*Pixar. _The Incredibles_. 2004.*
Last night, I finally saw _The Incredibles_. A while ago, I read “a review”:http://www.objectivistcenter.org/articles/dkelley_rff-the-incredibles.asp of the movie by David Kelley of “The Objectivist Center”:http://www.objectivistcenter.org/index.asp, an organisation that promotes and investigates the philosophy of Ayn Rand. It assessed the movie pretty accurately, so I won’t go into detail: read “Kelley’s review”:http://www.objectivistcenter.org/articles/dkelley_rff-the-incredibles.asp if you want that.
In short, the message of _The Incredibles_ is that it is good and admirable to be gifted with extraordinary talents. It drizzles subtle scorn on those who can’t tolerate the greatness of others, and seek to bring everyone down to the same mediocre level.
There’s inconsistency in the way this message is delivered (as Kelley points out), because the main villain, Syndrome (a.k.a. Buddy, or Incrediboy), though jealous of the powers that superheroes possess, nearly manages to become their equal by making use of his talent for inventing amazing devices that emulate super-powers. His goal, though partially to enjoy the adulation that superheroes once did, is also to sell such devices to everyone. This being done, he says, everyone will be super, so no-one will be. This isn’t quite the same thing that Mr. Incredible and his family are supposed to be subject to. Rather, government regulations prohibit “Supers” from using their powers, reducing them to the same dull normality suffered by everyone else. By contrast, Syndrome would elevate everyone to greatness, and that’s a noble goal that someone like Ayn Rand would have endorsed, had she believed it possible. I don’t know whether she did, but I believe that science will one day let all humans live as gods (or “Supers”).
Inconsistency notwithstanding, the basic message is still there, and it was heartening (in the midst of the world’s best CG animation, and a pacey storyline) to see it put out there. I hope a lot of kids get to see it (hell, I bet most of them saw it before I did), especially talented ones and remember what it’s saying, because discrimination against the talented is very real in many Western societies, and it’s painful for those people who are already struggling under the burden of responsibility that their gifts bestow upon them. When I was at school, there was plenty of help and sympathy for the incompetent, but nothing but scorn for those with superior minds. Not from children so much, though many children (and adults, too) fear and hate the different and the superior, but from teachers with mediocre minds (such as one religion teacher I had who swore black and blue that Paul was one of Jesus’ “Twelve Apostles”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostle, despite my corrections). Those people tried to make my life a misery, and to make me feel guilty for challenging the rule of mediocrity and incompetence.
But now I know that it’s super to be super.