Happy Feet Causes Angry Christians to Speak-Out
Happy Feet (2006) has got to be one of my favourite animated films! However, it was not until this blog post that I actually considered the film to be ‘anti-Christian’. Rather, I always understood the film as primarily representing the environmental problems of the Atlantic.
According to director of the film, George Miller, the environmental message depicted throughout the film was not even a major part of the original script as he states in the Wall Street Journal,“In Australia, we’re very, very aware of the ozone hole…You can’t tell a story about Antarctica and the penguins without giving that dimension.”
Wikipedia is perhaps every student’s first go-to place for information (even though we tend to not trust this source). However, I was very surprised that there was not a section on ‘religious controversy of the film’ as after recently watching the film again, it is blatantly obvious that religious imagery is present throughout the film.
However, what I did discover throughout my research on the religious reactions towards the film is that many Christians turned to various Christian websites in order to share their reactions after viewing the film.
Here is a blog on the Christian website stonescryout.org entitled, “Mocking Religion, Happy Feet is not a Friendly Little Film”,
This is an archive of the old Stones Cry Out site. For the current site, click here. " "I have here in my hand a list"…www.stonescryout.org
According to the blogger Jim, he warns his fellow Christians the following: “For Christians who have not seen Happy Feet and are considering it as a friendly, family film—make another choice. This film is not good for children or families, and it is another Hollywood example of open mockery of Christian traditions.”
Another movie reviewer, Sherry McMurray reviewed the film on the website ‘Christian Spotlight on Entertainment’ wrote the following in her review: “My biggest disappointment other than having wasted an evening that could have been spent in a much more enjoyable way, was having rewarded Hollywood for this attack on me. There’s nothing like paying someone to insult you! Do NOT make he same mistake. Stay away from this film and tell others to do the same.”
Check out her full blog below:
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Kind of harsh for an animation about cute penguins, right? Although I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I am very excited to share with you some of the elements of the film that many Christians who viewed the film refer to as anti-Christian.
Right at the commencement of the film, religious symbolism is present. The penguins are shown to worship a God known as ‘the Great ‘Guin’. The deity is described as having the power to make fish appear and disappear and the one to place the songs in the hearts of penguins.
Check-out the religious imagery present at the very start of the film, Is that heaven?:
The main character, Mumble in Happy Feet is different from others because he enjoys dancing instead of singing. Many Christian critics believe that Mumble’s unique trait very much portrays homosexuality. Because he is different from the rest of the penguin society, he is shunned from the “elders” and ultimately blamed for the food shortage because the penguin God does not approve of his different lifestyle. “The elders look more like vultures than penguins and are clearly representing the pious leaders of the Christian church.” (McMurray, Sherry) Mumble the tap dancing penguin can be seen as a symbol of progressiveness that is seen as a threat to the traditional values of the penguin religion. Noah the Elder believes that the Great ‘Guin is punishing the penguin society as a result of Mumble being different.
He must “repent of his ways and conform to their traditional views.” (McMurray, Sherry) The film ultimately deems fundamentalist Christianity as unaccepting individuals, with harsh and judgemental attitudes. In the film, it is usually the antagonist penguins who are the ones who are extremely religious such as the character Lovelace. The character Lovelace, a crazy televangelist who lies about seeing and hearing the mystique being in order to profit off of the other penguins. This is another way that the film appears to mock Christianity. Lovelace’s character very much portrays the performance theory that we learned in the course, where he appears to be very calculating and rehearsed which allows him and his performance to be just as important as the content.
Whether or not you agree on the degree that the film Happy Feet appears to be anti-Christian, there is no denying that religious symbolism is present throughout the film. The medium of the message of religion seems to be communicated throughout the film. I will leave you with a short video on the topic of anti-Christianity in the film Happy Feet that explores issues such as evolution and sexuality.
Jim, November 27, 2006 (9:04AM). “Mocking Religion, Happy Feet is Not a Friendly Little Film.” Stones Cry Out. Accessed November 20, 2014, http://www.stonescryout.org/archives/2006/11/mocking_religio.html.
Kelly, Kate. “The New Animated Film Happy Feet Doesn’t Dance Around Serious Issues”. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2007–03–15.
McMurray, Sherry. “Movie Review: Happy Feet”. Review of Happy Feet (Warner Bros. Productions). Christian Spotlight on Entertainment. November 27, 2006. Accessed November 20, 2014. http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/movies/2006/happyfeet2006.html.