I’ve been getting comments about my criticism of the new movie The Lorax, which apparently has a heavy-handed environmental/anti-capitalism message. (I’ve not seen it, but the official website asks for donations to the NEA, for goodness sake.) At the end of my previous article, I urge parents who are truly worried about their carbon footprints to stay home and rent a (different) movie.
Immediately, people responded to my admittedly snarky suggestion, including one from an old blogging friend:
I seem to recall another fellow named Tolkien who also occasionally preached against unbridled industrialization and poor environmental stewardship. Guess that stay-at-home movie won’t be Lord of the Rings!
In other words, if you want to criticize any film, book, or policy that elevates the earth (and its resources) over everything else, you must first also explain that you also love nature, believe in conservation, and want to keep the planet clean. Otherwise, you are lumped into the category of people who want to chop down Treebeard and his family.
So I was interested when I saw this article on the Drudge Report called, “‘The Lorax,’ cuddly cartoon agitprop the Unabomber would’ve loved.” It begins:
While the film’s marketing makes it look like a feel-good parable teaching responsible environmental stewardship, the reality is quite different. This isn’t a gentle sendup in which conservation triumphs over avarice and individual profit. It’s not George Bailey versus Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
There is something about arguing with the premise of a children’s movie that makes one feel distinctly like an idiot, but the particulars here are important. “The Lorax” is relentless in propagandizing how the use of natural resources to create consumer products is inevitably catastrophic. There even is a song in which the Once-Ler defends his practices by invoking social Darwinism.
The Lorax would cause a commotion thanks to his bristly mustache alone. But DeVito makes his oddly urgent proclamations – “I speak for the trees” – the kind of battle cry modern tree huggers will call their own. He’s angry, not joyous, with an edge to his voice that would make him a fine candidate for an eco-terrorist academy.
So it seems that there’s more to this movie than bright colors, great-looking characters, and an admonition not to litter. But, I’ll go ahead and say it. I do love trees. In fact, my dad worked his entire life in the paper-making business, using trees (America’s best renewable resource) to put food on the table and send me to college.
As Sarah Palin might say, thanks, Mr. Tree, for taking one for the team.