UPDATE: Thanks to the amazing power of the internet, a reliable source has let me know that this is a rumor, pure and simple. No truth to it. I’m leaving this post here, however, just in case anyone follows up on it, so that there is no confusion about the truth (this) and the rumor (below). Also, it is a cool mind game to imagine someone with Bird’s abilities tackling a story-line like this. I might not necessarily like the results, but they’d still be interesting.
Okay, this is rumor, arising from speculation, with a sound basis in gossip, but I’m going to pass it on for what it’s worth.
You all know who Brad Bird is, right? He worked on the Simpsons show, his first full length movie was The Iron Giant, and he shot to “I know that name” fame with The Incredibles. The latter is a truly brilliant movie. It’s witty, exciting, imaginative, and the voice casting is unusually perfect. My favorite character is Edna “E” Mode, who is voiced by Brad Bird himself:
What’s also great about The Incredibles is the core values that permeate the movie’s fabric: competition is good, striving for success is good, an education that seeks equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity is bad:
Helen: Dash… this is the third time this year you’ve been sent to the office. We need to find a better outlet. A more… constructive outlet.
Dash: Maybe I could, if you’d let me go out for sports.
Helen: Honey, you know why we can’t do that.
Dash: But I promise I’ll slow up. I’ll only be the best by a tiny bit.
Dash: Dashiell Robert Parr, you are an incredibly competitive boy, and a bit of a show-off. The last thing you need is temptation.
Dash: You always say ‘Do your best’, but you don’t really mean it. Why can’t I do the best that I can do?
Helen: Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in, and to fit in, we gotta be like everyone else.
Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.
This was a subversive movie, and the funny thing was that even the people who worked on it didn’t realize it. I know this because I knew a lot of the people involved in the film since it was made at Pixar Studios, across the bay from my Marin home base. All of them, without exception, are die-hard Democrats who loathed Bush with an irrational passion, and rejoiced in Obama’s election. They are unthinking, knee-jerk liberals, yet it was they who kept saying how brilliant the principles in The Incredibles were. I pointed out, delicately, that the principles are at odds with an identity-based, Big Government, equality of outcome Democratic party, but they were incapable of seeing that.
As for Brad Bird, I don’t know. I’ve met him once, and can tell you that he is a very nice man on superficial acquaintance, but that’s all I can tell you. Everything else you know: brilliant, imaginative and, possibly, subversive.
Which is why I found interesting a rumor that has popped up in Marin: Bird is planning on making a movie called The Pride of Baghdad, about lions that ended up free after the Shock and Awe campaign in 2003. My first thought was, “Oh, no! Now anti-war, anti-American politics are going to trickle down into kids’ movies too.” My second thought was, “Wait a minute. I think Brad Bird is a bit subversive. Let me check this out.”
What checking it had has revealed is that there is indeed a graphic novel called Pride of Baghdad, and it does take as its starting point the lions who escaped from the zoo as a result of the U.S. invasion. As at least half the consumer reviewers at Amazon like to point out, and you can almost hear the trembling outrage in their voices, U.S. troops shot the lions, a story that made the news back in 2004. (I rather suspect that the city’s residents were pleased not to have hungry lions roaming around, but that’s just me.)
Beyond that, however, I’m having trouble pinning down whether the book is pro-War or anti-War. Most reviewers simply raved about the book’s incredibly graphics and its plot’s nuance. They were vague as to ideology, Instead, they fell into a “this is a great book, I really liked it, take my word for it” mode.
As much as anything else, the Amazon reader reviews hint that it is the reader’s own sensibilities that inform the book. You got the War is hell, and is worse than a lack of freedom reviews, as well as the War is hell, but being a perpetual prisoner is worse reviews. It’s entirely possible that the book is so neutral, it is basically a Roar-schach test (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) of each viewer’s own values. It will be very interesting, therefore, to see what values Brad Bird chooses to emphasize should he make the movie. Will it be about the evil U.S. and the horrors of war, snatching people from their comfortable prisons and exposing them to death, or will it be about the fact that freedom is not free, but that any price we pay is better than the loss of individualism and freedom?