Shark Tale

Recommended, but beware of subversion. I love CGI animation. I love how expressive and cute the animated characters can be, how they represent human emotions and gestures with such similitude. I enjoy the simple storylines, easy to follow, strong on moral content. Shark Tale is one of these. Unfortunately, it’s a mixed bag of good values and subversive ones. Oscar is the little slacker fish at a Whale Wash who has big dreams of being loved by being somebody important up on the “top of the reef.” When he falsely gets the credit for slaying a shark, he goes with it in order to achieve that fame he wants so badly. Meanwhile, Lenny, the shark, is dying to get out of his shark family because he is a vegetarian and doesn’t want to rule the waters through fear and a carnivorous appetite. The shark world is portrayed rather ingeniously as a fish eat fish mafia family. Only the strong… Very clever and provides a whole new context for the genre. Loved that. Oscar and Lenny team up to help each other and everyone learns their lesson by the end. What I really liked about this film is the theme about the emptiness at the “top” of celebrity worship. Oscar’s character flaw is that he thinks he needs to be “somebody” famous and important to be loved, that he has to “be somebody,” because “nobody loves a nobody,” But what he doesn’t bargain for is that the “people” of that world of celebrity, as embodied in Lola, the sexy fickle female fish who uses him for her own benefit, are vacuous and without real substance or permanence in their character. Oscar comes to realize that the real ones who love him all along have been right in front of him, as embodied in the lovable small town fish girl Angie, who sticks with him through thick and thin. As she finally screams to him, “I loved you when you were a nobody! I loved you before the Lie!” Interesting that “the Lie” here is the alleged killing of the shark, but it really expresses a wider theme that the entire celebrity culture is itself a Lie. I was clearly reminded of It’s a Wonderful Life with George Bailey wanting to “wipe the dust off my feet of this crummy little town and see the world.” Build skyscrapers and such. It’s all great Americana values here and I love that. The simple morality of middle American values are captured in Angie’s straightforward command when she discovers the lie: To Oscar, “you tell the truth,” and to Lenny, “and you go home.” Of course, they don’t at the beginning and that’s what gets them into trouble. Oscar finally realizes, “I didn’t need to go to the top of the reef. Everything I needed was right in front of me the whole time.” The love of a good woman, and friends. Now, I guess a Marxist could criticize this as a conspiracy of slave class reinforcement, considering that the movie also repackages the whole “Car Wash” context for the poor black culture as happy slavery. You know, don’t aspire to greatness, just accept your position in life at the bottom of the food chain, and enjoy it doing what you are best at, slave jobs at slave wages. But I think that is too simplistic. I think the point of this is more like The Wizard of Oz, and Wonderful Life, to see the value of home and those who truly do love you, and the shallowness, indeed falsity, of public love for celebrity. And that is an interesting irony undergirding this moral story. Here you have all these celebrity actors and actresses, like Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Robert DeNiro, Jack Black and others who are starring in a story about how empty and worthless their own celebrity existence is. They are the fish on the “top of the reef” telling us it is a miserable lonely life up there. Do they even realize their own stories condemn them? Now, here is what I did not like about the movie: Lenny the shark is clearly an analogy for a homosexual and so his mafia family’s rejection of him is an analogy for the claim that traditional society is being intolerant of homosexuals. Lenny is fey and sensitive like a homosexual cliché out of Will and Grace, and likes to dress up “like a dolphin,” which is an obvious insult to sharks, like “dressing up like a woman” is to men. And the way he dresses is obviously a queer eye guy with his yellow scarf around his neck. He regurgitates familiar gay phrases, like, “I’m not like other sharks,” “My family doesn’t accept me,” and “I like to dress like a dolphin, so what?” At the end this “dressing up” thing becomes more pronounced when the head shark, Lenny’s father, finally does accept him “no matter what you eat or how you dress.” And then they show other sharks being “liberated” from their mean stodgey “sharkness” by dressing up in what can only be considered Mardi Gras Gay Pride costumes. This theme of “accepting” people with abnormal behaviors or abnormal “tastes” is a very common one in movies, and an obvious subversive one driven by those with an anti-Christian agenda. And I might also add, a rather hypocritical one as well. I think it’s time Hollywood should start practicing what it preaches and put aside its own prejudice and bigotry. I think Hollywood should start expressing tolerance toward Christians and traditional moral valued people, who are truly the hated outcast rejected oppressed victims in LaLa Land.

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