The kids were playing so nicely. No one was using the other as a balance beam, no one was arguing over the “not broken” pretzel. The baby, nursing contentedly, clung to the soft fabric of my shirt with one of her chubby hands. She graced me with a quick toothless grin before succumbing to sleep. As I was taking a mental snapshot of the relaxing moment, I heard:
“You can be the Daddy and I’ll be the baby because the Mommy died.”
What now? The Mommy died?!
Imaginary play is my three-year-old’s favorite thing in life. Normally she is a princess, but sometimes in the kitchen doling out hearty meals like an Italian grandmother, or she’s creating her own classroom where her students will learn about things that are pink. But this pretend world, where the mother has died, this was new.
I’ve seen more Disney movies than I have kids, but I’ve only recently begun watching Disney movies with my kids. My three and four-year-olds finally have an attention span longer than a butterfly’s, so full-length films as opposed to 20 minutes of that mind-numbing Caillou are still pretty new for us. I just can’t believe I didn’t notice it prior to my kid killing me off.
It being Disney’s tendency to portray three types of mothers in their movies: none, mean, or dead. I’m not sure what exactly transpired between Mr. Walt Disney and his own mother, but if life imitates art, yikes. Ol’ Walt must have had whatever the opposite of the Oedipus Complex is. The Tony Soprano Syndrome? He done killed off all the Mamas in his movies! If the maternal figure’s fatally wounded body doesn’t perish in a horrific forest fire as does Bambi’s, her ship capsizes on the turbulent sea by way of a violent storm like Elsa and Anna’s.
What. The. Eff.
Why kill all the Mommies, Mr. Disney? Okay, in all fairness, not every movie features a mother’s ultimate demise; the mother in Brave is there as a bear, and the Mama in Toy Story seems nice enough except for the whole selling her son’s favorite toys thing.
A parent’s death, usually a mother, isn’t always an integral part of the movie plot; some were knockin’ on Heaven’s door long before the movie started, like Cinderella’s. But look at the mess of a stepmother Disney gave her! Let’s be frank here; she’s a real bitch. Not exactly a woman I would want my daughters striving to emulate. Another character whose mother is long gone and never part of the movie is Pocahontas. This chick falls for the white man who wants to, as Jimi Hendrix says, dig her earth. Had her Mama been around, ain’t no way Poca would have run off with Smitty.
Then there’s Snow White. She has a strange proclivity for little men. She shacks up with dwarfs, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but seven of them? I’m sorry, that’s just greedy. Tell me why she needs seven!
Back to the point: where is Snow White’s mom? Isn’t she that evil witch with the poison apple? Maybe Cinderella and Snow White’s stepmothers should be reported to CYS because they’re clearly not taking their role as parent very seriously. These mother figures certainly don’t paint we who bear children in a very favorable light.
Two of my favorite Disney princesses, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and Jasmine from Aladdin, are also motherless. I think it’s great that bookworm Belle has a close relationship with her father; as a Daddy’s Girl myself, I can appreciate that much. And I do love how outspoken Jasmine is; she can also rock a pair of palazzo pants. But would it have been so hard to make the mothers of these intelligent, confident gals a part of the script? If I’m being honest, Belle’s dad, while endearing, is a bumbling idiot, and Jasmine’s father, sick of her freeloading, is trying to marry her off to the first available royal penis. Neither of these girls would have had to rely on a man, or a Beast as it were, to “save” them had their mothers been around to explain that men leave their dirty socks on kitchen counters and aren’t the answer to a woman in dire straits.
Fend for yourselves, ladies. Do you.
And don’t even get me started on Finding Nemo. I still have to fast forward the beginning where Nemo’s mother and ALL OF HIS SIBLINGS are viciously attacked and murdered right in front of him and his father. No wonder dude is all messed up and the epitome of a helicopter parent. He’s probably popping Xanax under da’ sea with Ariel who, surprise, surprise, is also sans mama.
If Disney would veer off course from the original fairy tales by allowing one positive maternal role model to pave the way for a younger generation, maybe we could change the stereotypical perception of women and prove to our daughters once and for all that both parent and princess deserve respect. Or at the very least, save my imaginary ass from being offed by my toddlers.