Albert in Blunderland (film #4 on An American Retrospective Through Animation (Moviecraft, 1994)). [Category: Industrial]

Harding College sponsored the animated films on this tape "to strengthen and preserve our American freedom through understanding." Actually, these films seem to be attempts by Big Business to sell capitalism to workers who might be otherwise tempted by the Godless Commies. The films, though well-animated and somewhat amusing, have a subtle patronizing undercurrent and a lack of understanding of the real problems of workers and the injustices they face under capitalism. Intelligent workers probably had negative reactions to capitalism from viewing these films. In this film, Albert the Auto Mechanic listens to a leftist radio commentator extoll the virtues of a "planned society", liking it to the social order of ants. Albert likes what he hears and wishes he could be an ant. After receiving a blow on the head, he gets his wish in a dream, but quickly discovers the downside of the ants' "planned society". Communism is not mentioned once by name, but it's obvious that the ant social order is meant to be a send-up of a certain large eastern European/Asian nation. Of course, this also means that it has all the dystopian cliches typical of the Hollywood version of communism, such as thought police, unreasonable work quotas, and execution without trial, even right down to the 1984-influenced city architecture. The most hypocritical part comes when Albert gets hauled off by the ant thugs for threatening to start a union in the state-controlled factory, as if workers in capitalist countries were free from such harassment. I'm no fan of communism, actually––it's just that patronizing propaganda such as this can make it begin to look good, at least momentarily.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.

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