The environmental stance of The Lorax has drawn criticism from both the left and the right as observers argue, respectively, that it is not environmentally-conscious enough and that it is left-wing propaganda.
The Lorax, the ubiquitous new Universal animated film based on Dr. Seuss' beloved book set to be released March 2, is coming under fire from both sides of the political spectrum as word gets out about how it deals with the environmental views the movie espouses.
As The Lorax is a children's book, and the movie is clearly aimed chiefly at kids, pundits are paying close attention to its message, and it seems that observers at both far ends of the political spectrum are up in arms at what they've found.
There's no disputing that The Lorax was one of Dr. Seuss' more political books, and that its message has a strong pro-environmentalist tilt. Though it is self-aware enough to at least tacitly acknowledge the limits of such a theme, the book is centered in large part around the tale of a beautiful ecosystem that was destroyed.
In the book a flashback shows the Truffula Tree forest (made famous to a new generation by the exploitative Mazda ads now blanketing TV coverage nationwide) being torn down by a Once-ler, who used the trees as lumber in a business he ran. The Lorax is appalled and tries to dissuade the Once-ler from destroying what eventually becomes a desolate wasteland, but the Once-ler is unmoved, and he criticizes the Lorax for questioning his business.
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In the end, the word Unless is dramatically foisted upon the reader, asking them to face the decision between protecting the environment and protecting business interests, but in a more subtle way than you would see in a Greenpeace flier.
Now that the movie is going mainstream--with none other than Danny DeVito playing the Lorax--commentators are becoming concerned about the way the movie deals with the overt political stance Dr. Seuss took in aligning himself with the Lorax.
The most public critic thus far of the movie's message has been Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs.
Dobbs came out hard against the film, which he believes aims to indoctrinate our children with leftist propaganda.
The President's liberal friends in Hollywood [are] targeting a younger demographic using animated movies to sell their agenda to children, Dobbs said on his TV show Feb. 21, according to Time.com.
Dobbs' argument is that the storyline fits perfectly in with the green movement's pro-environment, anti-business agenda, and that it is no mistake that this movie serves to present those ideas to children.
He does have a point, as Slate points out. The movie is political, but so was the book, and his qualm should be with Dr. Seuss, not Barack Obama and Tinseltown, as Time.com argues:
Never mind that the plotlines and message of both books haven't changed since they were originally published more than 30 years ago. Hollywood proves a much better target than bygone children's novelists.
But Dobbs fills his critique with the new vocabulary of the OWS age, adding that it is plainly demonizing the so-called 1 percent and espousing the virtue of green energy policies, come what may.
And no matter what your political perspective, he does have a leg to stand on. If you disagree, imagine instead that the movie was not-so-subtly pro-life messages or war with Iran sabre-rattling down your kids' throats. Just because you agree with a movie's political leanings and message, doesn't mean they aren't there and worthy of criticism by those who disagree with them.
And far-left-outlet Mother Jones is taking up grievances with the film as well, pointing out that many people it obscures the green message of the movie too much, and that it is a whitewash of a strong defense of pro-environmental policy.
It appears that fans of Seuss' environmental message aren't very excited about the release, Mother Jones writes. The trailer for the film prompted the students of Ted Wells' 4th grade class at the Park School in Brookline, Mass. to start a petition asking Universal to revive the tree-hugging themes of the book. Over at Change.org, they're requesting that the company at least add more educational materials to the film's website and promotional materials. Wells notes that his students thought the trailer made the movie look 'more like an adventure and romance, like it had totally lost its message about helping the planet.'
That petition has over 50,000 signatures and growing, demonstrating the depth of displeasure the left has with the way the movie presents Seuss' vision.
But beyond all the teeth-gnashing about the message of the film, some reviewers are happy just to insult what they describe as its lack of artistic merit. One such man is David Roberts of Grist, who called the trailer for the forthcoming movie a rainbow-barf monstrosity.
Guess you really can't win in Hollywood these days.
Click play below to watch a video of Lou Dobbs speaking out on Fox Business about his theory that The Lorax aims to indoctrinate the youth: