Category Archives: Antz

Speech Therapy: The Philosophy of Antz

Transcript:

According to the box, Antz tells the story of one ant’s struggle to win the right to express himself and his individuality in a society of overwhelming conformity. By going against the grain, the protagonist Z ultimately saves the rest of his colony and leads a revolution.

A free-thinking individual can find happiness and save the world would seem to be Antz message. Z is different than everyone else. He dances differently than everyone else. He has the gall to impersonate a soldier even though it’s strictly forbidden. He survives a war while everyone else who conforms to the rules of society dies horribly. He kidnaps the princess and the worst thing that happens to him is he finds Insectopia while near everyone who goes after him for the good of the colony dies horribly. General Mandible who acts for the good of the hive mind dies horribly while Z who fights for the good of the individuals in that colony marries the princess and finds happiness.

But there was one thing about this theme that didn’t make sense. In one scene, Z and his companion Princess Bala meet two bees named Chip and Muffy. Out of the kindness of her heart, Muffy offers to find the ants something to eat… Then, she dies horribly, leaving her husband Chip to a life of depression and alcoholism. Why? Chip is against his wife’s act of charity and suggests that such an offering is unusual for a bee to do for an ant. She isn’t prescribing to the thoughts of some collective. Everyone else in the movie who dies horribly dies because they were mindlessly following orders or because they were fighting for a conformist society. Why does this strange and terrible scene exist at all?

This event reveals a deeper theme that runs through Antz: the virtue of selfishness.

Z is an incredibly selfish person even if he didn’t live a society that discouraged self-expression. The first thing we hear in the movie is Z, talking about himself. Sure, he’s in a therapy session, but other characters acknowledge his selfishness, suggesting that he’s like this all the time.

[“It’s not about you. It’s about us.”]
[“All you think about is yourself.” “Of course. Who else is going to think about me?”]
[“Think about all the things I’ve done for you.” “…I can’t think of any.”]

For most of the movie, Z is so self-absorbed that he’s even disdainful of everyone and everything else around him, even his so called friends.

[“What a bunch of losers. Mindless zombies capitulating to an oppressive system.”]

He acts on his own personal whims, feelings, and desires with little regard for the people around him. Near the beginning of the movie, Z wants to see Princess Bala, who he met at a bar and fell in love with when she secretly snuck away from the palace. He comes up with a plan to impersonate his friend Weaver even though this is extremely dangerous for Weaver. Z does get to see Princess Bala, but as soon as he’s found out, he uses Bala as a living shield and holds her hostage for his own safety. Z’s despicable behavior peaks after he escapes the anthill with Bala. When he finds out that she has no romantic feelings for him, he abandons her to the wilderness, showing absolutely no concern for her.

Bala is also a selfish person, being a spoiled princess. She’s clearly bored and even disgusted with her duties especially her engagement to General Mandible.

[“Look at the order… the precision.”]
[“Remind me why I’m marrying this guy.”]
[“What if I don’t like my place?”]
[“Labor? I’ll tell you about labor. Can you imagine giving birth every ten seconds for the rest of your life?”]

She even waves off an army of soldiers on a suicide mission with a yawn. Her selfishness also shows most once she’s outside the oppressive society of the anthill. She talks about herself as much as Z talks about himself and seems unaware of her own selfishness as she points out Z’s.

Their behavior changes after Z is trapped inside a water droplet. Bala rescues him presumably for the same reasons that she followed him as far as she did from the anthill. She needs him to survive in the scary world outside. When Z is freed, he thanks Bala and then returns to ignoring her… but then, he appeals to her selfishness to convince her to come with him to Insectopia and stop complaining.

[“Bala, look. Do you really want to be Mrs. Raving Lunatic? I promise if Insectopia doesn’t exist, I’ll take you back to the colony.”]

This appeal to selfishness occurs at several other points in the movie and each time results in the betterment of everyone involved. In order to convince Weaver to switch places with him, Z appeals to Weaver’s desire to meet sexy worker girls, which he does. When Bala and Z discover General Mandible’s plans to drown the rest of the colony, they decide to stop him instead of returning to Insectopia for personal reasons. Bala wants to stop Mandible’s plans to save her mother.

