“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.