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**Note: No real spoilers in this, as I didn’t even finish Incredibles 2**
A week or two ago, I took the day off so I could spend my birthday with my toddler. Often, I’m at work and he doesn’t see me during the day, so I thought I could make the day be about him. It had been awhile since we took him to see a movie at the theaters, and my husband was still hesitant about taking him again, so I took him by myself. We went to see the Incredibles 2 by Pixar.
After buying him the gummy worms he requested and the Icee I was craving, plus a bucket of awful popcorn (much to my disappointment), we walked into the theater just in time to see the previews coming to an end–yes, I purposely planned this because I didn’t want my toddler’s energy and attention span to be wasted watching previews.
Anyway, as we sat down (only two other people were in the theater), I looked over to my son to see if he was excited. Unfortunately, I realized he was actually frustrated because the seat kept closing in on him, so I placed him on my lap, and the Incredibles 2 began playing shortly after.
We walked out after 15 to 20 minutes. Why? Well, it wasn’t because my toddler was crying or because I had to go to the bathroom. It was because I had erased my Twitter account just recently to avoid being suffocated by political opinions and dissents, and now I was being attacked by it at a place where I normally enjoy sitting for hours!
Let me start by saying that within the first 10 minutes alone, there are two or three gun scenes. I didn’t know what to tell my son about it but I’m sure he was wondering about it or will ask me about it later. In one scene of Incredibles 2, the guns are being pointed towards people as a threat so they can turn themselves in, while in another, a robber is using a gun to kill someone from behind in his own home. If this doesn’t scare a child, I’m not sure what will. Who wants to think that it’s possible to be killed in your own home, and if we are assuming kids don’t understand all of this, then why include it in a child’s film to begin with?
I was very upset by this, but Incredibles 2 did a marvelous job stepping it up. As I paid attention to the dialogue among the characters, I noticed there was a political message being sent to the audience. Frozone, who is an African American character, talks about how it’s funny that he had to run away from the police because if he had been caught, he would surely have had to pay the price whereas the Incredibles family (being white) was caught and released rather than punished.
Many times after that, as the parents of the Incredibles 2 family are deciding whether or not to take on another mission, there is talk about hypocrisy and flip-flopping and other traits tied to political leaders. Why should I let my son watch this movie, if I want to be the one to teach him values and about the government, not Disney?
Luckily, my son was already done with the movie at about the same time I was. He didn’t seem thrilled by the loud noises or the explosions (which is the beginning of the movie summed up), and only cared for the motorcycle scene where Elastigirl is cruising down the streets. The plot itself did not interest him, and neither did the characters. Personally, I don’t think he’s a fan of superhero movies, but I’m not a fan of Disney trying to brainwash my son either. He might only be 3.5 years old, but even if he doesn’t understand the political undertones of why Frozone made his statement, if this is a common theme in other movies, he will start to accept the teaching that “the system” is only fair to white people.
While I’m all for my son learning about the injustices of society and how to be a better person despite it all, it’s my call when I choose to have this conversation and how I choose to raise my toddler. Incredibles 2 should be a fun movie, a time to laugh and smile and enjoy in an imaginary world, but instead, Pixar has transformed it into an opportunity to tell kids (and their parents) what they think about the current state of our government and insert its political statement through character dialogue and movie plot.
Since I didn’t get to watch the entire movie, I did a Google search to see if anyone that had finished the movie would be able to tell me if this political theme continued throughout the rest of Incredibles 2 by Pixar, and I found this on Vox, where there are more examples of what I noticed at the beginning of Incredibles 2 by Pixar.
Incredibles 2 throws a bunch of other things into the mix. There’s a media critique that feels like Neil Postman with whiffs of Marshall McLuhan, by way of Mr. Robot, which helps also explain why there’s so much talk about the “system.” There’s an ongoing debate about whether you can really pursue justice if you follow laws that don’t lead to the most just outcome. There’s a thread about the challenges facing men who are accustomed to being breadwinners when they’re tasked with caregiving instead. There are jokes about “new math” that I presume are subtle jabs about the Common Core, and a line about how most people trust a monkey throwing darts more than they trust Congress. The idea that politicians don’t understand the concept of selfless good pops up more than once, and the movie pointedly calls superheroes “illegals.”
All of this happens so fast that it doesn’t sustain anything like a coherent argument or philosophy. If Incredibles 2 has a point of view about anything, it’s that politicians and laws are at best very imperfect, and even when they’re trying to do the right thing, they’ll probably mess it up. Sometimes, it’s just going to fall to the “supers” to fix things — no thanks to politicians. And if people’s perceptions about supers can be changed, then they’ll go along with it too.
I don’t think I need to say more. Incredibles 2 by Pixar was very disappointing. I got a refund and took my son to a bouncy house place instead, where he had lots of fun. Too bad that now before I take my son to watch a movie, I’ll have to watch it alone first and then decide if he should be allowed to watch it. Thanks, Disney, for drowning a kid’s movie plot into a pool of the same type of negativity movie goers in America hope to escape when they walk into a theater. For a company that owns the happiest place on earth, I’m actually no longer sure little kids are the targeted audience for its movies. And I’m not taking my son to daycares or places where they might play movies without my permission. Maybe it sounds paranoid but I have the right to guard what my son is taught through movies for at least a while longer in his childhood.
Overall, I’m glad my son is only 3, because kids that are 10 and 11 will surely start to grasp the political commentary and are already being influenced on how to vote during elections. Parents, I made my decision, but you make yours. Do your research, talk to friends, and be careful what your kids watch.