Is anyone else disturbed by this? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-14-2010, 04:23 AM
 
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I'll weigh in on the side of being disturbed by the violent "emotional hook" to yank us into a sense of danger or excitement to a story, but I have to agree with journeymom's post:

"Yes, these stories allow children to safely explore scary issues. Many children wonder about what life would be like if they had to go it alone, if they had to face monsters or disasters without a parent coming to their aid. In side the confines of a story a child can wrestle with and conquer an enemy. "

What does strike me, and irks me most, is that there are really so few family adventures. As I read through this thread though, catching the various examples, it did start to make sense: the ideas of home and family are the expected norm, so unless either one or both of the parents are unavailable, there is little reason for a child to rise up and take on an adventure that their parents would likely tell them wasn't for them. My DW mentioned being concerned at how often we warn our DD to "be careful" and as soon as she did, I felt like I was catching myself saying it all the time.

That being the case, it does make sense that it would take some plausibly extreme circumstance to require a kid to rise up to a big adventure, which was a thrilling idea when I was a kid. I'm kind of amazed at how many things seem WAY too scary & dangerous now that I'm a dad. I whisper silent apologies to my mother for the ways I must have frayed her nerves as a kid every time I see kids doing things that seem too dangerous to me now.

I do wish there were more adventures as families, but I'm finding myself hard pressed to think of examples I really liked or like now. Swiss Family Robinson comes to mind, as do more recent examples of Spy Kids and The Incredibles. The main thing that stands out is that there are pretty extreme circumstances that the parents themselves are involved in, not just going through the daily steps of providing shelter, food, etc, but out-and-out adventures that I recall wondering who had families that did that sort of thing. Later, I found out my dad used to be a mountain rescue climber, and he taught me to rock climb, but until I was old enough, he was just "my dad" and either working or tired, so I had to imagine adventures until we started having them.

I do recall reading "The Boxcar Children" and trying to imagine what it would be like to have to try to make life work like that, and it was a thrilling adventure to read about, from the safe confines of my everyday world.

I'm just very much still of the mind that DW and I need to screen things first to make sure we're comfortable with the message that a movie or book sends, before suggesting such a thing for a movie or reading night. If it's a worthwhile adventure, and we can talk through the traumatic part, it could be worth it, but we have yet to watch Bambi, mostly because DW and I aren't fans.
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:38 AM
 
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I think a lot of you are giving Disney too much credit in the story writing aspect of their films. The vast majority of Disney films are very old stories, from various parts of the world. Even Mulan. They don't write the stories, they just adapt them into an animated film.

That being said, I've only known one person to be upset by a Disney movie. It was Bambi, and had nothing to do with the mom dying and everything to do with how it was shown in the film. It was too abstract for her to comprehend at that age, as she told me once "I would been less disturbed if Bambi's mom had gotten her brains blown out on screen."

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Old 09-14-2010, 06:58 AM
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Which is what I like about most of the Swedish Astrid Lindgren-films. Except for Pippi herself, most of the children in those films live in close-knit family units, with very loving and caring parents. And the children still have fabulous adventures.

Even Tommy and Annika are very close to their loving parents.

Other good examples:

The Children of Noisy Village, gosh I'd love to live that way! Three families share life on a farm in 1929, and the 6 older children have loads of fun, helping family as well as having their own adventures, and the parents are very gentle and care.

Madicken or Mardie (different translations), upper middle class family life in small town during WW1, parents very loving and caring, and the girls have their own adventures, some ending less well than others (note to self: Do not jump of a roof with umbrella trying to fly), and a lot of talk of how bad it is to hit children!

Ronia the Robber's daughter is fantasy, so quite different. But a close-knit family life, where baby Ronia is breastfed and the family co-sleeps (and at the beginning, a homebirth where Ronia's mother sings through contractions!) When Ronia is older 10-12 they let her out of the castle to have her own adventures in dangerous forest. But parents still there when needed, to rescue her or support at home.

