Walking out of The Secret Life of Pets
This just in on Facebook from my friend Christy Tennant Krispin — a testimony worth considering:
My son and I just walked out of The Secret Life of Pets.
It was a mutual decision — he showed remarkable discernment for an 8-year-old boy.
My first moment of disgust was when they introduced the lead bad guy and he was voiced by Kevin Hart with a hyper-stereotypical black thug voice. I was so disappointed. I’m trying so hard to teach my son how to see his black brothers, and then I take him to yet another movie where the negative stereotypes are reiterated. (Thank goodness, again, for the decision J.J. Abrams made to make one of the lead heroes* in the new Star Wars movie a black man. Let’s have more of that, please.)
It would have been so much more creative and funny if they had voiced the lead thug with someone like Melissa McCarthy. Now that would have been hilarious. We should/could have left then, but it was when the pets started discussing how they could kill their humans/owners — when they started talking about chopping them up in a blender — that we were done. My son put his hands over his ears and said, “I don’t want to hear this.” I told him we could leave and find something else to watch, and he eagerly agreed.
I came home and looked up reviews, only to find that none of them I read (even from PluggedIn and Common Sense Media) shared my concerns. They gave positive reviews.
So for what it’s worth, neither I nor my son enjoyed it, and we disliked it enough to leave and ask for our money back.
We stopped at a garage sale on the way home and I gave my son some of the money from our refund, which he used to buy a microscope for $2. Which I thought was a great choice.
And now we’re off to the library so he can pick out another movie to watch on DVD. Maybe they have The Force Awakens” available. Now that’s something we’d really enjoy.
It turns out that Christy is not alone.
It’s not remotely witty, never for a second clever, and with a typecast Kevin Hart voicing a one-trick racial pastiche of a bunny, it underscores the cultural divide between those who think Minions and The Lorax are unwatchable dreck and those who are wrong. It’s machine-tooled to make money, which it will after the manner of other things that make money at the expense of your children, but it’s worth considering that the reason for most of the terrible things in this world is our agreement that critical thinking is a burden, while anti-intellectualism is a roadmap to our survival as first a civilization, then as a species. In our society, saying that something is “for kids” means that it’s better, safer…unless it’s entertainment. The greatest trick the devil played is convincing an entire culture that it’s better not to waste time wondering if what you put in your child’s head is productive and smart. So long as there’s no sex in it, game on. If The Secret Life of Pets(hereafter Pets) were a chair, it would be made of broken glass and rusty nails. But hey, never mind, why criticize? It’s just for kids.