Though reviews for the recently released Pixar animated movie “Cars 2” may be less than favorable, a key theme of the movie that won’t immediately be clear from the official trailer and story synopsis is one of alternative energy.
“Cars 2” isn’t the first animated movie in recent history to deal with environmental issues. 2006’s “Happy Feet” briefly addressed overfishing in Antarctic waters, and 2008’s “WALL-E” showcased a world so polluted it could no longer sustain life. Along with other animated movies, it appears that environmental issues are being brought to people’s minds at a much younger age, which may help in creating an overall shift in mindsets about the environment.
The way sustainable practices and alternative energy are going to become more commonplace in society is through generational learning. Generational learning is the process of creating a general paradigm shift throughout a large percentage of the population, often taking multiple generations to achieve. Expecting a quick fix for energy issues and unsustainable practices just won’t happen, especially within one generation, but these issues may become easier to deal with as future generations grow up with more environmentally-conscious mindsets. Movies intended for younger audiences have the ability to reach and influence children at an impressionable age. Instilling a sense of innate worth regarding the environment can only enrich children’s minds, and the byproduct may be an increase in productivity towards sustainability.
Is Pixar leading the way in teaching younger generations how to be more environmentally friendly? According to producers of Cars 2, the movie wasn’t written to be an argument for alternative energy and against fossil fuels. They were mostly interested in creating a movie entertaining to groups of both children and their parents, and centering on a fight between fossil fuels and alternative energy appeared to be the easiest way to go about capturing audience’s imaginations.
Pixar, and other animated movie producers, may not be specifically targeting younger audiences for education in environmental issues, but if telling a good story includes environmental education, it is beneficial to both the movie industry and the audience. Bringing environmental issues to the minds of the children that will most likely be part of the generation that truly brings change will only further fuel the push for sustainability.