Friday, July 23, 2010

Disney Movies for Parents (Guest Reviewer KRISTIN ENKVETCHAKUL)

Editors Note: Kristin is a mom, so she knows what she is talking about.

It seems every day the results of a new study are in. All of the studies seem to revolve around the irreversibly tragic consequences of our twenty first century lifestyles. Sometimes I wonder who it is that is churning out these studies, and where they get the money to continually rain on my proverbial parade. Studies show everything causes something horrible. They always seem to have a negative angle. I wouldn’t be surprised to someday see one that says, “Breathing Regularly Causes Excessive Lung Use”. I am morbidly amused when two conflicting studies emerge at the same time. One day I read an Internet news headline about how much worse high cholesterol was for you than previously understood, according to some study. The next day, there was a report on a study that showed lowering your cholesterol increased your risk of something else bad happening. Great.

So, I’ve taken it upon myself to do my own study, and I’m publishing the results right here, for your convenience. Before I begin, let me assure you that I didn’t receive any sort of grant to fund my careful research, nor has my thorough investigation cost taxpayers anything. It did, however, cost my husband and me several hundred dollars at various stores.

That was the cost of my reference materials: Disney videos. After carefully watching approximately 3,612 hours worth of Disney videos over and over again, until every line and image was burned into my brain, taking up so much space I not longer remember my own wedding, my study is complete, and the results are conclusive: you’re probably not going to get out of this mommy gig alive. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but I thought you should know.

Personally, I don’t get the apparent necessary tragic element in most Disney movies. Don’t get me wrong. I love Disney movies. They are a large part of our culture, they are clever, and they are well done. I just don’t see why the parents, particularly the moms, have to kick the bucket for the storyline to get underway.

And yet, in many Disney movies, that is the odd formula. Kind of strange for kids’ movies, I think. I mean, does the mother really have to DIE in order for the father to step up to the plate and become an “involved dad”? Watch “Bambi”, “Finding Nemo”, and a host of others, and the answer would be “yes”. Even “Fox And The Hound” and “The Jungle Book” have their own tragic beginnings- the mother dies. “The Little Mermaid”, on the other hand, is a little less direct, and only implies that the mom has died.

In all fairness, my study has shown that it’s not ALWAYS the mother. The Father Lion is tragically killed in “The Lion King”. I saw that for the first time when I was in college, and I remember even at the age of twenty something having tears in my

eyes. I just couldn’t believe Mufasa was… dead. Was that really necessary? Couldn’t the evil Uncle Lion have imprisoned the mother AND father, instead of murdering the Dad a la gnu? I suppose that would have muddied the whole circle of life concept, and made it a little awkward for Simba to become king at the end of the movie, but then again, why did he become king anyway? His mother was still alive- it seems like she could have been queen, until, that is, someone killed her.

I don’t understand why the realism of death needs to be so prevalent in kids’ movies. I mean, the animals are talking, they have huge eyes, everything they do is accompanied by a corresponding sound effect, and yet, at the heart of the matter, where a child is most vulnerable, this harsh realism is pounded home. At the end, when everything seems so happy, couldn’t it be even happier when the mother emerges, having survived whatever seemingly tragic injuries she had sustained?

I’ve always wondered that about “Ice Age” (Yes, not a Disney movie, but since it supports my point, it can be allowed into my study results- it’s my study.). It was a “happy” ending- the baby was reunited with his father, and the tiger, who seemed dead, was actually alive. And yet, how happy was it? The mother stayed dead. I think it would have been a lot happier if the father returned with the boy to their village to discover that, like the talking tiger, the mother had survived.

Now again, don’t get me wrong. I’m not calling for anything crazy like a Disney movie/Ice Age boycott. After all, I have to consider the stability of my own household. A call for such a boycott would probably result in a coup, possibly a violent one, in my own abode. I’m merely fulfilling my duty as a responsible researcher in sharing valuable information.

In a way, if we turn it on end a bit, I suppose we can view all this as the supreme compliment to mothers. It seems only death can somewhat slow (I say only “somewhat” because the love of a mother is unstoppable) the relentlessly protective guidance of a mother. I guess that’s why the writers at Disney have to off moms so regularly. If the mother survived, the ensuing adventures and adversity probably would not be able to occur. The mother wouldn’t let it happen. She would have her young one fed, bathed, and in bed on schedule.

Feeling a little offended on behalf of Motherkind, I have a message for Disney: When you are writing your next blockbuster and trying to decide how to orphan your newest characters, just keep in mind WHO is most likely taking your targeted marketing segment to see your film and buy your related toys… or not. Just remember, scorned mothers charge less. (…on credit cards, that is)

Disney Movies as an Overall Kid-Pleaser: A

Disney Movies’ Treatment of Video, Toy & Accessory-Purchasing Moms: F

1 comment:

  1. Those moms are asking for it. They know what they did.