The Troubling Message of Beasts of the Southern Wild
August 10, 2012 11:57 PM Subscribe
How the individualist, rights-based message in Beasts of the Southern Wild reflects the society America is today "While the film centers on Hushpuppy’s struggle to survive the degradation that surrounds her — primarily through imagination and her incipient art — this "You’ve got to fight for your right to party" ethos is also a central theme. Viewers are asked to interpret a lack of work discipline, schooling, or steady institution building of any kind — the primary building blocks of any civilization — as the height of liberation. “Choice,” even the choice to live in squalor, is raised to the level of a categorical imperative. There is no inkling of the economic and social history of the region that had limited these “choices.” We are left with a libertarian sandbox, with a rights-based life philosophy gone rancid... In his new book The Age of Fracture, Princeton historian Daniel Rodgers suggests that post-World War II American history has seen a “disaggregation of the social,” where the broad social contract that had brought more and more Americans into the domain of full economic and political citizenship has dramatically shrunk. We are left with smaller and smaller visions of “community,” often being reduced to the level of a single "rights-holding self." In a sad way, the characters in the Bathtub are an artistic reflection of this fragmented world."
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