Before I start roundly criticising “Despicable Me” I would like to say for the record that I loved this movie and thought it was great entertainment – but for adults, not children.
I feel a few eyebrows raising. My strong belief is that movies like this are extraordinarily unhealthy for the growing, learning minds of children – most especially for children struggling through an abusive environment – and I will explain why in this post.
The Master Criminal
The animated motion picture “Despicable Me” described the turning of a master criminal, Gru, into a man of human emotion through the agency of three little girls who brought sunshine and love to his life. This is a fairy tale for children about the power of love, the idea being that the presence or absence of strong love can shape an individual’s destiny.
This is true in a sense, but is this a relevant concept in this circumstance? A sociopath – and funny as he is Gru is portrayed as a sociopath – is someone who has only a tenuous grasp on the more tender human emotions. The messages movies like this send sink straight into the impressionable minds of children in unfathomable ways, and the worst message of this movie is that the man is not responsible and it is up to the child to bring out the love, and hence “goodness” in him.
Your Love Is Not Enough
Overall in the movie Gru is represented as being a grown man who is yet not responsible for the choices and decisions he has made in his life. The blame is put on his mother, and the children are there to show him the way to goodness through the powerful agency of love.
I remind you this is a children’s movie. What message do you think this sends to a child watching who is subject to abuse at home? Overall, the message is that he is not responsible for his badness, and that it is up to the child to nurture the love within this dark man, whereupon he will turn into a loving, warm and kind individual. In the abused child’s life this doesn’t happen of course, so whose fault is it? The child knows well. It is their fault, and the fault of the mother. The child is not loveable, and the man is held blameless.
Love Will Keep Us Together
This movie sends all kinds of subconscious and subliminal messages. It is about the mind-eye connection, and often visual messages are absorbed more efficiently and effectively than audible messages.
The explanation for Gru’s inhumanity is shown to be through his mother, who raised him to be as he is through a loveless, mentally abusive environment and a bad example.
This comes back to the nature versus nurture debate, which I don’t want to get into. I’m taking simpler approach and suggesting some common sense is required. Death, in “Despicable Me”, is wrapped up in clean linen as the Freeze Ray. Does that make killing funny, or less serious, even in an animated feature? Be that as it may, is there anyone who thinks someone can summarily kill someone else if they are not a sociopath? And if someone is a sociopath is a bit of fairy floss and adorably sticky kids’ fingers going to fix it?
I take you back to the suggestion that the impact of this movie on an abused child would very likely be detrimental in the extreme. The message to the abused child from the abuser is always that they are not loving enough, that they are bad, and that it is their fault they are abused. If they were more loving, more adorable, more loveable, the bad person would turn good and they would no longer be hurt. There lies the horror of this movie, and if you examine the themes and messages in a detached sense, moving away from the “adorable” characters, I believe you will be startled by the reality of it.
Do We Really Want Hollywood Shaping Our Future?
The making and releasing of this movie, and others like it, as food for the minds of our young rank amongst the highest travesties of this century and last century. Forget wars, forget the Doomsday Clock, forget Agent Orange, and think about the genesis of these things. The visual and audible feast on which we were raised, and on which we raise our children, are responsible for these things, are they not?
Why is the world the way it is? I am now referring to wider issues than the impact of negative messages on abused children; I am referring to our culture of violence, domination, and patriarchy. As much as anything else the rubbish we were fed as children, and the rubbish we now feed our children in the form of programs such as Despicable Me, Batman and Robin, Shrek (which was basically a retelling of Beauty and the Beast) ensures the unhealthy culture lives on.
If movie makers would take their eye off the almighty dollar for a while and have all children’s literature and film examined by an unbiased specialist child psychologist before being released to the public, the future of the world would be a safer, more assured place. Why are the minds of the future generations, our young ones, left to be moulded by the film industry and other industries only interested in making money and in shaping the future? With the minds of our young in their less than capable hands we are giving them our future on a silver platter with Jelly Babies around the edge.
Namaste _/\_ ✨
Copyright © Faith White 2015