Saltcrow Island is set in the 60s and early 70s, the kids have lots and lots of freedom, and adventures, but all parents on island will look out for all the children, again loving and caring parents.

Lotta of Troublemaker Street is a caution in herself, a 5yo who doesn't behave very well. Ordinary middle class family 1970s. Parents very caring, kids have own adventures (Lotta moves into neighbour's attic at one point).

Emil in Lonneberga, set in late 1800s, for times very gentle parenting with loving parents, but Emil locks himself up in woodshed when father angry, father locks outside, both pleased with arrangement.

There are more, but tired baby needs to sleep.
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:04 AM
 
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Which is what I like about most of the Swedish Astrid Lindgren-films. Except for Pippi herself, most of the children in those films live in close-knit family units, with very loving and caring parents. And the children still have fabulous adventures.
Well, Tommy and Annika's parents let them sail to the South Seas with Pippi for several weeks (months?). It doesn't bother me - it would be a dull story if the parents came along, and no story at all if the kids didn't go - but it isn't exactly normal parenting.

As for the "abandonment" themes in many stories - no, they don't bother me at all. There are plenty of family-based books and movies if you look for them; they don't all portray unproblematic family life, but they give a spectrum of views on the subject. The Railway Children (loss/separation as well as closeness and freedom to explore); The Incredibles (working together and loyalty, uniting against a hostile/scary world); Anne of Green Gables (very strong parental bonds and relationships, albeit adoptive); the Ramona books; the Francis books; Five Minutes' Peace and the other books; Little Women; Babar; Pride and Prejudice; Mary Poppins... If you ingest that kind of media as well as the kids-having-their-own-adventues stuff, I don't think children will get an unbalanced view of the nature of family life. Chance are they won't particularly notice the parents missing, when that's not the point of the story. I mean, did you really spend The Phantom Tollbooth wondering how Milo coped without his mummy? Of course not (well, I hope not!). Would the Narnia stories have been improved if Edmund and Lucy had spent their days in Narnia pining for their mother - or if she'd shown up to conquer the White Witch? Nope - that would have ruined the whole thing. I think it's kind of insulting to artists to demand "violence-free product" or "family-oriented product" at the expense of the stories they are trying to tell. Most of the good stories would be hopelessly neutered under those conditions. Media that's produced with the intention of being harmless and inoffensive is usually drivel.

Also, I think a lot of Disney criticism is too generalising. Yes, Disney is famous for dead-parent or absent-parent motifs. But there are plenty examples of meaningful parent/child relationships in the films. Mulan gets a decent bit of screentime with both parents; Belle has a nice, mutually supportive relationship with her father; Tiana's relationship with her father drives much of the film, even though (and partly because) he's dead, and her mother's demands for grandchildren are classic!

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Old 09-14-2010, 10:00 AM
 
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I loved Anne of Green Gables, which involves an orphaned girl who finds loving adoptive parents though. I also love Harry Potter but was already an adult when it came out.

I do remember being upset by Babmi as a child and also by Dumbo and Willie Wonka. I to this day don't think i could tell you the whole movie of Bambi and still cannot watch Dumbo. Other movies, like Cinderella, never upset me so much, but maybe because the separation from teh parents was much less dramatic or never shown. I mean in Bambi you see and hear teh mom get shot. And in Dumbo the poor mama elephant rocking her baby through bars. I am getting teary eyed just thining about it.

Willi Wonka I remember just thinking it was wacked out and I thought the part at the end when Wonka goes nuts and starts yelling in the air balloon thing was scary for me as a kid.

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Old 09-14-2010, 10:19 AM
 
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It was Dumbo that traumatized me as a child. We watched it in elementary school and I had to leave the class because I was crying so hard. As an adult, The Lion King set me off. In the theater I was sobbing like a 3 year old and everyone else had moved on and was laughing at the witty humor that followed but I cried through darn near the entire movie.

