“Now shut up before I slap you silly!”
That’s the sentence. The one that turned my attention from laundry folding (well, I don’t really fold – it’s more like tossing of clothes into separate baskets designated with each child’s name). All the same, it was the “Now shut up before I slap you silly!” sentence that lured me from my task and beckoned me to have a seat next to my five year old. He was watching a movie – a DISNEY movie … a classic … a show that I, and possibly you, watched dozens of times as a child and never so much as got a second look from an adult – let a lone a screening. And so I sat. And I watched as a cartoon “child” was locked into a bird cage and taunted and threatened by an overweight gypsy. (And for those of you that are thinking it was Hansel and Gretel, it was not. That was Grimm, not Disney.)
As the movie continued and my adult mind wandered through assorted analogies, I began to wonder, possibly to deeply, about what the hell I was really watching. I mean maybe all the symbolism I was clued into didn’t really exist. Maybe my 21st century brain was making it all up. Maybe the 1940’s film just appeared laced with unpleasant imagery because I was watching it in 2011. (Yes, this post was originally written two years ago.)
Maybe. BUT. There was Pleasure Island – a place where all boys could go and enjoy gambling, smoking, getting drunk and destroying property without any real significant repercussion – unless you call making a jackass of yourself and then turning into a real donkey only to be sold to work in circuses and salt mines, a repercussion. (DON’T DO IT … it’s hard to resist, I know, but don’t skip ahead to the part where I reveal which movie I am referring – major Kudos if you’ve already figured it out!)
In all of Walt’s classic movies there is a moral lesson being delivered … (although I’m still not sure what we were suppose to have learned from the beginning scene in Bambi) … although harsh by many standards, still the lessons depicted in this hour long feature – as well as other Disney movies – are lessons worth heeding:
“If you fart around and waste your life now, then you’ll be a jackass working in the salt mines as an adult.” A fate, unfortunately, that some children unknowingly and unthinkingly choose.
“A stupid kid can grow into a wise adult. However, a stupid adult usually stays stupid.” So give a kid a break and help them make the right choices now, before it’s too late.
All lessons and jackasses aside, I think, that after watching this beautifully restored copy of Carlo Collodi’s novel, that I agree with the folks at The Journal of Cartoon Overanalyzations (yes, it really exists, click this link) in that perhaps The Adventures of Pinocchio would be better suited for a high school career planning class than for a five year old. Maybe then there’d be less jackasses roaming free … at least that’s my take. What do you think?