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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Saturday, July 25, 2009

VeggieTales' Moe & The Big Exit - a Video Review

I've enjoyed alot of the Veggie Tales, though I don't believe the most recent ones have been as good as the older videos were. But if there's one thing that I wish they had generally stayed away from, even since their early days, I would wish they had never attempted to write versions of Bible stories. I think Moe and the Big Exit is worst rendition of a Bible story they've ever produced. Here, they've taken a somber story such as the Exodus, set it in the Old West, and made Moses and Aaron into the Lone Ranger and Tonto. But that isn't the worst of it. Veggie Tales' versions of Bible stories are inevitably sanitized, because, it seems, children can't handle things in stories such as death. Try telling that to the Brothers Grimm. Children handle gorey elements in stories better than we think, but we seldom find it out because today we unduly shield them from stories with violence in them, unlike previous generations. Veggie Tales follows this modern approach, and in this case ruins the story of the Exodus. Water turned to blood becomes water turned to tomato juice, and death is being "sent up the river". It seemed apparent that the writers struggled with the difficulties here, as hints that death was taking place were apparent at times, and the music and artwork were often crafted in such a way as to signal the seriousness of certain situations. But Veggie Tales is inherently a lighthearted, feel-good sort of cartoon, and shallowness and triviality were unavoidable. The worst of the video was in the attempt of recreating the scene of Moses at the burning bush. Here, it is a tumbleweed, with arms, no less. Once again, it was apparent that the writers recognized that they were treading on thin ice. One did not here the voice of God from the burning bush; instead, a narrator filled in the message given to "Moe" for us. Nonetheless, the "armed" tumbleweed did take on personal characteristics, making it clear that this bush represented God. It was my understanding that the Veggie Tales writers had said they would never represent God in anyway. While they might squeak by on a technicality here, by noting that the bush itself was not a manifestation of God, I think it's reasonable to say that they crossed the line on this one. The tumbleweed clearly was a personification of God, whether or not they intended it to be. And the end result was the trivialization of God. This video is a couple of years old (2007), and I haven't seen every Veggie Tales video to know if the negative traits of this one is becoming a regular aspect of them. Hopefully, criticism has been raised by others since the release of this video, and the Veggie Tales crew has rethought some of their mistakes. If not, they will soon find themselves on the trash heap of former Christian merchandising schlock, and rightfully so.

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