Geekend: Finding Nemo Is Real... & Evil - InformationWeek

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9/19/2014
09:06 AM
David Wagner
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Geekend: Finding Nemo Is Real... & Evil

Finding Nemo is supported by science -- which makes it all the more horrifying.

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As a parent of two Pixar-loving children, I just want to say that Finding Nemo is the worst movie ever. Worst. Ever. Hold the lynching, because the reason I think that happens to be totally scientifically valid in a way that I doubt even the makers of the movie could have ever predicted. This is pretty cool.

Scientists from the University of Exeter, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Sultan Qaboos University, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique have shown that some baby clownfish actually go through an adventure much like Nemo's, without the dentist office part.

Clownfish, as fans of the movie know, don't like to leave the confines of the coral reef. In fact, they rarely leave the vicinity of the anemones they call home. They provide them with protection as well as a source of food. Clownfish eat the undigested food and sometimes the tentacles of the anemones as well as zooplankton. In turn, the anemones like to eat clownfish droppings. It is a tidy relationship.

Here's the thing, though. If clownfish never left their anemones, their choices for breeding would be limited. They'd start looking like the royal families of Europe -- everyone marrying their cousins to broker land deals. So it has long been predicted that clownfish must "get around" more than we thought, but it wasn't proven until now.

[Why is Grumpy IT Guy extra grumpy? Read The Test System That Wasn't.]

The research team found that baby Nemos sometimes leave the safety of the anemones and travel as far as 250 miles through open ocean to settle in new reefs. They do this when they are less than a week old and less than half an inch in length. The Nemo in the movie is a giant compared to this, and significantly older.

Think about this -- these fish set out and brave ocean currents, predators, pollution and everything else at less than an inch so they can keep the genes of the community nice and fresh. It is very similar to the movie, without Sharks Anonymous.

Why does this matter? Well, for one thing it shows quite a lot about how a diverse coral reef system is essential for species survival. And coral reefs are in serious danger. We lost 16% of the world's coral reefs in one year. The Caribbean (not where Nemo lives) has had it worse, losing 80% in just 50 years due to pollution and development, not to mention global warming and invasive species.

As reefs get more sparse and farther apart, that already dangerous journey from one reef to another becomes more difficult and it threatens the species. And of course, it isn't just clown fish, but the other reef fish, the animals that eat them, and everything else all up and down the food chain.

Even if you don't care about the fish, the world's coral reef systems account for $29.8 billion worldwide in economic benefit. So there's plenty of selfish reason to care as well.

But none of this is as important as the real reason I care about this. It is because I hate Finding Nemo. And now that I know that the dangers that clownfish experience just to maintain genetic diversity are as bad as the movie, I can't stand by anymore.

Finding Nemo is an animated snuff film. It is 100 minutes of televised torture for the enjoyment of children. You might as well animate children tearing wings off butterflies and frying ants with a magnifying glass.

Think about the plot. In the opening seconds, an entire happy family is wiped out. The lone survivors, literally suffering from PTSD, are then required to go through 98 more minutes of horror. In that time they endure captivity, being hunted, minefields, and facing imminent death multiple times. We're supposed to think this is OK, because one of the victims is so brain damaged that she never remembers anything. If all of that isn't enough, they go through a period when they are convinced their loved ones are dead. Good times.

I've heard many people defend this sort of violence by saying Disney always does this. Bambi's parents die. Most Disney princesses lose their parents before the movie even starts. Life is full of death. Don't be overprotective of kids. Sure, but for 100 minutes? Nemo is tortured so he can go back to the very same place his whole family was eaten. This movie is more like Saw or The Hostel than Bambi.

Now that I know Nemo is real, I say let's take this movie off the shelf of "family fare" and put it in the horror section where it belongs. Also, let's take a moment to remember how fragile the ecosystem really is. The farther a little clown fish has to go to mate, the harder it will be for us.

What do you think? Still a fan of Nemo? Tell me why I'm wrong. Do you have more respect for biodiversity? Comment below.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
9/30/2014 | 3:20:13 PM
A hero's journey
Sorry, still a fan and here's why. It's not just that Disney always does this, it's that Nemo went on a heroic quest (as did his father) which is time honored delivery of adventure stories. (and there isn't adventure without a little bit of danger.)

