Everyone’s incredible

“The Incredibles” can be seen as a dramatization of a great debate in education, writes John Tierney in the New York Times. Is it OK for some kids to be super?

The movie has reignited one of the oldest debates about child-rearing and society: competition versus coddling, excellence versus egalitarianism.

Is Dash, the supersonic third-grader forbidden from racing on the track team, a gifted child held back by the educational philosophy that “everybody is special”? Or is he an overprivileged elitist being forced to take into account the feelings of others?

Is his father, Mr. Incredible, who complains that the schools “keep inventing new ways to celebrate mediocrity,” a visionary reformer committed to pushing children to excel? Or is he a reactionary in red tights who’s been reading too much Nietzsche and Ayn Rand?

Is Syndrome, the geek villain trying to kill the superheroes, an angry Marxist determined to quash individuality? Or is his plan to give everyone artificial superpowers an uplifting version of “cooperative learning” in an “inclusion classroom”?

. . . Children are constantly feted for accomplishments that used to be routine. They may not all be honored at a fourth-grade graduation ceremony – the event in the movie that inspires Mr. Incredible’s complaint about mediocrity – but they all hear the mantra recited by Dash’s sister in response to his ambitions.

“Everyone’s special, Dash,” she says.

“Which is another way of saying no one is,” he replies.

I’ve got to see this movie.

Update: Virginia Postrel says the movie is “absolutely delightful” for persons of all political hues.

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  1. Richard Nieporent says:

    I would definitely recommend this movie. It is good entertainment and unlike almost everything else that comes out of Hollywood, it does not contain “Leftist” propaganda. Mr. Incredible has values and protects Americans from evil. Gee, that sounds like someone who just got elected President!

    First Team America and now this movie. If this keeps up, it will be safe for conservatives to go to the movies again.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I miss Virginia.

  3. Yes, you must see this movie.

    ElastiGirl is the definitive UberMom, and I’ve yet to see anyone write about her. The movie is brilliant on so many levels, it warrants more than one viewing at the theater.

  4. mike from oregon says:

    OMG – you haven’t seen the movie yet??? Without a doubt the best pixar movie yet, and I did like the others. Took the whole family, wife and two daughters (both teenagers) and EVERYONE thought it was a delightful movie. Go, go, go see it. I give it eleven out of ten stars.

  5. Go see it! It really is great.
    I guess VP has wandered far from her Reason days. I’m still trying to figure out what the statists will like in this movie.

  6. I’ve long been fascinated by the concept of the Special Olympics, where one can only participate if one cannot perform very well. Where do they draw that line, anyway? What if a world-class sprinter suffered a stroke and was disabled to fit the standards of the S.O.? Would he still be able to participate, even though he retained his athletic ability? How about a Special Chess Olympics, where everyone who won was disqualified? Then what would you do with a Rain Man-type idiot savant who could play world-class chess? The situation is ripe for moral dilemmas, few of which appear to have been explored.


  1. Footballers or Superheroes?

    As Joanne Jacobs has chosen to use Typekey for comment registration, I shall instead post my comment on her post about The Incredibles here. Basically, I was going to comment on the following bit from the New York Times article…