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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day 463: An Epic Failure

So I just watched this movie. As far as movies go, it was nothing special - the usual cliched story in the form of an animation. So in this movie, nature is depicted as a forest being held in a delicate balance of growth (good) and rot (evil) by the (good) queen. The evil king is the usual selfish character hell-bent on ruling the world with his really big army of thick-skulled, weird looking vermin-type things. The good queen is very beautiful, kind and brave. All the magical, miniature critters living in this enchanted realm have been given very human attributes and personalities (so that we can relate to them of course). The animals living in the forest with them have been given a submissive role, some catering to the needs of the magical critters while others simply ignore them. The magical critters are basically responsible for the continued survival of the forest.

This movie is aimed primarily at children and families. It is a fairytale. What do fairytales like this one teach to our younger generations? That animals are tools for humans and magical fairy folk to use? That there is always a state of good versus evil, that the two forces are constantly vying for supremacy? Sometimes, that animals are just like us and hold the same values we do? That good is beautiful and evil is ugly? That there is always a hero and that this hero is special in comparison to others? That there is always a happy ending?

Are these ideals valid in real life? No - and yet our children grow up desperately believing in and wishing for a magical, fairytale life. Kids grow up with the desire to be special, and the assumption that everything and everyone else on Earth is simply here to help them achieve their magical apex of amazingness.

Children also end up having a warped perspective of what animals need, want, like, dislike and generally what their basic nature is. Kids think that what animals want, need and enjoy is the same as what they want, need and enjoy. We end up not considering what the animal wants by placing ourselves "in their shoes", but rather by placing ourselves in our shoes and drawing ears and a tail onto our self-image.

We wonder why our childhood is the best time of our lives, but it should be plain to see: when we are children we are encouraged to live in a magical, imaginary realm; in school we are not taught very many real-world skills, rather a bundle of information that is not really useful (and tends to be forgotten the moment after we have written an exam on the subject material). We grow into adulthood, but the social transition is more like a shock - we are thrust into a world in which none of the things we observed or were taught are relevant. We suddenly have to navigate a snake pit armed only with a pretty lace ribbon and no boots.

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