Paddington's pro-bear propaganda poses a threat to all Americans
High-profile news events like the government shutdown and the massive women's marches held across the country over the weekend have drawn the average American's attention away from a significant threat: Paddington.
The movie "Paddington 2" -- about a talking bear who lives in England and, for some reason, doesn't terrify people -- has become a box-office hit and the best reviewed movie in the history of Rotten Tomatoes, a website that aggregates movie reviews.
Duped movie critics are calling this bear-propaganda film "warm," "magical," "charming" and "a perfect family film."
Because I'm skeptical of both movie critics and bears -- talking or otherwise -- I went to see "Paddington 2" over the weekend. The film left me disgusted and afraid.
Before I get into the details, let's examine our long history of bear normalization. Perhaps more than any deadly non-human carnivore, the bear has managed to con humanity into thinking it is somehow cute and approachable.
We've had Yogi, Boo Boo, Smokey, Pooh, Fozzie, Ben (from the unspeakably dangerous television show "Grizzly Adams"), Gentle Ben, Teddy Ruxpin, an entire animatronic bear jamboree at Disney World and the Care Bears, cartoon creatures hellbent on convincing young children that bears are capable of caring.
Fortunately, none of these bear-led psychological operations resulted in the widespread mauling and extinction of humans. The first "Paddington" movie back in 2014 may have lulled some into a false sense of security, but they were brought back to an appropriate terror level by the vicious bear attack against Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Revenant" in 2016.
And now comes "Paddington 2," a seemingly feel-good tale in which we find Londoners of all stripes smitten with Paddington the bear. He rides on the back of a woman's bike, pops into stores, chats with his adoptive human family and befriends a dog who, if the film had a lick of authenticity, Paddington would have torn to shreds and devoured in an instant.
Through all this, not a single human appears to be concerned that a bear is waltzing about and talking. It's as if it's an everyday occurrence and we should all just open our doors to any bear who knocks, presuming that bear wears a floppy hat, has an insatiable appetite for marmalade and speaks perfect English.
To make matters worse, the bear in question is not even a citizen of England. Paddington snuck into the country from "darkest Peru" and, as we learn in the film, is eager to get another Peruvian relative into London.
So a bear who is a potentially violent illegal immigrant hoping to bring in other bears from the darkest parts of Peru via chain migration is given a home and allowed to zip around the city unattended? And we're supposed to smile and pretend this is OK? WHAT GOOD IS A COUNTRY IF IT CAN'T SECURE ITS BORDERS FROM FOREIGN BEARS?
As I sat in the dark theater watching this disturbing movie, prepared to hurl salty popcorn into the eyes of any bear that tried to sneak up on me, I realized why "Paddington 2" is so popular. We are living through a tumultuous time, what with the partisan political screeching and the uptick in talk about nuclear war and the many famous men being revealed as lecherous swine. A movie in which the titular character is innocent and affable and has a knack for cheering up everyone around him seems bound to appeal, as it is so wholly unlike everything going on outside the theater.
The bears are trying manipulate our emotions. They sense our weakness and have set a trap, feeding us pro-bear pablum and inspiring us to invite furry brown bears -- regardless of their country of origin -- into our home in the hope they'll dance and sing and generally make everything better.
Do not fall for this Paddington put-on. Bears are not charming. They don't want to sit around with you eating marmalade sandwiches. They want to sit around with other bears eating a you sandwich.
Michael Bond, the late writer who created Paddington and who was, I assume, in the pocket of Big Bear, once said: "Paddington is very polite in a world where people have become more selfish."
Wanting to go through life without being eaten by a talking Peruvian bear is not selfish, Mr. Bond. It's sensible.
I encourage you all to steer clear of "Paddington 2." It's a dangerous film that makes you forget how scary the world has become.
And that's something that should worry you immensely.
(Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and a noted hypocrisy enthusiast. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @RexHuppke.)