Pick up any fantasy book worth it's salt and hero has had some kind of tragic backstory. The biological parents are usually dead or opens with the second one dying. THey don't want to go on their quest but eventually they feel they have to (or are taken against their will until they start acting like a hero) The hero them learns things through a series of harships, has a moment of near death (Or where the readers think the cause is lost), then the happy ending of the quest where the hero and his surrounding are changed forever.

Now go ahead check your other movies. Ailbo baggins goes from living fat and happy in a little garden villiage to sneaking into a cave and stealing from a dragon. Find your own, I'll bet it has most of those elements.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/24/2014 | 5:34:18 PM
Re: taking care of our reef
@vnewman2- I'm sad "unboxing" doesn't have something to do with refusing to hit people. :)
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
9/24/2014 | 5:13:15 PM
Re: taking care of our reef
@David - Funny you should mention you-tube-famous today because I'm god-smacked by the latest craze on YouTube that has everyone from techies to parents to toddlers mezmerized:

I'm speaking of the "Unboxing" videos.

Have you all seen these?  Videos of folks unboxing the iPhone 6 are getting mad hits and a You Tuber named "Disney Collector" has reached 94 million views on one of her videos entitled: "Angry Birds Toy Surprise Jake and the Never Land Pirates Disney Pixar Cars 2 Easter Egg SpongeBob." 

And all it is is her unwrapping "Surprise Egg" containers and to reveal toys, stickers or candy inside.  I'm seriously you guys (South Park reference).  Is anyone else in awe of this phenomenon?  
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/24/2014 | 4:32:52 PM
Re: taking care of our reef
If I were a Peruvian author with the power to make ice nd who hung out with trolls and a talking snowman, I'd have probably not worried so much about writing an autobiography and more time making the world's best ski resort. Or becoming you tube famous or something.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
9/24/2014 | 2:30:24 PM
Re: taking care of our reef
@David - Well, now we know the reason behind the parental abuse in the movie Frozen - it is based on a true story...I can't post the link, but this was printed on the Daily Mail today: Little-known Peruvian author 'suing Disney for $250m because it stole her life story for hit kids film 'Frozen.' Isabella Tanikumi claims Disney epic was based on her 2010 autobiography. Claims Disney plagiarized and copied story from her Yearnings of the Heart. Frozen has grossed a record $1.2 billion at the global box office. Disney has said film is based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/23/2014 | 2:53:43 PM
Re: taking care of our reef
@vnewman2- It might be a generational thing with water, too. There's a long held myth at Harvard that simply will not go away because it rings so true. The myth is that all Harvard freshmen are required to take a swim test or take swim lessons because a major donor lost a son on the Titanic. 

There's no word on why they didn't force freshman to take a "surviving frigid ovean water without a lifeboat" test instead. 

At any rate, we've just got it in our head that prior to the middle of the 20th century people didn't like water. Maybe enough of them didn't we can't get it out of our collective minds.

vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
9/23/2014 | 2:48:52 PM
Re: taking care of our reef
@David - she's still alive and kicking so she did in fact survive despite the lurking dangers of water everywhere. lol.  I did try to teach her how to swim at one point and she sunk like a rock.  Sigh

That said, guess who had to take 12 years of swimming lessons and work as a lifeguard during the summer because of my mother's fears?  :)

So much like Nemo, my life was shaped by the fears instilled in my parent with regard to swimming and water - perhaps I should change my screen name to vnemo-an :)  Ba-dum-bump...
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
9/22/2014 | 9:33:15 PM
Re: You think that's bad?
David, the scene with the big waves and the boat that just disappears is pretty scary, so I'd have to disagree with you. And the way that the monarchs interpreted the troll's advice is an incrimination of the Nordic, northern European culture of mores and stand-off-ish-ness and the stiff upperl lip and all that. Elsa does become an "ice queen" after all.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
9/22/2014 | 9:22:25 PM
Re: taking care of our reef
@vnewman2- Well, did your mother drown? If not, it worked. :)
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
9/22/2014 | 8:33:12 PM
Re: taking care of our reef
@David - yes I suppose the powers that be felt the need to justify the behavior but it would've been nicer for them to just give the dad a personality disorder. Kind of like the one my grandmother had when she told my mother if she went near water she would drown instead of teaching her how to swim :)
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