‘Happy Feet’: Penguin Propaganda From Hollywood

By November 30, 2006General

It seems that Hollywood just can’t make a kids’ movie — or any movie — these days without some political angle worked into it. When we first saw the trailers for “Happy Feet,” we assumed it was just another animated film about a bunch of cute little penguins who sing and dance. Of course, we were wrong.

It all started when someone sent us this page from a Warner Brothers’ story board. When we looked at it closely, we realized that the lead penguin (voiced in the movie by Robin Williams) has a six-pack ring around his neck. “Uh-oh,” we thought, “Where are they going with this?” Where they were going, of course, is to the place they always go in kids movies — to propaganda-town. Wrote a regular blog reader:

“The Robin Williams character, Lovelace, is shown wearing a littered six pack ring around its neck. Early in the movie, the device is presented as a talisman bestowed upon him. Later, he is shown near death because he has grown into the rings, choking off his air and rendering him unable to eat. Then, the rings become caught on a buoy and later a whale nearly drags him to his death by clamping on to the rings. Does Hollywood send a message that people should care more for the planet and not litter? No! Instead, the movie suggests the rings should be banned.”

Of course it does. But what are the facts? From the people who make the rings, we know this:

  • All of these rings sold worldwide are made from a special non-toxic plastic which is 100% photodegradable.
  • Rings exposed to sun, wind and rain will break apart.
  • The risk of wildlife endangerment of any kind is virtually non-existent because these photodegradable rings lose their strength and become brittle and disintegrate.
  • Of course, the film doesn’t stop at six-pack rings. One preachy — and wildly inaccurate — message just ain’t enough. From James Lileks we find out that preachy message number two is about fishing. Crikey. Now we gotta stop fishing, too.

    In any event, we just want to set the record straight. Hollywood isn’t really known for its rigorous fact checking. And, this film is a cartoon, after all. We just wanted to make sure that everyone’s clear on the facts: Penguins don’t really sing, they don’t dance, — at least in the same way that humans do — they don’t talk, and six-pack rings don’t choke ’em. What’s next, global warming?

    Maybe in “Happy Feet Two.”

    Join the discussion 8 Comments

    • Rob says:

      Hey, I’m as green as can be… as an executive of a well-known environmental nonprofit, I have given my life to the sustainability cause. But even I was rather troubled by the subtext of “Happy Feet.” The film’s message is that humankind – through fishing, littering and even creating zoos – is inherently evil and at odds with nature. Fine and good, but there is nothing redeeming or no appropriate call to action presented in this film. No solutions…just condemnations.

    • Keith says:

      You guys obviously haven’t seen the movie, or are clueless. The movie IS a piece of propoganda and is completely inappropriate for children.

    • bill b. says:

      You morons are hopeless. Do you really think there is a message there? I suppose because the penguins are black and white you think they are making some statement about segregation. God you neocons are ignorant pigs.

    • Happy Feet says:

      It seems that Hollywood just can’t make a kids’ movie — or any movie — these days without some political angle worked into it.

      Right! Or is it rather that conservative victimologists can’t see a Hollywood film, or any film for that matter as an attack on their political ideology or beliefs….gimme a break!

      It’s a kid’s movie, its funny and entertaining…nothing more, nothing less.

    • Erik says:

      This is perhaps the most irresponsible article I’ve ever read. I think you said it best yourself when you quipped “One preachy — and wildly inaccurate — message just ain’t enough.” Heaven forbid some people care about wildlife. You are irresponsible and inaccurate, and I beg you stop writing. Forever.

    • Dan Nelson says:

      Are you kidding? Is this for real? Is this a spoof, or am I reading this wrong? Littering and overfishing are now controversial topics that our children shouldn’t be exposed to? You’re joking, right? Jee-whiz.

    • Lynn says:

      get over yourself and off your silly soapbox.

      Garbage left at the beach kills wildlife – fact!

    • Mikeo says:

      Haha, nice… Its official! Its a conspiracy! Maybe you guys should launch a campaign against the penguins. Maybe Bill O’Reilly will get off his Christmas sled for a moment and do a segment on the godless “Cartoon War Against Pollution”. Better yet, instead of bitching about this, why not do your own movie, showing how plastic rings are actually good for the environment, or perhaps fashionable for arctic birds to wear. Maybe they could all smoke, too, and beat up gays and call disabled and poor people (who suffer from “low food security”) LAZY. Then at the end of the movie, they all go vote Republican in hopes that the early 1900s will come back.