I got high and watched Kung Fu Panda for the first time last night. What a disappointment (the movie, not the weed). Apparently the moral of the story is “there is no secret ingredient” to success. It just boils down to fate.
Really, Dreamworks? That is SO not the ninja message.
If you haven’t seen the movie, here’s my quick synopsis:
This entitled panda named Po is destined to be the dragon master and defeat some evil snow leopard who was prophesied to be dark and dangerous (mind you, he’s only depicted as being ruthlessly ambitious in search of some scroll, which ultimately ends up being worthless because there’s “no secret ingredient.” But he’s a fierce warrior who gets imprisoned even though you don’t get a sense of just how evil he really is. (And maybe he’s just a product of his environment?) What I’m trying to say is, he’s no Voldemort.) Ugh, anyway… Po is “destined” for greatness and so he studies among all these bad-ass animals who have devoted their entire lives to the martial arts. But they’re not The Chosen One, so they’re basically worthless. Even as a team, they can’t stop the evil leopard, completely dispelling the “strength in numbers” trope. Meanwhile, Po is a shiftless bastard whose only redeeming quality is the prowess he displays when fighting for a dumpling (which I fully support. Dumplings are delicious). But despite the fact that he never learns the value of grit and moral fortitude, he nevertheless ends up saving the day.
Why would we send that message to kids? It negates everything I hope to teach my daughters, which is really this: if you want to be a ninja at anything, you have to work really fucking hard. That’s, like, the message of all kung fu movies, from The Karate Kid to Sidekicks (RIP, Jonathan Brandis).
Of course, then I start going down my own stoner rabbit hole of things I want to teach them:
- Hard work is the secret ingredient to anything worth having in this life, from a good job to a good marriage, to everything in between and beyond.
- You’re not entitled to anything.
- But you sweet, privileged young ladies are destined for greatness. And that’s partly because you’ve been blessed with advantages in this life that not everyone has.
- That may make you may feel like you can get complacent in life.
- You can’t. In fact, I hope you’ll strive farther and be compelled by the “secret ingredients” of ambition and compassion, working to make a meaningful mark on whatever you do in this world.
- And I hope you’ll be as driven by your own moral fiber as you are by the values your father and I have instilled. Values of kindness, resilience, humor, empathy–the things we hope to teach by example, but sometimes fail in exhibiting ourselves. Because none of us are Chosen. We’re just trying our best–and hopefully, trying a little more each day.
- Kaizen. Continuous improvement. Work hard, get better.
That’s what this dumb movie should have been about. And with way more kung fu.
I’ll end this with my Lil Wayne stale face.