Whether it’s the brand new launch of TiltWorld’s app (fun little Flip the frog on an eco-mission to make real world change in climate chaos) or Richard Louv’s Children and Nature Network (C&NN awarded $100K Disney grant!) or Disney Nature’s NEW film Chimpanzee tugging on heartstrings with REAL LIFE orphan Oscar the chimpanzee, (opens Fri, Apr. 20)…I see media as a “distribution channel” to get kids engaged, informed, ramped and amped with eco-literacy to be stewards of our planet.
I was fortunate to be at the 2009 U.S. red carpet premiere of Earth (report from our “tween team” attending DisneyNature’s Earth) which went on to yield an impressive $108 million (the first of four in their nature series) though as I wrote in this piece “When Art Meets Earth: Wyland Ocean Murals Inspire Kids to Care the film itself is one of MANY media launch points to create an environment of connection and concern in real life so kids can carry forth and help sustain this ol’ blue marble of a planet.
Chimpanzee has already prompted visceral ‘awwws’ in my household and ‘gotta support’ weekend opening plan changes as well…Though Disney Nature’s donation of “20cents per ticket, one week only, April 20-26″ seems like chump change for chimps, I’m not about to let an opportunity go by to support Jane Goodall’s amazing work. (hope it’s such a huge hit that megabucks Disney extends the donation longer in a more sustainable way!)
As an avid JGI Roots and Shoots kids club member and Jane Goodall Institute fan, I’ve long heralded her as one of my all time favorite “Sheroes” as you can see by this tribute, Inspiring Kids As Stewards of the Planet.
If Dr. Goodall says DisneyNature “got it right” depicting the intimate family dynamics of the chimpanzees over three years of amazing footage, then I’ll forego some of my cringe-worthy Disney commercialism observations like the naming of the rival chimp tribe leader as ‘Scar’ (conjuring Lion King emotional baggage and mixing up fantasy with reality in stereotyped splendor) and instead take her lead in graciousness and gratitude. (Hollywood Reporter review resonates with me on that “Scar” media analysis note as discordant)
We’ve seen how embedding eco-messaging in films like Hoot, Ice Age, Over the Hedge and such helps by ‘Shaping Youth Through Nature’ to “turn kids green” fast, (whether it’s sustainable is a different conversation, here’s one teen’s view on “Using Eco as an Equalizer” among green teens) so I’m hoping Chimpanzee ratchets that emotion up a notch in ‘reality TV mode’ since there’s nothing quite like truth “IRL” (in real life) to paint with poignant brushstrokes of drama, perseverance, hope and spirit when it comes to storytelling.
Even if they ‘Disney it up’ (and early reviews have applauded authenticity–Dr. Goodall is the leader of the pack there!) there’s no discounting the plight of an endangered jungle orphan in real life, and I have high hopes kids will SEE the interconnectedness of the sentient beings, witness their struggles and collaborative efforts for survival and heed the preciousness of chimpanzee altruism raising the bar on our OWN ethical and moral place in humanity.
I for one will be in line this opening weekend with teens in tow, to ensure the money is donated to Jane Goodall’s Institute for the protection of chimpanzees, as their population in the wild has markedly decreased from one million in 1960 to merely one fifth of that figure…can’t wait to see it!
“Dad Chat” founder and colleague Bruce Sallan has been lucky enough to swing tickets already (hey, he lives in L.A.) so here’s his Dad’s Point of View (below) with media insight through a gender lens that frames the positive depiction of MALES in the film. (about time guys got some props/kudos!)
Join Bruce in his weekly Dad Chat on Twitter from 6-7pm PST. This week he’ll be co-hosting with Carrie Wilkerson on the topic, “Can You Balance It All?” (If you’re goin’ ape with workload, you might want to catch this one) Enjoy his wit and wisdom, below, and be sure to catch the eco links and resources after the videos for ways to see, save and support Chimpanzees.
Great Video Via GOOD Environment Jane Goodall Institute Videographer Chats About Inspiration
Chimpanzee: An Ironic Father-Son Story #IRL
(In Real Life)
By Bruce Sallan
I’ve often dissed Hollywood and Madison Avenue for their depictions of dads, and men in general, for that matter. It is still not optimal, but it is changing for the better.
