Peter Rabbit

I’m trying to realign my IMDB scores with the initial intention rather than score higher than where the films should be. I have been concerned with ratings-inflation for a while now and feel I am getting back to where it should be. There is a chance this one is going to be quite controversial but message me if you are bothered.

I went to see Peter Rabbit. The tide was halfway in the river and on the way in I guess as it was fully in on the way home. I rated this film on IMDB and you should probably see this communication which goes someway to explain how the grading system works.

I didn’t really like this film. I will admit that I found it funny at times, but humour doesn’t make a good film. I will also admit that I have never read any Beatrix Potter and have no emotional attachment to Peter Rabbit or any of the rest of the folks.

This is likely to descend into a discussion about the role that film plays within our society and for that I apologise in advance. There is a argument that this is a kids movie, it’s meant to be entertaining, the deeper lessons from this movie don’t need to be analysed because it’s meant for entertainment and we love these sorts of stories.

After the opening credits I was quite distressed as four birds flew across the sky singing and my thoughts were “Oh, shit. No one told me this was a musical, I will hate it”. The singing didn’t last long and that went on to become a running joke.

If I was being generous then I would say this is a cute family film with some slap-stick violence. I’m not in the mood for being generous though. I want to look at this film through the lens of social change in influence.

The messages from this film are mostly about the acceptance of illegality, violence and lies. The two human characters fall in love even though the male lies constantly for ninety percent of the film. The female is unaware of how obvious these lies are and yet she fully accepts this man at the end of the film. The rabbits in this film are vermin, much to their consternation. They invade and steal property consistently throughout the film, it’s ok to steal if what you take is “definitely yours” by a thought process of seeing things and so wanting things.

The bullying by Peter on his family is pretty bad. He’s a tearaway character, acting on impulses with little regard for the welfare of those he drags through his capers. He only stops to think once the damage has been done and even then he self-justifies his actions as the proper course. He is an horrible character. He gets away with these things in the eyes of the audience because he is cheeky and winks at times.

This film showed it’s OK to fight and to electrocute people to get what you want. It’s perfectly OK and even justified to harm humans if you are an anthropomorphised rabbit. You actions are deserving of praise because you are stealing the food that grows in someone else’s property. They live in the luscious countryside of the Lake District and yet these rabbits couldn’t find food? I don’t want to defend property ownership entirely. I have massive issues with the few who own the majority of everything. But, I’m just looking at the messages in this film.

In the end the woman still falls in love with the liar even though she knows he’s a liar. The violence of the rabbits gains them acceptance in the human world and the man changes. Perhaps in some ways this narrative is about the struggle of the small and weak to gain recognition. But, I’m not convinced. The ambitious toff keeps control in the end, restoring the natural order of things where the british love being subservient to the higher born.

It’s curious the level of violence that is normalised in TV and film. It starts early with Tom and Jerry. Then it moves to the Tom and Jerry satire which was the Itchy and Scratchy Show. Stop and have a look at cartoons and superhero films and examine the motives behind them. Do they teach fighting is OK? Do they teach about a natural order of human behaviour with hereditary leaders making decisions for the rest of us? Do they reinforce the current standing of your class?

Perhaps it will always end up with a few families controlling this planet not matter where we start. Maybe it’s because humans are nasty, violent creatures who need to have a sense of order and place-in-society to function. The issue is that it’s always the little man who gets crushed by this.

Maybe this film is just a fun-filled family caper but I do suspect it’s more sinister than that.