With the recent uproar (see, lion puns) over the death of Cecil the Lion (much more than heard over the death of Cedric the Entertainer… Oh, wait, he’s not dead? Just not funny.), I wanted to bring to light another great atrocity that is affecting millions of people around the world. this really has nothing to do with #CatLivesMatter, well, unless you consider poor Mufasa…
For some reason, since time began, Disney has felt the need to show families that are made up of three basic types of structures. These structures apply to the main characters of the films, not necessarily the supporting cast. Also, these structures develop during the film, in some cases.
Structure 1 – Single Parent
This is the most common type of structure that you will see in a Disney film. Now, many time is can be argued that there must be a second parent, but they are almost always absent in some way. A perfect example is Toy Story. Sid, the evil toy molester that lives next door to Andy has both a mother and a father, as opposed to Andy who has only a mother. But, Sid’s dad is only glimpsed during Buzz Lightyear’s scene where he learns that he is not a flying toy. the “dad” is asleep in a chair, room dark, TV blaring, and beer cans strewn about the floor.
Ariel has only a father. Simba loses his father. Bambi loses his mother and has a distant father. The Aristocats, Aladdin (which fits into two categories), Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast, Dinosaur, Finding Nemo… the list is long. It is not necessarily a fair mix of moms and dads, either. It seems that the majority of films show a single father, perhaps because the stereotype is that single fathers make worse parents? In any case, the lion’s share of Disney films fall into this mane category.
Structure 2 – Split Families
With the recent news that Jon Hamm is splitting up with his long-time girlfriend of 18 years, I guess we should talk about this next group. Split families, or broken homes as we used to call them, are more prevalent in the live action Disney films. Parent Trap, The Santa Clause, and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen are three films from more recent years that illustrate this model. The conflicts created by the warring parents make good movies, I guess. The kids are torn in their loyalties and, in some cases, fight to bring the parents back together. Not as used in Disney films, but still a category worth mentioning.
Structure 3 – No Parents
Many times, the main conflict of a Disney story is based on the main character not having any parents. Oliver & Company, The Jungle Book, Cinderella, Frozen, Lilo & Stitch, The Rescuers… All of these are movies that rely on the fact that the children in the story have no parents and either live on their own or are cared for by a sibling or someone else. While the characters in both Cinderella and Frozen had parents, their died. No matter what, the children always find a family… As we learned from Lilo, even an alien can become ohana and ohana means family.
About the only exception to these rules that I could find in all of the Disney movies that I have watched was Mary Poppins. In this film, starring Helen Reddy as the nonsense spouting nanny who used magic to teach the children how to be better behaved, there are two parents. Mr. and Mrs. Banks are both present and interact with the children and the main moral of the story is to really appreciate your family because that is your one true treasure. How this ever slipped through, I have no idea, but I am sure that it is explained in the recent film Saving Mr. Banks, which is about Walt Disney wanting to produce the film based on the works of P.L. Travers. It might be worth watching.
I will also mention the fact that Tangled shows Rapunzel having two parents, but since she is kidnapped by the witch when she is a baby, it is more like the single parent thing as the witch raises her… Then again, this is just a completely screwed up situation and really does not conform to any of the above examples. There always has to be one.
Was there a point to this rambling tirade? Are we better off because Disney has shown us that people can survive even in the worst of family circumstances? Or, does Disney only love our money and hate our families? Either way, we must stop the senseless killing of animated people, robots, and animals. #AnimatedLivesMatter