I'm not a fan of Disney movies. I'm sensitive and they break my heart.
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:33 AM
 
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It was Dumbo that traumatized me as a child. We watched it in elementary school and I had to leave the class because I was crying so hard. As an adult, The Lion King set me off. In the theater I was sobbing like a 3 year old and everyone else had moved on and was laughing at the witty humor that followed but I cried through darn near the entire movie.

I'm not a fan of Disney movies. I'm sensitive and they break my heart.
My DD had a dance recital, and before the kids went on stage (while the other classes were dancing) they had them in a back room with movies and snacks and coloring, to keep them calm and happy. At the meeting the woman who owned the place said "it'll be a really simple movie, nothing scary, we don't want the kids to get upset."

So I walk in with my DD, who is 1 month shy of 3, and they're putting in The Lion King! First of all, they're only going to be back there long enough to watch the beginning part! I couldn't believe it. I asked them to please put on something else, because that movie really scared my DD (which was a lie... she'd never seen it. But REALLY!). The teenager who was in charge of the room sort of rolled her eyes but put on Lady and the Tramp instead. At least the scary part of that is towards the end. Next year I'm planning on having a talk with the woman who owns the school about exactly what constitutes a "scary" movie, and imo it's nothing where a parent dies in the first 10 minutes. I was assuming they'd have some Dora movie or something like that.

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Old 09-14-2010, 12:37 PM
 
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the reason for disney not having mums in movies especally the early ones is walt disneys mum died when he was a little boy hence the theme of bambi etc being without a mum i have walt disneys auto bio
Except many (most?) of Disney films are based on quite old, well-known fairy tales that have nothing to do with Walt Disney's mother dying or not.
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Old 09-14-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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This is a fascinating thread! I wanted to weigh in on the other end of the spectrum, age wise, with an interesting note. It builds off one PP's reply:



I teach high school language arts, but the above observation is very much coming true in lots of young adult fiction and also film and tv. Rather than the (albeit disturbing) theme of the "offed" parents and independent, adventuring kids, more frequently media and books have included "needy" or "oblivious" parents that children and teenage characters "take care of" in a manner that is out of sync with what a healthy parent-child role should be.

Interesting article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/bo...ew/Just-t.html
I haven't read the article yet. But Bella's mom in the Twilight series comes to mind.

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Old 09-14-2010, 02:45 PM
 
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Before you dive into "Cheaper By The Dozen" be aware that the dad *does* die, of a heart attack. It's based on a true story and that's what really happened. I can't remember if his death is in "Cheaper by the Dozen" (IIRC it is) or in the sequel "Belles on Their Toes."

I distinctly remember reading that book in 5th grade (as a class) and the teacher warned us that the next chapter was really sad and suggested we skip it. We chose to read it instead and I was devastated. It's still one of my all time favorite books but certainly not without loss.
I had forgotten about that (and can't recall which book it's in either), thanks for the reminder.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MovnMama View Post
This is a fascinating thread! I wanted to weigh in on the other end of the spectrum, age wise, with an interesting note. It builds off one PP's reply:



I teach high school language arts, but the above observation is very much coming true in lots of young adult fiction and also film and tv. Rather than the (albeit disturbing) theme of the "offed" parents and independent, adventuring kids, more frequently media and books have included "needy" or "oblivious" parents that children and teenage characters "take care of" in a manner that is out of sync with what a healthy parent-child role should be.

Interesting article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/bo...ew/Just-t.html
Thank you for posting that article! Funny enough, it mentions Twilight and When You Reach Me, among other books I was thinking about when I wrote my post. I've noticed lots of kids entertainment that have oblivious or incompetent or neglectful, yet present, parents. The mom in When You Reach Me seemed to be the same law school student mother in Vicki Grant's Quid Pro Quo, right down to the ranting about abstract human rights all the while she is ignoring her own child's emotional distress. I like Hilary McKay's Casson family novels (Permanent Rose etc.), but the father is absent and the artistic mom essentially leaves the children to starve while she works on her art in the garden shed. King Dork was a powerful novel about bullying, but the parents are absolutely oblivious and incapable of helping their son - like all parents in any novel I've ever read about bullying. I could go on and on with examples.

