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Monday, December 04, 2006

Feet happy and unhappy

Something big and exciting and explosive is coming to the blog this week!  I’m not sure exactly what, though.  I may know in a few days.

In the meantime:  Jamie and I saw Happy Feet over the weekend.  The movie is just fine, as these things go.  He might even see it again.  That’s my sheep-from-goats criterion for movies with Jamie: the Babe movies and Galaxy Quest stand up to dozens of viewings; Harry Potter, largely because of Jamie’s interest in the plot intricacies, more than ten; Star Wars, well, I never understood the attraction of Star Wars; The Emperor’s New Groove, definitely. Milo and Otis, of course, when he was younger.  At the bottom of the barrel, over the past ten years, you find unbearable swill like Cats and Dogs and See Spot Run and Homeward Bound and any films involving a Winnie the Pooh character.  Janet calls these “knuckle-biting movies,” and when we come back from the movies with Jamie we report to each other in this way: three stars!  Or: three knuckles!

Happy Feet gets two stars out of a possible four, and no knuckles.  But that’s not what I’m blogging about today.

I’m blogging about the fact that the right-wing pundits and bloggers who complained about the film are completely and fully batshit insane, including this Medved guy, who also manages to be kind of, ah, stupid insofar as he gets a lot of plot details wrong.  (And when you’re a professional film critic, you know, that’s usually considered bad.) Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood here.  The film is a liberal film.  It was rushed into production by Hollywood expressly to counteract the evil effects of the smash conservative penguin hit of 2005, March of the Resolutely Heterosexual Penguins. Happy Feet, by contrast, suggests that children with weird species abnormalities might turn out to have some value even though their peers ostracize them; it suggests that ignorant tribal elders who attribute supernatural causes to natural phenomena are best ignored; and it strongly suggests that humans are interfering with penguins’ fish supply.  Though I note that the humans who actually arrive in Antarctica are kind of nice, smiling and joining in the dancing and even falling down.

Interestingly, Medved comes to a queer conclusion about that species abnormality:

As in so many other recent films, there’s a subtext that appears to plead for endorsement of gay identity. Mumbles (the voice of Elijah Wood) displeases his parents and the leaders of his community because he’s born different, and makes an impassioned plea that he can’t possibly change—and they should accept him as he is.

Remember, kids:  different = teh gay! OK, it’s not as if Medved is obsessed or anything, but for the record, Mumbles’ dancing (and inability to sing) is quite clearly a disability.  But for you, Mr. Medved, gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay.  There.  Happy now?

Anyway, the right-wing punditocracy, being completely batshit insane and all, misses the whole point.  The movie is not about pollution and global warming and bad humans.  The movie is about the insidious correlation between immigrants and polyrhythms, a subject about which I once delivered a learned and distinguished lecture back when I was the Visiting and Distinguished Lecturer at General J. C. Christian Academy.  You see, when Mumbles is driven from his own kind, he finds five penguins of a different species—smaller, more fun-loving, with Latin accents—who become his companions for a good deal of the film, even accompanying him on his perilous voyage to open contact with the humans.  The film thereby suggests that small, fun-loving, Latin-accented penguins are good penguins.  And if you’re a right-wing pundit concerned (and who among you isn’t?) about Hollywood’s endorsement of the Mexidisabilitofascist agenda, then that’s what you should be complaining about: the preponderance of small, fun-loving, Latin-accented animals in America’s animated films.  It started with Tito (Cheech Marin) in Oliver’s Company.  It has reached the level of Mexidisabilitofascist propaganda in Happy Feet.  It can only end with you, Michael Medved.

Oh, one more thing.  In the course of his “review,” Mr. Medved also complains about the brief snippet toward the end in which Mumbles is discovered on a beach and brought to an aquarium.  Waking up and finding himself in the penguin exhibit, Mumbles does not understand that the humans do not understand his cries for help, and after a few months, he begins to hallucinate, thinking that his family and girlfriend are with him.  Here’s Medved’s characterization of this sequence:

There’s also scenes of a penguin captured for a zoo and tormented to the point of mental incapacity by unfeeling people.

Hmmmm, that’s not what happens in Happy Feet at all.  The people are not unfeeling, and Mumbles is not tormented by them; they’re just families going to the aquarium.  Indeed, the one little girl who taps on the glass turns out to be the person who snaps Mumbles out of it, by inducing him to tap dance.  So what could Medved possibly be thinking about?

Oh, yes. Things like this.

Now lawyers for Mr. Padilla, 36, suggest that he is unfit to stand trial. They argue that he has been so damaged by his interrogations and prolonged isolation that he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder and is unable to assist in his own defense. His interrogations, they say, included hooding, stress positions, assaults, threats of imminent execution and the administration of “truth serums.”

The people running this country are completely and fully batshit insane.  Scarily, world-threateningly batshit insane.  And you know what else? Other people are catching on, too.

Posted by Michael on 12/04 at 09:06 AM
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