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Mixed messages April 6, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in family, issues, rants.
Tags: , , , ,

Watched Horton Hears a Who with my Mother Dearest last Thursday. The animation was downright stupefying, the characters were likable (slightly emo son Jojo was so cute, and my favorite would have to be that weird sheep-porcupine-looking thing that goes “aaaah”), and the story was really good. And Seth Rogen. That’s my future husband, right there.

At dinner with the rest of the family after the show, my father asked about the movie. “The message was very nice,” my mother answered. “He believed in the Whos, even though they were invisible.”

God fucking damn it.

Seriously, I can’t watch anything with my mother without it turning into some metaphor for the virtues of theism/Catholicism. The paranoia hampered my enjoyment of the movie, especially in scenes where the antagonist kangaroo is like “If you can’t see it, hear it, smell it, or feel it, then it isn’t there.” (Which I agree with, by the way, but I’ll get to that later.) My atheism will always be the elephant in the room — hee, get it, “elephant.”

I was seething inside, but I managed to maintain an only mildly irritated-looking facade. “But he could hear them,” I retorted, trying to restrain myself from getting too snarly.

“Yeah, well.” Typical Catholic response.

As for me, I actually like the message I got from Horton Hears a Who, which is obviously a different interpretation from my mother’s. And it goes as such:

The tyrannical kangaroo was angered upon finding out that Horton held a belief (that there were little people living in the speck) that was radically different from hers or the rest of the jungle’s. Fearing that the propagation of this new belief would encourage people to start thinking outside the box and cause her to lose her vice-grip on the kingdom (the kangaroo was the self-appointed leader), she ordered her minions to persecute Horton and force him to admit that what he said he believed in was absolute hooey. She also managed to convince everyone that Horton was a nutjob for believing in this shit.

Sound familiar yet?

Horton stuck to his principles, and luckily for him, the Whos of Whoville managed to make themselves heard in time to be saved. The animals embraced Horton and his beliefs, and blah blah happily ever after.

So, from what I can see of this story, it’s not pro-theist at all. It’s anti-narrow-mindedness. I feel like we atheists are the Hortons in this picture, persecuted and stigmatized for choosing to think outside the box and seek an answer that makes more sense.

Unfortunately, while our Whos in Whoville are loud and clear (read: logic and tangible evidence are in our favor), most choose to turn a blind ear. ‘Cause, you know, they might go to hell for even considering it. What’s important, though, is that like Horton, we shouldn’t give in to the pressure of fitting in.

I’d share this with Mother Dearest, but as I’ve mentioned before, I refuse to argue with anti-atheist theists. It’s just not worth the effort.



1. God - April 6, 2008

Great analysis! BTW, I agree, your mother is a toolbox. All mothers are. That’s gonna have to make my list someday:


2. God - April 6, 2008

Especially the ‘Virgin’ Mary. She got more than a little vain about her involvement as the surrogate for My kid.

3. Teen Atheist - April 6, 2008

Thanks, God! 🙂 Looking good in that picture. Much better than how you looked in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, although you were awesomesauce in that movie (the camera does add ten pounds, after all). 😀

LOL @ Virgin Mary. Mothers are famewhores. When I went out to get a job, she told everybody and took all the credit for me being hired by a prestigious company. *rolleyes*

4. Sara - April 7, 2008

Hey teenage atheist,

Excellent insight on Horton. I assume your mother knows about your (lack of) beliefs?
I haven’t seen the new Horton movie, but I know the original story, and I wouldn’t have pegged it for any pro-theist message. However, now that I am an adult, I can look back at many of the shows and movies I used to watch and see the not-so-subtle, pro-theism messages. Like Land Before Time (“Some things you see with your eyes, others you see with your heart”) and The Night Before Christmas (“You don’t believe in Santa because you think with your head, not with your heart”) No wonder it’s easy for kids to fall for religion–blind faith is pushed as a virtue from the start. I wish there was a good Athiest cartoon out there…


5. Jersey - April 7, 2008

I choose to not care if deities exist or not, but I only have angst against those who believe who try to stuff “it” down my throat. Don’t get me wrong, I have some things I am damn stubborn about, but otherwise I am a very tolerant, “live-and-let-live” type of person.

6. Teen Atheist - April 7, 2008

Couldn’t agree more, Jersey. I just want everybody to respect each other, and stop being so damn “militant” about shoving beliefs down others’ throats.

7. Teen Atheist - April 7, 2008

That’s a great concept, Sara. Sadly, I outgrew kid shows a looong time ago. 😦 I’m sure there’s a good enough show like that out there, though. I remember liking Beakman’s World and Bill Nye the Science Guy. XD

8. Holy Prepuce - April 8, 2008

Exactly – skeptics don’t categorically reject claims that are beyond the limits of our senses or present technology to verify directly. To do so would have precluded acceptance of, e.g., the germ theory of disease or the existence of extrasolar planets – both hypotheses proven true by subsequent technological advances.

Instead, we demand that such claims be backed up by strong circumstantial evidence, and that they either dovetail with our existing understanding of nature, or offer a very strong basis for revising that understanding.

So even though I can’t see a black hole at the center of the Milky Way, it is reasonable for me to believe it’s there, because the celestial objects we can observe behave in the manner we would expect them behave if such a black hole existed, and no one has proposed a more reasonable hypothesis to explain this behavior.

It is unreasonable, on the other hand, to believe in a hidden god who exerts influence over the universe through undetectable mechanisms that seem to violate all of our observed understandings of, e.g., conservation of energy.

Horton’s Whos are like germs or extrasolar planets or the black hole – real things that are waiting to be discovered by rational visionaries who have “faith” in the power of evidence and inquiry to change a static worldview. That kind of faith is 180 degrees from religious “faith,” which makes a virtue of clinging to static worldviews in the face of mounting contrary evidence.

9. john - April 8, 2008

Owch.I would’ve exploded at her if it was me.
That would annoy me intensely, that horrible undertone.
It’s weird that she feels the need to take digs at you like that, she’s your mum? but i s’ppse that bloody man in the sky is more important.
I agree with Sara, atheist cartoons ftw! do any exist?

10. atheistgirl - April 10, 2008

ha. That happens to me weekly. I opened a fortune cookie a while ago that said “God looks after you especially.” I’m sitting there thinking, “fuck, here we go again” and my mom goes “See?! It’s a sign!” ugh. Go Horton.

11. GDad - April 11, 2008


I had essentially the same response when I saw the movie. My benefit was that I wasn’t attending with your mother or an analogous theist.


12. Teen Atheist - April 13, 2008

You lucked out, GDad. 😛

13. Teen Atheist - April 13, 2008

Aww, atheistgirl. Sucks, doesn’t it? 😦

14. OzAtheist - April 22, 2008


you might like this version of Horton, called Horton Hears an Evangelical

The Exterminator has done an excellent job of re-writing the poem, one of his lines:

“The oddest of oddities isn’t as odd
As people believing that there is a god.”

15. Emily - June 8, 2008

This post reminds me of one religion that spread its “message” through TV.

16. Ville_Valo - November 10, 2008

Oh my GOD! Your mother is so insistent on converting you back to believing.. You can’t even watch a simple movie.. (Not saying that my mom doesn’t do the same thing) I love the original of the movie, I haven’t seen the newer one.. I totally agree with your view of the film..

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