The Authoritarian Fascist Regime

…of Thomas the Tank Engine.

10 comments on this post.
  1. Raoul Ortega:

    I are confused. Are we supposed to denounce Thomas the Tank Engine because of xis “Repressive Authoritarian Soul”, or celebrate xim as a role model to which we are to aspire? Since it’s The NewYorker, I’m assuming the latter.

    After all, Lady Rodham says that Orwell’s 1984 was about disrespecting authority and has a happy ending, since in shows the way one man “got his mind right.”

  2. David Spain:

    LoL somehow I just *knew* this article would feature Henry. And I remember watching that story when my son was about 4.

    I’m surprised Sir Topham Hatt didn’t follow the BR example of Percy’s fears and instead have a national engine health “board” decide on who got parts from Henry, rather than just a useless wall job. Hmm, Percy you’re already green, how bout a big, big muscle upgrade? Gosh, Gordon, you’ve got a drive wheel that’s gone a little out-of-round, I’m sure Henry won’t mind. Thomas, your whistle’s sounding a little shrill! Now how about Henry’s nice deep whoot! See everyone benefits from National Health!

  3. Bilwick:

    Reminds me of another beloved train story for kids, “The Polar Express.” Never read the book, which may be different; but the lesson of the movie version with Tom Hanks seems to be accept authority blindly, and if any parts of your rational mind raise questions, just “Believe.”

  4. David Spain:

    Well, cause… Santa! Ya know?

    I can’t hear that sleigh bell either, but then again my hearing isn’t as good as it used to be….

    FWIW the CGI in that movie creeps me out. When that movie was made they hadn’t quite got over the threshold of facial computer animation that wasn’t past the point of our visual cortex processing as “incorrect”. Eventually they got there with Toy Story….

  5. David Spain:

    Oops got my dates wrong. Toy Story 1995 Polar Express 2004.
    Well, I have no explanation. It still creeps me out…

  6. Glenn:

    The term of art is “Uncanny Valley”. Toy Story faces didn’t try for “realistic” and miss, so they’re not creepy.

    Avatar did facial motion capture and drove their CGI with it; since the images were visibly “aliens”, that wasn’t particularly creepy either.

    Polar Express, on the other hand, seems to have been trying to create “normal” human faces. In this case, unlike the old saying, a (near) miss is much worse than a mile.

  7. David Spain:

    Yes. Thanks for the reference. I knew I was not alone in this opinion, but didn’t know the technical term. The Wikipedia entry gives a decent explanation and includes Polar Express 2004 as an example of the phenomena.

  8. Mike Borgelt:

    There are interesting underlying messages in some movies. In “An American Werewolf in London” the message was – don’t be smart, figure things out and try to solve the problem, it is all futile and you will lose anyway.

  9. wodun:

    That was also a horror movie though.

  10. DarkstarSF:

    The only lesson I took from horror movies was to never own a ragtop convertible because the monster will rip through it to get your wife/girlfriend.