Twentieth Century Fox's "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!"—based on the classic 1954 children’s book about a gentle elephant—earned $45.1 million at the box office over the weekend—the biggest opening so far in 2008 (Variety). The success came a week after pro-life activists demonstrated against abortion outside the film’s Hollywood premiere, chanting that the story’s moral—a person’s a person, no matter how small—was a condemnation of abortion. (Slate)
What the commentators said
“Dr. Seuss must be turning in his grave,” said Amina Khan in a Los Angeles Times blog. “Pro-lifers” are “using Horton’s innocent words to support the personhood-at-conception argument?” The widow of Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, objects to any attempt to make political statements based on his characters. But the real scandal is that Geisel was very political—but he was a left-leaning editorial cartoonist. So the protesters are “disregarding Seuss’ rich liberal legacy” and the true messages of his work.
There’s nothing wrong with “pointing to a possible prophetic pro-life message embedded in this heart-warming tale,” said Craig von Buseck in the Christian Broadcasting Network’s ChurchWatch blog. Horton hears tiny voices from Who-ville, a town so small it fits on a speck of dust, and risks all to save it from outside forces trying to destroy it. It’s hard to deny there are “parallels” between “the underlying message of Horton Hears a Who! and the “pro-life position,” and there’s no reason the similarities shouldn’t be “prayerfully considered.”
“Last time I checked,” said Ellen Leventry in BeliefNet, “abortion was still legal in this country, copyright infringement less so.” But the real outrage is hijacking an event meant for kids, and scarring innocent children by using them as human shields in a culture war. “Wherever you stand on the issue, I think it can be agreed that the premiere of a children's movie is simply not an appropriate place to protest.”