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The Lorax, a book by Dr. Seuss that resembles a Hippie nightmare, is a work of art in threading together a global disaster with a fun, cheery children’s book. As a viewer of the film and book, I find that both works show the dangers of unfettered Capitalism on society, not less the world, either. Both the treadmill of consumption and the Netherlands’ paradox shine as dazzling examples of the neo-hippie save-the-world vibe manifesting itself as the Lorax, the creature and the moral. The Lorax himself serves as a jester of sorts, a sad victim in the fight against consumption. He, like many others around our very world, fights back against the plow of economic progress only to fall like so many others. His downfall begins wihen amighty hammer of consumption pounds away, gripped tightly in the fist of a man and group of elites who benefit from the issues arising from unregulated capitalism. The business of destruction, have you, engendering the need to pollute in order to live. Look behind the curtains-we see the culprit responsible for the disaster. As taboo as this is even in 2016, society is to blame for the environment’s destruction here, a mirror to our very own worldly problems.
The film paints a picture of a barren landscape virtually devoid of all life. We see the cemeteries of felled trees and the ruthless forward march of innovation. We see the world bleed and the skies fill with roaring plumes of blackened smoke. And for what? Products, essentially useless, are invented that captivate the minds of the collective society, the denizens of an era at the threshold of capitalistic intentions. It is these products that are made that spur the innovation of tools that can shred more effectively, create more efficiently. These same products and tools reminisce of the rusted smoke stacks of Detroit and the innovations hat occurred there. As the need for resources grew, the man and many others like him over harvested the forests and sucked dry the resources that once rested on their planet. The more they wanted, the more they took. The treadmill isn’t one to take kindly to slower strides, so it moved only one way: faster. Before they knew it, the people existed behind great walls in a zoo of plastic lies. Their push for innovation led them into a corner where the only survival strategy was more and more pollution and more consumption. The air became so toxic that they needed to buy bottled, purified air. And yet they didn’t stop. The treadmill would not allow for stopping. The urge to consume grew and with it the strain on an environment that once provided everything they needed. Now, plastic and waste superseded the offerings of nature. Pollution became necessary to survive with the environment dried to a shriveled husk. The treadmill moved so fast perhaps they never looked away from the material treat dangling from a bare string in front of their faces. Maybe they did not even care. Either possibility is equally as frightening.
Behind the great metal walls they lived, surrounded by a bubble. This dome concealed the horrors moaning just beyond. They lived like trapped rodents, shivering adrift driftwood in an endless ocean. Their bubble contained all the life left for them in the planet. They had taken the rest. They had taken plenty. Yet from their isolated world, the people were happy. Yes, they purchased “fresh air” in bottles, but their lives were certainly better than the nomadic lifeforms wandering the wasteland outside. Such savages, they were, living in the barren wastes. They couldn’t bask in the beauty of the plastic forests of the most precious city on Earth. They had everything, beautiful, perfect scenery, any car of their choosing, the freedom to buy-and waste-anything they could afford. In fact, life in the bubble was as perfect as it came. Of course, the cheeriness ends when the citizens find themselves staring down a barrel of blame on a loaded gun. After all, they did this to the planet. Their journey to perfection could never end. Much like the search for the philosopher’s stone, the goal roared ahead in an unreachable mirage. While they chased the dragon they drained their earth of resources and life. Then, with only their city left to hold them, most believed their lives were perfect and it was the rest of the world that was dangerous. Akin to today when we glance upon Africa with sneers of disgust and cries of “primitive peoples”. The Thneeds enacted a same retaliatory practice to their outside world and the defectors who dared question the virtual cage binding them like a sore to the ground. Only in the end, the blame for the destruction of the world is only attributable to the people swept up in their search for material happiness in the entrails of nature.
The end of the novel of the Lorax breaks the barriers of the Netherlands’ paradox and the treadmill of consumption. The reader finds a message of hope in the book’s ending paragraph. “Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack. Then the Lorax, and all of his friends, may come back (Seuss, 1971). An eye-opener, a revelation of all sorts. Is it finally the time for the mechanisms of capitalism to break? It seems we have an awakening of people seeking to reverse the human damages on the planet, starting with the restoration of the trees that in ages past swamped the landscape in their numbers. Unlike in our readings this change is almost a lighting bolt quick. One major event shakes up sentiments of regret, of ownership and responsibility. We have capitalism overturned in a collective mob of concerned citizens, a scene that happily portrays the wealthy leaders benefiting from ecocide taken down by a populace bent on penance for their sins. If they truly wish to make a difference, curbing their capitalistic desires comes first and foremost. Until that time, their wishes and wants will continue to coincide with the fashions and trends of society, following in foot how the whole downward spiral began. Changing attitudes at the end of the film seemed to reference this transition. It begs a comparison to a transition to an advanced, post-industrial nation. As is common with this transition, the outlook of greener practices emerge from the crowd’s demands that the seed be sown. The wealthy resist, as is obvious, because the capitalist is the one benefiting from all the destruction. His products feed on the misery present in a destroyed ecosystem namely due to his products necessitating an environment harsh and dangerous to humans. In their final rejection, faith in environmental stewardship soars back, along with it the prospect of environmentalism and sustainability once again.
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