Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What's All the Fuss?

I took my youngest child to see the Lorax over the weekend. I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I keep running in to angry bloggers, columnists, and their commenters who have their panties in a wad about this film. Having read the book (something I’m not sure some of this outraged people have done), I was familiar with the message headed my way – if we don’t start doing something different in terms of caring for the environment nothing is ever going to get better. In other words, if we keep up our horrible behavior – no more truffala trees.

I’m not a fan of animated movies. And I’m certainly not a fan of animated movies that attempt to drag out an 1800 word beloved book in to two hours. Plus, the popcorn always makes me sick. Add to that the fact that it was 60 degrees and sunny (in March!), and I was definitely in a bad mood as I settled in to my theater seat next to my son who was ruining his teeth with Swedish fish and soda. (Yes, I’m that kind of mother!)

I do like Danny Devito, the voice of the Lorax, though, and my daughter had told me to listen for Taylor Swift, the voice of Audrey. Who’s Audrey? She wasn’t in the book. The movie quickly establishes a Suessland reminiscent of the one created at Universal Studios amusement park in Orlando. Bright colors, overly rounded and gravitationally-challenged buildings, and assorted people with big eyes and tiny noses. Sneedville is a plastic town – everything is plastic, even the trees. The villain of the movie, the obscenely wealthy Mr. O’Hare, sells fresh air to the people living in this perfect, plastic, polluted town. When the hero begs the town to grow a “real” tree, Mr. O’Hare asks, “Why would you want a tree? They’re dirty, poisonous; they’ll hurt your children!”

He’s convinced the town they are better off with a manufactured world, even as the children glow after swimming in the stream. It’s been so long since the Truffala trees were chopped down by the Onceler, that the people don’t know any different.

I was disappointed that the Lorax wasn’t recited in full, only a few lines are butchered by Danny Devito. Still, the movie does a good job of portraying the Onceler as a well-meaning guy just setting out to make his fortune. He’s kind-hearted and he doesn’t mean to destroy the earth, it’s just that his product is a success and the only way to satisfy demand is to work faster and use up more trees. He doesn’t learn until it’s too late.

So the blatant message of the movie is that UNLESS we do something about it, our apathy and big business' greed will destroy our earth. That’s what’s upsetting all these bloggers and columnists – this movie is brainwashing kids in to thinking that big business is responsible for destroying the earth. And maybe they're feeling a bit guilty themselves. I’m thinking that the kids watching this movie, are really just seeing a short, evil guy with really bad hair battle it out with the kid on the segway who is only trying to win the girl.

My question is this: What did you expect the Lorax to be about? The message from Dr. Suess was unequivocally clear when the book was first published. Not all that much has changed. Big business is still destroying the earth in the name of increased profit margins. The public is still being confused and manipulated in to allowing it to happen. We all think we need a sneed (water in plastic bottles, new cell phones each year, appliances to make s’mores and deep-fried twinkies).

So UNLESS we start thinking for ourselves and asking what is the true cost of this lifestyle, nothing will change. Just saying. I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.

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