OK, do the math. Let’s say that a president wins a second ticket to the White House with the help of a “values vote” coalition built, in part, on people that have very old-fashioned beliefs on issues of morality, family, marriage and the existence of eternal, transcendent moral truths.
Then, before you can say KAPOW!, WHAM! and NEOCON!, there is a movie in multiplexes in which characters are heard claiming that the demise of a marriage is a fate worse than death and that “doubt is a luxury that we cannot afford anymore.”
The Bush army praises strength, marriage and family values. This hit movie praises strength, marriage and family values. Oh my. Could it be?
That’s right. There are people out there in medialand that are quietly worried that “The Incredibles” is a right-wing recruiting device. I mean, the folks at Focus on the Family even like this movie.
Pixar can’t seem to make even a single mistake when it comes to elevating the artistry of animation. Likewise, while illustrating the value of an intact family or the beauty of individuality or the negative results of pride, The Incredibles is, well, incredible.
Needless to say, this is not going to fly over in the pages of The Nation, where Stuart Klawans is not amused by the political — theological? — implications of the Parr family. Part of the problem is that, according to writer-director Brad Bird:
… (The) Parrs’ strange talents are rooted in normal family traits. Fathers are supposed to be strong, so Bob can bench-press a freight engine. Mothers are always being pulled ten ways at once, so Helen is elastic. Young Violet can become invisible, as teenage girls sometimes want to do, and Dash is just a wonderfully energetic little boy, ratcheted up to 200 mph.
Bird’s biggest achievement in The Incredibles is to have inflated family stereotypes to parade-balloon size. His failing is that, in so doing, he also confirmed these stereotypes, and worse. Helen mouths one or two semi-feminist wisecracks but readily gives up her career for a house and kids; women are like that. Bob’s buddy Frozone, the main nonwhite character in the movie, can instantly create ice; black people are cool. The superheroes are in hiding because greedy trial lawyers sued them into retirement; and, while concealed, they chafe at their confinement, like Ayn Rand railing against enforced mediocrity.
The family is the foundation of our society. Freedom is on the march.
And that just cannot be good for America and the world, now can it? Things get even more complex over at the New York Observer, where writers Suzy Hansen and Sheelah Kolhatkar let loose under the cheerfully paranoid headline, “It’s Super Bush!” While it’s clear that they like the film quite a bit and believe that it might even cheer up gloomy blue-zone liberals, they conclude:
While The Incredibles’ battle against conformity and mediocrity screams anti-oppression to some, it’s obviously Randian to others. In that sense, the film is being touted as the latest proof that, on top of everything else, the right wing has even wit and creativity on its side these days: This is a world turned upside-down!
And even as James Carville threw in the white towel in The New York Times on Nov. 9, admitting that he’d finally got the message that the Democrats were nothing but an opposition party, the conservatives were raking in millions of potential philosophical converts at the movies, the way the liberals used to during the Easy Rider-Graduate days of the 1960s, when the right wing couldn’t catch a break in the culture. … It’s very much in the eye of the beholder, but at the moment, to the butt-kicked, discouraged liberal team, the Pixar-built shiny, muscle-bound cartoon characters seem to come very much from the other team.
Ah, but as we like to note from time to time here at GetReligion.org, not all political conservatives are moral and cultural conservates and, for sure, the tensions between the Libertarians and the religious right are only going to increase in the months ahead.
So, is there a “religion” ghost in this blockbuster hit or not? Is the mere fact that a film promotes a traditional view of marriage and family now evidence that its creators are in-the-closet Christian neo-fundamentalists?
What about it? Has anyone out there in readerland seen any reviews or articles about “The Incredibles” directly linking the film to theocrats? Was the Iron Giant a Christ symbol?