Friday, October 20, 2006

The Kid and Lit Crit

So I'm making quesidillas for dinner last night (now that I have finished the draft of book five, I am actually cooking again. And cleaning out closets. And doing laundry. And amazing shit like that.) and the kid comes in, frowning.

"Why," she demands, "is the mother always dead?"

"What?" I ask.

"In all the Disney Movies. Finding Nemo. Bambi. Beauty and the Beast. Why is the mother always dead?"

"Ah. Well. I got one word for you, kid."

She gives me a look. "Patriarchy?"

I grin happily. "Patriarchy," I agree. "Even Winnie the Pooh, where there is one mother, Kanga, what's she do?"

"Nothing," the kid says, warily, because she hates it when I turn my critical lens on Winnie the Pooh, her archetypal text. "She says oh my."

"There you go. In the patriarchal world, the woman is absent, passive, or evil." I am warming up to my lecture now, as I put the quesidillas in the oven, about to go off on a rant on Saturday morning cartoons and how they reflect this patriarchal worldview, maybe with a side paragraph on tokenism, when the kid interrupts:

"What about Dory?"


"Dory. In Finding Nemo. She's not absent, passive, or evil. She's important. She speaks whale! She figures everything out! She always knows what to do! And she's a woman!"

Don't I love this child?


zelda1 said...

or Dora The Explorer. She is a young girl who fights the trickster figure, the fox, and wins, and she and her side kick, boots (a monkey), go on these quest where she always wins. Yes, she is the heroine, the winner, the one who gets the reward. But Dora and Dory, well, they stand alone, don't they?

CB said...

There's Blue from Blue's Clues. The dog is actually a girl, as is her friend Magenta. They guy, well, he ain't very bright, but Blue leaves clues to what she wants. Guy serves girl.

But Blue and Dora are nickolodeon, which has things like the Fairly Oddparents- a show with the chick fairy godparent being the smartest of the three main characters: a boy, a mister godparent and her. She a fixer. Ain't a real mom either.

Also, the Eliza Thornberry of the Thornberries; she's the one who gets into trouble and gets her self out.

Disney does have Kim Possible, who also saves the world.

But then, note that none of these are mothers, even Dory or the Chick Godparent,even though they serve as surrogates.

delagar said...

Doesn't Kim Possible have a mother who does something cool? I've only seen that once, but I think I remember something about that...

CB said...

i think she's doctor or something; her dad does cool stuff, I know.

I keep trying to think of cool mothers, and I ain't coming up with any that are portrayed as biological.

Maybe my thinker's broke.

Libby said...

I love when kids ask these questions! Mine do, too--

Dory is cool, true enough, but the whole impetus for Finding Nemo is that dead mom, right? Simba's mother is alive but not very present in The Lion King...but my favorite Disney mom is Elastigirl in The Incredibles.