... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Block Chop 15: Great films - Monsters Inc as atheist parable ;)

Great Films: Monsters Inc. as atheist parable

If you’ve never seen Monsters Inc. I can’t recommend it highly enough.  It’s a funny, moving, exciting, and beautifully animated adventure.  The visuals are brilliant, and the characters are well written.  For me, however, the best thing about it is that it is clearly a positive anti-religious morality tale, and a call for rationality and evidence based belief over faith.

Let me explain.  The inhabitants of the monster world have their lives dominated by two deeply-held, but untested, beliefs.  The first is that human children are dangerous and terrifying.  The second is that only the fearful screams of the children can generate the energy their world needs to function.  As a result of these beliefs the monsters live closeted, paranoid and culturally stilted lives.

Fortunately circumstances unfold whereby a young girl accidentally enters the monster world, forcing a small portion of the population to question their deeply held beliefs.  The evidence they experience first-hand seems to suggest that children are not dangerous.  This is the beginning of the monster’s enlightenment – their Age of Reason.

A hypothesis is put forward that children’s laughter might actually be a better source of energy.  This is a step forward for two reasons; it generates more energy for the population, and is the beginning of a belief system based on evidence and positivity as opposed to superstition and fear.  It is morally superior.  The hypothesis is tested, proves robust and becomes accepted as established theory.

However there remain some selfishly-motivated fundamentalists opposing progress.  For them the worst possible outcome is the enlightenment of the population which would ultimately lead to a loss of power.  They violently strive to hold back the minds of the people, instilling fear and hatred, with propaganda and dogma.

Happily their efforts are defeated by rationality, reason, egalitarianism and common decency.  Energy out-put increases exponentially using a renewable source.  The monster population reaches a friendly hand outward to humanity; peace and knowledge reign supreme. Huzzah.

Monster’s Inc. is great antidote to the mass of faith promoting entertainment:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, with its Jesus metaphors; Avatar where tradition is only peaceful, and science is only military; Da Vinci Code with its storyline as unrealistic as anything from the Bible; countless stories where making a wish equates to praying.

Leaps of faith are a common, and often powerful, story-telling device.  They are of course fiction; I understand this, and don’t get annoyed every time I see it used.  However, the idea of faith being a positive virtue only becomes such a predominant metaphor under the influence of powerful religious forces.  When religions control the money, pay the artists and preach to the masses, they control the minds and the values.

Faith is now a cliché; a ready-made for lazy writers.  As a result it is rarely referred to in an original way; it is boring.  Monsters Inc. approaches faith in a manner highly original for a popular family animation.  It promotes free-thinking, cultural understanding and scientific progress, and faith as an evil holding back progress and unity.

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