For the Living Color Event on China, I decided to watch the movie Kung Fu Panda 2 and see how it relates to Confucianism and Taoism, two formerly big belief systems in ancient China. The movie is about a panda named Po who has been officially established as the Dragon Warrior, and so he proceeds to protect the Valley of Peace with his friends who are also kung fu masters. The movie, for the most part, is a comedy but occasionally determines the values of the characters associated with Confucianism and Taoism.
To begin with, Po goes off to his nearby village waterfall after having fun with his friends. He finds Shifu, the former trainer for the Furious Five, wrapped up on a rock there. He was softly releasing a bubble onto the leaves and into the water. This is a Taoist reference to inner peace. Po finds this to be intriguing, and inquires further on the subject of inner peace. Shifu says that inner peace is very important and that all masters must find the path to it. This is a reference to following the Tao or the path correctly. Shifu goes on to use himself as an example for Taoism, explaining how angry he was when he trained the Furious Five, only to find that none of them were chosen as Dragon Warrior in the end. Po took this role, causing Shifu to realize that the problem was not within Po, but within himself. Shifu is referring to the concept of self-cultivation in Confucianism, as Shifu made himself better by knowing that nobody is to blame for failure but himself. After this, he was able to harness the flow of the universe, which refers to Taoism again.
Another scene in the movie where both belief systems were explored was in the palace battle with Shen, the antagonist of the movie. Po was seen to have flashbacks of his parents leaving him as a baby whenever attempting to fight, because Shen ultimately did take his parents away from him. Taoism is symbolized here, because it represents the significance of Five Great Relationships. In this case the relationship is parent to child. It shows how much emotional damage can be done without the presence of one. Because of this, Shen had escaped twice. Confucianism's role in the palace is also seen, when Soothsayer becomes upset over the fact that Shen insensitively destroyed his ancestral home. In Confucianism, ancestors were highly valued and believed to affect the present despite being dead. Not to mention, ancestral worship was a key aspect of Confucianism.
The last time where a reference to either belief system is towards the end where Shen is launching fireballs at Po. Po remembers Shifu's words of inner peace, and uses this along with wu wei (no action, state of non-being) to dodge all of Shen's fireballs and instead peacefully throw them back.
In conclusion, I found this movie to be comedically interesting, and though not as adventurous as other Living Color events that involved going to museums/restaurants, this movie has compensated for that with its many constant references to Confucianism and Taoism. I think that this movie is good at educating children on the belief systems, given that these movies are aimed for a younger audience. In relation to my observations about the movie, the key principles/traditions help put these observations in place allowing me to understand the references being made to both Confucianism and Taoism.