Disney’s “Tall Tale” centers around the relationship between a man and his son as the family farm comes under the threat of development by a robber baron from the train industry. Featuring Patrick Swayze, Roger Aaron Brown, and Oliver Platt in the roles of American legends Pecos Bill, John Henry, and Paul Bunyan, “Tall Tale” stands the test of time as more than just a piece of entertainment; it is also a commentary on the decaying of American life without it ever realizing it.
‘Tall Tale’ Exposes Real Conservative Values
“Tall Tale” exposes the truth of American life and the reality of life in the West beyond what conservatives and capitalists would have you believe. When the son rejects the idea of staying on the farm, the father says, “A man works to leaves his kid something, and he don’t even want it.” There are several westerns where the father steps out on the porch, raises his arm up and gestures toward the horizon while telling his son that “someday all this will be yours.” Parents used to want better lives for their children, even when the children didn’t want those lives; that desire ended sometime in the 1980s when greed became good.
Reaganomics and the Decline of America’s Future
During the rise of Reagan’s deregulation, parents began boasting about spending their child’s inheritance with bumper stickers placed on gas-guzzling recreational vehicles. Fathers told reporters that they wanted their children to work hard for what they got, and rather than improving life for their children, they actively worked to make it harder in the name of building character.
Worse, when confronted with nuclear waste, global warming, and discrimination, adults and the ruling class felt they didn’t have to do anything about the predicted problems because it will be their children or their grand children who will have to solve the issues the parents and grandparents created. In essence, the parents of yesteryear have magnified and made more difficult life for their progeny in direct contrast to thousands of years before them when parents wanted a better life for their children.
Making Life More Difficult
This same ethic is carried by those who claim the had to suffer something and so those coming after them should, too. I had student debt; why shouldn’t everyone else? I had to scratch and claw my way to the top; why shouldn’t they have to work as hard as I did? When Obama bailed out the banks instead of bailing out the homeowners, he was following the same dictum – the people who took out the loans should be responsible for them. Had he paid the loans, homeowners would’ve kept their houses, and banks would’ve received the money they needed to remain in business. Instead, we were left with people losing their homes, and empty houses deteriorating as there was no person to care for them.
Any organization that has an initiation follows the same logic. “I had to go through it, so others should to.” Instead of making life easier, they deliberately make it more difficult for their new members using the past and the idea of team spirit – bonds formed through similar misfortune, as an excuse.
Doing Better for the Future
An old man came to a chasm and crossed the river. Wet but safe, he decided to build a bridge he didn’t need and wouldn’t use because his journey would take him away from the chasm. When asked why, he responded that a young man would follow after him, and even though the old man crossed with relative ease, the chasm may be a pitfall the youth couldn’t cross. Instead of allowing the possibility of harm to come to the youth, the old man built the bridge for him.
In the end, we have to decide if we’re going to be tree planters, or if we’re going to provide the future of the humanity with more difficult paths and less movement forward. We don’t plant trees for ourselves, especially as we get older. Instead, we plant them for future generations. Do something to make the journey easier for those who come after you. You’ll never see the result, but they will be grateful for an easier path.