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Is “Astro Boy” Marxist?

Is “Astro Boy” Marxist? (photo)

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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]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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