Antz and the Liberalist Individual (Individual vs. Society)The individual does not matter at all, what matters is the well-being of the colony (Litch, 2002). This is the philosophy and way of life for the ants in the film, Antz, who eat together, dance together, go to battle together and die together. But what if one ant were to defy this process?
Antz (1998) a DreamWorks animation film directed by Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson tells the story of the misfit ant, Z and his attempts to break free of the totalitarian society of his colony to win the affections of the princess. The film gives an insight look into the underground workings of an ant colony that displays the perfect example of how an authoritarian society is constructed.
In the beginning of the film, we see Z questioning his place as a worker ant in the colony, and the ant society’s regime to constrain his freedom and not allow him to see if he is happier in another role within the society. In thinking this, Z holds a liberalist perspective to what the colony should be like, that individuals should be free to pursue their own thoughts, desires and wishes without interference from the society (Falzon, 2007). Z describes his fellow ants as ‘mindless zombies capitulating to an oppressive system’ referring to the way they act exactly the same without knowing any different or the freedom to act as individuals. An example of this is shown in the scene where the ants are notified it is ‘6:15, time to dance’ and dance in lines using the exact same stiff and dull movements, whereas Z comes in and complains that the dance is ‘completely boring’ and starts to create his own movements. However, if the entire colony was a liberalist thinker like Z, the state may fall apart and each individual would be at the mercy of others.
Philosophers theorise that if a social authority was taken away and each individual was free to do whatever they pleased, the society would end in chaos. Hobbes and Locke calls this society a ‘state of nature’ where no laws or authoritative figures exist and individuals would constantly interfere with one another in the pursuit of their wants, resulting in a chaotic situation (Falzon, 2007). If this philosophical theory was applied to Antz, the colony would not work together as a just state to live and to battle the termites. Instead, the ants would be living as individuals at the mercy of others, with the strong satisfying themselves at the expense of the weak and most importantly, not working together to defend their colony and win the war against the termites.
The film, Antz poses the question of what is an ideal state; a state in which the colony acts as an authoritarian state where each ant has a clear role and purpose in the society, or a state in which all ants live as individuals at the mercy of others and may create a chaotic situation.
Alcott, T. et al. (Writers), Darnell, E. & Johnson, T. (Directors) & Finkelman Cox, P. (Producer). (1998). Antz [DVD]. USA: DreamWorks.
Falzon, C. (2007). Philosophy goes to the movies. (p.82). New York, NY: Routledge.
Litch, M. (2002). Ethics. In M. Litch (Ed.), Film and philosophy. (pp.68-80). New York, NY: Routledge.