“I been brain-fried, electrified, infected and injectified,
Vivosectified and fed pesticides,
My radar’s all shut up
Nurse I need a check-up from the neck up,
- The Batty Rap, Fern Gully
Welcome to a very different corner of Australia: FernGully, a magical, mystical, magnificent forest protected by tiny fairies. Here the wilderness is luscious and beautiful thanks to the blessings of Magi and her naïve young apprentice, Crysta; but, of course, along come humans to screw everything up again.
Long ago there was a dark demon of pestilence and blight. It scourged through FernGully, destroying everything in its path, until the powerful Magi called upon the magic of creation to seal the dreaded Hexxus into a blackened bilbao tree. Years later, humans return to the forest and bring with them a leveler and pollutant oil. Hexxus is freed when the bulldozer plows through, and FernGully is compromised yet again. Crysta shrinks down and saves one of the humans responsible for cutting down the forest, unfortunately, because he’s an idiot for a greater portion of the movie.
Zak Young is blond, buff, and the stereotypical beach bum. He lies to Crysta, telling her that he’s marking trees to save them. While he flaunts his fluffy mullet and cutoff sleeves, charming her into believing he’s a hero, our fairy protagonist bats her eyelashes and leads him to frolic with her in a sparkly underwater cave, buying everything he says. Being the literal manic pixie dream girl, however, Crysta teaches him to listen to and love the forest… which actually kind of sucks for Zak, because by the time it counts for anything, he’s found out to be a fraud and becomes ostracized from the fairy community. When, indeed, do humans learn? Like John Smith, from Pocahontas, or even Jake Sully, from Avatar, eventually the arrogant outsider has to learn the lesson that nature matters and then fix the damage. Meanwhile, a dangerously smoggy Tim Curry wafts through FernGully and destroys a massive portion of Australia.
It, being the 90s, was an era that helped pave the way for activism in children’s stories. The third wave of feminism and calls towards environmentalism were huge, birthing a string of strong female leads and nature friendly storylines. Kids grew up knowing every word to the Batty Rap and the theme song to Captain Planet, and girls looked up to characters like Crysta, Anastasia, Pocahontas and Mulan just as much as real women like Mia Hamm and Dominique Dawes. Movies like Once Upon a Forest became childhood staples, and the seeds of the “Green” movement were planted.
Next week we cruise into a more dramatic mode of storytelling, a casual dip into real life, and enter the fray with Erin Brockovich.
Carisse Ramos, Guest blogger: “Carisse Ramos is a graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a degree in Visual and Critical Studies. Besides blogging about geekery and thoughtful thinking, Carisse now works as a freelance writer, editor and visual artist in Chicago. Her writing focuses on using pop culture trends as a vehicle to facilitate productive dialogues.”