As early as the release of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937, critics have sought to identify political messages in children's movies.
"Snow White," for example, was accused of having either feminist or anti-feminist messaging, depending on your flavor of political message-finding.
Lately it seems that Hollywood has taken a decidedly more open ideological turn when it comes to children's movies, with even a couple of writers and directors admitting they've inserted political messaging into films directed at children.
Here is a list of 10 children's movies that are rumored to have political motives.
The popular film premiered on Feb. 7, but it left some wondering of its agenda. Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri wrote that the film was “practically communist.”
In addition, Fox Business News host Charles Payne said the movie’s villain, President Business, “looks a bit like Mitt Romney” and that Hollywood embeds these types of “anti-business” platforms and gets away with it.
However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway says that the film may be the most “subversive” pro-business film ever. “It’s also about the importance of hard work, creativity, ownership, innovation and human dignity … it really is anti-crony capitalism, which only furthers the classically liberal message,” Hemingway wrote. “Even if the big corporate interests in this country prefer thwarting competition via massive legislation, onerous regulations and other barriers to entry over the risks of a free-wheeling market, cronyism is not the same thing as capitalism.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, conservatives were maddened by what they saw as a staple of liberal films: Animals good, people bad. They say that scenes from the scuba diver who captures a “defenseless clown fish” to depictions of a “bratty little girl” who wants it for her pet, humans are largely portrayed as disinterested in the plight of animals and the state of their ecosystem.
It is worth noting, the Washington Post reported, that a team of U.S. and Canadian scientists investigated the ecosystems of the fish involved in the animated movie.
“Sixteen percent of the species associated with characters in “Finding Nemo” that have been evaluated face the threat of extinction, according to the study, which was conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Canada’s Simon Fraser University.”
According to the Christian Science Monitor, many are saying this movie was hijacked by a “social Darwinist” agenda.
“I can't help thinking of [philosopher Friedrich] Nietzsche and his idea that some people are better and more deserving than others," Mikita Brottman, professor of language and literature at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, was quoted as saying.
In addition, many reviewers saw a cameo of sorts of Atlas Shrugged when the hero of the film balances a globe-shaped robot on his shoulders.”
Another take on the movie, according to the Hollywood Reporter, is that the film is anti-litigious. Many have embraced the film as a “cautionary tale” of what could happen if society encourages frivolous lawsuits while discouraging people to stand up against evil.
The trials and tribulations of Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the sabre tooth tiger because of global warming are seen by conservatives as propaganda, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The “melting glaciers are meant to convince children of the impending horrors of modern-day global warming.”
However, they also report that conservatives are happy that the film points out that climate change predates humanity, “so it wasn’t manmade pollutants that heated the planet and thawed the ice age back then.”
Glenn Beck famously said that "Happy Feet" was “an animated version of ‘An Incovenient Truth’ ” and nothing short of propaganda.
The movie about a dancing Emperor penguin revolved around the theme of human encroachment on the pristine world.
And the film’s director, George Miller, didn’t shy away from the controversy. He told the Wall Street Journal, “In Australia, we’re very, very aware of the ozone hole and Antarctica is literally the canary in the coal mine for this stuff, so (the film) sort of had to go in that direction.”
Big oil is the big villain in this film, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
And the movie’s director, John Lasseter, didn’t back away from the controversy. Actually, quite the opposite.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Lasseter said that the good guys will be renewable energy companies and the “uber bad guys” would be big oil.
“Why isn’t alternative fuel more? Why isn’t everybody jumping on that bandwagon? It makes so much sense: Electricity, solar, whatever. There’s ethanol. There’s all this stuff you could be doing,” Lasseter said. “And so I thought, well, that could be really cool in that you could have big oil versus alternative fuel. That’s when we kind of crafted the bad guy’s story.”
The Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world, may be fighting for something else as well.
The movie is “nothing but propaganda for the environmental movement,” according to Business Insider. It quotes Fox News’ Lou Dobbs as saying, “The president’s liberal friends in Hollywood [are] targeting a younger demographic using animated movies to sell their agenda to children.”
Even Stephen Colbert weighed in, saying that he didn’t like the propaganda-like product tie-ins, with more than 70, and that he hated “the little orange tree-hugger.”
Colbert ended his segment with a rant that Dr. Suess may even be fond of, if it weren’t against this movie that is based on his book. “This cash-taculous sellout is not quite enough, I’m demanding more branding of Loraxian stuff; Filmmaker get cracking, the market is lacking, a splendiforous Lorax themed drill made for fracking.”
The movie focuses on a lonely robot and its search for love as he cleans up Earth from humans who have trashed it and now live aboard spaceships run by large corporations.
The movie portrays a robot left on earth via 2805 that has been wrecked by trash and overconsumption and is meant to appeal to liberals, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
From the first frame, "my kids were bombarded with leftist propaganda about the evils of mankind," says Shannen Coffin at the National Review. Additionally, conservative pundit and writer Jonah Goldberg accused the movie of “Malthusian fear mongering.”
However, the Hollywood Reporter points out that many conservatives were happy that the movie didn’t place the blame solely on the shoulders of capitalism. “And some progressives were actually disappointed that humans, who eventually return to earth, aren’t sufficiently punished for their mistreatment of the planet.”
A living mantra of many on the left is the rich are bad and the poor are good and that is exactly what this movie portrays, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The muppets rally together to save their old theater from an evil oilman ironically named Tex Richman. As well, Democrat bigwig James Carville is cast in the movie.
The Fox Business Network accused the film of “brainwashing your kids against capitalism.” In addition, Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center said, “It's amazing how far the left will go … to manipulate your kids.”
The Clock family is a four-inch tall family that dwells in another family’s home, taking items to make a hidden portion their own.
The movie is based on Mary Norton’s popular novel "The Borrowers" and portrays the Clock family redistributing wealth by “borrowing” things from a family that has plenty, according to The Week.
Lou Dobbs of Fox News charges that the film “plainly demonizes the 1 percent.”
“Beware," jokes Jen Yamato at Movieline. "This charming film could ‘lead youngsters down the slippery slope of sharing things.’ ”