How surprising to me that the best current portrayal of a father-son relationship came in a documentary about chimpanzees!
Yes, the DisneyNature movie, “Chimpanzee,” does their usual Disney formula of killing off a parent. But, this time it’s mom and this time dad steps up. Not reluctantly, but with pride and purpose. And, this time it was real and not a writer’s choice.
I loved the movie. I loved how they captured the family structure, world, and highs and lows of life in the rain forest. And, no they did not choose the story – the story chose them. It was indeed #IRL – In Real Life to use a common acronym that is bandied about.
Somewhere along the way, maybe with the evolution of the PC Police, dads became the butt of jokes. If you touch a woman or a mom, the army of mom bloggers and mainstream media will hammer you. But, dads…we’re okay to ridicule.
Thankfully, we’re not just getting Al Bundy, Homer Simpson, and the like anymore.
There have been recent GREAT ads by Volkswagen and Clorox in which dads were cool, competent, and smart. More will be coming. Hollywood will follow because Hollywood really has no moral compass other than profits. For that matter, neither does Madison Avenue. This is not meant to disparage these fine commercial institutions, but just to recognize that most of corporate America is morally neutral. You can argue otherwise, but I’ll leave that to the comments section below.
The adult male that adopts Oscar is Freddie and the evil rival chimp leader is Scar. I thought choosing Scar was a weak name choice, given that name was so effectively used in “The Lion King.”
Why is Oscar an ironic choice? Well, Oscar was one of the two lead character names in Neil Simon’s great play/movie/TV series, “The Odd Couple.”
I loved Oscar in every incarnation of that great play and I love that the adorable and somewhat rascally baby chimp in “Chimpanzee” shares that name.
I wonder if the filmmakers saw the parallel? What was so encouraging about the portrayal of Freddie and Oscar’s burgeoning relationship was that it avoided the usual pitfalls of the dumb dad. Yes, they could only manipulate the story so much, but given the narration they had many opportunities to have made fun of Freddie and his parental choices, especially since he was an adoptive father.
How ironic that this big studio movie may be the first recent one that does this portrayal with such respect for the father’s role.
In fact, the genders could have easily been reversed as there was little-to-no sexism portrayed in the movie. I love and so respect that.
Maybe we are finally moving to the right place in media’s discussion and depictions of parenting. It isn’t what’s between your legs that determine a good parent; it’s what’s between your ears and in your heart.
I still assert that men and women inherently will approach parenting and, most things for that matter, in different ways. But, instead of making one right and the other wrong, let’s look for the good in both.
And, when we’re having fun at a parent’s expense – and there’s plenty of opportunity for humor – let’s choose the humor rather than the gender in how we portray dads and moms. I didn’t love the movie “Bridesmaids” because I don’t care for crude humor, but I did love that for once, it seemed, women were the butt of the jokes and portrayed as goofballs, too. The box office success of that movie only reinforces that that choice reached out to everyone without the need to focus negatively on one gender.
“Chimpanzee” is simply a remarkable movie.
At the end of it, there are some short clips with the filmmakers, in which you get a taste of the hardships they endured over several years to capture the 120 minutes of this spectacular film. In ironic ways, they lived some of the hardships of being a parent. They endured the highs and lows parents experience, and watched and filmed an unfolding story in which they did not know the outcome. I can’t imagine enduring their journey but I am so grateful that they took it.
—Bruce Sallan, From A Dad’s Point of View
Chimpanzee Opens April 20, 2012
Jane Goodall Institute is hosting a series of Web chats running April 4 – April 24, 2012 with experts in chimpanzee behavior and conservation, as well as youth education.
For everyone who sees Disneynature CHIMPANZEE during opening week (April 20-April 26, 2012), Disneynature will contribute $.20 per ticket to the Jane Goodall Institute for the Disneynature Tchimpounga Nature Reserve Project with a minimum of $100,000 pledged to this program. www.janegoodall.org.
About Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots
Jane Goodall Biography (long)
Jane Goodall Biography (short)
Jane Goodall Curriculum Vitae
Gombe 50 Fact Sheet
Climate Change and JGI
REDD and JGI
A Few Related Kid-Friendly Eco-Picks by Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth
Fun & Games: Eco-Interactives To Impart Informal Learning, Eco-Literacy Kids Love