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Escaping Monstropolis: child-friendly cities, peak oil and Monsters, Inc.

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In Monstropolis, the virtual world of monsters in the 2001 Pixar-animated Disney movie Monsters, Inc., the screams of human children are the source of energy. In this paper, the energy shortage (or 'scream shortage') depicted in Monsters, Inc. serves as a subtle and engaging allegory, drawing attention to the non-virtual world's concerns with energy supplies, particularly oil. Peak oil, the time at which the global production of oil reaches its maximum, is arguably one of the most important issues that will affect the conceptualisation of children and our ability to create and maintain child-friendly cities. This paper derives new ways of conceptualising the relationship between peak oil and children in modern western societies, through a critical analysis of a number of themes from Monsters, Inc. The value of such an analysis is that in Monsters, Inc. the issues of children, lifestyle and energy acquisition and use are all brought together in a common problematic. Thus, the underlying descriptions in Monsters, Inc. provide a catalyst for a wider debate about children and peak oil.

Keywords: allegory; child-friendly cities; film; peak oil

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14733280802184021

Affiliations: School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, Australia

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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