* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the problem of man-made climate change weighs heavily upon us. Not as heavily as animated films about penguins, though.

If We Let The Ice Caps Melt, How Will We Explain The Plot Of Happy Feet Two To Our Children?

By:
dcaprera@gmail.com

Our polar ice caps have never been more at risk; the planet’s North and South Poles are shrinking at an alarming rate and, if allowed to continue, the consequences of this glacial thawing could be truly catastrophic. Now, more than ever, we must think towards the future…if we let our ice caps melt, how will we ever explain the plot of Happy Feet Two — the 2011 animated smash sequel about penguins who can tap dance — to our children?

Seriously. When will we as a society realize that we’re just playing Russian Roulette with our children’s lives? And that every chamber in this metaphorical gun has been filled with a hollow-point bullet that reads: “In thirty years our precious children won’t have the cognitive infrastructure to comprehend the plot of Happy Feet Two (wherein the emperor penguin, Mumble, returns from the first Happy Feet movie and uses his powers of song and dance to convince the elephant seals of Elephant Seal Beach to destroy an iceberg on Emperor Land and return music to the fantastical realm of Antarctica).”

How can we just stand idly by and RUIN our children’s future comprehension of the world’s second-greatest film about animated penguins voiced by Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, and Hugo Weaving? Will our children even know what a penguin is? And, if not, how will they ever fully grasp why they have to tap dance again on the silver screen?

These are the questions that consume me.

Hypothetical scenario: pretend it’s the near future. The year 2047. And Earth’s ice caps have disappeared like a succulent cuttlefish into the mouth of a dancing penguin. Now imagine that I was so incompetently dimwitted as to bring a child into this damned ice-free dystopia. If my “son” (who, in this hypothetical scenario, is named Jeffrey) grows up in a world without ice caps, how will I possibly explain those aforementioned Happy Feet Two plot points to him? Will he understand that Emperor Land is a reference to emperor penguins? Will he realize that Mumble’s son Erik is different because, unlike his father, Erik cannot dance (which is something that penguins don’t normally do anyways)?

How will I have the gosh darned courage to bring my hypothetical darling Jeffrey to my study, sit him down on my favorite well-worn hypothetical leather armchair, and desperately try to explain that “in Happy Feet Two, Ramon (everyone’s favorite fast-talking Adelie penguin) finally finds love” only to see the tears well out of his confused and uncomprehending eyes like ice melting off of a glacier?

No father should have to put his child through that kind of hell.

Of course, not everything will be ruined by this all-too-possible future…For example, without Antarctica, will our beautiful babies have trouble understanding a synopsis of the first Happy Feet movie? No. Definitely not. The first Happy Feet‘s themes of bravery, self-discovery, and growth in the face of adversity are timeless. With or without ice caps. You don’t need to know what a penguin is to know that Mumble’s love is true.

But the way that Happy Feet Two expands upon the Happy Feet universe for an uninterrupted 117 minutes; or the fact that Happy Feet Two eschews many of its predecessor’s timeless themes in favor of intricate, location-specific exposition… these nuanced details require a thorough grounding in the norms and conventions of polar ice caps. Without them, our children won’t have enough background information to understand even 1/10th of the plot of Happy Feet Two.

Which is unacceptable.

Folks, unless we take a stronger stance against global climate change, there will be drastic consequences for future generations. And I don’t know about you, but I want live in a world where my Jeffrey has hypothetical children of his own; children who know that, in Happy Feet Two, Lovelace (the pompous rockhopper penguin) rips his iconic rainbow sweater after dancing too hard to the song “Under Pressure.” Because they learned about it from their father. And sure, things may seem desperate right now…but weren’t things equally desperate for the penguins of Emperor Land when they were trapped beneath that iceberg?

If we don’t act now, our children will never understand how powerful that last sentence was meant to be.

 

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