miteymusings

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The most controversial movie of 2006

Happy Feet was finally released here yesterday, so I made my way out to the cinema for the first morning session, along with a few mates.

I'd read a few articles about the controversy surrounding this movie.
  • Don't be Mislead by "Crappy Feet"! calls the film "the darkest, most disturbing feature length animated film ever offered by a major studio", and continues, stating "the propagandistic theme suggests that the biggest menace for the lovable penguins is the human race". Furthermore, the writer accuses the film of having "a bizarre anti-religious bias", adding that the film also includes "a subtext that appears to plead for endorsement of gay identity".

  • Happy Feet ring controversy takes a slightly different look at the film, focusing on Hi-Cone, who create the ringed beverage holders complaining about the film. The article states "as the penguin's neck grows, the plastic constricts his windpipe, nearly strangling him in the process. Hi-Cone vice president and general manager Steve Henn says the movie producers "didn't do their homework," and calls the plot line misleading and irresponsible".

  • Christian Spotlight at the Movies has it's fair share of comments from cinemagoers decrying the movie. A select few of the comments include of one of the films' characters "swings from mystic to cheesy tele-evangelist to sexual opportunist"; describing the film itself as an "anti-Christian, pro-sexual immorality" that is "warping our young peoples minds with trash".
And many, many people are saying that the PG rating it received in the US was too relaxed. Well, guess what? Here it got a G rating. Which, after seeing the movie, did surprise me. Not because the movie is evil, or corruptive, but there is a little suggestive humour, and it does get a little dark in places, which could scare the little kids.

Prior to seeing this movie, I was surprised by the reception, wondering how an animated children's movie could cause such controversy. And after seeing it, I can see where it's coming from, at least.

Do I agree with this controversy?

Not at all.

What follows are my comments against the green quotes.

"The darkest, most disturbing feature length animated film ever offered by a major studio".
Uh huh. I'm wondering if this writer ever saw Watership Down. Or does that get a pass because it was made nearly thirty years ago, or because it was based on a book?

"The propagandistic theme suggests that the biggest menace for the lovable penguins is the human race".
I thought it was reasonably common knowledge that the human race is a menace - not just for the "lovable penguins", but for nature, the ecosystem, and the various species throughout the world. We pollute, we overfish, and yes, we are destroying the world around us. Is this something that should never be stated?

"A subtext that appears to plead for endorsement of gay identity".
I love this one! Just because a character is different - in this case, the lead character, Mumble - they must be gay! One of the messages in the movie is that you should be accepting of those who are different, regardless of race, sexual identity, whatever. And it's obvious in the movie that Mumble is retarded, and even gives a reason for this. Oh, and he gets the girl, too, which is quite interesting for a movie all about "gay identity".

"As the penguin's neck grows, the plastic constricts his windpipe, nearly strangling him in the process. Hi-Cone vice president and general manager Steve Henn says the movie producers "didn't do their homework," and calls the plot line misleading and irresponsible".
I don't believe I saw the "Hi-Cone" logo anywhere in the movie. It wasn't saying that the product itself is evil, but people should be more responsible as to how they dispose of their waste.

"Swings from mystic to cheesy tele-evangelist to sexual opportunist".
You know, it's not entirely unheard of for tele-evangelists to become embroiled in scandals, revolving around *gasp!* sex. But was the character - named Lovelace - from the outset a tele-evangelist? No. He was proclaiming himself as a false idol, cashing in on circumstance. Yes, the audience was given a caricature, and yes, it was played for laughs, but that's where it ended.

"Anti-Christian, pro-sexual immorality".
Anti-Christian? The elder emperor penguins worshipped a god. They blamed Mumble's being different as a catalyst for the lack of fish, but I liken this to various ancient religions, and even a more Pagan sensibility of these characters, rather than Christian. Because a characters' religion is wrong isn't an indictment on Christianity, especially when the given religion bares no resemblance to Christianity whatsoever. As for "pro-sexuality", there is thinly veiled sexual imagery and humour in the movie. Is this wrong? I don't think so. It's definitely nothing that younger children will pick up on, and those old enough to understand it should be able to move on from it.

"Warping our young peoples minds with trash".
Let's look at my previous comments. It's about acceptance, which ergo, must be trash. Yes, it does have thinly veiled sexual imagery, but young people - and I'm assuming by that term, kids - won't get it. And I don't remember there being anything explicit whatsoever.

And what are my thoughts on the film itself?

The movie was surprising. It is a lot darker than any of the advertisements made it out to be, but it wasn't without it's fun times. The movie worked towards a balance between good times and bad; wackiness and passing on a message.

For the most part it succeeded, though I will conceed that the message at the end was a little heavy handed. The darker moments in the movie worked, and the contrast with the light really meant that when the characters were in danger, you felt it yourself.

The animation was fantastic, and was among the best ever committed to film (or recorded digitally, or whatever). The acting was supurb, and the music was great.

I don't agree with the controversy surrounding this movie, and it just goes to show that so many people are incredibly closed-minded, so much so, that they will look for anything to hate a movie that offers anything to think about. If anything, I don't think the themes will impact kids, who will be more taken with the dancing penguins, the music, the fun and the adventure.
posted by Batmite 11:53 pm  
 
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