That’s what Jason Newman at Moviefone (of all places) sees in the upcoming film, an adaptation of the ’60s anime series that was the first to be broadcast outside of Japan. A mere 57 years after “Astro Boy” first burst onto the world, a CGI version will hit theaters next Friday, aiming to entertain families while apparently, er, encouraging discourse of class structure. From Newman:
While it’s no secret that Hollywood films tend to skew left in general, ‘Astro Boy’ may be the first animated blockbuster to discuss, if not necessarily endorse, explicit Marxist ideologies (albeit in cute robot form, of course.) In the movie, the aforementioned outcasts, led by Robotsky, form the Robot Revolutionary Front, stenciling their logo on city walls and chanting “Viva La Robotolution” at anyone within earshot.
He also cites the fact that the walls of robot central have posters of Lenin and Trotsky hanging: “On the whole, it’s played for laughs, but makes us ponder the question: Have animated films gotten more leftist in recent years?”
Well, no, it really doesn’t. Personally, I’d write off whatever weirdness might surface in “Astro Boy” as the price of American screenwriters adapting a Cold War-era Japanese manga series while working with a Hong Kong CGI studio: it’s hard to keep things smooth and completely culturally neutral with that many cooks in the kitchen. And it’s also hard to imagine how many right-wing revolutions the movie could’ve jokingly taken signposts from (unless Astro Boy was reinvented as a talk radio or cable news show host, which seems unlikely to appeal to the kiddies).
People like to read things into animated movies — because, understandably, they don’t want any ideology messing with their offspring. Remember in 2004, when “The Incredibles” was accused of Ayn Rand-ian posturing and “The Polar Express” (“The Polar Express”!) was called out for pushing a secular, anti-Christian agenda? And so it goes, on and on: the culture wars over kiddie flicks say more about the people waging them than the movies themselves. Because, seriously: who would actually try to push Bolshevism upon the youth of America via “Astro Boy”? And who would be paranoid enough to come up with that? Moviefone, apparently.
[Photo: “Astro Boy,” Summit Entertainment, 2009]