The COVID-19 quarantine order did not stop the movie industry from releasing some golden screen gems. One of the movies that was released was: Trolls World Tour. It was also released in an opportune time to help parents speak to their children about the awakening that has been sparked by protestors around the United States.
Readers beware: there might be spoilers in this blog. I will try to explain why the Trolls World Tour movie can be helpful in starting a good conversation on racial discrimination, open mindedness, consensus effect, and police brutality.
Trolls World Tour is a movie about music and it’s genres. The movie uses harp strings to represent types of musical genres. In the start of the movie these strings are all separated and the Trolls of the Troll World are divided and contained in musical genre bubbles that help them isolate themselves from each other.
This isolation is a good way to introduce racial stigmas and talk about close-mindedness. Separating yourself from other cultures and life styles can happen organically or purposefully. Children can live in “cultural isolation” by: living in a city with small racial diversity, and only experience different cultures through media and word of mouth(be it good, or bad). They can also live in a racially diverse environment and never experience different cultures, or they can embrace other races and have a cultural immersion. You, as the parent know exactly where you live and where your children stand on this isolation spectrum. It is in your hands to introduce and continue conversations on the value of diversity and keeping an open mind when dealing with people. When the Trolls are divided, you can highlight that separation and mention where you live, and who you live near. Introduce books or conversations that allow more exposure and promote the value of keeping an open mind when dealing with different people who might not be in their immediate circle.
The Trolls from different musical genres did not accept each other’s music, and discriminated against each other, there was judgment and disapproval towards their life styles. In this movie the musical genre represent the Trolls identity. They can not live without a certain type of music, until the end of the movie. Poppy herself thinks that everybody is the same. She is trapped in a consensus effect where she feels that all Trolls think and feel the way she does. She is bent on helping everybody see their similarities and in starting a great Big Troll party. She goes through a journey of discovering that her past was written by the victors (the term Colonizer comes to mind here), that not everybody is the same, and their differences should be accepted and embraced. She learns this when she is introduced to the Funk string. Reminding children that differences are strengths is necessary to help them value people of other cultures and lifestyles. Mentioning that all cultures have value will help them see others in a positive light. Also, reminding them that these cultures should not be ridiculed or glossed over due to lack of exposure will positively impact them. Poppy found herself open to a new way of thinking and was only thwarted by Barb, the rock Troll.
Barb is the antagonist in the movie. Barb wants to make rock music the only music played by Trolls. Barb’s use of force and aggression can be an extension to talk about police brutality in our communities. Acknowledging that black children learn about Police authority in a different light then a person of lighter skin, due to the pervasiveness of racial stereotypes, is the first step in speaking to your children about Police brutality. John Oliver explains how people of color live with police injustice in this Video.
I have personally experienced the stereotypes that police have towards people of color. When I was in my twenties, my passenger side mirror was broken. I was stopped by a police officer, who I believe was training. I removed my seat belt when I was stopped. I was not aware that you’re supposed to leave your seat belt on and place your hands on your steering wheel once stopped. The police officer was female and she was so nervous. A fellow officer even asked her if she needed help. How could she be afraid of me? I wondered, and still wonder now. I was so scared, too! How could she be scared of a college kid, who had a broken mirror? I know I had unbuckled my seat belt, but the stereotypes are real, that was the only thing out of the norm that I had done to possibly cause fear to this new police officer. I am Mexican-American and I did not dress like a stereotypical gangster and I also did not drive a dangerous car. I had a Toyota Scion for god’s sake. It’s no big deal now years after the fact. But, if police have this fear and incorrect assumption of the people they are trying to protect, there is definitely a disconnect. And people should not have to experience it first hand to believe it.
I’m going to talk to my daughter about Police brutality in this way, using Barb as the aggressor, because I feel it is an easy tie in to explain abuse of power. Barb is a Queen, not a community servant, but she is responsible for the rock Trolls. The fact that she felt she was correct in uniting the world with one type of tactic without realizing she was wrong, can be used to communicate how people sometimes following procedures without being human, or feeling empathy. During Barb’s attempt to capture the other strings, she decimated the other lands. While this is more of a war analogy, it can also be used to express the current situation that we have found ourselves due to decades of defunding community programs and supporting policing strategies instead.
I don’t feel my child needs to know about this exact situation. But, it’s unfortunate that at this moment schools are being defunded, due to our current state, while this article is from last month, it is worth a read. The median age of people in California is 36.7 (Median age). California’s children schools are going to need attention, not just policing. I’m going into a tangent here, so let’s get back to the movie.
At the end of the movie Poppy is able to use her listening skills to unite the Trolls and allow Barb to see that her vision of what the world should be, is flawed. It’s an amazing message. Listen to others and do what’s best for the world around you, is what everybody needs to do. Listen and practice empathy, real empathy. It will not create a downfall in our current system, it will actually improve it expand what we are all hopefully searching for: Improvement in our human relations, in our community, and our environment.
We as a family loved the sound track as well, we danced to the entirety of it, because we love all types of genres. Let me know you’re thoughts in your comments and listen to the sound track here.