‘Lorenzo’ is another short that was new to me. It is a beautiful partnership between music and animation that is enjoyable and engaging watch. The story focuses on a cat, Lorenzo, who is indulged and spoiled. Unfortunately, Lorenzo sees his privilege as the opportunity to mock the less fortunate. He torments hungry strays with his own meal as he laughs at their misfortune. He continues this behavior until a new stray wanders up, missing a tail. When Lorenzo makes the mistake of taunting this cat with his own full and luxurious tail, the stray curses him and the tail comes to life.
So begins Lorenzo’s personal torment. No matter what he does he cannot control his tail. It drags him through the city against his will. Finally, the stray reappears with a knife suggesting a final solution for the problem. After a struggle, Lorenzo uses the knife to cut off his tail and becomes the thing that he had been mocking. The end. It is quite the little morality play.
It is hard to feel sorry for Lorenzo. This is a classic tale (tail?) of comeuppance. The fat and cruel beast gets a taste of a different life on the streets and has no ability to cope. We are, in fact, rooting for the tail. It is a very unchristian attitude. Yes, Lorenzo is deserving of some reeducation on how to treat others, but torture and kidnapping may not be the right learning tools. Instead of teaching the cat that others have value, he is instead taught that his privilege can be stripped away lowering him to the level of those he mocked. It is a retributive lesson in a world that gives entirely too many retributive lessons. Granted, it makes a compelling story, but not a very compelling world.
We should be able to tell a better story. A story in which relationship is restored. Lorenzo becomes a better beast not by being punished, but by sharing the experience of those in need. He changes his ways, not out of fear, but out of a deep sense of wanting to be better. Did Lorenzo have to cut off his tail to learn his lesson? Probably not. At that point the story is about the revenge of the magic stray, not Lorenzo. It is a story of victor and victim not redemption.
This is very deep thought for a cartoon about a cat with a possessed tail but it is also about a world that answers violence with violence and would rather punish people than help them. There is a better way. It is harder and does not allow for victors, but it does allow for a better world. What would it look like if we tried something else?
“Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.” Luke 6: 30-31