“Shark Tale,” a funny, feel good, family cartoon,starring Will Smith as “Oscar” the fish, proves that acartoon can have the same affect of a movie. Oscar, an urbanfish who lives in the inner city of the sea, and works at the localWhale Wash, has dreams of “moving on up” to the top ofthe reef.
Oscar, who has always lived modestly,fatefully has the opportunity to fulfill his dreams of being richand famous. By way of a lie, Oscar succeeds in getting to thetop. In trying to sustain his newfound fame as “TheShark Slayer,” he learns the age-old lesson that lies candevastate loved ones and discovers in the end that it is better tobe surrounded with love and honesty, than to be a rich cheat.
What can be looked upon as stereotypicalattitudes often serve as a reflection of mainstream reality. Oscar’s neighborhood, which has dilapidated apartmentbuildings, graffiti stained walls, and squad cars in the form ofwhales making their rounds during the late night hours, can befound in urban areas in major films.
“The Family” of white sharks,serving as enforcers of the underwater world, reflects the mockItalian mafia behavior shown in mainstream media. “Shark Tale” is a reflection of urban society andcriminal organizations that greet moviegoers in the majority ofAmerican blockbuster movies.
It is filled with its funny moments, andplenty of spoofs that reflect common social beliefs andviewpoints. “Shark Tale” is no “FindingNemo;” it is an urban cartoon made with the intent to comicallydemonstrate how social norms and perspectives can be upheld astruth, and can be successfully reflected in cartoons andfurthermore mainstream media.
In order to obliterate negative cultural andracial stereotypes it begins not with a cartoon but with a majormotion picture, it begins with directors and producers who chooseto perpetuate these stereotypes every time they step into thestudio.
The 21st century has brought with it anincreased need for people of color to blindly chase fame andfortune, the lack of economic and financial opportunities haveintensified, menial employment prospects have risen, poor housingoptions have grown, and the lack of a clear vision to unite andchange our overall situation has remained the same. “Shark Tale” may not be a classic but it opens our eyesto the greater problems, the bigger issues, which we face in oursocieties.
“Shark Tale” served as a mildreflection of the issues that people of color face within ourcommunities. It was a delightful film, not without its drymoments, but I fear the bigger message may have been lost atsea.