Sunday, March 25, 2012

Childhood Images

We took our grandson to the Lorax, the Universal adaptation of the Dr. Seuss book.   It struck me negatively in many ways.   In the middle of the movie, one of the main characters, who has developed a new product that uses the leaves of a particular tree - sings a ditty (How Bad Can it Be) that portrays entrepreneurial activity in a most unflattering light.  "How bad can it be, I am just following my destiny."  The Seuss story was not without its controversy.  When it was first published it generated an unflattering review in the journal Nature.   A few years later it also got more visibility because of a parody written about it called the Truax - which was a story of the positive benefits of using a renewable resource like trees.

What struck me about this story was the images that a kid could get from it and the contrast that a young child of fifty or a hundred years ago.  In Ronald Reagan's biography he mentions a book he read when he was about 11 (much older than our grandson) called That Printer of Udell's written by Harold Bell Wright.  It is typical of literature at the time.  It tells the story of a person who strives to make something of himself and ultimately is successful but also uses some of his success to take care of those less fortunate in his community.

Societies grow and prosper in part because of the myths that their children learn.   Indeed, we should be aware of the needs of our fellow citizens.  But for my taste the whole storyline in the Lorax is a bit too hostile to the economic system that made our country prosper.


Anonymous said...

Books, in various ways have influenced many people in many ways during different times in their lives.

I cant remember any specific book I read as a child, but I did read alot. I suspect Reagan was just shining his brass when he mentioned the particular book you quote. Saint Reagan would of course not admit that his favourite book was the Kama Sutra.

I have read many books, no not Dutch or decision points or my life, but I did read Mein Kampf, the bible, the book of mormon, the little red book, democracy in america, Hayek and che for example.

These are surely not books to add to the jacket of my swan song but I think essential reading.

I think of Loyola Ignacius laid up with a cannot shattered leg and being caught in a library recovering and reading and learning about god, i am an agnostic, Or Hitler furiously scribbling in his chell or even Luther writing up his points to pin on some door and I realized that there are many way to consider this issue of books and reading and writing them as well.

I never did understand Doctor Seuss and his green ham and things like that. I am sure your descendant will not remember the movie Lorax in think it was called. I only remember one movie from my youth with any vigour and that was Old Yeller. It has a very special place in my heart and since then I have loved dogs.

Cliff said...

Probably about the same time we went to see Hunger Games. Not having read the book I was appalled at the story line and ended up walking out of the movie. To think that one of the most popular movies today is a story that is teaching our children that they can be killed for the amusement of an elite, that the government will sanction such an activity, and that parents will do nothing to prevent this from happening-frankly I am astounded. For our society to grow and prosper we have to do some very serious thinking about what values we currently portray through our entertainment vehicles.