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 Just Love How the People In Thneedville Aren't Perfect-Looking
They come in all shapes and sizes, nationalities, and some of them look a little kooky and weird.
I love that.
I mean, as bad as Thneedville got to be, the people who live there aren’t plastic little dolls. They’re like you and me. I love how people’s image isn’t a huge thing there (I mean, yeah, Diet O'Hare Air, but that’s it).
sdgjasd;gl;asg I’m sorry I’m just thinking out loud dslkfjaldsf
I think one of my favourite things about The Lorax is that, by the end of the movie, everyone is committed to returning to nature and planing trees and YAY ORGANIC stuff.
But for along timethey’d still have to rely on factories and machines and quite likely even freshened air (albeit likely not with a price tag) becauseone saplingdoes not change things overnight.
And whoever took over from O'Hare as mayor would have to deal with everyone demanding why NATURE ISN’T HAPPENING and Ted and Audrey would probably get a load of crap, too, and oh my God I think too much about the politics of a children’s movie.
And I don’t care.
(It’s even more interested applied to my dystopian Thneedville canon, where the world is even more screwed over.)
OK, I was listening to the beta version of Thneedville that didn’t make it to the movie and I noticed something, which could double as headcanons for Dystopic!Thneedville.
In the last few verses of it, one of the lyrics said something to the effect of “Please don’t mention Greenville”.
The fandom considers Greenville to be the town in which the Once-ler decided to sell his first thneed, with the town name changed to Thneedville when he became Greed-ler.
Greenville would technically be part of Thneedville’s history, but as it says in the song, no one should mention it.
This is probably because Greenville (and its original founding) was connected to the Truffula trees. O'hare considers the trees to be a threat to his ‘selling fresh air business-thing/scam’ and would probably rewrite Thneed/Greenville’s history in order for Greenville and the trees to not be mentioned. Alternatively, he brainwashed the citizens of Thneedville that Greenville and therefore the trees, were horrible and that they shouldn’t go back to those 'dark days’. Or a mix of both, IDK.
If anyone were to speak about it, then… they’ll probably be punished (like get sent to the outside of Thneedville to die, or something equally horrible).
As to how Grammy Norma would’ve survived that set of rules in Thneedville? She herself would be a threat to O'Hare’s power since she had been in the timeframe in which trees had existed, and could’ve told everyone the truth about it.
…Honestly, I have no idea how she could’ve survived that if that were the case. Maybe she just claims that she has bad memory and doesn’t remember Greenville or the trees.