Reviews Comments: An unfortunately frequently misinterpreted film

An unfortunately frequently misinterpreted film
The moral of The Incredibles is NOT "some people are just better than others, deal with it". It's "don't throw away your life & family in pursuit of glory." Bob & Syndrome both exemplify this, one learning his lesson, the other ignoring it.

Bob is a former superhero, forced into retirement when the public outrage over supers becomes too much for the government to handle. He can't stand having to live a normal life, where he's backwards & levels below everyone else. He doesn't connect with his kids, is forced to answer the whims of his shifty boss, & often sneaks out with his fellow super buddy for late-night rescuing thrills. When he gets the chance to resume hero work for a mysterious organization, Bob jumps at the call & can't believe his luck. But he's forced to realize the consequences when he discovers he's been furthering a villain's plans, & in the process put his family in danger.

Bob's turning point manifests when they're all captured and he's confesses how he was too caught up in the past: "I've been a lousy father, blind to what I have. So obsessed with being undervalued that I undervalued all of you. You are my greatest adventure, and I almost missed it."

Compare Syndrome. He wants the same glory that Mr. Incredible had, cares nothing about civilians, & views hero work as a fame ticket. He's the one who's misinterpreted the message to be "deal with living with people who are better than you". He wants to overcome that, & could do so. But he would be a horrible hero if he succeeded (Just look at how he threw that truck in the city!) He threw his whole childhood away, his inventive genius, & even his perhaps girlfriend away just so he could be an idol. His motive is glory, not equality. The result? He underestimates those who are just pawns to him, so both Mirage & the Omnidroid take steps to lock his fall.

The film has multiple character development lines, Violet's shyness, Dash's vanity, etc, so it's easy to miss Bob's too. But so it's clear his arc is the true message of The Incredibles, since Brad Bird wrote it as a reflection of his own career. So if there's any moral it wanted to send it, it was that one about family & not that "the supers should rule us."


I think a big reason for that interpretation comes from when Dash says that thinking everyone is special is the same as thinking no one is. Also, when Mr. Incredible says "They just keep finding new ways to celebrate mediocrity!" Granted, Dash's quote might be childish brattiness, while Bob is simply stressed over the loss of being a hero (that's how I see it, anyway). But it depends on whether you think you're supposed to agree with them or not.
comment #13166 doctrainAUM 10th Mar 12
Very true. But it's clear Helen's in the right during her argument with Bob, since he's trying to dismiss the ceremony as "celebrating mediocrity", and she's trying to get him to see the point of attending for the sake of his family. As for Dash, if Helen had thought a bit more, she could have responded "Being special doesn't mean you can bully your teachers", since "everybody's special" doesn't really answer anything. So I think they're both invalidated in different ways when Bob and Dash make that excuse, but perhaps the film could have been a bit clearer in confirming that.
comment #13167 Tuckerscreator 10th Mar 12 (edited by: Koopacooper)
Did this really need to be made? Different people can think different things about the movie, that why all the aesop tropes are Audience Reactions.
comment #13168 VeryMelon 10th Mar 12
I felt it did, because a lot of people were perceiving the film as a Family Unfriendly Aesop-filled work now. Multiple morals can be read in a movie, as pointed out with Dash and Violet, but most film's still have a central intentional message and lots of people seemed to be missing the main one about Bob.
comment #13169 Tuckerscreator 10th Mar 12 (edited by: Tuckerscreator)
Fair enough.
comment #13170 VeryMelon 10th Mar 12
This review looks suspiciously like the comment I wrote just yesterday on the other review. With that in mind, I don't see why this review needed to be made, seeing as how it isn't so much a review of the film, but a short analysis of the story's aesops. Why isn't this just a comment on the other guys review?

A lot of the reviews here tend to be somewhat defensive in tone (mine included), yet this one seems to serve no other purpose than to defend a single element of a film.
comment #13179 maninahat 11th Mar 12
You wrote a review just to spite me? What? My interpretation of the film's message is just as valid as yours. That's why the aesop tropes are YMMV.
comment #13180 PurpleDalek 11th Mar 12
No, I didn't write my review just to you, and certainly not to spite you. More to the readers of the Incredibles article as whole, since debate over whether the film has a Family Unfriendly Aesop is all over the page. Just look its Headscratchers and Fridge. As a comment on the previous review it was just bound to be ignored, and that is what happened, so it couldn't be discussed. Reviews can contain analysis too, and I don't see why they can't primarily focus on examining the film's themes if they want to. But if you suggest, would you prefer this remain a review, or perhaps better suited to an "Analysis" page?
comment #13185 Tuckerscreator 11th Mar 12 (edited by: Tuckerscreator)
And no, maninahat, I didn't base this review off your comment. I actually wrote up most of this about a month back, but laziness is a fickle thing, so I didn't finish typing it until yesterday. I wouldn't want to steal someone else's words anyway.
comment #13186 Tuckerscreator 11th Mar 12 (edited by: Tuckerscreator)
When did I ever claim that reviews can't comment on the themes of a film? My review did that very thing. And you ignored what I said. The Family Unfriendly Aesop interpretation that I and many others have is just as valid as your interpretation. We aren't "misinterpreting" it at all.
comment #13187 PurpleDalek 11th Mar 12
If both of your interpretations are equally valid, then why do you seem so offended that he offered his own interpretation? And no, I don't think he wrote this to spite anyone.
comment #13188 doctrainAUM 11th Mar 12
"Reviews can contain analysis too, and I don't see why they can't primarily focus on examining the film's themes if they want to. But if you suggest, would you prefer this remain a review, or perhaps better suited to an "Analysis" page? "

