Tuesday, October 28, 2014

George: King of the Jungle and Subliminal Messages

George: King of the Jungle and Subliminal Messages 

George of the Jungle, although aimed at a young audience, contains many implied messages of surprising depth for a children’s movie. Normally, children’s movies films demonstrate clichĂ© ideologies of love and understanding. However, George of the Jungle explores the consequences of materialism and other negative aspects of society. The film sends a positive message of anti-materialism as well as a more hidden negative message that encourages blindly following emotions. 

Through the positive portrayal of George, who was raised in the jungle, and the negative images of Lyle and Ursula’s socialite mother, George of the Jungle send an anti-materialism message. The antagonists, George and Ursula, value kindness to other beings and new experiences. For example, George helps a poor little monkey who is sad that the other monkeys don’t like him. He also rescues a man stuck dangling from a bridge as well as traveling all the way back to Africa to rescue Ape. Ursula is set apart from her family by her desire to explore the African jungle and her lack of materialistic desires. On the other hand, lyle and Ursula’s mother only care about status and appearances. Instead of considering her daughter’s feelings, Ursula’s mother is only concerned with how bad canceling the wedding will look to her prestigious guests. By shedding this negative light on social concerns, George of the Jungle send the message that materialism is a fault and that the selfless qualities of George and Ursula are assets.

On the other hand, George of the Jungle also contains a more negative message. Ursula blindly follows George into the jungle just because she develops feelings for him.  This sends the message that your emotions should dictate your actions. You’re attracted to a homeless guy with no education who lives in a treehouse in the jungle? Go for it! This message could be damaging to young girls who who watch the movie and get the impression that how you feel is the only thing that matters. In addition, the movie contains several adult references. For example, the narrator mentions “shoving a coconut up Lyle’s...sleeping bag.” Later, Ursula’s father states that his wife is “a pain in the ass.” I was surprised that a movie aimed at children would include these slightly offensive phrases. 

George of the Jungle presents these themes implicitly. As Louis Giannetti says in Understanding Movies, “the protagonists and antagonists represent conflicting value systems, but these are not dwelled on. We must infer what the characters stand for as their tale unfolds. Nobody spells out the ‘moral of the story’” (Giannetti 403). Although none of the characters flat out say that materialism is bad and that selflessness is good, you can extrapolate this theme from the way the film portrays qualities of each. Additionally, Ursula never says that she is throwing all logic out the window to follow her emotions. However, her actions send the message for her. Because of the obvious negative light shed on Ursula’s mother, I think the positive message of anti-materialism outweighs the film’s negative ideology. With this in mind, I give George of the Jungle four out of five pickles. 

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