There’s a list going around on the internet about signs of growing fascism. I mention this here because, well, I have concerns about an especially popular children’s movie. I’m not saying that the movie is fascist; I’m just saying that it’s a movie that fascists could certainly get behind.
The basic plot of this movie goes like this:
A superhero family that has a passing resemblance to the Fantastic 4 find that life in the real world is difficult for them. They try to save the world, but the world does not appreciate their efforts. The world does not fit in with their super-people needs and desires; nor does it allow them the freedom to be super whenever and however they want. They are not allowed to be special.
I know: it’s a kids’ movie. And you think kids’ movies shouldn’t worry about morals or lessons or teachable moments. They’re kids movies, you’re saying, because no one bleeds when they’re shot; because no one swears…or at least not unless they’re really cool like Wolverine…; because only bad guys smoke – and they’re going to get (bloodlessly) shot as a punishment. Which, hey, is maybe a moral message in itself.
So, let’s not condemn movies like The Incredibles because its central message is dubious. I mean, why should we take that kind of things seriously? Only a real nerd would do that (my kids tell me all the time). But.
Let me just say one thing.
If your message to your young, impressionable audience is that “If everyone is special, no one is special” then the snowflake I have instead of a heart starts to melt a bit. If your message is that some people are not only not cut out for day-to-day life, but that they’re so special that they shouldn’t be expected to live like everyone else, then my European-socialist-social-justice alert goes off louder and longer than the alarm my wife sets for 6.30 every morning even though no one in this house gets up at that time for anything except BBQ adventures.
And why is the “villain” [SPOILERS for a 14-year-old cartoon movie] a kid who only wanted to be a hero? A kid who was treated badly by the people who get a pass because they’re born special? A kid who is actuallya genius, who creates gadgets that make him a superhero through effort rather than birth?
I don’t know…isn’t that less-than-optimal?
I mean, I know no one is swayed by the morals of superhero movies. I’ve watched every Batman movie ever, and I don’t haunt the night, dressed as a flying rodent, striking fear into the heart of the superstitious criminal underworld of central Texas.
And anyone who says I do is mistaken.
So, the lessons of The Incredibles is that might is right; is that some people are special and they don’t have to live like everyone else; and that if a normal person tries to become special because of their intellect rather than, well, let’s say it, being a superior race, then they get to be hammered into the ground for their troubles. Truly a lesson for our times. But I’m sure the sequel is awesome. And yes, my kids think I’m an idiot for even caring about this kind of thing.