Following on from Cibbuano’s post An Inconvenient Truth pulled from class by angry parents (20/20 Filmsight); it appears that this is not the only film that parents have found objectionable.
Mr M found this video on You Tube which features American media commentators/personalities (I’m an Aussie; I don’t know who they are) discussing how unhappy they are with George Miller and his propaganda messages that feature in Happy Feet.
Yes folks, Happy Feet – the animated movie about penguins. One media commentator in fact called Happy Feet “An Animated Inconvenient Truth”. This commentator did feature on the Fox Network; need I say more about Fox’s integrity to report unbiased objective news stories. But that is a whole other discussion – Damo (My Apologetics), if you please.
Another media commentator made mention that if George Miller wishes to use propaganda in his movie then that was fine; he just wanted to told about it first so he could make an informed decision on whether to take this children or not.
That is a fair request. But to this commentator I would say you are the parent. You have the means and the capability to find these things out. Ask questions. Visit websites and read reviews. Take some responsibility for yourself.
Here is Australia there is a website (www.youngmedia.org.au) which currently features over 280 movie reviews. And these reviews are very thorough. This website is dedicated to informing parents about the effect that media, in all its forms, has on children from babies through to teenagers.
Now I haven’t seen this movie, but Mr M did take our 5 and 3 year old children to see it. In fact I know of quite a few parents who have taken their children to see it and not one of these people mentioned anything about George Miller’s propaganda ways. I do not know if any of these children were adversely affected by the movie; I have not heard as such. What I do know is that my children thought it was great. Couple of scary moments, but it all turned out good in the end.
So what are these propaganda messages in the film? Without giving away too many spoilers, one of the story lines is that the fish in the Antarctic are becoming scarce henceforth the food supply for the penguins is diminishing fast. Why? Because man is taking all the fish for himself. Bad, bad man.
That story line is very simple and linear. Is it a “loaded” storyline? Perhaps. Perhaps it is just the adult’s perspective that makes it loaded.
As adults, there are all sorts of thoughts and conclusions rushing through our minds because we have at least 20 years on our kids and we are a little more aware of the goings on around us. We are aware of man’s abuse of the planet, global warming, endangered species, economic growth/greed and the like.
I asked my 5 year old daughter what was happening in the movie about the fish. And she explained it much as I explained it to you above; without the bad, bad man comment though.
I asked her what did she thought could or might happen to help the penguins. She simply said “Leave some fish for the penguins to eat”. And off she went. It seemed like a simple solution to her. She didn’t think twice about this movie. It had a happy ending and that’s all she cared about. She loved the dancing and the songs. She can’t even say “environmental issue” let alone be worried about the state of the world. Not yet. But she will be eventually.
In my household we recycle diligently. My daughter and my 3 year old son know to look for the little triangle on packaging to know if it can be recycled. My daughter asked me why we recycle and I tried to explain it to her in terms she might understand but she couldn’t grasp the concept. She just knows, understands and appreciates that we should. My 3 year old hasn’t even thought to ask. He just does it because it is what we do.
The point I’m trying to make is that children will draw their own conclusions to things they don’t entirely understand. They, just like adults, will use what information they have to comprehend what is going on around them. And kids have a knack of filling in the blanks too. And if my kids are confused about something, they ask questions. I don’t think I’ve come across a kid who doesn’t ask questions.
But granted, it will have a detrimental affect if kids are given too much information too soon. But isn’t no information at all more dangerous? If kids were totally shielded from issues and then one day when they turn 15, 16 or 18 are bombarded with a massive amount of information won’t their brains just shut down from information overload?
So maybe George Miller did put in environmental messages in the movie deliberately? Is that negligent on his part? Is he responsible and/or answerable to parents for the content of his films? No. It is the parent’s responsibility to find out what their children will be watching.
I for one am more than happy to discuss issues with my daughter. Slow release of information I believe is better than no information at all. I mean, would it be so bad if we left some fish for the penguins to eat?
I asked Mr M what he thought of it. “It’s a cautionary tale”, he said. “It shows what might happen if we don’t look after the planet. And if that is propaganda then Shrek is a documentary.”
This post was first published on my other Mum’s Word blog “Penguins Perpetrate Propaganda: Happy Feet, Green Feet”