Saturday morning dawned rainy and raw and Nonna’s hamstring was still sore. And, so, we jettisoned Plan A — go National Geographic and see the Croc exhibit — and went with Plan B: go see a movie. Our choices of non-R movies showing close by were limited to Zootopia and Kung Fu Panda 3. G/Son picked Kung Fu Panda 3 and off we went.
I’ll say first that, yes, there’s everything wrong with this movie that there is with just about every G movie in the history of ever. It plays on stereotypes. With one teeny exception, ALL of the important characters are males and one of the (two, count them, two) females is a femme fatale, so, there you go: “exotic” sexy woman. Further, the one powerful woman in the story, Tigress, is almost immediately forced to become a surrogate mother for an infantile, little girl who plays with dolls and gets in the way. And, as do so many modern (and by “modern” I mean, since, like, the 1800s) “children’s” stories, this one mines the rich stuff out of fairytale, myth, and foreign culture and “sanitizes” it for children in order to sell everything from video games, to t-shirts, to Coke in the lobby. And that’s just the start.
And, on one level, it’s Version A of the only two plots that exist: Young Man Goes on A Journey. He is led on the journey by this two (!) fathers and his martial arts teacher(s) — all men — and they lead him to find his true self. There’s never quite a “Luke, I am your father,” moment, but you get the picture.
But I’ll also say, second, that I enjoyed this and it does a pretty good job of teaching how to do magic, likely without meaning to. The whole ” you must know yourself in order to be able to exercise magical power and save the world” theme could come directly from the Charge of the Goddess: “And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.” The way that the pandas in the mythical, hidden, panda village rub their hands together and then hold them out to send “chi” to strengthen the hero in his spiritual battle with the bad guy looks quite a bit like what I’ve seen in Wiccan magical circles, although we use, as I explained later to a seemingly-supremely-disinterested pre-teen, a different name for that energy. And the fact that the battle is only won via the combined power of the common pandas from the village led to an interesting in-the-car-on-the-way-home discussion of whether we should look to one great hero to save us or whether we all have to keep doing whatever we can. (You can guess where Nonna came out on that question.)
We’re not raising our children/grandchildren/nieces and nephews/friends’ kids in Utopia. We’re raising them in Dreamworks’ America. How do you try to use what’s out there to raise children who will be living in the midst of Global Climate Change?