Absent the traumatic separation ("mommy snuff films" is a great descriptor someone used upthread), I think I'd rather my kids read about or watch the orphaned or separated child protagonist. I suppose the trend is almost inevitable though. In the same way that it was common in the past for a child to be orphaned or cast out on their own at very young ages (I'm thinking of the British home children sent to farms in Australia, Canada, NZ etc. at very tender ages), it's now fairly common for children to be emotionally abandoned by their parents who are separated, divorced, or simply immersed in working long hours or otherwise coping with the demands of modern life. I think children's literature and films reflect this reality.
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Old 09-14-2010, 06:55 PM
 
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Funny you should bring this up - I've been having a similar issue. DD is 5yo and I've been looking for good books to read aloud to her. SO many of them seem to have some kind of separation from parents. Pippi Longstocking, The Boxcar Kids series, traditional fairy tales (look at a traditional telling of how Cinderella ends up with the awful step-sisters! yikes!) .... etc etc etc.

I worry that for DD that will be traumatic and long after we've read the story she'll still be grappling with the whole idea of parent separation.
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:02 AM
 
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Funny you should bring this up - I've been having a similar issue. DD is 5yo and I've been looking for good books to read aloud to her. SO many of them seem to have some kind of separation from parents. Pippi Longstocking, The Boxcar Kids series, traditional fairy tales (look at a traditional telling of how Cinderella ends up with the awful step-sisters! yikes!) .... etc etc etc.

I worry that for DD that will be traumatic and long after we've read the story she'll still be grappling with the whole idea of parent separation.

I worry about those things too, and I don't think we can count on our children not "getting" the concept. My dd was not yet 2 when she saw the beginning of "The Lion King" at her cousin's house, not the scary part, the very beginning when all of the animals are celebrating the birth of the new baby. She freaked out, running to me asking "Why did that monkey take the baby away from his mommy? Why did he do that? He needs to give that baby back to his mommy!"

I understand that it makes for an interesting plot device, I have degrees in English and literacy, but I also think that there is an overwhelming trend in our society to push stories and characters and concepts on kids just because they are animated or marketed toward children. It must be appropriate for every child if Disney made it or it's animated. It's expected that a three-year-old girl know the names of the Disney princesses. Even my daughter's swim teacher asked all of the three-year-olds if they wanted to go under the water so they could "see Nemo." My daughter now thinks that Nemo is an invisible friendly creature who lives in the bottom of swimming pools.

Of course, building one's way toward independence is an important theme in childhood, but I also think that there is a rather disturbing system in place that systematically separates children from "the rest of society." And I think that a lot of the movies and stories out there reinforce that separation.
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:20 AM
 
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It doesn't bother me as it is very much the traditional Hero's Journey, the Hero has to either lose or separate from his parents and other parental figures so that the Hero can finally reach his/her independence and take on responsibilities freely. It's very much a literary tradition and also how life works in a general sense, you separate more and more from your parents until you are a responsible adult. It doesn't work as neatly as in movies/stories in real life typically, but I don't think it is a bad theme.

But I can definitely understand why some themes may be inappropriate for some children depending on age/maturity.

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Old 09-15-2010, 01:42 PM
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Exactly, the Hero's Journey.

At the same time, books with lovely families (for little kids) are a nice balance, too. But I do remember thinking as I got older that nice families just made me feel bad about my own (which was a LOVELY family, but every kid seems to think their family is embarrassing, right?). I know for my 3yo, she's very into stories of families, which she then acts out. She also likes, say, Jane and the Dragon, but that's ultimately about making friends and learning to be nice to each other, along with being sort of a hero's journey. But there's always the return home at the end!

