“happy feet” blames the penguins

Clementine and I went to the dollar theater not so long ago and saw the animated children’s film “Happy Feet.” I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it here, especially if no one else has seen it, but I’m curious to know if anyone else out there thought that, in a way, it shifted the responsibility onto the penguins for the environmental issues that are presently degrading their habitats. Am I the only one who was left with the impression that if penguins would just get off their lazy feathered asses and learn to entertain us then they’d be fine?

For those of you that haven’t see the movie, there’s this one little penguin that, unlike all his fellow penguins, can’t carry a tune at all. Instead, as it turns out, he’s a great dancer. Really. He’s good. But no one else appreciates his talent. In fact, being superstitious, they blame him for the fact that there haven’t been as many fish to eat lately. They think he’s angered their god. Anyway, he sets out to prove them wrong. And, sure enough, he finds whitey up there pumping his oil and over-fishing the hell out of the ocean. (And, by “whitey” I mean “the man.” I realize that white people aren’t the only ones ruining international waters. I just like the way “whitey” sounded there. It had a nice ring to it.) So, one thing leads to another, he gets thrown into a zoo, and things look bleak… Until, he starts blowing people away with his dancing! In an instant, crews are dispatched to find his fellow penguins, to see if they, like him, know how to hoof like mother fuckers. Fortunately, our friend the penguin gets to them first and teaches them what to do. And then, boom, they become an international cause d’celeb. School kids start writing to their heads of state demanding that we stop over-fishing their waters, polluting, and all the rest of it, and, before you know it, everything’s fixed. The dancing penguin, who everyone hated and shunned, has saved their society.

This is an aside, but isn’t it much more likely that if we discovered a colony of hoofing penguins that people would just start bugging their local zoos, asking them to go out and, “catch a few”?

Anyway, it’s a nice story and all, and it’s great that they’re getting kids to think about the effects of their actions on the natural world, but I think there’s this “fucking lazy, unimaginative penguin” undercurrent that runs through it. It may not be a perfect analogy, but imagine a cartoon about a quirky Jewish kid growing up in a Nazi concentration camp whose dancing (assuming his fellow captives were willing learn the steps) so impresses the guards that the final solution grinds to a halt. I know I probably don’t need to ask this, but wouldn’t that be offensive? Isn’t it bullshit, regardless of how well intentioned it is, to suggest that these creatures (I’m talking about penguins again) have it within their power to stop global warming, and all the rest of it, but just aren’t clever enough to pull it off?

And I do realize that, all things considered, it’s probably a good movie. I think it’s great that kids are learning about the over-fishing of arctic waters, global warming and pollution. I just wish that I they could have done it in such a way so as not to trigger my obsessive compulsive button. (How about a Rambo-like, badass penguin that hunts down and assassinates the heads of multi-national corporations? Now, that I might be able to get behind.)

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  1. mark
    Posted March 19, 2007 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    All that work and not a single comment? I guess, in the future, I should try to stay away from Holocaust metaphors… That was it, right? It put you off, didn’t it?

  2. ol' e cross
    Posted March 19, 2007 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, I’m just looking forward to “Happy Feet 2: The Last Dance.” Details are already leaking about the sequil where the penguins fail to keep the public’s interest and quickly burn up their 15 minutes of fame. Once their canned routine falls from pop flavor folks quickly find soft-shoe penguins are tastier than crispy chicken niblets.

    After all, anything that’s not entertaining deserves to die.

    If only we could eat Tom Cruise.

  3. mark
    Posted March 19, 2007 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    If I had to eat a celebrity… Like if someone made me… I think that I’d gravitate toward someone a little younger, with a little less bagage. I haven’t given this a great deal of thought, but I’m about 95% sure that my vote for Celebrity I’d Most Like to Eat would be Dakota Fanning. Or, if she’s not available, pretty much anyone on the Disney Channel.

  4. egpenet
    Posted March 19, 2007 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m looking forward to “Happy Feet Meets Pan’s Labyrinth for Dinner with Ratatouille.”

    I also understand “Ice Age 3” is in editing with the voices of Al and Tipper playing a cave couple.

  5. mark
    Posted March 19, 2007 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    And, as I forgot to say, I think the Chinese government sells “Scientologisty Meats” from carts outside the Forbidden City, if you’re really curious.

  6. danandkitty
    Posted March 20, 2007 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Rosie and I are having such depression about the melting of the polar ice caps, that we couldn’t even bear to think about watching this. (Even if it is the Penguns’ own faults…)

  7. Dave
    Posted March 21, 2007 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Fucking penguins.

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