Z’s decision is based on his experience in the termite war that he unintentionally got involved in earlier in the movie. This event, particularly his experience with a soldier named Barbatus, who protected him and listened to him, deeply affected Z. He was devastated that Barbatus died having never made his own decisions. Z knows that the workers digging the tunnel towards the lake are mindlessly doing so on orders. He isn’t about to let a colony of ants die the same way that Barbatus did.

These two characters who began the movie as hateful and contemptuous have now developed complex and caring relationships with the people around them. They are both as selfish at the end of the movie as they are at the beginning. The movie ends with Z talking about himself. It was the free expression and acceptance of their selfishness that allowed them to develop into more humane people. Selfishness was suppressed or ignored by everyone, including Z and Bala, for most of the movie.

[“I’m tired… I’m hungry… Let’s go back to the colony.” “Blah, blah, blah. Take yourself back.”]
[“All you think about is yourself.”]
[“A hero? But I didn’t do anything.” “Good. I don’t like heroes.”]
[“I was born two seconds after you and ever since I’ve listened to you. What are you bitching about?”]

Under such conditions, neither of them could develop. When Bala rescued Z from the water droplet, both of them realized that they selfishly needed one another and began their transformation.

Under this lens, Antz depicts the theme of selfishness vs. selflessness. Z survives the war against the termites because he refused to fight a battle that earned him nothing. Barbatus died because he selflessly fought to protect Z and the colony. Everyone in the termite war died for the colony for nothing in return. The soldiers who followed Z died for the colony. General Mandible dies for attempting to create the perfect colony from soldiers, individuals who are so selfless that they would die for other people.

This is why Muffy died and why her husband Chip was likely doomed to a life of depression induced alcoholism. Muffy acted selflessly by offering food to ants who had nothing to offer her in return. Later, Chip helps Z by giving him a ride back to the anthill in memory of his cuddly-widdles. While Chip doesn’t die, this act of kindness occurred while he was in a state of drunken misery.

This may sound heartless… and at the same time familiar. Objectivism a philosophy described by Ayn Rand states that a man’s highest moral aim is the pursuit of his own happiness. A man should strive for a life of purpose and joy and should not sacrifice his desires for the sake of others. This is not to say that people can selfishly gain happiness by exploiting others. It is, in fact, in everyone’s own self-interest to treat others as individuals, trading value for value. Even married couples can’t expect each other to sacrifice their own happiness for their spouse’s sake. Yes, while it isn’t as obtuse as Atlas Shrugged, Antz portrays many of the qualities of this philosophy even down to its nuances.

Antz is much more than what was written on the box. Today, Antz is better remembered as that rip-off of A Bug’s Life that really should have been rated PG-13, but under its surface, it presents a fascinating, well-written, and entertaining political and philosophical commentary.

Talk at you next time!

[“Oh, Muffy, not another crusade…” “Chippy, we have a social obligation to the less fortunate.”]

A passionate speech to DreamWorks Animation that no one asked for

DreamWorks Animation is apparently in financial trouble partly because of the highly competitive animated-film market. Well, you know what, DreamWorks? Other people exist on this planet other than than young children and their parents. No one said you had to target them. There’s an entire market of teenagers and young adults that you and near every other animation studio have ignored for the past twenty years. Return to your roots! The first CGI film you ever made was Antz, a film that in retrospect should not have even tried to target children at all, a strangely philosophical and gritty film full of death, political satire, and dark comedy. Absolutely no one is making films like that regularly using CGI. There’s no competition! You could show what else CGI could be for, what it could do, what it could show when it doesn’t have to first and foremost entertain children.

I don’t need a photorealistic recreation of golden Angelina Jolie. I don’t need 60,000 strands of hair. Just because I’m over 12 years old doesn’t mean that the only way 3D animation will entertain me is if it features guns, stupid headstrong women, zombies, the police, a military, or a creepy, muscular man cutting his own arm off. I want to know what the space race in a binary planet system or on several inhabited moons, orbiting a gas giant is like. I want to see an unlikely hero, who looks very different from us but acts much the same, liberate his enslaved and ignorant species from an oppressive corporation. I want to see how a person’s acceptance of their differences and strengths that derive from them can save themselves and the people close to them. I miss the story about that ant who was disgusted with the oppressive world he lived in and succeeded in changing it.

