Mr. Well’s 4th grade class doesn’t want the environmental message of the Dr. Seuss classic children’s book “The Lorax” to be lost when the feature film premieres in March. So the Brookline, Massachusetts 10-year-olds are circulating a petition through Change.org to prompt producers to include conservation education materials on the movie’s website and in the trailer.
“Adding environmental education to The Lorax movie website is important because this is the message of the book and it should be honored. Dr. Seuss wanted people to be inspired by The Lorax to help the environment,” Mr. Well wrote in the petition. “Currently, the movie website, trailer, and story summary have no mention of helping our planet! This is a missed opportunity. There are big problems in our natural world and we need more and more people helping out.”
I for one can’t wait to see this film. A sucker for cartoons there’s nothing I love better than to have my favorites brought to life on the big screen. First published in 1971 “The Lorax” is a cautionary tale that illustrates what will happen when the interests of commerce are elevated above the protection of the natural world. The 4th-graders’ observation makes me wonder if there may indeed be a dilution of the story’s clear and profound environmental message. We must speak for the trees.
I recall in 1988 “The Lorax” was banned by the school district of Laytonville, California because it “criminalized the forestry industry”. Apparently members of that community feared local children were being manipulated into believing that their parents’ livelihood was derived through evil means. This bit of ACLU history is perhaps a precursor to the recent declarations by Republican activists that the latest Muppet Movie is in fact a piece of communist propaganda to demonize capitalism and the right to earn a buck.
If nothing else all of this hullabaloo demonstrates the absurdity of anything taken to extremes. Though Dr. Seuss advocated the preservation of trees in his book, it’s likely he would have favored a sustainable practice of planting and extraction, thoughtfully cultivating supply to meet reasonable demand. That’s just good business.
And while corporate zealots and eco-fascists might accuse each other of cause-celeb fanaticism, when it comes to entertaining and educating children it’s better to let them have their cartoons like this one that teach the consequences of our actions. “The Lorax” isn’t about assigning blame or imposing job-killing regulations to protect the environment. In the end the book demonstrates how through personal responsibility we can each work to set things right even when they go horribly wrong. And that’s a good lesson to be learned for 4th graders and adults alike. ~ JEM
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