The other day I was at a friend’s apartment watching the Grinch movie starring Jim Carrey (which is behind only The Polar Express on my list of favorite Christmas movies) and some interesting thoughts came to me.
This might seem a little far-reaching, but I enjoyed thinking about this, and while it might sound a bit preposterous to read so much into something as mundane as this story, there’s something more to it than just, “Christmas isn’t about the presents.”
What I realized about the Grinch character is that he represents the tortured innovator and genius who is so unlike everyone else in his intellect that he is pushed out of society and left to his isolation. I don’t think it was only his appearance that made him stand out. He was so much higher in intelligence than the Who’s and therefore he was shunned, much like brilliant artists, writers, and innovators of our history. These are people who go against the status quo and live according to their own purpose, the rare, world-changing heroes who are also the loneliest of souls.
The Grinch is a fascinating character. He is strong, innovative, and resilient. He created an entire lair out of nothing but trash, able to create working machines and contraptions out of everything the Who’s throw away. His ability to do this exceeds the talents of those who live in the more simple creations of others with teams of architects and excellent materials. The Grinch was able to create beyond any of their talents and with far less. That, to me, is a sign of superior intelligence and unique ambition, without any assistance or experience. He figured it all out himself from the day he ran away as a child.
He thought very little of the trivial matters of commercialism and he despised the idea of living for something that could easily be thrown away. For instance, during Christmas they buy and buy, toys, tools, furniture, cars, kick-knacks, clothes, and everything else only to eventually throw them away to replace them with new shiny things. He detests this, since it is living an empty life of constant gratification and happiness dependent on things that in the long-run don’t matter. He lives as a means to his own end and refuses to join such frivolity.
He is unable to talk to the Who’s because they have no idea how to understand him, similar to many of history’s intellectuals who were mocked and even punished from heretical ideas and living unorthodox lifestyles compared with the social norms. People who thought outside the box were condemned and many never saw their work become anything more than scribbles in journals that we read hundreds of years later to glean their brilliant wisdom and insight. The Grinch is one of these and because he has such a different outlook on life, the others ridicule him, and are afraid of him.
With his ability to craft machines and feats of architecture using trash, his ability to see above the materialistic lives of the Who’s, his ability to be alone and work on his projects, and his enormous physical strength, the Grinch is a portrait of the tormented genius who in misunderstood by everyone around him.
I always thought that he was shunned only for his appearance, but that was a surface observation. Children will see it that way because they have not fully developed their minds yet, and the Grinch may have felt that when he was young. But he was different in many other ways that were even more drastic. If he were as smart (or maybe ignorant) as the rest, he may have found a way to deal with appearing different. But he is in a realm above them and therefore the drive to escape led him up the mountain to live in his own created world where he can be who he is and contemplate life in a world that slowly drives us mad. He knew the darkness the world has in it and the enlightenment to life’s more troublesome aspects separated him from the mass of collective minds.
The Grinch is how I envision the individualist, the one who cannot deal with the stupidity of the ignorant, the willingness to look away from the ugly and profane for the sake of pleasure and material satisfaction. It was the act of Who’s who finally understood him and sang regardless of losing everything that he realized there was hope for the rest of them and he could be a part of it. He had his first influence on the society, much like the eventual appreciation of works by once condemned and ridiculed contrarians in history. He was recognized as having something to teach the Who’s and the Grinch was able to make the decision to reconnect and finally be given the respect he needed to feel useful.
This is just a fun little post from my perspective in light of the Christmas season. Let me know what you think.