ow that the title of “priest” has become ignoble, now that the great Jihad has exploded, sending trepidation through every American child’s spine, and the security of being “The Nation Under God” has been rendered transparent, what can religious advocates do to redeem themselves in the eyes of adolescent America?
With the world becoming more secularized every day, with dogma debunked and faith mocked, the question is this: How do you market the monotheistic ethic to Generation Next?
The answer is simple: Sugar, spice, and everything nice.
Taking a page from Japan’s brilliant marketing campaign for Shinto (you may know it as Pokémon), the warring Abrahamic faiths have come together in an unprecedented redemptive collaboration to craft the pop-culture sensation that is The Powerpuff Girls.
The greatest obstacle the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Faction (JCIF) faces is the seductive power of Science. Children are malleable, innocent beings filled with questions about the world around them. For the last hundred years, science has answered those questions. Why is the sky blue? Is it God? No, it’s the way light is refracted by atmospheric gases. Where do we go when we die? To heaven? No, to the ground. Where we rot. The world is no longer flat, the sun no longer revolves around the earth, and seas no longer part at the sandals of wise men.
The JCIF knows when it’s had a setback.
But there’s still a battlefield left to fight on: Creationism vs. Evolution. And it’s on this potent ground that our anime-eyed heroines come into play.
It is no minor thing that the animators choose a professor to represent God. As the scientist is to physics, so is God to metaphysics. What is more respected than a professor, an educated man? The title itself earns instant credibility from wide-eyed preteens. The Professor is, quite simply, the Ultimate Authority.
Biblical history recounts the making of man from dirt and woman from man’s rib. As improbable as these ingredients are, religious scholars worldwide continue to espouse this view. Even now, courts battle over whether Creationism should be treated as a valid theory in the classroom, while evolution, yet another (unproven, though substantiated) theory, continues virtually unmolested.
With God’s existence postulated as a given, the question is, which view is right? Did God create man as-is, or did God allow for evolution?
In our film, Professor Utonium creates both. Using another set of improbable ingredients, the Professor creates three perfect little girls, but an accident forcibly adds a mysterious fourth ingredient to the mix, propelling both the girls and the Professor’s lab assistant—a simple-minded, destructive monkey—into self-aware existence.
The Powerpuff Girls represent Abrahamic religion in its three aspects. The proverbial first-born, Blossom, is Judaism. The emotional, guilt-ridden, yet joyous Bubbles is Christianity. And the temper-mental, violent, and last-named, Buttercup, is Islam.
Mojo Jojo, that insane lab ape newly blessed with brains, represents—appropriately if ironically—secularism in all its forms.
Both the girls and Mojo Jojo share the common link of Chemical X, that unexplained potion that somehow blesses anyone it touches, much like the unknowable breath of God that gave life to humankind. How could such creatures—sinful and saintly, faithful and secular—exist in the same world? Well, God created them all.
The film that follows offers us a short history of world religion. The three girls romp playfully through a city in a game of tag. Regardless of the damage they leave in their wake, they are destroying the metropolis through their frolics. We come to understand that the spread of the religions, their battles for supremacy, the sword-swinging missionaries, the Crusades, the Inquisition—all these were merely the games religions play. Yes, they left uncounted thousands dead, but it was all a misunderstanding! All they really wanted to do was love.
Enter the seductive secularist science of Mojo Jojo. Convincing the girls to assist him, he flourishes. So also science once flourished with church support, until it finally could break free and spread secularization throughout the world.
Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup build Mojo’s Tower of Babel, his great laboratory, designed in homage to Galileo, whose blasphemous science was duly punished. They follow along as Mojo leads them into the zoo and, in the film’s most poignant and ironic scene, they giggle at the picture of man’s supposed evolution from ape. How silly it is, say the girls.
Meanwhile, Mojo creates his deadly army, and before the girls can stop it, the beast is loosed from his cage. Secularized science—now a legion of sub-disciplines—takes wing and sets out to conquer the world. The Chimp (psychology) sends chaotic tornados through the streets, unsettling innocents. The Baboon (atomic physics) tosses bombs from its behind. The many Gibbons (cloning, bioengineering) overwhelm the population with their numbers. The world sinks into madness.
The world needs saving, but where are the Powerpuff Girls? They’re far removed, symbolically on another world, and arguing amongst themselves as their planet falls to hell. It is oddly appropriate, and quite brave of the JCIF, that the most violent confrontation is between Blossom (Judaism) and Buttercup (Islam), while Bubbles (Christianity) sits on the sidelines weeping for herself. It’s more ironic still that Buttercup comes to covet a piece of rock for her bed (Palestine).
But the girls eventually rally; hearing the cries of their God, the Professor, they pull together at the end, having finally understood their mission on earth: Not to fight each other, not simply to play, they are to protect the people, the citizens of the world, from the soul-sapping inferno that is secularization.
In the end, the film’s moral lesson is clear. With the love of the Professor (God) and a clear sense of their mission, the trinity of monotheistic religions will achieve their rightful place: Heralded as heroes, invested with faith, and beloved by the world.
And once again, the day is saved, thanks to the Powerpuff Girls.