Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss; You Deserve Better

In case you have been living under a rock, here’s the synopsis:

  1. It is Dr. Seuss’s Birthday today
  2. In what I am sure is a coincidence, a new adaptation of The Lorax is also premiering today.
  3. People are freaking out.

This freak out is happening in two ways. First there is this man

Lou Dobbs

His name is Lou Dobbs and he really, really doesn’t like the Lorax. Or The Secret World of Arrietty.  To recap briefly, he believes the film is nothing but  propaganda aimed at indoctrinating the young into being liberals.  And his attack his not entirely(although mostly) based on made up facts. Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel) was well known for “liberal views;” the Lorax book was very pro-environmental, anti-“planet destroying” business. How this ties into President Obama I am not sure, considering the book was published in 1971. I suppose the argument could be made that the only reason the re-release is being done now is to further the Obama administrations political goals. However, the book and TV special were both done under a Republican administration, so maybe the Office of the President has more important things to do than worry about children’s media. So I am forced to conclude that Mr. Lou Dobbs is a silly man.

But the freak out is happening in another way as well. Anyone visiting Amazon recently would be assaulted by relentless ads for the film, and then there is the massive product tie-in. This has been reported any number of places, but the funniest is probably here:

Movies Attacking Our Freedom

Suess has in many ways always been misunderstood. His book Horton Hears a Who was a very personal book, and although Suess had a political goal it was getting out the vote participation in the first Japanese election, not the message numerous other groups have ascribed. Of course, once a book goes out into the world, the author loses all control of what people will believe. However both Seuss and his widow have long been vocal opponents of the books hijacking. It seems to me that should matter.

However that’s not even the worst insult. As if by having your work hijacked by political pundits or hypocrites who are “promoting your message”. No the worst insult is that, by most accounts, the movie isn’t very good. Although it’s just opening this weekend, reviews have been mixed. Visually appealing yes, but a thin plot stretched to the breaking point.and padded with fluff seem to be the overall consensus. Screen Rant says the film is no threat to anyone’s politics,and I say “too bad”.

There is no doubt I will see it; the young people in my life have been quite clear about that point. But after the hype has died down, I intend to introduce them to my favorite Dr. Seuss film The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.

It is extremely weird and wonderful and subversive as all get out. It of course bombed at the box office, and even Seuss distanced himself from the film. And yet it still has the power to shock and amaze, as does the best of Dr. Seuss’s work.

So Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss. You deserve so much better than this, but there is always hope. Hope as long as some kid can open your books and have them go off like a bomb in their mind.

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind

Theodore Geisel

Note For a recent recap of Dr. Seuss and his career: Seussapalooza

Public “Thank You” to Mr. Paris for pointing out the original Lou Dobbs rant.


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