Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dr. Seuss & Aaron McGruder

Yesterday was Read Across America day, and around the country people were reading the works of Dr. Seuss. I went to visit the afterschool program at Martha's Table and we read "Horton Hears A Who" and "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins." The kids loved it, but as Dr. Seuss books go those two alone took a while to read. I also had in my bag "Bartholomew and the Oobleck" and "The Lorax."

If you haven't read The Lorax you should totally read it. In today's world of corporate fatcats and environmental problems this book is even more important. I hadn't read this book for a long time, and reading it as an adult I was really impressed with the story. However, what struck me the most was the name of the evil creature at the heart of the book:

The Once-Ler.

In The Lorax, the Once-Ler moves into the beautiful forest and uses the trees to make this unusual product called a "thneed." The Lorax is the voice of reason who tries to tell the Once-Ler that what he's doing has an impact on the animals who live in the forest. But the Once-Ler is greedy and he keeps making his Thneeds and just keeps chopping and chopping down the forest until he has completely destroyed the environment and the Lorax has moved all the animals to some other place where they could live a safe and happy life.

Being an adult who's into comics and cartoons I read The Boondocks and have watched the show on Adult Swim (not to mention that we have the DVD's for rental as well). If you've never watched the show or read the comics you may not be familiar with one of the main villains in the show: Ed Wuncler (pronounced "Once-Ler").

Ed Wuncler is the embodiment of corporate greed, with complete disregard for any of the consequences for people, the environment, the city. None of it matters as long as he gets his money. There is one episode in particular that almost completely mirrors The Lorax.

In "The Itis" Grandad Freeman makes a terrible sandwich that is so loaded with grease and fat that it becomes unbelivably addictive. Ed Wuncler invests in grandad's idea and puts his restaurant with the terrible sandwich directly across from a beautiful park. Over time the neighborhood starts falling apart, crime starts to rise and the park turns into a terrible unsafe place to be. Ed Wuncler shuts down the restaurant and buys the rundown, dangerous park from the city, which is what he planned all along.

I never knew there was this connection between these two characters, but kudos to Aaron McGruder for being inspired by one of the greatest villains in all of Seussdom.

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