I think there are lots of great books about families for older kids, like Madeleine L'Engles books, the Austins and other ones... The Mozart Season is a good book with a real family...
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Old 09-15-2010, 02:20 PM
 
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Purely for discussion purposes, what about narratives with parents who exist in the story, but are written as largely absent from children's lives (and the adventures they have). These parents are written as being unaware of what is happening with their children. There is no traumatic separation, but what kind of message is conveyed about oblivious, perhaps even neglectful parents, and children who essentially carry on secret lives from their parents?
Peanuts! "Mwa-mwa-ma-ma-wa..." Totally in the background. You notice none of them ever came to Charlie Brown's rescue when he was being tormented by Lucy, eh?

With all the free-range parents on this board, I'm surprised at some of the responses. I'm big on family togetherness, but kids spend their entire childhoods arcing AWAY from their parents. Of course they have private and even secretive lives! Gosh, my favorite fantasy growing up was of getting lost in the woods and having to survive and find my way back home. I "ran away" several times (from a perfectly together, loving family) just for the thrill of it. (Usually running away meant hiding out in my backyard, but still.) My best-loved books usually involved a separation, death of a parent, neglect, what-have-you, essentially leaving the child characters on their own to problem-solve and figure out what's-what.

Now, I totally agree that 3-YEAR-OLDS should not be subjected to this sort of thing. But the five and older set are usually looking for adventure.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:52 PM
 
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And not to get all conspiracy-theoryish (I get paranoid at 3am when I'm suffering from pregnancy insomnia... sorry about that), but I do worry that the "hooking" of very young children onto this sort of emotional roller coaster at such a young age sets them up for a need for more and more extreme forms of entertainment as they get older. I don't think that it's good for very young kids to be exposed to such artificial emotional extremes... most preschoolers are good enough at coming up with their own emotional extremes just based on day to day experiences!
This reminds me of the work of Bruno Bettleheim, a renowned child psychologist during the 20th century. He published a book entitled The Uses of Enchantment in 1976. In this book, he theorizes that:

"traditional fairy tales, with the darkness of abandonment, death, witches, and injuries, allowed children to grapple with their fears in remote, symbolic terms. If they could read and interpret these fairy tales in their own way, he believed, they would get a greater sense of meaning and purpose. Bettelheim thought that by engaging with these socially-evolved stories, children would go through emotional growth that would better prepare them for their own futures."

Bettlheim is just one theorist, and I'm sure there are others who would disagree with him. I've always been drawn to more dark literature and film, so I tend to see the truth in his writings.

Anyway, his writing and theories are very interesting to me, but I don't think that Disney/Pixar movies are the best way to expose children to these themes.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:58 PM
 
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The mom lives in The Lion King - it's the father that dies in that one. The Princess and the Frog has a mom, I think. The pups in 101 Dalmations have both a mom and dad.

If you include Pixar things, there's a mom in The Incredibles and Toy Story.

At any rate, the theme of being lost/on adventure alone doesn't bother me. When I was a kid, I liked to picture myself as the protagonist of my own adventures and I liked stories like these. Parents are safe and comforting, thigns that don't really lend themselves to excitement and adventure.
That's the way I look at it, too.

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Old 09-15-2010, 10:20 PM
 
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It doesn't bother me as it is very much the traditional Hero's Journey, the Hero has to either lose or separate from his parents and other parental figures so that the Hero can finally reach his/her independence and take on responsibilities freely.
Exactly. It amused me no end when some people I knew were surprised and distraught at Dumbledore's death in the sixth Harry Potter book. I was like "Dude, you expected he and Harry would have a showdown with Voldemort arm-in-arm? Where'd be the drama in that?" I mean, yes, it was sad, but it had to happen. Just like Obi-Wan Kenobi couldn't help Luke face Vader, and Gandalf couldn't accompany Frodo to Mount Doom, and Merlyn couldn't be on hand to advise Arthur about the Lancelot/Guenevere situation, and Mufasa couldn't send a bolt of lightning from the sky to kill Scar when he was fighting Simba, and... well. So on. And for some stories, the loss of the Safe Awesome Parental Figure Who Makes Everything OK has to happen at the start, or the story will never get out of the starting gate.

