. "Everything is awesome," the homogenized, yellow in-group sing while going through their mindless, inconsequential daily doings, spending $30 for cups of coffee and watching television programs that revolve entirely around people splitting their pants. It's not until a suspiciously Mitt Romney-looking villain dubbed "Lord Business" shows up that their trifling, meandering ways of life are challenged, which in turn, teaches children but one thing: never forget, little one, but your spiritually vacant life of mass consumerism and pop cultural absorption is indeed worth dying for.

The Red Pill
The Spongebob Movie - Sponge Out of Water (2015)

Who’d thunk the exploits of Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Starfish would be among the most caustic cinematic criticisms of U.S. society this decade? Whereas The Lego Movie gave children a homogenized wonderland where excess consumerism gave everyone a de facto causa sui, the plot of Sponge Out of Water presents the very antithetical portrait of society in decline. In the film, Bikini Bottom is a fairly diverse environs where fish and crustaceans and porifera and the aberrant astronaut squirrel live in relative harmony. That is, until the sinister Plankton steals the formula for Krabby Patties - the denizens of Bikini Bottom's foremost foodstuff - and misplaces it, ultimately producing a city-wide Krabby Patties shortage that quickly thrusts the locale into tribalistic mayhem. Some might consider it a stretch, but it's probably not a coincidence that this film was released in the immediate aftermath of the Ferguson, Missouri madness. As both that lamentable affair and Sponge Out of Water demonstrate, when a heterogeneous culture loses that one unifying social bond - be it a shared religion, language, respect for the law or yes, even a mutual fondness for Krabby Patties - it's pretty much a given that mass devastation will ensue.

"A coincidence?" Yeah ... whatever you say, normie.

Of course, this is all mere conjecture on my part. Maybe I'm just being overly autistic and seeing patterns where no such patterns truly exist, and that the makers of these children's films honestly, genuinely had no sociopolitical agenda in mind when they were making their films. But considering the long history of movie studios injecting their kids' flicks with obvious cultural messages - not to mention Hollywood's long string of G and PG-rated offerings porting about unmistakable progressive "values" - it really wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if these movies were indeed meant to politicize viewers young enough to be in Pampers.

The interesting thing, though, is that for every obvious blue pilled movie the mainstream entertainment/media industrial complex spits out, there's usually at least one more that seeks to refute it. I couldn't imagine Pixar or Warner Bros. releasing a movie that paints European natives as victims and Muslim refugees as conniving invaders, but holy shit, we have precisely that in a movie allegedly based on a smartphone game. In a weird way, seemingly the only pro-conservative movies getting pumped out by Hollywood these days are kids movies with subversive Republican-subtext about supply-side economics, the power of individualism and, yes, the moral goods of patriotism - all of which the major studio elites are glibly unaware of, no doubt too concerned about turning every character in Spider-Man black to realize their animation departments are hitting the wee ones with junior F.A. Hayek and Ayn Rand with both fists.

Regardless, it's an interesting time to be a media analyst such as myself. With Hollywood more or less embracing SJW-dom as its one true god, the odds of seeing even moderately conservative/traditionalist fare like Hacksaw Ridge or Kingsman are sure to decrease, and since animated features and kids-targeted films are usually thought of as afterthoughts, who knows? Maybe the next great chain of New Republican Cinema will come disguised as lower-budget CGI flicks and feel-good children's Aesops. Which means hold onto your britches, James Woods - you might just have yourself plenty of voice work to look forward to over the next couple of years.

1 comment:

  1. Fuck you dumbass. Anyone who uses the term redpill is an idiot. Rightwing conservative piece of dogshit!

    ReplyDelete

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