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The Incredibles

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“Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in.” said Helen Parr (Elastigirl), revealing the plot of the movie The Incredibles by Brad Bird. After saving a man attempting a suicide, Mr. Incredible gets sued. This leads to an uproar against superheroes and all superheroes are forced to hide their powers and blend in. The Incredibles exposes the American Dream as a lie. The American Dream has a great secret and to hide the secret, those who appear to live the dream are forced into hiding. Because of the secret, superheroes can no longer be super, violet can not have a boyfriend and buddy can never be a hero.

“They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity.” Said Robert Parr (Mr. Incredible), shedding light to the problem, if exceptionality is scorned, then mediocrity is the only thing there is to celebrate. To hide the fact that the American Dream is a lie, superheroes are forced to not be super. Society in general seems to function just fine without the heroes, until they become painfully aware of the need for them at the end of the movie. And to the heroes themselves living in hiding is a pain. To the extent that: as Edna said about Mr. Incredible “He attempts to relive the past.”

Violet has become very shy and a-social from living in hiding. Constantly moving whenever a member of the family accidentally exposes his or her powers means that she never fits in at whatever school she goes to. Violet has a crush on one of the boys in her grade. It is fairly obvious that he likes her too. But she is too afraid to talk to him because she is ashamed of her powers. “We act normal mom. I want to be normal! The only normal one is Jack-Jack, and he’s not even toilet trained.” During the movie, as the conflict with Syndrome forces her to use her powers and fight, she grows more and more confident. Until in the end when superheroes are no longer forced to hide, she takes charge of the plans when asked for a date saying “I like movies. I'll buy the popcorn.”

Buddy, a normal boy who idolizes Mr. Incredible, wants to be a superhero. He invents several gadgets to make him equal to the superheroes. He has found a way around not being super, essentially achieving the American Dream. Going from rags to riches, or as in the movie, going from normal to super. But Mr. Incredible continually rejects him because he is normal, saying, “Fly home, Buddy. I work alone.” He becomes bitter. When the superheroes are forced into hiding, he devices a plan. He creates a robot that only he knows how to destroy and sets it loose on the city. He would then come to the rescue and become a hero. He would live his life as a hero, and then when close to dying he would sell his inventions, allowing everyone to be super. Because as he says, “When everyone’s super, no one will be.”

This is the great secret of the American Dream. It is impossible for everyone to live it. Because success is measured by comparison, if everyone is successful, then no one is because then successful becomes average. And when society tried to hide this it almost ended in disaster when the robot attacked.

The Incredibles, despite being a cartoon about superheroes, hides a meaningful commentary on our society within. It describes how the American Dream is a lie. And even if you achieve it, it is still not a perfect life. Rags to riches, normal to super, one is still opposed by the old money, or in buddy’s case, by the superheroes.





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