|Making little minds chirp alike. HBO’s “Big Little Lies” (Fair Use)
In the second season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” Meryl Streep plays an ice cold, judgmental, baldly acid mother in law with an unapologetically shallow value system. (They let her play herself, in other words.) Along the way, we get to see how the children of Monterrey, California are taught to be good world citizens. In this clip, they are encouraged to swear off pork, courtesy of a Charlotte-the-spider intent on teaching sustainability. Who knew that’s what she and Wilbur the pig were up to all along??
So when I first saw this, and got a little sick, I couldn’t identify precisely the source of my nausea. The science is weird, of course. When someone observes that it takes a thousand gallons of water (20 showers!) to get a single pound of sausage, are they contending that water vanishes from the universe, never to be seen again? Sometimes I think hard core environmentalists don’t have the slightest appreciation for the sustainability of nature itself. Matter is in constant transformation. Today’s cow pie is tomorrow’s sun flower. This year’s idiot progressive teacher is next century’s nice green turf.
But when I re-watched this clip again, the real big chill would have to be the choral answers. When I was a kid, the teacher asked for raised hands and allowed a few wrong answers, in sequence, before some kid (usually me or Brian Mittman), got to shine. The questions were about generally acknowledged fact, or plot points in the story we were reading. If there was room for a difference of opinion, we were encouraged to have an exchange of ideas.
Ponder today’s reality: kids get to be as slow and as dumb as their teachers, and they better wait for everyone in the room to get it wrong at the same time, comrades.
Warning, folks: group think of this sort is the kind of thing that makes for future Chernobyls — an HBO series actually worth watching.