Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall I am My Mother After All!!!

I love my mother. She is a wonderful woman and a godly role model. And if I can be half as good of a woman, half as good of a mother, that she is I think I'd be doing great. She honestly is the Proverbs 31 type of woman; I can truly call her "blessed."

She is not, however, without her quirks. Movies - well, TV in general - being one of them. We still tease her about her comment during a gun battle scene in a western when she vocally pondered how many of the Indians were saved before they died (Really? It's a movie - it's fiction). But she tends to view things in a different light. Which is not, I suppose, a completely bad thing.

As a kid I was not allowed to watch The Little Mermaid. Mom very much disapproved of the message that it sent - she felt it encouraged rebellion. She even gave her "soap box" lecture to a preacher about it. We joked about it later but I never remember feeling like I was really missing out on something by not being allowed to watch it. It was just part of life with Mom.

Now, I like movies as much as the next person - especially Disney cartoons. Our movie shelf holds Bolt, Monsters Inc., Cars, Ratatouille, and even Beauty and the Beast (hey, a girl's gotta have her princess movie!) as well as a few others. Sleeping Beauty, Finding Nemo, and Toy Story (all three of them) are on the "to buy" list. I usually watch new cartoons with a mind towards possibly adding them to our collection.

Tangled was the most recent one on that list. The previews looked great - cute and funny. I heard wonderful reviews from people that had watched it. I was practically on pins and needles waiting to see it.

I couldn't have been more let down!

But I finally understood my mother's sentiments. While I was watching the movie for the pure entertainment of it, my "mommy instincts" couldn't help but kick in.

The viewer watches the movie knowing that an evil witch has stolen Rapunzel away and kept her for her own selfish intentions, raising Rapunzel as her own daughter. Rapunzel, the sweet, dutiful, trusting daughter, has no clue that the woman who raised her is not her real mother. For her 18th birthday, Rapunzel requests to go see "the floating lights" that are released every year on her birthday. Despite "Mother's" abrasive and almost cruel response Rapunzel keeps her sweet spirit. So far so good...

Now comes the problem.

Rapunzel starts to ask just one more time and "Mother" starts singing a song that makes a complete mockery of parental authority "Mother Knows Best." She goes off on all the terrible things that are out there in the world that can hurt Rapunzel and why she has her locked in an area where nothing can harm her. Honestly, as a parent, there are certain things that are not allowed; my children's safety and well-being are my responsibility and one that I take very seriously. It's something I learned from my parents. At the time I didn't always understand or agree with their decisions but now I can look back and see that they really did know best.

Then comes the next problem.

Seeing that she is not going to be allowed to get her desire, Rapunzel then deceives "Mother" into taking a journey, to get her something special, that will take her out of the vicinity for three days so that she can sneak out and go see the "floating lights" on her own. When she finally makes her escape she is conflicted by her conscience knowing what she did was wrong but still enjoying the freedom. Sound familiar? If you were raised in a Christian realm, it should ("there is pleasure in sin for a season").

Of course, in the end Rapunzel realizes that "Mother" is not really her mother and that she was kidnapped as a baby...and she might not have ever known if she hadn't rebelled. This is where I turned into my mother! I found the blatant encouragement of rebellion appalling. The viewer knowing that "Mother" was not Rapunzel's real mother makes no difference when you understand that Rapunzel didn't know, or even have a suspicion of it, at the time of her rebellion.

What difference does it make?...It's just a movie - it's fiction.

I worked with 3, 4, and 5 year olds at a daycare a couple years ago. One thing that I learned from my time there is that they LOVE to play pretend, acting out movies that they recently watched. And it builds a foundation for their attitudes. Children learn by example, repetition and imitation.

I, for one, am not going to put an example in front of my children that I don't want them to imitate and follow.

And if that makes me sound like my mother...well, I find that to be a great honor!

My mother as my Matron of Honor and Me :)


  1. And here I've been waiting to watch Tangled! How disappointing. I also was not allowed to watch the little mermaid...or lion king for that fact! And I never felt like I was missing out.

  2. It had it's cute parts...there were some really funny ones and some loveable characters. The music score wasn't the best but it was alright.

    I just finally understood WHY Mom never let me watch some of those movies. They really aren't things that I want my kids to see as something I condone.

  3. I agree! We recently watched "Tangled" and Mike and I were both disappointed. We have nothing against Disney movies in general, especially ones that have a teachable lesson in them, like Finding Nemo. However, there are many out there that have themes of rebellion, discontentment, revenge, etc that we will not allow our children to view. That's what parents are for right? Great thoughts Katrina!

  4. I guess I have a slightly different take on the movie from a different perspective. Rapunzel's "mother" was lying to her for her own selfish gains and keeping her a prisoner to "protect" her for no other purpose than that she wanted her all for herself. No, Rapunzel does not know she was kidnapped, and she does not know that her mother is a liar but her mother made it very clear that she was never going to let her go when she asked her for the second time and he mother said, "You are not leaving this tower, EVER!" Then, and only then, did Rapunzel decide to take matters into her own hands.

