Death and the Mouse

Yesterday at lunch a friend was telling me that she had a nagging feeling before her young daughter sat down for the first time to watch a Disney film that she herself had not seen for many years. The movie is rated fine for kids, but something in the back of her mind was bothering her.

When they finally sat down to watch the movie, she told me she remembered all at once what it was.

“It was ‘Finding Nemo’, right?” I asked.

Sure enough, that was the movie. You know, that cute adorable animation for kids which begins with a scene of our young hero’s entire family being brutally slaughtered — parents and siblings all.

I then told her that when my nephew first saw “The Lion King” as a young boy, he was traumatized by the scene where King Mufasa is killed by his brother Scar. My nephew also has a brother, the same difference in age as my brother and I. It seems it wasn’t the death of the king that disturbed my nephew so deeply. Rather, it was the idea of one brother betraying another. For the next year he would, from time to time, ask my sister in law for reassurance, saying “It was only a movie, right?”

And of course there’s Bambi. In fact a similar dark thread runs through many Disney stories. Why is there so much killing of the parents and family members of the protagonist in Disney animations?

I have a theory, which I will talk more about tomorrow.

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