True Colors

The latest DreamWorks children’s film is Trolls which pits the mean, depressed mono-chromatic Bergens against the fun-loving, exuberant, multi-colored Trolls. The Bergens hold the belief that the only way they can experience happiness is by eating trolls. The Trolls are led by Poppy. She is adorable, she sings, she dances, she is fun and that makes her an even more delectable and desirable anti-depressant.
How many analogies can be considered as a life lesson here? From seeking happiness through drugs or alcohol, eating meat, acquiring material things, or gaining status etc.
The Bergens capture the Trolls (sans Poppy) and it is up to their leader, and her sidekick Branch, to defy the odds and rescue them. They eventually accomplish this by convincing the Bergens that their belief system is false. Happiness comes from within—not by ingesting something (or someone) to make you happy.
I am still incredulous that the makers of Trolls think that this theme is appropriate for small children (and have some regret about exposing our girls at this age to the film). But our girls have ingested the film and populated our home with a troll community. To my knowledge they have not manufactured Bergens (except for one character who was nice) so our girls use other dolls to represent the big, ugly Bergens. The play it engenders is wonderful and they also get to play out some of their fears based on “Bergens” and “Trolls.”
Let us now contrast the lesson to be learned from Trolls, what we can call the Troll Dream, with an emerging new American Dream. Donald Trump represents a belief that the happiness is indeed a pill –it is not who you are but your measure comes from the outside. Your net worth is what makes you great, not how you treat others but whether you have won and that is measured by wealth. It is not important how you make your wealth, who you swallow, spit out or destroy—what matters is the outcome.
I recommend watching Class Divide an HBO documentary by Carl Levin. It is a story about the division of poor and rich, and perhaps unintended, it highlights that both poor and rich more and more swallow the same Trumpian pill—happiness is based on money. In the end the social classes are actually not divided on belief—just on access.
We need to stay strong in our conviction that happiness comes from within and from how one lives a meaningful, caring and compassionate life. May those values remain our true colors and do what we can to encourage an American Dream that does not descend into a mono-chromatic green color of greed and winning.


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