On “The Secret World of Arrietty”

I very much enjoyed the movie. Here are some points –

The characters are japanese stereotypes – quiet, controlling father, hysterical mother, bold daughter, and others I won’t go into.

The father obviously previously knew Spiller, but the daughter says this is the first time she’s met a Borrower outside of the family. Given how lonely and miserable the daughter is it was utterly cruel of the father not to invite Spiller over previous to this, *or even mention his existence to his daughter*. And this meeting only occurred because of the accidental injury to the father. This cruelty can be put down to the controlling nature of the father, whose anxieties over the danger to his family blinds him.

Also, the daughter says she is unaware of the existence of any other borrowers (now amended to any other than Spiller). What happened to her grandparents? Why do they have no contact with other borrowers? If the reason is safety and humans are so terrifying, why not be like Spiller and live in a forest? Only humans have the possibility of controlling Borrowers in the way that the maid does. In a forest the Borrowers could form a village and not be so isolated.

The obvious answer is that these are bourgeois people who couldn’t possibly live without “civilization”. The mother longs for a “better kitchen” and the father and daughter would happily move into the new opulent dollhouse if not for the father’s fears of a more controlled (controlled by humans) environment. They leech off of not just human possessions but their bourgeois culture as well.

So the white bourgeois little people get help from the noble savage (wow, that never happens) to move from one terrifying problematic home through the safer forest to another terrifying problematic home which they hope will have better stuff.

The most interesting metaphor I find in the movie is between the Borrowers in this movie and Westerners in reality. Westerners have long justified their material dominance of the world not just in raw racist terms but in terms of being weak – physically weak. Both nerds and the state of Israel therefore personify Western reasoning in clear terms – nerds justify dominating jocks and others through their fears of being physically dominated and the state of Israel justifies its domination through being an “oasis in the desert”, the “only democracy in the Middle East”, the “chosen people”, the “weak, outnumbered, neurotic, etc.” And of course the fear of another Holocaust is the ultimate justification for whatever atrocities Israel happens to commit on a given day. FDR is clearly long dead when “it’s fear which makes us strong” is the order of the day in the West.

The white people think little of the help of someone they barely even know (Spiller) because of course he’s helping them because they’re special. They are an endangered species, you see, and so what that they are useless parasites because they’re special.

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