Happy Feet and Disibilities
Philosophy and Psychology
Professor Kristen Hassett
December 1, 2014
Happy Feet is a movie that takes place in Antarctica amongst Empire penguins. The main character Mumble was just an egg when he is introduced. As his mother leaves the community to find food, Mumble father drops him; it is known that an egg must never be dropped because of the frigid temperature. Although it was unlikely for Mumble to hatch after the drop, he hatches and is livid with his feet. Mumble, in good spirits displays his unconventional talent. Not only was Mumble born with “happy feet” he was also born with the inability to sing. In order for penguins to mate, they must be able to serenade a female penguin. Without this important trait Mumble’s parents as well as the community are left in confusion.
Possible causes of disabilities in children similar to Mumble would involve teratogens. “Teratogens are drugs, chemicals, or even infections that can cause abnormal fetal development. There are billions of potential teratogens but only a few agents are proven to have teratogenic effects,” (Pregnancy and Teratogens). Anything caused by an external force would be similar to the cause Mumble’s development. Teratogens can cause learning disabilities such as dyslexia and ADHD. Although it is not too obvious Mumble’s appearance is also different, he has a fluffy outer coat unlike his peers, and has blue eyes, and is smaller in size than the rest of his peers.
Mumble’s development is similar to that of a child with ADHD. He is unable to control his “happy feet,” as well as short attention span when told not to sing or dance. Children with ADHD often suffer from not being able to focus, being overactive and not being able to control their behavior. This is displayed when Mumble uncontrollably includes himself in the community sing-along. At this point in the movie, the penguin community had shunned Mumble because he is different. The other penguins did not like Mumble because they did not understand what being different was. They found his involvement as annoying and essentially “ruined” their time.
Mumble, being an outsider is affected emotionally. Not only is he disliked by his peers but his father does not want to accept that he is different. His father states that there is nothing wrong with him and that his “happy feet” is just a thing he is doing at the moment. This can be a similar attitude that parents face when they learn their child has a disability. Some parents do not want to accept that their child is different. Mumble struggles through many obstacles during his childhood. During his school years, teachers show favoritism towards the other students, he is disrespected and belittled. All in all, Mumble is rejected by his community. This is similar to the treatment to that of a child with a disability. Children with disabilities are often ignored, deemed unable to succeed in a subject area, and are ultimately “alone” in a school setting. As a result of this treatment children may have low self-esteem, decreased motivation and decreased potential.
Although Mumble has many struggles because of his “happy feet,” he also has different strengths, just like children with disabilities have different strengths and weaknesses. Mumble is able to turn something that is seen as a negative thing into a positive one. Just because Mumble is different, it does not mean he is bad or wrong. Once his community opened up to the idea of the “happy feet,” also known as dancing, they realized that it was not a bad thing. In fact his community had a great time experiencing and learning a new skill. In the movie the elders are still not accepting with this new found skill and I believe that represents people that are ignorant and do not want change. It is okay to be different; people should accept and respect children with disabilities because they have strengths and weaknesses, talents and skills. Just because something is unknown, does not mean it is wrong. Mumble and children with disabilities are just as important and are beneficial members of the community and society through their talents and skills.
I believe that this movie displays great morals and acceptance towards others. As a future elementary teacher I consider the movie Happy Feet to be a great example to express the acceptance of others. I believe that it teaches strength, perseverance, and open-mindedness. I think the most important lesson to be learned from this movie is to not be ignorant. In order to not be ignorant, you must be open to learn about something you do not know or understand. I believe that ignorance is the reason why we as humans face so many problems. We are afraid of what we do not know or understand. We are quick to judge and label, when in fact we do not know the situation or have the right information. If we could take the time to appreciate every person as a person, we would live in a better place. I think that it is important to teach love and acceptance and I believe this movie displays just that.
Work Cited "Happy Feet - Talking and Playing With Movies - Verbal, Social and Emotional Learning for Children 3 - 8." Happy Feet - Talking and Playing With Movies - Verbal, Social and Emotional Learning for Children 3 - 8. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.
"Pregnancy and Teratogens." Pregnancy and Teratogens. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.