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Social Ecology Critique of Bambi

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  • ted.wrinch
    This is perhaps an Easter analysis of the death of the sanity of an anarchist. I ve just stumbled across a remarkable article on Staudi s website on Disney
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 6, 2012
      This is perhaps an Easter analysis of the death of the sanity of an anarchist.

      I've just stumbled across a remarkable article on Staudi's website on 'Disney Ecology' from 2005. As the article's subject is a simple, neutral one, the article provides a very good foil for testing Staudi's sanity against, something people may be aware that has been in doubt in my mind for some time. He begins by describing the film using his typical put down word for the spiritual as 'treacly' (the number of times he described what I said on WC as 'treacly' was remarkable). He sets out his response to the frightening early scene, where Bambi and his mother encounter the influence of man for the first time:

      "Bambi finds his way back to his mother. Shaken, he asks her what happened. In a grave voice she responds: "Man was in the forest."

      This one line, spoken by a cartoon doe and absorbed by generations of children, epitomizes much that is wrongheaded and dangerous in North American environmentalist thought. "Man was in the forest" signifies, to Bambi and to the audience, that the mere presence of humans in a natural landscape is threatening and dangerous. The message this sends, the ideology it projects, is that human interaction with the natural world is by definition destructive."

      It might suggest this message to him, but to others it is more suggestive of the fact that something is wrong in man's relationship with nature, not that 'human interaction with the natural world is by definition destructive.'. Having got off on an extreme foot with his first interpretative foray, he continues into familiar Staudi territory:

      "Aside from revealing a thoroughly Disneyan contempt for historical and social specificity, this view is literally ecologically hopeless: the only choice it leaves us is despair….In keeping with the patriarchal terminology of "Man's" inevitable destructiveness, the notion of "virgin forests" propagates the false idea that the remaining large tracts of old-growth trees have reached their supposedly pristine state without any human influence, and that the best way to protect such areas is to reduce or eliminate all forms of human contact with them."

      Nope - no one except extremists of the opposite kind to the extremism Staudi's displays in this article thinks this. In fact, his own view and the supposedly widespread and problematic view he attacks are just mirror images of each other; he is fighting a shadow enemy, created in his own mind by his own, far left, polarising ideology (notice the trigger word 'patriarchal' and the vague but sweeping 'contempt for historical and social specificity'). As people may remember, the anthro preference is for 'tri-larity', threefoldness, and we regard social polarities as something creating merely extremes, neither of which, at the extreme, is truthful. Neither left or right have the monopoly on truth; this view is, of course, heresy to Staudi; it breaks the rules of his game and creates something he sneeringly calls 'left-right crossover'.

      He continues in similarly heated political language (one of my long-term criticisms of Staudi;s epistemology is that it, Marxist style, reduces *everything* to politics):

      "This perspective is not just historically naive; it also surreptitiously endorses the imperialist view of the North American continent put forth by the European conquerors…Far from representing some mythical untouched terrain, remaining old-growth forests should properly be seen as the product of particular human influences. (Of course, there are also many historical examples of indigenous practices that had dire environmental effects; the romantic image of native peoples as ecological saints is yet another, equally racist, myth.)"

      And so he manages to bring in his favourite topic of 'racism' (as well as 'imperialism'), into an analysis of Bambi! He continues to outline the Social Ecology alternative:

      "If we want to avoid this sort of historical ignorance, radical ecologists need to resist the tempting simplifications of Disney Ecology. ...Building on social ecology's insights, radical environmental activists can help to create and promote a coherent alternative to Disney Ecology: an ecological humanism.

      …The challenge we face today is to formulate an appropriate analysis of and response to this [ecological] crisis—one that is radical, emancipatory, and sustainable. Social ecology offers us the critical tools to help meet that challenge in the years to come."

      My recollection of the film is that it showed a love of the natural world and a charming, somewhat anthropomorphised (idealised even) view of animal relations. Man's intrusion was certainly destructive and violent, and perhaps unrealistically more violent than that of the relations between the animal species themselves. But the film portrays this violence as something that is a consequence of the way man interacts with the natural world, not that 'that human interaction with the natural world is by definition destructive'. The focus of the film is on the harmony, the beauty and the balance of the natural world of flora, fauna, rocks and streams. In comparison, man's interaction is depicted without detail, colour or verisimilitude as something remote and impersonal, almost cartoon like (if you'll forgive the contradiction). And that interaction is shown as something lacking harmony, balance and, most of all love. The animals show more love than the humans. It is this that the film indicts; the message we take away should not be one of 'an ecological humanism' but but of an ecological love. It's only Staudi's atheist-rationalist epistemology that characteristically allows him to miss the love that drives and underpins the film, and take way instead a message of 'patriarchy', 'racism' and all the other typical terms that inhabit his world-view.

      In summary: for Staudi to assess Bambi as expressing, in epitome, 'patriarchy', 'racism', 'imperialism', 'historical ignorance', 'contempt for historical and social specificity' etc is to miss its point entirely and to express a degree of mental unbalance that conforms with my view that he may not be entirely sane.



      Ted Wrinch
    • elfuncle
      Staudi in Disneyland, oh no comment, except I hope you drive them nuts, all of them. Bring on some more Disney; I ve already contributed with Mary Poppins a
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 6, 2012
        Staudi in Disneyland, oh no comment, except I hope you drive them nuts, all of them. Bring on some more Disney; I've already contributed with Mary Poppins a little while ago. You should throw Pluto at our Beloved Sister next time you're discussing the group souls and personalities of canines. (She's a sentient hyena soul, so she'll understand.)

        Or squirrels like Chip n Dale:

        With this kind of fun, I may stick around for a while, Ted, at least to keep you company until new talent arrives.

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