Saturday, February 22, 2020
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Movie review: Your Name

Vouchers from the government that help to offset tuition paid by families who would like their sons and daughters to attend private schools have an identity crisis that’s not very different from the one experienced by two teens in Makoto Shinkai’s latest Japanese animé pic, Your Name.

The story takes viewers to Japan, where a teenage girl named Matsuha grows up in a rural town and a teenage boy, Taki, grows up in Tokyo. For some unknown reason, Matsuha’s spirit switches into Taki’s body, and vice versa, during some nights when both are asleep.

As Taki wakes up, in Matsuha’s adolescent female body, he’s fascinated with her breasts and fondles them every time he wakes up, often as Matsuha’s younger sister walks into the room and calls her (him) down for breakfast. Taki, on the other hand, finds himself having enormous luck with the ladies, who notice his feminine side and take to liking it. That’s when his body’s possessed by Matsuha’s spirit.

I saw the movie in Japanese with English subtitles, which, I’m told by Manohla Dargis, who reviewed the film for the New York Times, is a better way to see it than the English-dubbed version. It’s rated PG, and the breast-fondling scene is about as clean as you’ll ever see, especially since the movie is animated.

It starts out sort of like a comedy, as these two teens can never seem to remember their actions of the previous day and can’t even remember the other’s name without writing it in magic marker on their hands, a forgetfulness brought on, of course, by the fact that they actually weren’t themselves. But it turns into a disaster movie, as it soon becomes clear what mission the gods may have in putting each teen into the other’s body right when they did.

As for school vouchers, they go by many names: scholarships, education savings accounts, or ESAs, and tax credits. But the same idea is behind them, regardless of the name used for the label: they divert public money, which we all pay through taxes for, we believe, the common good, and send that money to private schools, some of which may be charter schools, religious schools, or private boarding schools. The programs do this at the direction of the parents of the children who are attending the private or charter schools, not of any elected official.

So writes the Network for Public Education about ESAs:

ESAs are not truly savings accounts. They give parents ways to spend someone else’s — the taxpayers’ — money, and they don’t provide parents with any incentives to contribute their own money to the accounts. Often, the promise of more “choice” is an empty promise of expensive private schools and education programs with little evidence of success. Worst of all, they place students in unaccountable systems, where many will be under-educated. Rather than diverting tax dollars away from public schools, we should adequately fund our schools so they can have smaller class sizes, more specialized resources for student needs, and more education opportunities to meet the high expectations of parents.

Vouchers, charter schools, reduced funding for public schools, claims of budget shortfalls, and the like, are often just a disguised version of “school choice,” which is itself a code word for an attempt, on the part of many for-profit corporations, to convert our system of government-run public schools into a network of privately-owned schools that are not accountable to the public for the tax dollars they receive.

In a cartoon, it’s a funny story when a teenage boy becomes fascinated with the breasts on a teenage girl’s body he leaps into. But in real life, where private corporations have become fascinated by the tax dollars our laws have devoted to educating our citizens, it’s not so PG. When for-profit corporations leap into the bodies of public schools, even though they are no more designed to educate the masses than a boy is to have breasts, the result can be a disaster for an entire town or nation.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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