September 19, 2005

On the march

Went to see March of the Penguins last night with Rose and our friend Martha and liked it very much (despite the fact that the print was absolutely wretched, with bad sound quality and lots of scratches -- so don't see it at the Village East). But despite the many scenes of KILLINGLY CUTE baby penguins, it was hard to interpret what we had seen as a feel-good movie, what with the periodic death and months of hardship. And it was even harder to interpret it as pro-Christian propaganda, even though that's how some conservative Christians are spinning it.

Hack reviewer Michael Medved says the movie "affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice, and child rearing." (The New York Times eschews serial commas, but I added one; so there, AP Style!) And Christian I'm-going-to-say-he's-a-reporter? Andrew Coffin says, "It's sad that acknowledgment of a creator is absent in the examination of such strange and wonderful animals. But it's also a gap easily filled by family discussion after the film."

I would like to see the crib sheet that would prep parents for dealing with the difficult questions they might have to field after that movie:

"Why do the parents leave the baby penguins on the ice all by themselves instead of teaching them how to swim? When I grow up, are you going to leave me on my own and never see me again?"

"Why do the penguins only stay together for a year? Is it okay to have multiple committed relationships over time? Are you going to get divorced after I grow up?"

"Why does God want to kill cute little baby penguins?"

"Why were the grown-up penguins totally ignoring that bird that was attacking their babies? Morgan Freeman never said."

Morgan Freeman also kept quiet for the penguin sex scene, although given how many times he said variations on this phrase over the course of the movie, I did half-expect to hear him say, "Not all the penguins will survive the mating process."

Posted by Francis at 02:27 PM

I find it amazing that people are using this movie as evidence for intelligent design. This is just the sort of life cycle you would expect evolution to produce, starting from a species that mates on the shore and brings up their young on land, gradually adapting as Antarctica gets colder, and the land (that isn't ice that melts by spring) gets further and further from the sea. But anyone who designed such a mess of a life cycle, with all the 70 mile starvation marches, could not by any stretch of the imagination be called intelligent.

Posted by: Andy at September 19, 2005 03:14 PM

"March of the Penguins," the conservative film critic and radio host Michael Medved said in an interview, is "the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing."

Speaking of audiences who feel that movies ignore or belittle such themes, he added: "This is the first movie they've enjoyed since 'The Passion of the Christ.' This is 'The 'Passion of the Penguins.' "

Playing armchair psychologist, seems to me this can be viewed as further proof that conservative Xians generally like seeing things die.

Posted by: Steve at September 19, 2005 04:08 PM

You are such a bad boy, Francis! Throwing around your serial comma, thrusting it into direct quotes from the paper.

Posted by: Orange at September 19, 2005 04:48 PM

I can't see the movie because I can't stand the idea of watching painfully cute baby penguins die painfully ugly deaths. Screw this "circle of life" crap. I want cute baby penguins to live forever!

Posted by: michelle at September 20, 2005 08:56 AM

I've thought about whether liberals should highjack the discussion and talk about how the movie promotes abortion (penguins who are too young to take good care of chicks let their eggs roll away and freeze), mothers going to work while fathers stay home, and socialism (all the penguins have to huddle together to withstand the weather), but it's pretty fun just watching the conservative Christians say such breathtakingly silly things.

Posted by: DoctorMama at September 20, 2005 11:48 AM

Oh, I don't know. Penguin life sounds quite a lot like certain brands of Christianity to me.

Posted by: BadAunt at September 20, 2005 12:42 PM