29 November 2005

Update: In Which a Little Chicken Is Eaten, and Chicken Little is Dissected

Hi, yes, it's been a while. We celebrated Thanksgiving with ...uh, CHICKEN and all the trimmings. We have a teeny, tiny oven, small even by German standards. Only one rack, too, so only one thing can cook at a time. I looked at the small-ish turkeys in the commissary, but was not sure if one would fit. So we had roasted chicken. Gluten-free stuffing cooked in the Crock Pot (which tasted a lot better than it sounds). Mashed potatoes, corn. I had cranberry sauce. Katrina tried it and made a face, and Jon doesn't like it. Other traditional dishes were nixed because (1) of lack of space; or (2) I'm allergic; or (3) Jon doesn't like them. So no sweet potatoes and apples (my family) or five-cup salad (Jon's family) or green bean casserole (both families, but those french-fried onions are not gluten-free).

So, a simple Thanksgiving, then a matinee movie of Chicken Little. Which, eh. Not that great. And Katrina wanted to know where Chicken Little's mom was (dead). I wimped out, given that it was in the middle of the movie when she asked, and said that I didn't know. I could go on a long rant here about how parents--fathers in particular--are portrayed in children's stories and movies, but suffice it to say that (1) the mom was dead; and (2) the dad was a bumbling idiot who didn't support his son. Sad to say that this seems to be typical in the kids movies and fairy tales I've seen. The Disney princess movies that Katrina is so fond of...the mom is always dead or not seen. The Little Mermaid, Cinderella (we already know Cinderella is an orphan, but the Disney Prince? has only a--you guessed it--bumbling father played for comic effect), Beauty and the Beast (the dad is a bumbler, there, too), Aladdin (the dad gets hypnotized by the bad guy), Snow White. I suppose children who have two living, loving parents don't go on adventures? I haven't seen the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty yet, but that is the only fairy tale I've read to Katrina so far where the main character has two living parents. I know, at the time when most fairy tales were written, people died younger, more women died in childbirth, etc. Still...couldn't Chicken Little have a mom? Is it too much to ask of a movie who changes a simple little story into a movie complete with dodgeball, high school romance, and an alien invasion? Oh, wait, I said I wasn't going on a long rant. OK, just a medium-sized one.

Friday we drove to Middelburg in The Netherlands to visit Jon's "second mom," Jelly. (The family he stayed with as an exchange student in high school.) It was a good visit. It was the first time she had met Katrina, who called her Oma Jelly ("Oma" being "Grandma" in Dutch). The two of them got on well, too. Katrina was especially charmed with the PINK dollbaby that Jelly gave her. She's been sleeping with it. Jelly has not been in good health, so she was not sure until a week or two before whether she would be up for company. So we feel lucky that she felt well enough in time for our long weekend.

Today is picture day at preschool! But we won't get the pictures until Dec.15, a bit too late to put in Christmas cards. Well, in Christmas cards that would actually arrive before Christmas, which is not always a given for us, anyway. Christmas cards that arrive the week after Christmas: It's a small niche, but it's ours!


Matt said...

From an online biography of Walt Disney:

"Probably the most painful time of Walt's private life, was the accidental death of his mother in 1938. After the great success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt and Roy bought their parents, Elias and Flora Disney, a home close to the studios. Less than a month later Flora died of asphyxiation caused by a faulty furnace in the new home. The terrible guilt of this haunted Walt for the rest of his life."

I've heard this is the reason for all the missing mothers in Disney movies. It smells like an urban legend, but I couldn't find any debunking of it after a quick check.

Of course this happened after Snow White... did Snow White's mom die?

Wendy said...

But, a lot of the fairy tales were not written by Disney - many of the early ones were Grimm's Fairy Tales. Snow White's stepmother was the evil Queen that poisoned her with the apple.

Jennifer said...

True, Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty are Grimm's fairy tales. The Little Mermaid is Hans Christian Anderson (I can't remember much about the original except that it did not end happily--the mermaid died and became sea foam). So the lack of mothers in Disney movies is probably due more to the source material than to Walt. (Although one could argue about why those particular stories were chosen to retell.)

Actually, what is more annoying to me is the treatment of fathers in the media, and not just in kids shows, either. The father is usually bumbling, incompetent, played for laughs. Look at popular sitcoms...the competent parent is always the mother. The funnyman is nearly always the father. Everybody Loves Raymond is the only one I can think of offhand that was relatively evenhanded.

By the way, I read the Grimms' Cinderella ("Aschenputtel") in German the last time I tried to learn it, and it was way harsher than the Disney-fied versions. The stepsisters get their eyes plucked out by birds as they walk in Aschenputtel's wedding procession.