By Colin Mason
April 21, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com/PRI) – If blogs were written in ink, then a veritable tanker of it would have been spilled when the latest film expedition into the land of Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who, entered the world of cinema. Boasting an all-star voice cast and some relatively impressive computer animation, this updated version of the classic Seuss story retains the famous tagline: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Pro-lifers demonstrated enthusiastically at the film’s premiere (probably to the chagrin of the producers), but the question remains: Is Hollywood’s version of Horton, adapted from the work of the famously liberal Seuss, really pro-life?
In the words of the cartoon character Strong Bad: “Yes. Very yes.”
Horton, a lovable, bumbling elephant from the mythical Jungle of Nool, happens upon a speck of dust, from which emanates minuscule voices. Horton discovers that an infinitesimal race of people, the Whos, live on the speck, and he befriends their mayor. The problem is, only Horton has ears sensitive enough to hear the voices of the tiny people, and the rest of the jungle animals mock and persecute him for his belief. In the end, however, the Whos are able to make enough of a clamor to prove their existence, and the entire jungle is converted.
No really, that’s what happens.
Despite its blindingly obvious pro-life implications, the pro-abortion left has gone into major denial. The movie is anything but pro-life, they insist; it is really about intolerance, climate change, George Bush…anything but abortion.
For someone who has seen the film, these assertions are laughable. The producers of the film, intentionally or otherwise, packed it too full of pro-life possibilities. For instance, the mayor of Whoville has a fully functional family with (gasp) 97 children, all of whom he makes a point to spend time with. Horton speculates on what the future holds for Whos, including what legal rights they will have when the inhabitants of Nool recognize them as persons.
The villain of the film is a disbelieving, persecuting Hillary Clinton-esque kangaroo, who works hard to ridicule mere possibility of life on the dust speck. She even goes so far as to shout that “if you can’t see, hear or feel something, it doesn’t exist!”
Apparently, according to the film’s producers and countless blogs, web sites and newspapers, none of this is enough to make the film “pro-life.”
Audrey Geisel, wife of the late Dr. Seuss and one of the producers of the film, loudly proclaims that she “doesn’t like people to hijack Dr. Seuss characters or material to front their own points of view.” Geisel is a long-time supporter of Planned Parenthood and insists that any pro-life reading of Horton Hears a Who is mere fabrication.
Jessica Rogers of FilmSchoolRejects.com insists that Horton is merely a “cute message to teach children” about treating “others with respect, despite their differences.” Mitchell Warren of the Miami Poetry Review goes a step further and says, incredibly, that “the story could easily be dissected and used to fire up any point – a pro or anti-anything movie, depending on the viewer’s perspective.”
This is insulting to the intelligence of viewers like myself who think Horton’s pro-life message is unmistakable. It probably also would have upset the opinionated and liberal Seuss, who undoubtedly would not write a book that he felt could “be used to fire up any point.”
The real concern of the left is not one of interpretation. Rather, their concern is that this movie, with its all-star cast, beautiful animation and warm humor, portrays pro-life values in a way that makes them attractive to children. The cause is presented in terms of personhood, not masked and distorted by political framing. Horton is friendly and humorous, and his tagline resonates on a deeply human level. It is his opponents who are narrow-minded, intolerant, and cruel.
In other words, Horton makes being pro-life look good. The pro-abortion world can’t stand to see children influenced in that way, and so it plugs its ears and sings “I can’t hear you” as loud as it can.
Take your children (or grandchildren) to see Horton. Then show them a picture of an unborn baby and say: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Colin Mason is the Director for Media Production for the Population Research Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.