They killed Bambi, and now Mumble too

Bambi meets GodzillaGenerations of American children have grown up witnessing Bambi orphaned by evil mother-killing hunters. In my theater seat, I was sure that deer stalking, as it’s called in England, would evolve the way of Neanderthals. The Happy Feet generation might have held the same hope for the survival of Emperor Penguins, but our George Bush Caligula has just given them a thumbs down.

In spite of the fact that the Academy Award for best documentary went to the March of the Penguins, which told of the heart-breaking travails of the Emperor Penguins, whose natural challenge is to face the most bitter climate on Earth.

Now Climate Change is pulling the ice from under their egg-nestling feet. Environmentalist groups want the Emperor Penguins declared an endangered species, to give clout to efforts to fight the causes of global warming, but the industrialists and fossil fuel companies are having none of it.

Remember the Rockhopper Penguin in Happy Feet, slowly strangling in his plastic six-pack necklace? He too was denied protection from the peril of melting ice and over-fishing.

I can’t visit a penguin exhibit at the zoo without thinking of Mumble, the Happy Feet star, gone crazy from confinement, at last breaking into the soft shuffle which enabled him to communicate with man, to pique man’s interest into his human-like behavior, and lure civilized man’s sympathy for Mumble’s kind, and their helplessness in the face of the human’s destructive fisheries.

At the Omaha Zoo, the scene on the ice with all the aimless penguins was so identical, I was certain the transformative scene had been filmed there, until I reminded myself that Happy Feet was a computer animation.

I was uncomfortable with the Stepin Fetchit quality of Happy Feet’s master-pleasing tap dance. It may have helped humanize black people in the eyes of racists, but it didn’t change white condescension.

Of course, neither penguins or polar bears can do a thing to slow the melting of their habitat. Their fate is in our hands. That was the message of Happy Feet, a message you might not have conceived could have gone over anyone’s head, even George Bush.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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