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Over the weekend, my wife and I finally got a chance to catch “9” in the theater.  (Look for a review either today or tomorrow in the usual spot.)  We walked out floored by the quality of the film in pretty much every aspect.  Recently, quite a few of the films I have been looking forward to have been, frankly, disappointing.  It was nice to have one live up to, and even exceed expectations for a change.

As we were leaving we chatted about the movie and we realized how many people we knew would just zone out as soon as we mentioned that the film was animated.  That’s not to say that all, or even most, or our friends would act that way.  We are, after all, proud members of the geek nation.  However, it’s surprising to me how often we pigeonhole films into a category with just brief glimpses.  Something quickly gets labeled “Chick Flick” or “Kid Movie” without any real reason beyond the shallowest of glimpses.

I really think this leads people to miss out on experiences they would otherwise enjoy.  If one sees “cartoon” and immediately labels it a “kid movie” then you either skip Miyazaki’s masterful “Princess Mononoke” or take kids to a film that is wholly inappropriate for younger viewers.  The same can be said of many other labels we place on films, books, television, everything.

And, I think that is really the root of my problem with people who zone out in those conversations.  So many people become so attached to their labels for the world that they refuse to believe that such pigeonholing is an incredibly invalid lens through which to view the world.  When we live in a world ruled by assumptions in one area we are much more likely to be accepting of assumptions in another.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the people who don’t even give an animated film a second glance are bound for the Klan or anything like that.  But we have to be cognizant of the fact that human nature is such that when we are willing to accept on the spot categorization of anything it simplifies the complexities of life.  Nothing is that simple.  It is the nuances and subtleties of the world that give our lives vibrance and color.

We can’t afford to allow ourselves to begin down the slippery slope of labels.  Once we begin to snuggle up to the concept that we can put the various aspects of life, whether trivial or crucial, into neat little cubbies we lose something of the sentience that makes us human.  Our minds become lazy, and that leads down a road of accelerating prejudice.  Maybe it never reaches critical mass, but isn’t it better not to tempt fate? 

Aren’t we richer having experienced a wider breadth of experience that we achieve by throwing off the shackles of simple labels?

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