Blog - Hidden Messages

Animated movies make hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office each year, but they also tend to cause a lot of controversy. People around the world watch these films, many of which are children and more often than not, there is an intent to implement hidden messages, sometimes politically driven and many focusing on environmental issues.

Opponents believe these movies are inappropriate, overly liberal enforcements of a false reality. But without these influential movies, how can we get through to our children about the impact of keeping our planet healthy? The following two blockbuster films made important economical references which may indeed help teach our children how to live a paperless life.

The Lorax
An outspoken author, Dr. Seuss had been blasted for his attack on corporate America and consumerism through his beloved children’s book The Lorax. As the story goes, a small boy lives in a world without trees. The recently released movie takes the book a step further, opening with the boy living in a plastic bubble of a world where fresh air is purchased like bottled water. He visits the Once-ler, the man responsible for cutting down every last tree for his Thneed business.

The Once-ler takes the audience back in time when the Truffula trees were widespread, lakes were clean and the wildlife run rampant. The Lorax, who speaks for the trees, continues to warn the Once-ler about his destruction and the impact that will follow. But in due time, every tree was cut, smog filled the air, all water was polluted and the wildlife diminished. The viewer is then left with a remorseful Once-ler and a final statement: “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

The story of The Lorax correlates with the cutting down of trees for paper products today. According to the Ecology Global Network, the world consumption of paper has grown 400 percent in the last 40 years as nearly 4 billion cut trees have been used in paper industries.

As the Once-ler once said, “business is business, and business must grow!” But it is on us to teach the future generations how to live without destroying the environment.

The hit animated film was reprimanded for showcasing children the “malicious intentions of human existence.” Yes, the overall message is that mankind is leading itself towards extinction, but the robot protagonist carried with him a small plant, possibly the last on earth, to encourage humans to regrow and nurture the land.

The 2008 hit film opens 700 years in the future with WALL-E, the last inhabitant of Earth, living within garbage heaps that consume the entire planet. Meanwhile, humans are overweight, driving around in hover chairs on an over-sized cruise ship travelling the galaxy. A pod from the ship lands on earth, something WALL-E has never seen before. He decides to follow it back into space and once he sees where the humans have gone, he tries to convince them to return and improve the polluted planet.

The movie’s portrayal of our damaged planet demonstrates the impacts from the production of paper. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, pulp and paper mills are among the worst polluters to the air, water and land of any industry in the country. Each year the Worldwatch Institute reports millions of pounds of highly toxic chemicals such as toluene, methanol, chlorine dioxide, hydrochloric acid and formaldehyde released into the air and water from paper-making plants alone.

WALL-E urges the viewer to stop and look around at how their carbon footprint is effecting our planet. It provides an impressive yet gentle warning of what might happen if we continue our environmentally destructive path.

Luckily, animated movies tread lightly with these issues, while often providing an enjoyable movie viewing experience appropriate for all ages. Some more subtle than others, but a surprising amount of kids’ movies aim at spreading environmental awareness. A new generation is learning about the world and it holds importance that they begin to understand sustainability. These hidden messages may be preparing our children for the future. Would you agree?

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