The Lorax

March 11, 2013

The Lorax is a popular installment of a Dr. Seuss children’s story concerning environmentalism. It felt obligatory to see the film less than a year out of its release date. It is childish, but not in a patronizing way. It holds children’s intelligence as something respectable, allowing the morale to be scrutinized in a pedantic way.

 

Yes, the big bad guy in the film is a capitalist. Or perhaps the more important and appropriate term is oligarch. He controls the city because he sells air in a bottle. Furthermore, the citizens of Sneedville don’t have any ambitions beyond acting childish themselves. The entertainment, for instance, does not extend beyond pleasurable stimulus. There is no work that penetrates their own Sneedville condition. It is laughable perhaps to criticize the simplicity of the existence of a fictitious town in an animated movie, yet this provides a strong understanding of the human condition, and its tendency to choose slavery over freedom in points in history.

This is a town that voluntarily submits to a pseudo-tyrant, because they are content with what they are given. They do not care that they lack anything real, versus the plastic artifice of their reality. It is not peculiar then that the individual, who destroys their ignorance, and their enslaved stimulant condition, sought something more than what was offered to him. He sought something beyond the walls of his city. Or, beyond the limits of what is possible in his plastic polymer existence. True, this was caused by something antecedent, that being his adoration for a girl. Yet the impulse, and the desire, to attain and to achieve are identical. The little boy sought a tree to attain a girl.

 

This kind of courage into the unknown, the bravery to disrupt, is the epicenter of Western Culture. The Western Man is not content with preserving tradition. He does not fear the desecration of his ancestors. He is always seeking something new. Oswald Spengler coined him as Faustian. He is perennially striving toward the infinite. This may seem to be absurd to use as an assessment of Dr. Seuss. But again, should we handicap this analysis of a children’s story simply because of its content? The fact it reveals an act of heroism at the bedrock of its morality is something that ought to be celebrated. It instills in children the desire to achieve, and the desire to move the world through physical efforts.

 

What then about the story within a story? What about the irrationality of the Onceler who lacked the vision of his enterprise? The Lorax warns him he will bankrupt himself through his greed. Yet this is communicated as an act of habitat protection of the wooded creatures, it really is a lack of proper planning by the entrepreneur. Logging companies, for instance, face the exact same challenges with their business model. How do they support themselves? By replanting trees at a sufficient replacement rate. Thus, the criticism of human action destroying the world is superfluous here, and can be sublimated when juxtaposed to the greater presence of virtue. Protecting little animals is not as riveting as changing the world.

 

Grade: B

 

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