Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Finding Nemo Conspiracies

Finding Nemo is highly acclaimed and nearly universally liked s a childrens film. There are many conspiracy theories floating around the internet about hidden messages and themes in Disney and Pixar movies, most of which are very far-fetched, having personally watched many of these films. Some of the wildest rumors claim that Finding Nemo pushes a pro-gay agenda due to the mating tendencies of clown fish. While I am sure that Disney and Pixar did their research on certain fish colonies, this theory seems very far-fetched in terms of reaching kids. I certainly didn’t know or even care about such things when I watched the film as a child in 2003. This is why it is best to try to think as a kid if you are truly going to capture any hidden messages in such films. They aren’t trying to influence adults, as much as their kids and grandkids that they are bringing to the movies. I’ll start with what I got out of Finding Nemo as an 11-year-old: an adorable fish is uprooted from his family and friends due to humans, forcing his father to miraculously find him, all while avoiding more human obstacles. Now, lets sort through the characters. Nemo and his father are both likable, friendly fish with charming personalities. Even the fish with less than desirable traits, such as Dory, are presented in a positive manner. Even the shark who is known to eat fish is still presented in a comical, light-hearted manner. He is in the process of learning that “fish are friends, not food”. Here, the producers try to change the perception of the natural food chain. Every shark in the ocean wants to eat fish and that’s how things are in the natural world. To change such an obvious fact and present the shark as funny is to distort reality and make humans look even worse. With that being said, a closer examination of human’s role in this film reveals an agenda. Unlike the fish, humans are portrayed as scary, evil and a danger to the well-being of all fish. While this is all partially true in some manner, it is more so the fact that all humans in the movie are portrayed as such that helps to reinforce this agenda. The scuba-diver who separates Nemo’s family is big, dark, and scary. Next, the girl attempting to keep Nemo as a pet, Darla, is presented as any animals’ worst nightmare. She had killed a fish previously and is ugly, obnoxious and loud. We know that there are humane, helpful ways to adopt and care for a house pet, yet no humans of this sort are shown in this film, only evil Darla. The Hollywood Reporter notices that “the humans in this film-from the scuba divers who capture a defenseless clown fish to a bratty little girl who wants it for her pet-are largely portrayed as completely disinterested in the plight of less evolved creatures.” This idea is reinforced when Nemo’s father finally reaches the beach and the town Nemo is being held captive in, most humans are shown as stupid and ignorant. So, the message that a child gets from this movie is something along the lines of: any human who disrupts a natural habitat (in particular the ocean) is ignorant and has bad intentions. This is very effective in reaching the targeted audience, children. I remember feeling bad for Nemo and his father when I watched the film over 10 years ago. Whether or not some of the more far-fetched agenda conspiracies are true are irrelevant in my opinion, as they simply do not reach the audience. This subtle message of humans being greedy and ill-intentioned is, however, well received, as it is vividly portrayed through the characters of the film. I don’t necessarily agree with this idea, as I know many humans who take animals and their natural habitats very seriously, however, I can’t disagree that teaching kids to protect the environment and treat animals well is a bad thing!

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