CHICAGO, March 4, 2012 — His work touches lives. Mostly the younger generation, but more than a few oldsters have been affected by him as well. His creations sing with no distinguishable melody, but they are songs nonetheless, touching hearts and stirring emotions.
His rhythms are palpable. Words bend and twist, not only to fit the rhythm, but also to more truly convey his message. And what is that message? Society needs help.
He is Dr. Seuss. Or Eminem.
Granted, those “oldsters” mentioned above are not affected the same way by Eminem as they are by Dr. Seuss. Where Dr. Seuss makes the older generations sigh and think “What a fun, meaningful story,” Eminem makes them groan and think “wtf?” or in old-person language, “What’s wrong with kids these days? That’s not music!”
Still, the parallels are intriguing. Dr. Seuss’ stories aren’t music either, but it’s hard to read them without bouncing along with the beat.
The feature-length movie version of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax was released last Friday on what would have been Theodor Seuss Geisel’s 108th birthday. The movie debuted to mixed reviews and respectable sales, which is something else Eminem can probably relate to.
But enough about Eminem.
While many people relate to the angry, in-your-face rapper, many more people relate to the hopeful, in-your-heart author. And many of those who don’t relate to Dr. Seuss wish they could.
Even The Lorax’s disenchanted Once-ler succumbs to Dr. Seuss’ eternal optimism eventually. The story ends with the Once-ler tossing the last Truffula seed to the boy and telling him that if he plants it and cares for it, the world may once again be beautiful. (At least that’s how the book ends; the writer has yet to see the movie.)
The Lorax was chosen to be the latest Seuss movie in part because its environmental message is still incredibly relevant. We’ve made a mess of our world, but it’s not too late to fix it.
Or in other words, Big Business saw an opportunity, created a need, destroyed an ecosystem to fulfill that need, and then instead of taking responsibility for their actions and fixing the problem themselves, they waited until they could pass the last Truffula seed to the next generation and tell them to take care of it.
Perhaps this story is more relevant than originally thought.
Perhaps there’s a reason the generation that followed The Lorax, the generation that caught that Truffula seed, gave us a bitter Eminem instead of another hopeful Dr. Seuss. Oh, darn. How did Eminem get back in here? He was supposed to be vanquished by Dr. Seuss’ eternal optimism.
Could it be that the little boy who caught that seed got tired of trying to clean up Big Business’ mess, got more than a little angry, added that anger to the rhythms and rhymes, and became Eminem?
Possibly. But one thing is certain. Even under the most perfect circumstances, the generation that followed The Lorax could not possibly have given us another Dr. Seuss.
There was only one.
And as long as we treasure and care for The Lorax, the Grinch, the Sneetches, and the Who’s, and pass them on to the next generation in good shape, there will be beauty, hope, and optimism in the world.
Oh, look at that. My heart just grew three sizes bigger today.
Julia Goralka often refers to her children as Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3, noting that they often take turns as the North- and South-going Zax. She herself is more like the wise worm from The Big Brag. To contact her, see above.
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