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Power and Courage in A Bug’s Life, a Movie by John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton

On average, children begin to have a long-lasting conscious memory at around 14 to 18 months old. At this age, media and the adults in their daily lives easily influence them. The movie A Bug’s Life is filled with hidden messages that may be too complex for youth, but teaches a valuable lesson that can be appreciated later in life. A Bug’s Life introduces an organized colony of ants that struggle to defend themselves against the abusive and intimidating grasshoppers.

In the movie, themes such as power and courage are reoccurring and can be compared to the state of the United States at this time. With the recent election of President-Elect Donald J. Trump, many people are scared of what the future may hold. The Southern Poverty Law Center has counted over 700 cases of harassment and intimidation from November 9th, the day after the election, to November 16th. This number is extremely alarming not only because of the short time span in which these incidents have occurred but also that they are even happening. Trump’s supporters feel they are invincible by making minorities and those around them feel small. Just like in the movie when the grasshoppers would intimidate the ants.

Hopper, the leader of the grasshoppers, says one of the most important lines in this movie. In this scene, his brother questions a decision he has made regarding getting the rest of the food from the ants. He replies to the entire group, “You let one ant stand up to us then they all might stand up. Those puny little ants out number us a hundred to one and if they ever figure that out there goes our way of life. It’s not about food it’s about keeping those ants in line.” To have courage and to defend yourself against those who cause harm is one of the most brave and selfless acts to commit. It took one ant to make a difference and end the history between the ones in power and the powerless.

A Bug’s Life is a classic childhood favorite that has a fun plot and a deep message. Flik, the movies protagonist, is an inventive ant whose ideas and creations always lead to disaster for his colony. His most recent setback happens early in the movie when we are first introduced to Flik. His newest invention, called the Harvester, knocked down all of the food that was to be used to pay off Hopper. When the Grasshoppers arrive and realize there is no food they become outraged and confronted the terrified Ant’s below. He bullied Princess Atta and threatened to harm Princess Dot. This triggered Flik to attempt to stand up to Hopper and to demand he leave Princess Dot alone. Astounded by this reaction, Hopper demands the ants produce twice the amount of food they usually prepare for the next time they come back. If they failed to do this before the last leaf fell, Hopper ensured there would be serious consequences.

Afterwards, the Queen, Princess Atta, and the rest of the council tried to decide a punishment for Flik’s accident. They argued between digging in the tunnel and sending him to a mental health hospital. Ultimately, they decide to send him out on a journey to find someone to help them fight off the Grasshoppers. During his search, he comes across a band of bugs he is convinced could help him save the colony. When he arrives back with helpers, he and the warriors are highly celebrated through a feast and a performance by young ants. During the presentation, the warriors realize the real reason Flik wanted them to come to Ant Island and they later shared with Flik that they are not the warriors everyone perceives them to be. They disclose to Flik that they are circus bugs and they assumed Flik was a talent scout.

On the verge of leaving, Flik begs for them to stay while he devices a plan to get rid of the grasshoppers without looking like a failure to the colony. He finally decides to make a bird out of leaves to scare away Hopper, who happens to have a serious fear of birds. When the idea was proposed to the warriors, the council and the rest of the colony, everyone was eager to begin to make this vision a reality. They completely stopped collecting food for the grasshoppers and worked daily to complete the bird. Once the bird was completed and put into a tree for later use, there was yet another feast for celebration. Unfortunately, before Flik gets a chance to see his plan put into action he was kicked out of the colony because they found out the warriors were not who they said they were and they worried Flik’s bird wouldn’t work. In a rush to gather food before the grasshoppers came, they find themselves coming too short and began to panic for the return of the grasshoppers. When they arrive, as expected, they are not satisfied and scatter the food everywhere.

While Hopper takes over and causes havoc, Princess Dot leaves in order to find Flik to help save the colony. When he arrives, and with the help of his friends, they are able to distract the grasshoppers long enough for Flik, Princess Dot, and her friends to get to the bird waiting above them. They fought and unfortunately a fire destroyed the bird before the ants were able to scare off the grasshoppers. When Flik was then faced with standing up to Hopper he wasn’t as afraid as he was before. Thumper threw Flik around and beat him while Hopper attempted to make an example of him to the other ants.

