An interesting point came up the other day during a
discussion at home about Disney cartoons (there are a lot of those when you have two young children in the house).
While I have no problem showing Penny the many Disney film titles that are available on DVD (most of which are pretty good for adults, too), there is at least one glaring commonality that might upset purists.
Nearly every family in these films is a broken household. Consider:
• In “The Lion King,” Simba only has his dad Mufasa around – and that’s only until he’s killed early on in the movie (he does have a mom, Sarabi, but she’s nonexistent in his life).
• In the film that bears his name, Bambi’s mom is shot and killed, and his absentee father only comforts him with a gruff, “Your mother can’t be with you anymore.”
• Cinderella’s father tried to give her a normal home after her mother died, but upon his untimely demise she’s trampled upon by her stepmom and stepsisters.
• We have no idea who Snow White’s parents are. All we know is her stepmom, the queen, hates her guts and puts a hit out on her.
• Ariel’s mom is never heard from in “The Little Mermaid,” only her father and her many sisters.
• Same thing with Jasmine’s mother in “Aladdin,” the mother of the kids in “Peter Pan,” Pocahontas in her film and Mulan in hers.
• The Beast in “Beauty and the Beast” has no parents at all. We know that the curse that made him a monster becomes permanent on his 21st birthday, and that he’d been in that form for years before the events of the film took place, so that means he’s been a prince living alone in that giant castle since he was about 16.
• At least Beast had servants to help him. Poor Mowgli in “The Jungle Book” was left in a basket in the jungle, with only a few primates and felines to raise him.
So I ask you, where did the women go? Were they too difficult to animate? Were the Disney illustrators anti-females? Is there some mythical cartoon waiting room where all these mothers are gathered, helplessly watching their children struggle before their inevitable victories?
To be fair, many Disney films are rip-offs of old fairy tales, which might have been written minus moms. The absence of these mothers generally isn’t integral to the plot of any of these films, but the frequency of this occurrence is something to ponder.