Happy Feet? My foot! Political Penguins: Marching Minions of the Politically Correct by HCHS Junior Lerin Rutherford

The penguins are coming. Have you noticed? You can hardly walk into a commercial center without being bombarded by penguin merchandise. With the advent of three entirely penguin based movies and others with penguin characters, it’s safe to say the media has gone south, very far south. You see, these penguins have a secret agenda. They are not what they seem. (Think more along the lines of the Madagascar masterminds hiding behind “cute and cuddly” facades.) These penguins are making a political statement.

Controversy surrounding a recent children’s book about penguins stirred up the community this time last year. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson is a book about two male penguins who were mates for about six years in the Central Park Zoo. Roy and Silo gave up trying to hatch their rock and adopted an egg that was abandoned by another female in the exhibit to raise it (Tango) as their own. The controversy over the naturalness of homosexuality later died when Silo left Roy for Scrappy, a female penguin brought in from California, but the picture book undoubtedly made a potent statement in its very publication.

This incident seems irrelevant unless taken in conjunction with the release of this year’s movie Happy Feet. The movie takes an obvious stand on several potentially inflammatory issues. The environmental overtones are the most immediately obvious. Human environmental exploitation is clearly vilified. Corporate business is held directly responsible for the killing of the penguin’s food supply. A montage of clips showing evil businessmen debating the issue of penguin salvation with environmental activists and makes all business out to be profit hungry and calloused. In the mind of any child seeing the movie, big business and capital expansion becomes an obvious evil, but then what wouldn’t seem evil compared to a cute little penguin? Although, humans as individuals are empowered as the potential saviors of the penguins and other endangered species, it’s only through subscription to the green activism ideal that this can occur; by associating a happy ending with environmentalism, the two not only become synonymous to a child but the story gets its inspirational and uplifting moment quota filled.

The movie also emphasizes racial diversity, yet in such a stereotypical way that it almost negates its political correctness and washes out the banner of diversity that Mumble the main character champions. The Adelie penguins are clearly Latino, almost to an offensive point. A couple of rapper penguins are represented as the token blacks of the emperor colony. The mobster Skua birds could be considered Italian with some stretch of the imagination. Even the elephant seals have a non-descript blend of an accent somewhere between Scottish and Irish. However, in attempting to achieve a tone of diversity and acceptance, the protagonist, Mumble is praised for being different. (Thus satisfying the mandatory PC inspirational factor requirement of children’s movies)

In addition to some loaded environmental issues and a few comically disguised racial ones, the movie takes an anti-organized religion tone through the characterization of the aging patriarch emperor penguin, Noah the elder. Indeed, the traditional faith of the penguin is made to seem puritanical and stands in the way of the ultimate progress and salvation of the penguins. Could the character’s name be pure coincidence? The religious guru, Lovelace, the Rockhopper penguin, is clearly an Elmer Gantry type character. What absolutely wasn’t coincidence, however, was the long, zoomed-in shot of a Christian chapel on the outskirts of the human camp responsible for the exploitative fisheries.

Environmentalism, racial stereotyping, and organized religion are terribly heavy topics for a children’s movie. Is this not so subliminal messaging being regurgitated down the throat of the nation’s children by fluffy, dancing penguins? Parents surely don’t expect this behavior from these well-dressed, little aquatic birds. But, they shouldn’t be so surprised; remember the parental outcry when Skipper of Madagascar proclaimed to the world “Well this sucks!” upon reaching Antarctica? Maybe penguins just too darned forgivable. Maybe the “cute and cuddly” act works all too well. But now, the lesson is learned. These cuddly radicals cannot be trusted. You’ve been warned.

20 thoughts on “Happy Feet? My foot! Political Penguins: Marching Minions of the Politically Correct by HCHS Junior Lerin Rutherford

  1. This is a very good piece. Until I read your post, Lerin, I was not interested in seeing this movie. I am not surprised that issues such as the environment was promulgated here, seeing that this has been a matter of contention of late. But I am curious to see how the dynamics of race and religion unfold. Clearly Hollywood has been more progressive in driving an agenda called “informing the mindless.” This is not a first. If you have seen the animated “The Fox and the Hound,” you know that it too addresses the issue of racism and making choices about your friends regardless of their race – or for this movie, animal type. I am sure the gay issue is true too; butI wonder if we look for such matters? I doubt it. I will watch this over the break and revisit your points. Hey, cartoons are for adults these days – right?

  2. LERIN 🙂 I’m not so sure I want to see the movie now that I know that subliminal messages are being transmitted to my precious cranium. Who knows? I could walk out of the movie theater dispising these cuddly cute creatures that represent everything that’s wrong with society and nature today. thanks for that…

    and is it just me or is Hollywood suddenly taking a keen interest in animal films? (i.e. over the hedge, madagascar, flushed away, the wild, happy feet, and hoodwinked… to name just a few) Are animals becoming a scapegoat to the film industry, a way to express what’s wrong with the world without having to blatantly say it?

    peace out

  3. I saw the movie, and it acurately depicts the insane meaningless hold organized christianity has over our society. What business do churches have in talking about topics like homosexuality and abortion?

    This movie point out the ridiculous blind following of christianity the low IQ middle class of America follow, ignoring such issues as global warming and consoling themselves that we were all created out of thin air and somehow magically god will cure the world over night.

    I’m glad movies like this educate our kids and negate the anti-logic spread by religion.

  4. Jon,

    I agree that this movie shows the plight of groups looking to gain from the exploitation of others (so I hear). Also, it allows me to publish such student pieces so that the world can see another perspective…I do not agree with your comment, but I do respect your position. Good comment. I cannot comment on the rest of your argument until I see the movie.I can say that much of what we make anti-intellectual is usually driven by the needs and disposition of man…not religion. Your thoughts.

  5. Why shouldn’t churches address the issues of homosexuality and abortion? Surely they have as much right as anyone else. If churches are guilty of indoctrinating the youth of the world into anti-logic, then what are the producers of the movie guilty of?

  6. ok after reading this blog i am still puzzled on why this is such a big deal? yes Happy feet does display some i guess ” rasicm” but they are penguins and they ae not rasict as in how some are rasict today. Also a group of my buddys and i went to go see this movie and noticed that what is supposed to be a little kids movie was actually packed with kids our age. then when they show the oil boats and the penguins think they are aliens, there is trash on lovless, that is jsut part of life…sad , but part of life. I personally dont believe there is anyhting amader with this movie in terms of what we are discussing,


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  11. I understand that this is just a kids movie and thats my point exactly. Why put political and religeous issues in a kids movie??? I actually agree with the views expressed in this movie i just dont think these type of things should b in a kids movie. Religeon and politics are the type of things that ruin innocence. The fact that a kids movie can spark political debates amongst adults speaks for itself. Kids movies should b something everyone can enjoy, not something made specifically for left wing environmentalists. Ppl keep saying “geez dont take it so seriously its just a kids movie” but its kinda hard when they have such serious issues throughout the film. Whatever happenned to carefree childrens movies like The Neverending Story wit something for everyone to enjoy. Just my opinion, maybe im the crazy one

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  13. hi!,I love your writing so a lot! percentage we keep in touch more about your article on AOL? I require an expert within this area to unravel my issue. Maybe that is you! Having a appear forward to appear you.

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