Saturday, March 12, 2016

Zootopia

Yesterday, I took one of my daughters out to see a movie (among other things) for her birthday. She ended up choosing the animated film Zootopia about a bunny who wants to be a police officer. Undeterred by the fact that no rabbit of any kind has ever been an officer of the law, Judy presses on delivering the ever so saccharine message of "you matter and can be whatever you want". It's not that I don't believe it, it's that I don't believe they (the production company and world in general) mean it. Early on in the story, Judy's father tells her "you know why your mom and I are so happy? It's because we settled a long time ago and gave up on all the big dreams." That's a paraphrase since my eidetic memory is out to lunch but you get the drift. A few adults in the audience chuckled ruefully and a man three rows in front of me guffawed loudly. It sounded like the laugh of someone who had given up and was just letting the comedian point it out humorously. Many times it's the most awful truths that we laugh at.

I thought about how so many people give up because they listen to people say "that's just life. No sense crying about it." It's like the possibility of a better world is akin to believing Lord of the Rings is real. There is a sense in crying about it though, instead of just laughing it away. Our world is stuck in a self medicating cycle to ignore how society is rotting away. "Aren't films like this helping in some way" you might ask? Possibly, for a few. Nearly everyone gets caught in the trap because the system is designed that way like a hall of mirrors. Inspirational films aren't being made to change the world, they're being made to make money or a name for someone. I work in the film business and know that in most cases, unless forced to by law, the productions don't give a damn about the employees. If you want to change the world, you need to act in a manner that changes the immediate world around you. Otherwise you are just perpetuating the cycle of giving people what they want as long as you get their money. People want to feel like life isn't hopeless so that's the message in entertainment. After the big adventure is over and little miss Bunny Cop exits the screen, she has to go on and live a presumably banal life in a perfect place like Zootopia but of course we don't see that because it's not entertaining. 

We've accepted this idea that if we work hard, are lucky or dishonest - we can have it all. Most of the "work hard" part has left American culture as the reality show instant superstar model tapped that same vein - wanting to be you, be significant. Life is work (the part left out of most movies or montaged quickly away) but we make it way harder because of the system that has evolved. Convenience and comfort are destroying our world and people like Donald Trump shrug and say "I'm a business man" as if that makes his past participation in what he plans to stop perfectly acceptable. This country has come to a point where a large portion of the population believe this shit that comes out of Trump's mouth because all they want is for things to be like the "good old days". There weren't "good old days" for a good chunk of this country - ever. By believing the nostalgic bullshit you are ignoring the plight of everyone outside your small incestuous circle.  It's just as asinine as believing that feel good movies are predicated on a foremost desire to impact the world. Now I'm digressing to rant about Trump. 

Before bed I watched President Obama's talk at SXSW regarding encryption and national security. Listening to the myriad things brought up in connection with this one topic, it was impressed upon me how difficult running a country is. (I'm not sure how you would know where to begin!) An immediate difference jumped out though when the matter of probable cause for searches, warrants for wire tapes etc being in play for years came up and how this isn't much different. It's hugely different because most people have their phone on or near them 24 hours a day. We use smartphones for everything and the idea that someone could pry into your life, present and past (to a degree), is frightening. I think it's equal parts of no one wanting to be on their best behavior all the time and fear of the government. A healthy apprehension of the government is always wise but the personal conduct side is where the problem lies. Freedom shrinks away when Big Brother is potentially always watching but if people acted decently and stood up to bullies and corruption in power, it would be a moot point. 

Cynical is probably what comes to mind after the previous few paragraphs but they're meant to be a reality check. This is just some thoughts, not entertainment to make you feel good. When you are the guy in the front row laughing at your pain do you swallow the entertainment pill and ignore it or realize that pain is there to tell you something is wrong - and do something about it? If you want to make a difference in the world don't make money off inspiring others to think they can change the world - actually change the world by living your life in the way you wished the world to be. Otherwise just keep rolling along like a bunny, I mean horse with a carrot labeled "self-acceptance" dangled in front of it. You'll get it one day champ!

*For the record, the movie is really cute (not the bunny though. If you watch the movie you'll know what I mean : )

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