It’s almost reassuring, in the bland, consensus-driven modern world, to know that political crackpots still exist, fighting the bad fight as if the mass horrors of the 20th century had never happened. Sad to report, then, that the US-based Maoist International Movement is now defunct.
These keepers of the collectivist flame believed the revolution was both desirable and imminent. But the funniest thing about MIM – even funnier than the fact their website linked to that bastion of the hard left, amazon.com – is that they reviewed movies through the prism of Mao’s teachings, Marxist-Leninist dogma, the class struggle, overthrowing the capitalist empire, etc. etc.
Obviously something like Alexander Nevsky or We Were Soldiers would lend itself to this sort of political analysis, but these guys weren’t choosy, reviewing every kind of movie, including cartoons. How anyone could see an ideological truth in the likes of A Bug’s Life is unfathomable, but it did get me thinking…
A Marxist reading of…Toy Story
Toy Story is nothing more than a reaffirmation of bourgeois capitalist principles. The importance of private ownership – in this case, Andy’s ‘ownership’ of Woody, Slinky Dog, Bo Peep et al – is unsubtly hammered home, brainwashing young children into becoming compliant consumer drones. Buzz represents American military might, the iron fist which ensures capitalism’s global hegemony, while the face-changing character of Mr Potato Head signifies the imperialist running dogs’ ever-willingness to switch position when it suits them. Death to all toys!
A Northern Ireland Unionist reading of…Shrek
This ludicrous parable marks a new low in Republican propaganda. The so-called ‘hero’ – if you could use such a term on this disgusting object – is a swamp-dwelling ogre whose skin colour immediately betrays his political affiliations. The sober, morally upright Lord Farquaad – the film’s equivalent of our beloved sovereign, and protector of the unity of all Fairytale Land – is a figure of mockery. The green guerrilla drinks too much, is enamoured of violence, makes fart jokes and finally runs off with the princess – much like those barbaric Paddies we have to deal with on a daily basis. God save our noble Farquaad…
A Feminist reading of…Snow White
Snow White is an almost totemic example of the patriarchal ascendancy in popular culture. The pathetic titular character is painted as the ideal woman: simpering, inactive and passive, waiting for her ‘prince in shining armour’ to rescue her, i.e. complete her as a woman. This, of course, couldn’t possibly be achieved through education, a career or artistic expression, as that would upset the cosy phallocentric paradigm in which Snow White is forced to exist. The only truly strong female character, the Queen, is portrayed as a wicked, homicidal megalomaniac; in truth she is simply a woman choosing her own destiny and imposing her will on a male-dominated world.
A Neo-Con reading of…Beavis and Butthead
These young hooligans are what’s wrong with America today. In fact, we can safely state that Beaver and Buttface are responsible for the federal deficit, our boys dying in Eye-raq and the levees breaking in New Orleans. If only some good old-fashioned American values like ambition, industry and self-reliance could be tortured into these young reprobates, this would again be a country I’d be proud to call home. Instead they sit on their couch all day, sniggering and watching pornographic MTV video games, and probably injecting marijuana. The degenerate sodomites responsible for this filth should have electrodes tied to their ill-used genitals.
An Ecological reading of…Antz
If we are to end our violation of the natural environment, we must educate the young on the importance of sustainable management of resources. Unfortunately, Antz merely reinforces the impression that the earth is here for our use only…that is, us and a bunch of computer-generated ants. These creatures seem obsessed with construction, industry and the relentless march of progress; a stifling conformity keeps everybody in line. The only voices raised against this senseless abuse of our blue planet are a bonehead (Sylvester Stallone), a highly strung princess (Sharon Stone) and a whining nerd (Woody Allen). They wouldn’t inspire anyone to live up a tree for two years.
(previously published in New Empress magazine: http://newempressmagazine.com/)