"Pimp My Shell"
Photo from www.turbomovie.com
"Pimp My Shell" Featurette
Dreamworks Animation has a new movie called “Turbo” coming out that looks quite cute. Full of colorful images that will captivate a young child’s attention and enough adult humor to keep big kids like me laughing. However, even if the production was rife with wit and laugh-out-loud lines, I am unsure whether I can truly support it.
Several versions of the trailer have been hitting the television screen and one trailer immediately stopped me in my tracks, though I have not heard it since. As far as I can ascertain, the main character, a snail, has lofty goals of being more than just a regular, slow snail that takes 17 minutes to go the length of a 12-inch ruler. Eventually he falls into the engine of a racecar and absorbs all the fast-moving parts and fluids and, as a result, instantly becomes fast-moving himself.
As the main snail prepares to participate as the only snail in a car-only race, he tells his friends to “pimp my shell.”
While I understand that this line is going to translate innocently to most viewers, we as abolitionists know better. The first point of action for any new abolitionist is changing our perceptions and the perceptions of those around us by changing our speech. Pimp-n-ho culture is not cool anymore, and actually never was. No matter our ignorance of the past, we now know better and have no excuse. Cultures of the past allowed words like “nigger” and “retard” to plague our communities and now neither of them is acceptable nor tolerated. Yet we continue to use “pimp” as a verb meaning to make something better – when pimping someone is to make that person a slave to be exploited, raped, and abused to the worst possible degree.
As innocently as “pimp my shell” will come across to most viewers, I am surprised that Dreamworks Animation is so out of touch. We have learned that there is no age too young to talk to kids about sexual exploitation – not when the average age of entry is as young as 11-years old. Not when the 12-year old student casually tells me that they knew of this girl who was kidnapped and found dead with a body full of drugs and clear evidence of rape and she actually knows who that girl’s pimp is. Not when we live in a country where freedom of speech also translates into the foremost country for number of child pornography websites.
So if I may be so bold, shame on Dreamworks Animation. And shame on us if we continue to hear lines like this being spoken and not do anything about it. We cannot free the supply and end the demand with a coinciding change in what we tolerate in our culture. As we have ended several events in the past, “you cannot pimp your ride. It’s just not cool anymore.”
by: Laura Ng, Executive Director