In a dramatic raid on Disney partner Pixar Studios, Coral Reef Animation Police (CRAP) arrested Nemo, star of the phenomenally successful Finding Nemo, for three counts of public mischief. A CRAP spokesperson said the arrest stemmed from three questionable situations depicted in the film — Nemo’s upbringing, the maintenance of a warm saltwater aquarium, and the anatomy of a baleen whale. Nemo was unavailable for comment but lawyers for Disney and Pixar said, “It’s just a story. We never said we were training marine biologists.”
The first incident occurs early in the film, when an unnamed predatory fish devours the mother and most of the young, except Nemo. Under the overly watchful eye of his father, Nemo grows up in the coral reef with a deformed fin. Interviews with experts indicated that survival of a deformed fish in the wild would be extremely unlikely and strongly hinted at artistic license. Furthermore, it turns out that the fin was a prosthetic. As well, police discovered that although clown fish parents care for developing eggs, once hatched, the young receive no further care; in other words, they never know either of their parents. Police are currently in the process of finding Marlin, the alleged father of Nemo. Authorities questioned family friend Dory but soon dismissed her as an unreliable witness. She is known to suffer from short term memory loss. Even more startling was the revelation that clown fish can change gender. The females are larger, apparently an adaptation to produce more eggs. If the female disappears for whatever reason, the male grows and becomes female. Meanwhile, a smaller subadult develops to fill the male role. A Disney spokesperson denied any plot to limit the depiction of alternative lifestyles for family audiences.
Let Us Prey, an activist group supporting the rights of predators, expressed concern about the scene involving sharks trying to deny themselves fish. “We should leave nature red in tooth and craw,” they said. Police felt a charge in this case would not stick, because the sharks do show their true colours during the course of the film.
Scenes of a warm saltwater aquarium in a dentist’s office led to the second charge. Prosecution is expected to argue that the difficulties of acquiring the appropriate chemicals and maintaining the appropriate temperature, not to mention finding the right food for raising these fish is under represented and suggests that keeping such an aquarium can be undertaken by anyone. Particularly contentious was the portrayal of a prospective clown fish owner as a snotty-nosed brat, clearly undeserving of such a responsibility and incapable of fulfilling it.
The third charge appears to transcend class boundaries, moving from fish to marine mammals. In the film, two fish are seen trapped in the mouth of a baleen whale. They reportedly escape through the whale’s blowhole in a fountain of water. This propagates two common misconceptions. The blowhole in a whale is not connected to the mouth as our noses are, so they would not be able to shoot fish out it the way a boy can shoot milk out his nose. Furthermore, a whale does not produce a fountain of water. When a whale breathes out its blowhole, the air is moist and condenses in the coolness, producing a mist as a byproduct. Some speculate the defense may use Pinocchio and Jonah to show precedence for escaping from a whale, even though they did not involve blowholes.
When asked if the very idea of questioning an animated fish undermined the foundations of their case, CRAP spokesperson said, “That is a matter for the prosecution to decide.”
This is the first court battle for Pixar, although a few years back, their use of four-legged ants in a Bug’s Life did cause an uproar in the entomological community worldwide. Disney, of course, has settled out of court with the Anderson and Grimm estates for distorting classic fairy tales on numerous occasions. They have been manipulating nature stories since the fifties, when they first pushed lemmings off cliffs to stage suicidal behaviour.