Wow, I didn't expect to be gone this long. I've been busy writing blog-type stuff, but it's been in private emails and a private message board with a first-class intellect who doesn't pull any punches at all but who also acknowledges when I've made a decent case. I've found myself refraining from commenting on lots of threads because I've grown spoiled in that regard; I know I'm not going to get that kind of respectful, hard-hitting response, so I don't bother with the trolls or idiots or people who just aren't in the mood to be reasonable.
So I'm going to change the focus around here a little (now that I've probably lost all my readers due to inattention.) I'm not going to worry about link trolling or blog feuds or increasing my place in the ecosystem or managing my rep. I'm just going to write about stuff I like and see if other people like it too. Back to basics time.
I have an 18-month-old little boy whom my wife and I call the Bear. Well, the Bear had a bad cold a couple of weeks ago over Easter weekend and was unusually listless. So we watched a lot of movies: Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Dumbo, Chicken Run
, and the like. Already my little boy has discerning preferences; some animation styles and stories fascinate him while others don't keep his interest. He's developed a remarkably long attention span, considering his age and the conventional wisdom about television. Maybe the Baby Einstein stuff and lack of commercials make a difference.
Still, adults who watch these kinds of things over and over eventually start wondering about certain elements. Here are some of my thoughts.In Toy Story, does Andy have a father? We never see one, even at Christmas and birthdays. Yet his mom seems to be there all the time. How do they make a living?
Sid, the nemesis in the first Toy Story, apparently has a bum for a dad who falls asleep in front of the TV in a side room in the middle of the day. Why is that? Are decent father-figures absent to make more room for Woody and Buzz?
Watching A Bug's Life made me think of the various revolutions in places like Lebanon and Ukraine. As Hopper say,
You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand up! Those puny little ants outnumber us a hundred to one and if they ever figure that out there goes our way of life! It's not about getting food, it's about keeping those ants in their place....That seems to be the modus operandi of tyranny. Bush's actions in Iraq seem to be dedicated to unravelling that.
I loved The Incredibles and was profoundly moved at a couple of spots (like Mr. Incredible's "I'm not strong enough" bit.) Syndrome strikes me as a deeply selfish and self-centered character with a veneer of justification that I'm afraid some might fall for (hey, they do in real life.)
I like this quote from a Pixar employee in a National Review interview about why their stuff is so good:
Simple. We don't make movies for kids. We make movies for adults, actually ourselves, and then just make sure there's nothing in them that the little ones shouldn't see. The local cineplex is littered with movies made by studios who want to second-guess what the audience wants. We find we get better results by making what we want, and then assuming that there are other people like us out there.The Bear really isn't that interested in The Incredibles yet, but Mommy and Daddy are. That's why this movie will stay in our rotation for a long time.
Could Dumbo be made today? It's got danger to a baby elephant. Dumbo and Timothy get drunk (which makes Dumbo fly, a major plot point.) The circus is put up by elephants and Negroes (long before the term African-American was in vogue) in the rain. The crows smoke and play off black stereotypes. Timothy Mouse has a strong regional accent. When Dumbo succeeds, he retaliates against those who ridiculed him. Dumbo's mother spanks a child. It's an excellent movie that captivates my little boy, but could it be made today? Probably not, and certainly not by Disney who lost its way many years ago.
Nick and Fetcher from Chicken Run crack me up every time, especially when they sit down and mock the chickens' attempts at flying as entertainment. A bit cruel, to be sure, but totally realistic.
And that's all for now...except for a good laugh, go read Lilek's Sporadic entry for April 13. Hurry, before it's gone.