being warned and educated by children’s animations

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better – it’s not.”

Dr. Seuss Wooden Nickel

Dr. Seuss Wooden Nickel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I found myself discussing the environmental messages in children’s movies that have started to crop up in the last decade, and found myself approving of this ‘good brainwashing’, as my friend termed it. One of my favourite Disney Pixar animations has to be Wall-E, not only because of the undeniable adorable factor, but also the messages it sends to children about how important it is to take care of the world we live in.

After all, Disney movies are the modern equivalent to Aesop’s Fables – they reach a wide audience of impressionable young minds and feed them tales with morals written in. They ranked at number 66 on Fortune 500’s 2012 list. That’s some hell of an influence in society.

Of course, being such a large company which caters to such vulnerable minds comes with many obstacles, and there have been many accusations of prejudice tossed at the corporation. The lack of diversity in their characters, the way women are always portrayed as waiting for their man, the sexual references (half of which are just misread nods to special effects, such as in The Lion King) – these all draw censure from many groups. This is probably why in the last decade movies such as Wall-E have come to light.

In the spirit of my discussion of environmental children’s movies, it came to my attention that I was missing out on a Dr Seuss wonder – The Lorax. So today I rectified that absence, and watched it. And, my gosh, it was worth it. The message is not subtle, in fact it’s the whole premise of the film and comes complete with songs about growing the seed, but even skeptics of global warming cannot turn away (and yes, they are out there). Before we were brought up in an era of Disney (or perhaps even Harry Potter counts now), children went to bed hearing tales of the Lorax, the Who’s and that wonderful feline with marvellous headwear, The Cat In The Hat. Dr Seuss is a revelation to children when they are introduced, full of wonderful, crazy rhymes which we somehow still quote regularly in our adult lives.

So it’s great to see that children are absorbing these messages of not abusing the finite resources available to them through a means so easily accessible to them from a young age. If we are to truly expect the survival of the human species, we need to make sure we keep our habitat perpetuating itself in the circle of life. Because Dr Seuss had it right when he wrote the quote I began this post with – unless we foster continual caring about this issue, nothing will ever change.


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