    Yes, parents do the best they can do raise their children to protect them and be good parents but sometimes those parents can really err on the side of caution by being too stifling and too controlling and, in effect, really hinder a young adult from developing into the kind of person that will be a benefit to society. They refuse to let them go to school or college. They indoctrinate them in the way they think they should go and in their terror of their child "choosing the wrong path" desperately try to keep their child from even acknowledging another path exists. The Amish--one of the most indoctrinating cultures of our modern time--at least still have rumspringa.. a time when they ENCOURAGE their children to go out into the world and decide for themselves what they believe in and whether they would like to return back to the church. And over 80% do. But the choice HAS to be the child's .. eventually. A young adult cannot stay locked in a tower (figuratively or literally) and be expected to make the kind of choices and be the kind of adult that has a free will and any kind of real influence over even their own lives, beliefs and ideals. And if it takes rebellion to break free and come full circle and find what that individual truly and wholly believes, then I say it served a good purpose.

    Yes, it's hard to kick against the pricks, but sometimes kicking against the pricks is exactly what is necessary to decide whether or not those pricks can hold up when assaulted.

    I've seen this over and over again.. YOU'VE seen it over and over again... only when an individual is set free to choose for themselves is there any true and lasting belief... even if it means leaving the tower.

  5. I guess to be thoroughly clear I want to be sure I express that I am not for rebellion for rebellion's sake. The Little Mermaid? Yeah, a very good example of a bad example. Her father was doing her best by her and she disobeyed him and very well could have ended up killing him, herself, her prince and destroying the whole underworld kingdom and if you read the original tale it doesn't work out so well for her and she ends up committing suicide (in it's original form, The Little Mermaid is quite a depressing and terrifying story about how rebellion DOES NOT pay). Disney was very kind to paint her such a lovely fairy-tale ending.

    However, when someone is rebelling against what is essentially ABUSE, then not only should it be condoned but encouraged.

    If we whittled this blog post down to it's cold hard core you are saying that you will not allow your children to watch a movie about a child who is kidnapped and held hostage by an evil woman who uses the girl for her own desires and the girl eventually gets away and learns the truth. Honestly, that sounds like a story of victory to me.

    There are children in this world who are abused and their parents tell them they are doing the right thing and those children need to know it's not only OKAY to rebel, it's the RIGHT thing.

    The Bible tells wives to submit to their husbands. Does that mean we should not watch movies like "Not Without My Daughter" where a woman marries an Iranian man and is tricked into going to his country where she is abused and finds she cannot take her daughter with her in the event of a divorce and so she is forced to flee the country under threat of death? Again, I'd call that a story of victory where rebellion saved a life (or two).

    Perhaps we should not let our children watch movies of the Revolution because the Bible says we should submit to governmental authority but yet the patriots of the Revolution rebelled against the unfair treatment of their king and formed their own government that we call America today.

    Thank goodness the Bible also makes provisions for those circumstances where it gives strict guidelines for husbands, parents and government and if those guidelines are not being met a punishment is usually dictated. Biblical morality and basic human rights trump what Mommy and Daddy or husbands or government say. If Daddy tells a child to do things no adult should be asked to do I certainly hope that child knows it's okay to rebel. If Mommy tries to keep her child locked in a tower for the entirety of her life so she can posses the girl's "special gift" I would hope that there would be someone there to say, "Hey, this is wrong." When a husband starts to beat his wife there should be something in the back of her head that says, "It's okay to get out now."

    Rebellion should never be painted as "bad" when it comes to escaping abuse.

    My last $.02 on the matter.

  6. I can see where you are coming from. Looking at it as a form of abuse it SHOULD be applauded as a victory. However, with the age group that this movie was targeted at I don't think that it was made clear enough that it was abuse - at least, not from Rapunzel's perspective. I'm really not sure that *most* children would have the discernment to realize that she was escaping from an abusive relationship and not just bucking "Mother's" overprotectiveness;I know that most of the kids I've been around would have completely missed it. Honestly, until you pointed out that it was an abusive relationship I completely missed it. Now maybe that's because I grew up in a secure, loving home...I don't know. Regardless, I still take very strong offense to the "Mother Knows Best" song that I really felt made a mockery of parental authority.
    So, while I appreciate your perspective on the movie, it's still one that my children will not be allowed to watch.

  7. I'm really not trying to get you to change your mind about letting your kids watch the movie. On that note I really don't It's a movie. All of our kids could probably do well with watching a lot less movies to begin with.
    But.. yeah.. of course the song, "Mother Knows Best" is a mockery. That's kind of the point. Mother Gothel was using her stolen status as mother to deceive Rapunzel into thinking she was doing what she was doing out of motherly love instead of out of greed (which is the worst kind of abuse out there!). And ANY child could see that. That was EASILY and BOLDLY displayed on the screen. It was kind of the thrust of the movie.
    You could ask any 3 year old at the end of the movie, "Was Mother Gothel Rapunzel's real Mommy?"
    "Was she a good mommy to Rapunzel?"
    "Was what she was doing to Rapunzel wrong?"

    And, as parents, isn't it our job to point these things out to our children? No, children can't always easily pick up on these things on their own and that is why we, as parents, dialog with our kids about what they are learning through their eyes.

    If you let your kids just "learn" from what they watch, yeah, they are going to pick up different things and maybe miss one thing or another. Just like if you were reading a book to your child and would stop and explain a point you should also be willing to explain a point about a movie.

    The point I would want my child to get out of such a movie (and one I will specifically point out to him) is that some people will lie to you and tell you that they love you and tell you that they are doing what they are doing out of love but it is still wrong and sometimes it's really hard to tell the difference so you can come to us any time and we will help you decide and protect you. And if they they ARE hurting you it's not only okay but it's the RIGHT THING to tell them no and to get away.