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Listen to ‘The Lorax”

Jessica Lee | Monday, April 23, 2007

Yesterday marked the 37th annual Earth Day. Traditionally, one would celebrate by partaking of decidedly vegan fare and enthusiastically embracing trees, all while wearing an assortment of hemp products. In spite of this widely accepted tradition, I spent my own Earth Day playing in mud, eating “mud” (chocolate pudding with crushed Oreos and gummy worms – a culinary work of genius), and watching Dr. Seuss’s, “The Lorax – a sing-along.”

At the broadest level, “The Lorax” is a story about environmental awareness. But oh, my friends, and oh my foes, there is so much more to this Seussan classic. First, I offer a brief summary. The “Once-ler,” a capitalistic entrepreneur arrives via wagon at the pristine Truffula tree land. Recognizing the raw value of Truffula tree tuft, the Once-ler starts to produce “thneeds,” obscure knitted creations that seem to have more practical use than your mother.

As the Once-ler’s enterprise develops into a full-blown industry, the Lorax, the protagonist protector of the entire ecosystem, objects in horror as he watches the original inhabitants being ousted from their homes due to increasing environmental declination. The moral conscience of the film, the Lorax continually hounds the Once-ler to decrease pollution (or more appropriately, “schlupp schlapp and glop”) while there is still hope. When the last truffula tree falls, the Once-ler is left with a barren landscape and a very devastated Lorax, who also leaves the Once-ler to ponder the consequences of his greed.

To say that “The Lorax” is a cinematographic masterpiece would be a gross understatement. It features a treasure trove of 70’s psychedelic style songs comparable only to similarly animated gems (found exclusively in VHS form) such as, “The Hobbit-The Musical,” and David Bowie’s “Labyrinth” in its oh-so-transient 25 minute duration. The story is punctuated by these songs and offers pearls of wisdom such as, “People aren’t fish, so they can’t understand,” and “They say I’m old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!”

Though it may seem like I’m mocking the simplicity of the Lorax, I’m actually applauding the delivery of its message. I mean, what better way to make a fairly grim reality appeal to a mass audience than via a stream of nonexistent rhyming words and oddly shaped creatures? The Lorax speaks of problems inherent in our own exploitation of the environment and the consequences we reap such as global warming and pollution in well-received nonsensical prose.

Simply put, the Lorax’s message is, how many more “thneeds” do WE need before we’re overcome by our own schlupp? In response and I guess, the ultimate way to spend earth day is to listen to our inner Loraxes with an open ear and become better stewards of the environment. That way, we too will be able to speak for the trees – truffula and oak alike.