First it was "Cars 2," then "SpongeBob SquarePants," "Sesame Street" and "The Muppets." And now, according to Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs, "Hollywood is once again trying to indoctrinate our children."
On his show Tuesday, Dobbs claimed two new movies — "The Secret World of Arrietty" and "The Lorax" — are part of a liberal agenda bent on "demonizing the so-called '1 percent' and espousing the virtue of green-energy policies, come what may."
"Arrietty" is an animated take on Mary Norton's 1952 novel "The Borrowers," about tiny people who live in the homes of full-sized humans, "borrowing" their food and other staples. "The Lorax" is an animated take on Dr. Seuss' 1971 classic, in which the titular character tries to stop an overzealous "Once-ler" from destroying his forest.
Both are based on beloved children's books from decades ago, yet both are also "insidious nonsense" designed to turn kids into communists, according to Dobbs. "Arrietty" promotes class conflict and wealth redistribution, he says, while "Lorax" espouses environmentalism at the expense of industry.
"So, where have we all heard this before?" Dobbs asked Tuesday, after showing clips of the two films. "Occupy Wall Street forever trying to pit the makers against the takers and President Obama repeating that everyone should pay their fair share." (Dobbs then showed a montage of clips in which Obama used the phrase "fair share.")
"Wow. Fair share," Dobbs said. "The president's liberal friends in Hollywood targeting a younger demographic using animated movies to sell their agenda to children." Three talk-radio hosts eventually joined the fray, generally agreeing with Dobbs' conclusion (although one did suggest the "agenda" was unintentional, explaining that "I know the people in Hollywood and, frankly, they're not that bright.")
See a clip of the segment below:
Dobbs is at least partly right — each film does convey a message, as is common in children's media. Seuss' 1971 book was an environmental paean, with the Lorax saying he speaks for the trees, "for the trees have no tongues." Similarly, "The Borrowers" prized tolerance and sharing — themes "Arrietty" director Hiromasa Yonebayashi says he embraced for his film, which was first released in Japan two years ago.
"The first thing [studio head Hayao] Miyazaki told me is that nowadays [Japanese] people are into buying things and a very materialistic way of living," Yonebayashi tells the NY Daily News. "And in this particular [economic] time it might be very important to create this kind of story where little people borrow a bit from other people."
Outrage like Dobbs' is not unprecedented for these stories. "The Lorax" in particular drew fire from logging and wood-products industries in the 1970s, even inspiring a response book from the National Wood Flooring Association called "The Truax," starring a misguided, tree-headed environmentalist named "Guardbark."
As Media Matters argues, however, Fox News pundits frequently condemn what they call liberal propaganda in kids' programming, even as they support teaching conservative politics to children. "The position that Fox is ultimately espousing when it whips up this paranoia is that any pro-environment lesson for kids is a form of 'indoctrination,'" writes Media Matters' Todd Gregory. "Fox reacts in a different manner when people deliver conservative messages to young people."
"The Lorax" will open in the U.S. on March 2 — the late Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel's 108th birthday — and carries the blessing of his widow, Audrey Geisel. (The movie's buzz has already boosted sales of several Seuss books, according to USA Today, and many critics are comparing it favorably to 2008's "Horton Hears a Who," helping erase the bad memories of Jim Carrey's "Grinch" and Mike Myers' "Cat in the Hat"). "Arrietty" was first released in Japan in 2010, where it made 8.9 billion yen ($111 million); it has earned $9 million domestically since hitting U.S. theaters on Feb. 17.
See each movie's trailer below:
Also on MNN:
- Danny DeVito is 'The Lorax'
- Conan spoofs 'Cars 2' liberal agenda
- Big Oil borrows Pixar name from Disney