Panic!

18 February 2006

Yesterday I saw Chicken Little with my five-year-old. I had been expecting to hate it but I actually laughed out loud at the beginning of the film. In it, Chicken Little — just like Chicken Licken — panicks when he thinks a piece of the sky has fallen on his head, waking up the whole of his particular ‘farm-yard’ town. The whole town rush to find out what the matter is, only to find out that Chicken Little has been panicking about an acorn falling on his head. Their looks of disbelief are funny as are his mumbling, fumbling attempts at an explanation. Chicken Little’s macho father is publicly humiliated for having such a dumb son, and so the film begins. The real story of Chicken Licken is actually more true to life because Chicken Licken’s panic infects everyone else: his listeners believe him, all except Foxy Woxy who, of course, uses their panic-stricken credulity to his own nefarious advantage. In this sense, Chicken Licken is a perfect metaphor for all of us who do tend to panic at the slightest sign of trouble. How many times have I felt a lurch of paranoia and worry when I have seen that some of my pupils have got bad results, or when I have failed to complete the correct piece of paperwork? And there has even been the odd time when I have gone running to the Foxy Woxies of this world only to be led down to their supposedly safe ‘lair’.

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