Bryan Caplan  

Closing Comments on Captain Fantastic

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Two further comments on Captain Fantastic:

1. I know of no other movie that so powerfully captures the fun of large families.  Homeschooling one kid off the grid would feel lonely and dull for parent and child alike.  Homeschooling two kids off the grid sound livelier, but still comes off as "trying too hard."  Homeschooling six kids, however, feels like a beehive of activity - and the nucleus of a new society.

2. Captain Fantastic's survival training is genuinely and needlessly dangerous for children.  When his daughter falls off her grandparents' roof on a "rescue mission," Captain Fantastic accepts that he's been endangering his kids' lives.  But he never gets a comparable "wakeup call" that would plausibly convince him that homeschooling has intellectually or socially stunted his children.  Nevertheless, when the story ends he's abandoned both hard-core survival training and homeschooling.  Why couldn't he keep homeschooling, but make it safer?  No reason, other than the need to pander to the prejudices of mainstream audiences who enjoy identifying with weirdos for two hours but can't accept the possibility that the weirdos are right to defy social conventions.


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A writes:

#2 can be explained as Ben Cash appreciating problems in himself, but not to the extent that he can self-correct, and then process correct, with real confidence. In his case, stepping away from home schooling is an act of humility, rather than pandering to the audience (although it may be both).

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