Did Pixar Make Me Vegan?

We’ve all heard the famous line from Bruce the shark in Finding Nemo, “fish are friends, not food”, but is it just a line or is there more to it?

Films animated by Pixar Studios, though aimed at children, are known to be home to many more adult references too. These often come in the form of innuendo, a nod to the parents watching with their kids. But you can also find many allusions to themes that are purely innocent but are read differently by a younger and older audience.

Bruce’s character in Finding Nemo (2003) is a prime example of this. He starts a support group called The Fish-Friendly Sharks to help other sharks stop eating fish too. Their mantra is:

 “I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food.”

Watching this back as an adult, it seems like a clear message on the consumption of fish. Although later in the film Bruce does become a slave to his carnal instincts as a shark, he is overall a seen as a good character, because he does not eat fish like other sharks do.

This same trope of the vegetarian shark is also seen in Dreamworks’ Shark Tale (2004), where Lenny also does not eat fish, which is seen as a weakness by the other sharks. There is even a scene where his father forces him to eat a prawn, in which the prawn is seen begging Lenny not to eat him.

 

 

While both of these examples could be said to have been included simply to make children not afraid of sharks, making them vegetarian begs the question of whether it was intentional. The idea of bringing these kinds of issues into children’s’ films is seen in other Dreamworks animations too, including Over The Hedge (2006). The two antagonists of this film are a bear, who is angry that their hibernation food was stolen and the other is an exterminator, or by extension, humans.

The entire plot revolves around woodland creatures not being able to scavenge for food because the humans have built more houses, cutting down their habitat. When they are caught attempting to steal food from human homes they are seen as “vermin” that need to be exterminated. It’s only natural for children to want to side with the cute animals that lead the story and many children would bring these ideas outside of the story.

One final example that perpetuates the ideas of a plant-based lifestyle is Aardman Animations’ film, Chicken Run (2000). It’s almost impossible to detach this film from a vegetarian agenda, given that an actual line from the film, is “I don’t want to be a pie!” spoken by an actual chicken. Here, the antagonists are the farmer, who are seen as murderers.

 

 

This framing of sentient and talking animals skews the perspective of the viewer to see them as more than “just food”. They are the heroes of the story, they provoke an emotional response from the audience and you are rooting for them to win. There’s been an increase in plant-based lifestyles within millennials and generation Z, people who grew up watching these sorts of movies. Is it possible that they did indeed have an impact on the way we view the world? Was this the intention?

Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan or meat-eater, the link between children’s media and the portrayal of animal welfare issues is unavoidable. There is far less media aimed at adults with this same message, packaged in an unobtrusive way. Maybe this is how the world becomes plant-based, through the innocence of animal protagonists, showing us that we are not as different as we think.

Do you think that these films made an impact on your meat consumption? Can you think of any other films that fit into this category? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

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Does Hollywood Really Know What’s Best For Us?

We’ve all heard the phrase before, the idea that Hollywood films do well because at the end of the day, they do their market research and they learn what audiences want. But do they really have it down? Can all audiences ever be truly happy with mainstream media?

There is a growing trend of Hollywood films no longer being based upon original screenplays or even original ideas. Let’s take a look at three current popular films; Rogue One, Assassin’s Creed and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Of these, the first is sequel (or a prequel… what do you call a film that is both a sequel and a prequel to existing films?!), the second is a film based on a video game, and the third is a spinoff of a multi-billion dollar franchise that encompasses pretty much every kind of media you can imagine. Why is that? Well, long story short, it’s because they’ve already proven to be successful and, most importantly, profitable.

The only popular film out at the minute that is an original idea is Passengers and it stars two of the biggest names in film right now; Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. No doubt, most of the buzz around this film is going to come from their combined built-in audience. So, what does Hollywood have against original films? Some bring in a lot of revenue, but Hollywood hardly ever takes chances. But what we really want to know is, does Hollywood do this because they truly know what we, the audience is going to want?

Let’s look at the example of the Star Wars films. An original concept, Star Wars is universally loved. Well, episodes 4-6 definitely are, less can be said for the prequels (let’s just put the Disney ones aside for a moment). There is quite a disconnect between the two trilogies, to put it mildly, and there is a reason for this. The first Star Wars films, although pioneered by George Lucas, had the most Hollywood influence. Before A New Hope, Lucas was unheard of, the studio wasn’t going to allow him his full creative license. But after the success of Star Wars, when the prequels were being planned, Lucas was allowed to exercise more of his right as a director. Of course, he’s nowhere near being a bad director, but let’s just say that Jar Jar Binks was cut from the first three episodes…

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Source: dorksideoftheforce.com

As we all know, Jar Jar is not the most acclaimed character. It was the studio’s decision to have him cut the first time around, so do they really know what we like to see on screen? The most recent Star Wars films, The Force Awakens and Rogue One, have done even better, Rogue One being one of the most commercially successful films of 2016, despite only being out for 16 days of the year.  Star Wars is now owned by Disney, a company that knows how to make money, they do what they do very well.

Another example of this is Inception. This film was very experimental, and would, arguably, have not been taken up by the studio if it wasn’t for the fact that Christopher Nolan had already established himself as an acclaimed Hollywood director. But many would argue that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it takes away any of the cultural value, pop culture is of course, still a culture. Sure, it’s unlikely that Hollywood can keep everyone happy, but the numbers speak for themselves.

The problem here, is more about consumerism itself and the grip it has over modern arts and entertainment. Maybe there is issue with Hollywood being the main source of film, overshadowing independent productions and buying out competitions, but the rise of the internet and consumer-made media is helping to combat this. It’s clear however, that whatever is happening, as long as there are people who enjoy it, there will always be a place for it.

RIP, Carrie Fisher, thank you for being such an inspiration to many people, you will be truly missed. May the force be with you.