Quite a few of you out in GetReligion land have joined me in the search for liberal paranoia about the smash hit status of The Incredibles. Keep it up. I think the religion ghost in this is going to break loose sooner or later. At the same time, our comments pages on that last post includes more than a few raves about this film by progressive readers. Good for you.
The way I see it, it is impossible for a piece of pop culture to be identified as a Culture Wars zone without religious/moral issues getting involved. If you have doubts about the Culture Wars status of this Pixar sermonette, check out this recent essay from the London Times, with the lively headline "Pow! It's an Incredible victory for morality."
Writing from New York City, reporter Sarah Baxter notes:
After the re-election of President George W Bush by voters who ranked moral issues above terrorism, the economy and Iraq, the hit film "The Incredibles" has caught the national mood.
Just as Bush supporters believe that the president will always follow his conscience, so will Mr. Incredible, the beefy family man who cannot be forced to punch beneath his weight for long, and his wife Elastigirl, who bends but does not snap under pressure. It is as if Hollywood had found the perfect vehicle for the Republican-voting "red" states.
All of the usual parts of the movie are interpreted in all of the usual ways. Baxter also notes the box-office failure of the sexual-revolution tract Alfie, which is leading to more tears and second-guessing on the Hollywood left. But come to think of it, aren't there enough blue-zone ticket buyers to have made this R-rated romp a hit?
But back to The Incredibles, which is said to be
(Red) state through and through. It opens with a pro-life condemnation of suicide and goes on to attack tort lawyers, whose powers Bush promised to curtail during the election campaign. . . . "Yes, this is a superhero action movie about the sanctity of marriage," the National Review critic exulted. "As Mr Incredible's daughter tells her brother, 'Mom and dad's lives could be in danger -- or worse: their marriage.'"
Now I realize that blue-zone people have morals and marriages, too. What fascinates me is the news media's perceptions of this film and the company that made it. Might this whole red-friendly image thing become a factor in the tense Pixar dance with Disney? That is a major, major story on the left coast.
I mean, check out this final quote from the London Times:
Liberals are dismayed by the cultural hijacking of a medium that they had once owned. Ted Rall, a newspaper cartoonist, said: "It's kind of ironic that superheroes now have these fascist, right-wing connotations. The right has stolen our flag and our superheroes, too."
He added: "I would be in favour of Empathy Man. The man who plants the seeds of empathy into the cold, stony heart of the average red-state American."