Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax hit theaters to rave reviews over the last few weeks, delighting children and older audiences everywhere. And, as has become the sad but real custom, people are already picking apart the subliminal (or not so subliminal) messages present in the film and what they say to our “unsuspecting” children.
I pondered this notion in my head for a few minutes before I thought, are these messages really that subliminal and are our children that affected by them? Should we as Americans just chill out already over the subliminal message hype?
Yes and no. On the one
hand it is good to watch what children see in order to ensure that what is going in can be emotional and cognitively handled. I mean you wouldn’t show Texas Chainsaw Massacre to a class of three year olds at the local daycare. They wouldn’t be able to take it.
But as for worrying about the hidden messages, over tones, and subliminal signals in films (especially films aimed at younger audiences) people need to get a grip. For one, movies have been sending messages like these for years.
Look at all the classic Disney characters. Every princess has an impossibly tiny waist, perfect hair (even when wet), and straight teeth among all their other perfect features. Even the guys are perfect. Every prince, king, and lost boy is dashingly handsome, at least 6 feet, (with the exception of Pan who would have been 6 foot had he grown up) and muscular.
Thousands upon thousands of children grew up with these characters influence in their lives and yet went on to be mostly normal, functioning, productive adults, despite the subliminal messages that said you had to be perfect, a prince or princess, and either live in Neverland or a castle to live happily ever after. Yes these people grew up, went to war, and raised families and probably never sat down to wonder if Cinderella’s perfect smile subliminally pressured them.
But even in today’s world the hype is just that: Hype. People are constantly pointing out things to make a fuss over. For example, when Barbie met Ken in the recent installment of Pixar’s Toy Story, Ken was so awestruck at the lovely Barbie that he said “Love your leg-warmers” to which she replied “nice ascot.” People went nuts. They went row for row over the “sexual overtones” that this simple little exchange between toys was broadcasting to millions of innocent children. Give me a break.
When I saw the movie the “sexual innuendo” went completely over my head and I am sure every child’s head as well. You know why? There were no sexual overtones. Barbie and Ken simply love clothes and what would you say if you had lived your whole plastic sparkly life feeling like you were the only one around that appreciated sequins and then in walked your perfectly plastic-molded counter-part? That’s what the children saw. It’s the dirty-minded parents that need to wash out their heads with soap.
I won’t even go into the whole Happy Feet debacle. The funny thing about being a child is this: life is taken at face value. Everything is black and white. It’s only when we start to age that the lines start to blur and the gray areas creep in. So let the children enjoy the movies while they can.
Because after all, at that age they see what they saw and they saw what they seen, and that’s all there is to it. Know what I mean?