While Hopper was speaking, Flik gained the strength, after being beat, to tell Hopper that ants were much stronger than he made them out to be. He made Hopper aware that he knew their strengths and had seen them do wonderful things. This courage inspired the rest of the ants to stand behind what was being said and they began to run the grasshoppers off of their island. While the other grasshoppers fled the island, Hopper made a last attempt to kill Flik before be was eaten by an actual bird.

When watching A Bug’s Life and considering the state of American politics right now, there were a lot of similarities seen. The first similarity is between the impacts of the leaders. In the movie, Hopper influenced everything the other grasshoppers did. From when they laughed, when they flew and even when they would harass the ants. He inflicted fear on them with just a simple look and they fed into every word he said. He and President-Elect Trump’s method of gaining followers are similar. While running for the presidency, President-Elect Trump said almost anything to his followers and they all supported him. He got them excited about immigration laws that they took everything he said literally. Both followers remained loyal no matter what the circumstances were.

The second aspect of the movie that is similar to the current state of America is the followers of these individuals. All of the grasshoppers in the movie aren’t the smartest. For example, Hopper’s brother, Molt, is the reason the ants know of Hopper’s fear of birds. While Hopper is attempting to show dominance over the ants, Molt goes on a rant about the time Hopper was almost eaten by a bird. If Hopper had more control over his own followers, then he may not have been eventually ate by a bird.

President-Elect Trump’s followers are almost similar in nature. During the race, and even after the election, Trump’s supporters have been very openly racist. There is a video of a black man who offered free hugs at rally for Trump and at a rally for Bernie Sanders and the difference was saddening. When approached by the man, one woman is seen chanting, “black is good, black is good, white is better, white is better”. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the worst that was said. That same man then when to a Sanders rally and he had a completely different experience. Recently, Trump sat down with 60 Minutes on CBS and gave an interview stating that he was going to unite America and that the racist behavior needs to stop. “I am so saddened to hear that…and I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it helps, I will say this and I will say right to the camera: ‘stop it.”

There is even a correspondence between the circus bugs and Hilary Clinton. Flik was hopeful that the circus bugs were going to be able to fight away the grasshoppers. When he found out that they were not warriors he never lost faith in them. Instead he asked them to help him make the rest of the colony believe they were warriors until he had enough time to figure out how to defeat the grasshoppers. In contrast to Hillary Clinton, the circus bugs and Flik were able to successfully get the grasshoppers to stop bothering them.

When it became apparent that Bernie Sanders was not going to win the bid for the democratic candidacy everyone put his or her hopes into Hilary Clinton. We believed she had what it took to keep Trump out of office. That with her experience as not only Secretary of state but also as a former First Lady. It was a huge let down on election night when it was clear Trump won the Presidency.

The final similarity is the leadership of both Hopper and President-Elect Donald Trump. In the movie, once Hopper took over Ant Island when they returned the second time, the grasshoppers took over and abused the ants while they collected all the food on the island for them. President-Elect Trump has not been in office yet, but with the 700 racial incidences, it can be assumed his presidency won’t be any different. Trump talked a lot about building a wall and deporting immigrants. This has made U.S. Citizens and immigrants both afraid and saddened at the same time. Just as hope and determination helped Flik defeat the grasshoppes, hopefully someone will save us from whatever is to come.

A Bug’s Life is about a colony of ants that have done the same thing their entire lives. “The ants pick the food and the grasshoppers eat the food,” is a reoccurring phrase throughout the movie. For Flik, he never fit in because of his creative personality. He tried different things and somehow anything he ever did resulted in a disaster for the colony. This particular year Flik made a difference by standing up to the oppressors, the grasshoppers, and demanding to be respected as the awesome bugs they are. A Bug’s Life can easily be connected to life in America today.

With the recent election of Donald Trump to become the next President of the United States, minorities everywhere are afraid of learning their fate. From the constant threats of being kicked out of the country and from not understand why everyone is racist it’s not clear as to how America will be run in a couple more weeks. Hopefully, like the Flik, there will be one person who can rise against President-Elect Donald J. Trump and his followers and truly make America great for the first time.

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