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Old 09-16-2010, 03:36 AM
 
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Exactly. It amused me no end when some people I knew were surprised and distraught at Dumbledore's death in the sixth Harry Potter book. I was like "Dude, you expected he and Harry would have a showdown with Voldemort arm-in-arm? Where'd be the drama in that?" I mean, yes, it was sad, but it had to happen. Just like Obi-Wan Kenobi couldn't help Luke face Vader, and Gandalf couldn't accompany Frodo to Mount Doom, and Merlyn couldn't be on hand to advise Arthur about the Lancelot/Guenevere situation, and Mufasa couldn't send a bolt of lightning from the sky to kill Scar when he was fighting Simba, and... well. So on. And for some stories, the loss of the Safe Awesome Parental Figure Who Makes Everything OK has to happen at the start, or the story will never get out of the starting gate.


Add in the Merlin/Gandalf/ObiWan figure in Eragon whose name I can't remember. If he's a wise mentor charged with instructing the young hero in battle skills and life lessons, you know he's going down before the end of Book 1. Like the dog in a story of a hardscrabble family fiction (the Old Yeller effect).

I know this is a serious topic and children's emotional lives are at stake, but here's a little humour: Sorting Algorithm of Mortality and Algorithm of Deadness
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Old 09-16-2010, 11:08 AM
 
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As a child, this was my very favorite fiction theme - I lapped this stuff up. Not so much in Disney movies, but in books. THe Narnia Books, or even a book like "A Wrinkle in Time" where the kids have to rescue the father. And I loved movies like Goonies (though it clearly wouldn't be suitable for a toddler.)

In fact, in my neighbourhood a favorite game was something we called "Lost Kids". It was kind of a Littlest Hobo scenario, except we were wandering kids instead of a dog, and we looked for a real home and had adventures. Mostly we lived under a slide.

As far as books with intact families, there are the Wrinkle in Time series, where the parents are there, or Meet the Austins, but the kids still go off alone a lot in both.

Even a story for really young kids like Blueberries for Sal has a moment when the child is separated from the mother, that is the dramatic moment in the story.

As far as kids being alone in the stories, I do think it is primarily a plat device to explore the theme of the Hero: but I also think we may interpret it a bit differently than parents even from the not-so-distant past. Up until recently, kids were given a lot more freedom. As a seven year old I could roam around playing "Lost Kids" but many children today would not be allowed to do that.

 I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt.
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:31 PM
 
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I haven't read this thread in its entirety, but as an English prof, I have to weigh in.

We need to be careful when we say that the American media is trying to do X with these stories/movies. As some people have mentioned, many of the Disney movies are based on very old fairy tales (some of them non-Western), and many of these fairy tales are *far* more violent in their original version.

For example, in the original Cinderella fairy tale, one of the evil step sisters cuts her toes off so that she can jam her foot into the glass slipper. (This fairy tale exists in a Mother Goose version written in the 17th century and a Brother's Grimm version written in the 18th century).

In the original Little Mermaid (written by Hans Christian Anderson in the mid-19th century), she does not win the heart of the prince and remains human and lives happily ever after. The prince marries someone else, and she (SPOILER ALERT) DIES!

I read all the gruesome original stories as a kid, and I loved them (hmm . . . maybe that helps to explain a few things ). What is being marketed to American kids today is a watered-down, happily-ever-after version. Kids going off on their own? Absent parents? *shrug* Ok. At least they are not being shown a wolf being gutted by a woodsman only to have Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother pop out so that they can fill his body with stones! Now *that's* traumatic!
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:44 PM
 
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I'll have to admit to being bummed at Dumbledore being killed off. I really liked the character and hoped he'd stick around. But, I did kind of expect him to be killed - just thought it would happen sometime in the first half of the last book.

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Old 09-16-2010, 07:55 PM
 
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I haven't read this thread in its entirety, but as an English prof, I have to weigh in.

