Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What the Incredibles is really about

If you've opened a newspaper lately, or listened to the radio, you can't help but have heard that the new Star Wars movie is a metaphor for "Bush, the Emperor," while the new Spielberg movie is all about fleeing evil, so that it can die a natural death (a la the axis of the unwilling), rather than standing up and fighting (that is, "America, the evil empire"). Well, do not fear -- I've finally figured out that last year's hit, The Incredibles, is an extended metaphor for American exceptionalism and for our responsibility to keep the world safe. By the way, my theory will came as a huge surprise to the S.F. Bay Area and Hollywood types who made this movie, since I either know (see here, too) or suspect that their sympathies do not lie with the Republican world view. [Warning: For the ten of you who haven't seen The Incredibles (and you really should, 'cause it's a great movie), the rest of this post is going to be a spoiler.] The movie opens by focusing on arrogant, but fundamentally good-hearted superheroes, whose goal -- which they put into effect -- is to save the world from evil. This is clearly a metaphor for America during and immediately after WWII. Then, events turn and the superheroes, rather than being appreciated, are hated. They are forced to hide their power and pretend to be equal to anyone else. Film critics have made much of this part of the movie -- with lines such as "If everyone is the best, then no one is the best" -- to point fingers at our lousy public school systems. They are thinking small. This part of the film clearly examines America's plight during the Vietnam era and the 1970s, when it was reviled for being a superpower, and tried desperately to rein in its strength. And just as the Incredible kids ended up with low self-esteem, so too did America during this period. The movie has a lull period, where Mr. Incredible begins to flex his muscles again (which could be Grenada or quite possibly even the Gulf War), but it really begins to pick up again metaphor-wise when Syndrome unleashes several savage attacks that are intended to kill Mr. Incredible and his family -- in other words, 9/11. Significantly, unlike the runaway motif in War of the Worlds, the Incredibles respond to these assaults just as America did -- they fight back, and they fight back hard. This is a war to the death, and they understand that fact. As Elastigirl says when she's trying to convince her children to use to the fullest extent the same powers they've been taught to hide and be embarrassed about, "Doubt is a luxury we can no longer afford." (Or something to that effect.) In Iraq, we also can't afford the luxury of doubt. We have to believe (as I do) that we're doing the right thing in opening the way to Democracy in totalitarian Islamic countries, and just movie forward, as hard and fast as we can. Let's hope that our real life American experience ends with the same optimistic ending the movie has: to the cheers of the world, the Incredibles destroy the evil force arrayed against them, and are allowed to return to being both good citizens and world protectors.