Did you know that in 1954, when Life ran a report showing that kids weren’t learning to read because they found books boring, Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) was given an assignment by his publisher to write a book using 250 words from a list of 348? Well, even if you didn’t know that obscure bit of Dr. Seuss trivia, I’m sure you’ve heard of The Cat in the Hat. This most famous children’s story was Geisel’s final product from the assignment, containing exactly 236 words from the provided list, and soaking up nine months of his life. The book launched the decades-long career of Dr. Seuss. And now, slowly but surely, modern media are destroying Dr. Seuss books, one by one.
The Broadway show, “Seussical: The Musical,” was bad enough, but did we really need awful feature film versions of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Cat in the Hat” and “Horton Hears a Who?” Now, “The Lorax”—my most beloved of all of Dr. Seuss’s works—is being made into a 3-D flick to be released on March 2, 2012, Theodore Geisel’s birthday!!! He must be rolling over in his grave. [Variety]
Dr. Seuss wrote a heap of books, but rarely did he license the material held in the colorfully bound pages to be made into anything more. When he was alive, he refused to sell the rights of his characters to “anyone who would round out the edges.” Sadly, since his death in 1991, Seuss’s legacy has become commercialized and his characters edges have been rapidly gaining in spherical shape. Despite the fact that Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) was founded in 1993 “to protect and monitor the use of Dr. Seuss’s characters for licensing purposes” and is run by Seuss’s widow, Audrey, who is supposedly “always considering Ted’s wishes and dreams,” I can’t imagine that the real Dr. Seuss would approve of most of this.
Studio folks honed in on “The Lorax” because it has a ‘timely “green” theme.’ Well excuseeee me, Mr. and Mrs. Movie Executives, but please do not forget the other theme of the book: greed. In case you don’t remember, here’s a brief summary: The poor loraxes who live in the forest of Truffula trees lose their homes and habitat when the once-ler chops down every last tree to make thneed sweaters so he can net lots of money. Keeping that in mind, I can’t help but question how much money Hollywood animation studios earn before they’ve sucked the life out of every Dr. Seuss book? Was the $350 million from the terrible Jim Carrey adaptation of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” not enough?
Just a friendly reminder: reading has not become any less important today than it was in 1954. What Dr. Seuss did was invent a completely original reading experience. I can only hope that Geiler’s career will become an inspiration for studios instead of something to rip off. I find it only right to end this tirade with Dr. Seuss’s wise words from Oh, The Places You’ll Go!: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.”