Moving it to essays might be better. A review can certainly consist of analysis, but I don't think that is the purpose of tvtrope's review section. 400 words doesn't really provide enough for an indepth study, and the recommendation is that reviewers use that small a space to provide a summary of the entire work.
comment #13190 maninahat 11th Mar 12
Because he said I misinterpreted it. Not interpretated. Misinterpreted.
comment #13193 PurpleDalek 11th Mar 12
EDIT: Most of comment removed for vitrol and general unpleasantness on my part

You've got a fun little logical flaw in the last paragraph btw. Your arguments read: The Incredibles doesn't have a bad moral, this is the moral instead, why is this the true moral to take away? Because it's not a bad moral.

I don't think the people in the other thread (although I understand it's an entirely unrelated review, that you didn't glance upon at all before writing this :D) were arguing that the creators _deliberately_ made an awful moral, just that unfortunately an awful moral slipped in there. In fact one of them even mentioned the good morals the film had. It turns out that having good morals is actually entirely unrelated to having a bad moral too :D

Also, if a film is frequently misinterpreted, say going on the ratios of that unrelated review we're all not talking about, say 25% of the time. Then that means 25% of people watching it are having a negative experience. So what are you saying? A film good film that 1 in 4 people will dislike?

If it's a misinterpretation that still means the film is bad in that it can easily be misinterpreted by a broad segment of the people watching it. What does misintpretation even mean if we're not arguing that writers deliberate put it there? Are you saying 25% of people, unfortunately don't know what they actually think about the film? We're misinterpreting our thoughts? :D
comment #13194 Tomwithnonumbers 11th Mar 12 (edited by: Tomwithnonumbers)
To Tom: Changing up that last paragraph. You're right, that's a logical flaw to argue there. I'll make it more clear.

Well, while we and I know an accidental message can slip in, despite having other good ones, there were a good amount of people on the Headscratchers and such that were arguing this was the film's primary moral, when it wasn't. Likewise there was almost no discussion of the main message about Bob; it seemed to be forgotten. So I wrote to explain that this wasn't what The Incredibles wanted to say. As an accidental subtext it could indeed slip in, and be viewed that way, but the film's not trying to support it, it wants to support something else.

I'm having a lot of trouble making out your last two paragraphs though. Could you say it in a less confusing way please?
comment #13195 Tuckerscreator 11th Mar 12
@Tucker, darn you, I was just flicking over to remove my post, as overly agressive and snark, and not only have you responded, but you've been nice and well reasoned towards me despite it. Thank you for being the good person.

I completely agree that this wasn't what the Incredibles wanted to say and in a way, despite all I've said, I'll admit they didn't even actually say it. It's just they've got these strands of a bad message that slipped in and confused. I guess what I was trying to say in my last two paragraphs was that although it wasn't a deliberate message and not even the message everyone will leave with, it's still a failing of a(n excellent) film, because such a high proportion of people did leave with that message. Although it wasn't a goal and the movie has some excellent messages which it achieves (and you made a very good case for) I'm not sure if you can call it misinterpretation, because a film isn't just what it's creators intended it to be and there is something there to be interpreted. I guess it's the difference between someone mistaking a characters motivation and someone placing emphasis on character motivation that _is_ there.

I hope I've managed to put that a little better, and thanks for being patient with me
comment #13197 Tomwithnonumbers 11th Mar 12
@No problem, and thank you for apologizing! I most definitely appreciate that.

Indeed, Incredibles does have flaws in allowing that message in, and sometimes in very obvious places. (Helen, why couldn't you have told Dash something better than "Everyone's [also] special"?) And there's other works have allowed in messages that sometimes ran a very fine line between deliberate and accidental. Such with Lord Of The Rings here, where Tolkien insists such a relationship wasn't the case, but still let slip a couple contradicting terms. But my hope is that people can realize those instances as the Accidental Aesops that they are instead of letting them get mistaken as the main message. Accidents happen, but we shouldn't forget the primary moral as a result.
comment #13199 Tuckerscreator 11th Mar 12
Well, that seems pretty reasonable, i don't think I can argue with that

If it's okay with you, can I edit my original post to remove some of it, I'll keep enough that your comments make sense, I'm afraid I'm embarrassed about what I wrote
comment #13202 Tomwithnonumbers 11th Mar 12
Sure you can, edit out what you don't like. I'm sure any confusion about "disconnecting comments" would be cleared up fine once they've read down to here.
comment #13204 Tuckerscreator 11th Mar 12

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