I recently saw the latest Pixar movie Coco with my wife.
I found the movie to be a refreshing contrast from the normal deluge of anti-male Disney propaganda.
The protagonist is a 12-year old boy (I know, shocker) who grows up in an oppressive matriarchy. The boy wants to be a musician like his great-grandfather, but his grandmother says his grandfather was a bad man who abandoned his family. And to make sure the family is never hurt again, she forbids any enjoyment of music.
But the boy cannot suppress his gift/love for music and continues to secretly practice his guitar.
Then, through a series of events, he ends up being sucked into the “Land of the Dead” where he goes on a quest to find the truth about his great-grandfather.
I won’t give any spoilers, but the resolution was refreshingly pro-male (or at least not anti-male) and pro-family.
This got me thinking…
Most Disney movies follow some variation of the “follow your heart” theme.
It seems that, in most stories, when a boy “follows his heart” it usually involves something like finding the truth about a missing father or ancestor, finding a lost treasure, doing something risky to save others, etc.
But when a girl “follows her heart” it typically involves rebelling against her parents and seeking a high-status position that is normally occupied by men.
This got me wondering if it would be possible to have a story structure that had the same appeal of Disney movies, but without the feminist rebellion theme.
I think it is possible, and it might look something like this:
- A child (boy or girl) has a unique gift that makes him/her different or is slow to “come of age” like the rest of the children
- The child faces ridicule and other difficulties due to being different from everyone else
- The parents (and particularly the father) help the child come to terms with his/her identity
- The child faces a test of courage
- The child passes the test and contributes to the greater good of the community.
I think stories like that would be just as compelling, if not more so, then the normal deluge of “girl power” narratives. And it would place the parents in an honorable role without making the story boring and devoid of drama.
Just some thoughts. Maybe one day the Disney empire will finally crumble and children’s movies can be redeemed…