A mega-mindfully political parable
Hey kids! Did you become annoyed with all of those nasty campaign commercials? Did you get sick of all the talk by grown-ups about this election and things like tea parties, Obamacare, the ugly 3, witches, and a power shift in Congress? Are you glad it’s all over? Well then, gather around and let me tell you a tale to help you get your mind off all that mudslinging, muckraking and machinations.
“What’s a mack-in-a-ti…?” asks one of the kids.
That’s all this post-election quarterbacking about who won, who lost and why — and what it all means for your future and so on. Aren’t you getting burned-out on that as well? (The kids nod) Well then, let’s get started. This is a story called Megamind, and it’s a brightly colored three-dimensional pop-up book. It’s got really nifty graphics — see kids (shows them one of the pictures of a sprawling cityscape and stunning visuals) — and wait ‘till you hear all the clever, snappy dialogue delivered with gusto by energetic characters. Ready? Here we go.
Once upon a time, there was a “nefarious individual” — let’s call him Megamind — who sought to win the hearts and minds of a large community.
Although he was well-known, he felt like an outcast in his own community — he was marginalized, and his ideas and actions were ridiculed and seemed out of place so that he felt like he didn’t fit in with the rest of the citizenry. He seemed to be well-to-do and lived in a great big building with lots of gadgets, computers and machines to help him accomplish his goals. He also had the help of many servants. But, all of this was hidden from public view as he decided when and how his presence would be made known to the larger community.
His outcast status also stemmed from his constant menacing of the community and especially his pestering and criticism of the community’s then leader — a dynamic and “charismatic individual,” called Metro Man, who gave great public speeches, helped his friends, and accomplished amazing feats against seemingly great odds. Oh, and he also publicly sparred with Megamind.
Through all of his activities, Megamind specifically tried to win the support and favor of a “plucky woman,” named Roxanne, who was also well-known in the community because of her appearances on television — although she tended to resent her public profile.
Roxanne was not only admired by, and had great influence over, Megamind, she also drew the attention of Metro Man and was also admired by yet another man who worked with her. This person, a “resentful individual,” who was called Tighten, was not so well-known, but both he and the Roxanne provided commentary on the happenings of the body politic. Tighten also tried to win the attention and affection of Roxanne, and, although he did so, he found he had to compete for that time and attention with the higher-profile antics of the Megamind and Metro Man.
One day Megamind amazingly succeeded in beating Metro Man and became the de facto leader of the community. He did so by capturing Roxanne and used her allure to promote his cause — and his resources and persuasive powers also helped get her to his side. But, Megamind’s success was also the result of the fact that Metro Man took his support in the community for granted. Although he valued their accolades of his powers and assistance, it all became too taxing and tedious. In short, he got tired of tussling with Megamind.
But, once Megamind became the community leader, Megamind himself got bored and, like Metro Man, realized that running a community was difficult and tedious. He missed the spirited battles he had with Metro Man. He found that he needed a nemesis — something or someone to rail against so as to give him purpose and fulfillment. And besides, Megamind didn’t feel comfortable being in the public glare. So, he and Roxanne worked together to empower Tighten so that he could become the new community leader. They did this by working behind the scenes — becoming hidden benefactors and boosters encouraging and coaching Tighten to take on the role formerly held by Megamind and Metro Man. And they succeeded!
But, success came with its own costs. Something went wrong. Once Tighten became the community leader, he found that he did not enjoy playing the charismatic role that Megamind and Roxanne would have him play. He was not beholden to the agenda that Megamind insisted he promote and advocate. And, like his predecessors, he also found it to be too much work and difficult. What’s more, unlike Megamind’s and Metro Man’s style, Tighten became angry about all of this — you know, as in “up-Tighten?!” (The kids blankly stare) Uh, ok, continuing on. So, Tighten became dangerous and unpredictable — pursuing his own private wants and desires based on his own agenda and beliefs about his understanding of the world and his treatment by the powers that be. His fights with Megamind and Roxanne became nastier and meaner and, unlike the battles with Metro Man, didn’t come with a playful respect and appreciation for the good of the larger community.
So, Megamind and Roxanne worked — again hidden behind the scenes — to displace the angry Tighten and replace him with one of their own, one that they could control and feel better abou. . .
“Hey!,” blurts out one of the kids. “This doesn’t sound like a story for kids. It sounds more like what has been happening in the grown-up political world! All these people sound like people we saw on TV and in the news, and people that our parents were always talking about. You’re not fooling us! You’re trying to teach us about something…”
You know, you’re right! It does sort of sound like what has just happened in this election. Hummm. Well, kids, never mind this story. But, how about this awesome pop-up effect, huh?! Look at all the cool colors and fun images! And all the exciting action! Isn’t it neat?!
Doug Young is the film critic for The Colorado Statesman.