There’s millions of teenagers and young adults out there playing video games composed of 3D graphics and dark stories or watching anime about psychopaths, depression, equivalency and fairness, the existence of god, notebooks that can kill people, pornography, and a multitude of other adult and challenging topics. CGI can tell stories as complex and dark as those found in video games and anime, too! DreamWorks Animation, step forth and embrace a brave new target audience! Nobody asked you for Shrek the Third or Penguins of Madagascar! I’m asking you for Antz! Millions of people don’t know it yet, but it’s what they want, too!

…Yup. That’s the story of what I do at 3:30 in the morning: write a passionate speech about stuff that will probably never happen. And I’ve been watching Antz… a lot.

Assorted CG Movie Trivia and Quotes

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Tekken Refridgerator
-Tekken: Blood Vengeance
Avatar
Source: IMDB
Citizen Siege Producer
Source: Oddworld Creators and Vanguard Animation Partner on Citizen Siege. (Oct 28, 2006).
Retrieved from http://oddworldlibrary.net
Citizen Siege Crash
Source: Oddworld Creators and Vanguard Animation Partner on Citizen Siege. (Oct 28, 2006). Retrieved from http://oddworldlibrary.net
Beowulf
Source: IMDB
Final Fantasy Dilly Dally
-Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Cutscenes
Source: IMDB
Polar Express
Source: IMDB
Guinness Book of World Records Website
The Incredibles
Source: ComputerHistory. (Dec 7, 2007). Pixar – A Human Story of Computer Animation. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com
Kaena Memento
Source: IMDB
Kaena Development
Source: EdDouglas. (June 18, 2004). An Interview with “Kaena” Director Chris Delaporte. Retrieved from http://www.filmjerk.com
Peszko, J. P. (2004, July). Kaena: The Prophecy – First 3D CGI Feature-Length Film from Europe. Animation World Magazine, 32-35.
Elysium Quote
-Elysium
Spirits Within Thriller
Source: IMDB
Spirits Within Expensive
Source: Guinness Book of World Records Website
Spirits Within Hair
Source: IMDB
Shrek Locations
Source: IMDB
Toy Story 2 Distaster
Source: Panzarino, M. (May 21, 2012). How Pixar’s Toy Story 2 was deleted twice, once by technology and again for its own good.
Retrieved from http://thenextweb.com
Toy Story Airport
Source: IMDB
Toy Story 2 Dust
Source: IMDB
A Bugs Life
-A Bug’s Life
Antz Vs Bugs
Source: Fleeman, M. (Oct 2, 1998). Of Ants, Bugs, and Rug Rats: The Story of Dueling Bug Movies.
Retrieved from http://laprensa-sandiego.org
Antz Quote
-Antz
Antz Rating
Source: IMDB
Dripik
-Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus
Oddworld Movies
Source: Katzenjammer Records. (May 2013). Interview with Lorne Lanning Creator of Oddworld Inc.
Retrieved from http://www.katzenjammerrecords.com
Exoddus Movie
Source: Katzenjammer Records. (May 2013). Interview with Lorne Lanning Creator of Oddworld Inc.
Retrieved from http://www.katzenjammerrecords.com
Toy Story
Source: IMDB
Brave Toaster
Source: Schlender, B. (May 17, 2006). Pixar’s magic man. Retrieved from http://archive.fortune.com
ReBoot record
Source: Bernstein, S. (Nov 10, 1994). Techno-Artists ‘Tooning Up: ‘Reboot’ Is First Series to Be Fully Computerized. Retrieved from
http://articles.latimes.com/1994-11-10/entertainment/ca-61086_1_computer-animation
ReBoot dark
Source: IMDB
Beast Wars Quote
-Beast Wars: Transformers
Starshipp Troopers trouble
Source: Oliver, G. (Sept 21, 1999). “Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles” debacle !!!. Retrieved from
http://www.aintitcool.com/node/4421

Elysium (2003) was made in South Korea. (Source: IMDB)

Appleseed (2004), Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007), Tekken: Blood Vengeance (2011), Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008), and Resident Evil: Damnation (2012) were made by the Japanese company Digital Frontier. (Source: Digital Frontier Website)

Have some CG movie trivia you think would fit here? Leave a comment below or send an email. Include a source!