I think by now I’ve listened to Thneedville a lot more times than is probably healthy
And the thing that really gets me about it is how good it is as an example of reverse logic
Like how How Bad Can I Be is a song made entirely of hypocrisies/fallacies
Thneedville is about how GREAT everything is because everyone has everything they could possibly want
Nobody actually thinks or cares about how it all came to be, (they almost did in the demo version), but this isn’t a regular town that grew up via normal means, this is a specially commissioned luxury place. One guy planned it, bought it, and put in every possible convenience and attraction. Nobody remembers that far back, so to them, it’s just “things are perfect, they always have been, and always will be”.
And because the city they have is that GOOD none of them can believe that there’s anything wrong with it. And that is an actual, damaging mentality people have, when they have it ingrained in them somehow that their lives are great, they’ll get hostile if you think it’s not or that something could be improved.
So the whole song, an anthem about their city, is reinforcing all the great stuff they’ve got which they mistakenly take to believe that it couldn’t possibly get any better so they actively refuse to notice anything being wrong. And this is a really great setup - the tycoon who created a dreamlike world who was quickly forgotten as they wiped out any thoughts of progress just so they could believe in their pride at having a perfect city. That’s the kind of plot that could be a deep, dark, fully-fledged adult dystopia novel.
There’s something that gets me about the enforcement of perfection by denying people the ability to question anything.
There’s also a line in there where they “thank the Lord” for what they have, which is a pretty good stealth joke. They want to attribute their standard of living to a higher power, to imply that they deserve this somehow, when in reality it was some guy with an incredible amount of money. That’s how deluded they are. It’s like, you know when people say they’re thanking god for having lived through surgery or surviving a plane crash? And they don’t actually thank the surgeon or the pilot who have trained carefully and learned and practiced and done their damn best to help? And then they go on to sing “…like this parking lot!!!” which just drives it home that they’re too shortsighted to remember that a NEW parking lot was the product of necessity and corporate decisions, not divine intervention. They have this HUGE disconnect from reality to be praising something so mundane so highly.
I think it’s so good that they went this route instead of the demo version, where they were in actual smog, described themselves as having more than they needed and that the town was like a weed - it’s much more powerful if they truly do overpower you with the sheer force of WOW WE HAVE THE BEST CITY EVER!!!!! (Exceptionalism AND capitalism skewered in a kid’s film, wow)
It reminds me of that bit in ‘Biggering’ where the Lorax criticises the Once-ler’s greed, saying that it’ll never stop - but alsopicks out his pride as the thing keeping him going. Because yeah greed was what started the whole thing, the pursuit of riches and never having enough of it, but while that was the catalyst, pride is what sustains that and keeps it from changing. The Once-ler could’ve stopped at ANY point and tried to make amends, but it was pride that stopped him from admitting he could ever have been wrong, backed up by how much more powerful he’d become. His pride was arguably just as important a vice as the greed we tend to attribute everything to. And when he built Thneedville just to prove what he could do with all that money, it was infused with that pride, like how he believed he deserved all that money (he didn’t) the people who live there believe they deserve their glorious city, which infects them with pride in turn and stops them from stopping to consider what might be going wrong. The whole place was founded by mindless consumerism and that also persists in everyone’s mentality for decades, enabling shady businessmen like O'Hare to dominate the market, for kids like Ted to do nothing but want 'the stuff that they don’t have’ mindlessly, for trees to run on 96 batteries, and so on, and they have yet to break out of this cycle. They also caught his inability to think outside of the present or consider the implications for the future, and apparently they inherited his entrepreneurial mindset and held it as gospel. It’s become self-perpetuating and there’s no way they could probably stop without an outside influence creeping in, like an inbred gene crippling everyone until an injection of diversity from elsewhere straightens it out and WOW I USE A LOT OF BIOLOGY METAPHORS WHEN I’M TIRED
Anyway yeah that is my post about how much I like Thneedville as a song and a concept and oh my god I love this movie too much but honestly there is so much going on you can look for and contemplate and there’s so much potential for it to have been a Deep Dark Dystopia if they had wanted to do that
The model building the Once-Ler is reaching for in the fist picture does not appear in O'Hare’s Thneedville. This building was meant as an in-city headquarters for the Thneed factory that would also be where the Once-Ler lived.
In the later pictures, a lot of buildings have the definite “O'Hare Flair” including a museum, mall, and generic, possible office, building. The Once-Ler Tower was the tallest building in the model city, but the tallest building is the Chalet (ski and snow boarding).
I was always a bit confused if Thneedville had already been built during however many years “How Bad Can I Be?” is supposed to go over, or if Once-ler just had the model and was planning to build it before the last tree fell.
This basically answered my question, and Thneedville was in the process of being built at the time. Forgive me if this was just common knowledge! I just thought it was cool c: