The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is classic tale of environmental conscience, and it is a story that my three-year-old son enjoys. In fact, it was one of the first longer children’s books that managed to keep his attention for the entire story. Something about it just captivates him.
Today, I saw the trailer for the new Lorax movie for the first time. It’s a computer animated feature film based on Dr. Seuss’s book, and I smiled at the quality of the animation. There was a dream-like beauty to the Truffula Trees.
But as the trailer came to a close, it wiped the smile off my face.
Why? Because it ends with a joke that I don’t find funny at all.
Jump to about 2:20 in the above video, and you’ll hear the following exchange:
WOMAN: So who invited the giant furry peanut?
THE LORAX [gesturing threateningly]: I’ll go right up your nose! [He begins walking towards her, punching at the air. She leans towards him aggressively]
MAN: You wouldn’t hit a woman!
THE LORAX: [Incredulously:] Hoo! That’s a woman???
The “joke,” if you can call it that, is that the Lorax–voiced by Danny DeVito–doesn’t recognize his antagonist as a woman. After all, she is heavyset and not conventionally attractive, and she is behaving in a combative rather than demure way. So she’s gotta be a guy, right?
In other words, it is misogynistic and fat-shaming
The other trailer at the Lorax Movie’s official web site ends the exact. same. way.
Because it’s “just a joke,” it may seem like a small thing–but it isn’t. The comment demeans women whose bodies and behaviors don’t fit our culture’s overly narrow definition of feminine beauty. And when messages like these are relayed over, and over, and over, it becomes a really big deal. This “joke” reinforces the idea that it’s okay to objectify women–that women’s value is in their appearance–and that women who don’t fit the cultural ideal don’t deserve to be regarded as actual women.
I would find this joke reprehensible anywhere, but it really has no place in a children’s film. Surely the writers and directors could have done better! But, no–apparently the producers thought it was comedic genius. Cuz, you know, when women’s bodies aren’t sexy, they’re funny.
Readers: What do you think?
For further reading: “It’s just a joke“: a theoretical but interesting discussion of offensive jokes