Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Do you remember watching Disney movies as a kid, and loving them, and acting them out, and knowing every word in every scene, every song?
And when you look back, can you believe how very TERRIFYING some of those scenes were?
A friend at work said she had bought Pinocchio for her son.
"Oh I loved that one" I say..."except for the scene where the bad drunk boys turn into donkeys--haaaw hee haaaw hee! TERRIFYING! But man I wanted to BE that goldfish Cleo!"
And I loved Alice in Wonderland, which now of course I occasionally have nightmares about. Do you remember the part where she is standing on the trail thinking it will take her home, and some dog with a broom for a head comes and sweeps the trail away on either side of her so she is standing in the dark all alone on a little patch of purple? I remember feeling so homesick for her, so lonely. I could go on for hours about that movie, those creepy tweedle dee and tweedle dumb characters, the baby oysters getting eaten, the mean flowers, the stoned caterpillar....but I loved it.
Then of course there was Bambi and the sound of the gunshot ringing through the meadow that took his mother, and the strange fact that his father "The Great Prince of the Forest" was never really there for him until his mom died. And the dragon in Sleeping Beauty who rises from the thorn patch screaming "Now you shall deal with me, Oh Prince, and all the powers of HELL!" The Fox and the Hound had the hard lesson that sometimes you just can't be friends because you are too different...right? That's what I got from it...and the foxes mom got shot as well if I recall.
In Snow White the stepmother wanted her DEAD, just because she was pretty. And then she got poisoned when the woodsman failed to cut her heart out. Sheesh.
I cried during Dumbo when his mom had to rock him with her trunk hanging through the bars of her little boxcar jail, to the words "Baby mine, don't you cry..." which I still occasionally sing to my daughter. And why were those other elephants so mean anyway?
Alma told me last night of a show on now where they take classic children's stories and change them so the moral is totally lost--the tortoise wakes up the hare and they cross the finish line together, the boy who cried wolf was really best friends with the wolf and was telling the truth each time he called out Wolf, the wolf would just run away when his family came out...what the? That's just ridiculous. Whats the point?
There are hard truths in this world. People are unfortunately, unnecessarily mean, like all the characters in Alice in Wonderland, and the elephants in Dumbo. Death is a part of life--as taught to me by Bambi, every mother who died and left their daughter to be raised by a stepmother in every princess movie known to man, and Mufasa, of course. And there are scary things, unfair things, and the sooner you learn that the better, right?
I wondered allowed last night, if the Disney movies of my early childhood prepared me somewhat for the hard moments of my school years--when I was made fun of in kindergarten at least I could liken myself to Cinderella and my tormentors to the ugly, big-nosed jealous stepsisters--and not completely fall apart.
Is there something to be said for letting your kids be heartbroken, terrified and confused by brightly colored beautiful animated characters? Perhaps.
I cannot deny my Ella Cinderella. I kind of hope she notices the similarities in their names and feels special for it. (There were no princesses named Errr-in. Arg.) I cannot deny her Ariel or Simba or even Sleeping Beauty. I don't want her to take her first trip to Disneyland, see a big headed plush character coming in for a hug and say "What the heck is that?"
Did Disney movies prepare me for life's tough lessons? For bullying, for mocking, for homesickness, for regret, or being dumped, for multiple heartbreaks, for failure, for death?
Last night while driving home I was missing my baby girl, and imagining meeting her again and holding her smiling and laughing and knowing it was all worth it, and do you know what came to my mind?
Cinderella. She was singing "No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish...will...come....true!"