We need to be careful when we say that the American media is trying to do X with these stories/movies. As some people have mentioned, many of the Disney movies are based on very old fairy tales (some of them non-Western), and many of these fairy tales are *far* more violent in their original version.

For example, in the original Cinderella fairy tale, one of the evil step sisters cuts her toes off so that she can jam her foot into the glass slipper. (This fairy tale exists in a Mother Goose version written in the 17th century and a Brother's Grimm version written in the 18th century).

In the original Little Mermaid (written by Hans Christian Anderson in the mid-19th century), she does not win the heart of the prince and remains human and lives happily ever after. The prince marries someone else, and she (SPOILER ALERT) DIES!

I read all the gruesome original stories as a kid, and I loved them (hmm . . . maybe that helps to explain a few things ). What is being marketed to American kids today is a watered-down, happily-ever-after version. Kids going off on their own? Absent parents? *shrug* Ok. At least they are not being shown a wolf being gutted by a woodsman only to have Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother pop out so that they can fill his body with stones! Now *that's* traumatic!
This sort of thing - softening the stories - actually bothers me a little more than the lack of parental involvement. Now, I am not suggesting telling grossly violent tales to toddlers. But it really bothered me that Disney changed the ending of The Little Mermaid - it isn't nearly as good, as substantial, a story. Or that movie versions of A Little Princess have the father live. Or what Disney did with The Hunchback.

Some people say that death is the new sex - the reality we are scared to let our kids in on - and I think there is some truth to that.

 I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt.
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:02 PM
 
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Some people say that death is the new sex - the reality we are scared to let our kids in on - and I think there is some truth to that.
There may be some truth to it, but I don't personally enjoy downer entertainment. (I've never read Hunchback, and now that I know how it really ends, I won't.) I think Disney really should have left stories like The Little Mermaid and Hunchback of Notre Dame alone, but if they were going to do them, I prefer the version they did. My kids have lost a beloved pet and a baby brother, and knew there was a good possibility they'd lose their aunt...all in the last three years. They know about death. They don't need it in their entertainment.

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Old 09-21-2010, 05:42 PM
 
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Reading this thread, I've been trying to think about cartoons that have good family interactions in them. I've come up with a few, and all on PBS. Caillou has his family, and they are attentive and wise. The best cartoon family I can think of is the Berenstein Bears. Those parents are so ideal! They are the right amount of hands-off, with the appropriate degree of guidance. They are interesting adults in their own right, each having talents and productive activities that they do. They are good examples of how I'd like my children to grow up.

I've noticed a lot of the parent-less shows are on NickJr, but they also have Olivia, which I like. Her parents aren't a major part of most plots, but they contribute a little here and a little there as adult input is needed.

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Old 09-21-2010, 05:44 PM
 
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Before you dive into "Cheaper By The Dozen" be aware that the dad *does* die, of a heart attack. It's based on a true story and that's what really happened. I can't remember if his death is in "Cheaper by the Dozen" (IIRC it is) or in the sequel "Belles on Their Toes."

I distinctly remember reading that book in 5th grade (as a class) and the teacher warned us that the next chapter was really sad and suggested we skip it. We chose to read it instead and I was devastated. It's still one of my all time favorite books but certainly not without loss.
It was in the original movie too. The mother goes on to continue his work, giving the presentation he was going to give about efficiently running a household with a large family.

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Old 09-21-2010, 06:28 PM
 
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I haven't read all the responses but I have done quite a few courses in children's literature at university.

This is a very common theme to most children's literature. The issue is not meant to be a "lack of parental involvement" but "the independent child". Children live through the literature. The stories are written so that the child can see a part of themselves in the protagonist, or experience independence through the lives they read (or watch).

Children's literature is usually about overcoming an obstacle and growing up. In order for the child in the story to do this, the child needs some sort of way to be independent from a parent, and that usually involves being an orphan or being distant.

Literature, for the child, is supposed to be escape and fantasy.
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