13 April 2011

Adoption-Related Themes in Disney Movies

I found an interesting article on Adoptive Families Circle. It specifically focuses on the new Disney movie "Tangled", which I have not seen yet. I don't yet have a little girl that demands to see every princess movie. Honestly, I hope I never do. I grew up watching them and I have to say they gave me quite a twisted view of love and the world. But all little girls love princess movies. While we're on the subject, I'll mention that I'm disappointed in the sleeveless, strapless, scoop-backed dress Tiana from The Princess and the Frog wears. I just don't care for Disney princesses. I hope my little girl(s) won't be too drawn to them. Though I'm sure they will. Anyway, here's part of the article:

"...I actually don't hate having my daughters watch those Disney princesses quite as much as I thought I would, back before I became a parent and thought only about the negative effects they might have on girls. Rapunzel, in her Tangled reincarnation, is spunky, smart, and, well, fun. Not such a bad role model, all in all.

"Mother Gothel is another story. You know, Mother Gothel, the one who steals Rapunzel from her real parents and raises Rapunzel, who all the while believes that Mother Gothel is her true parent. This raises a huge red flag for me, even though my girls have yet to notice any parallels between this fiction and our own decision to adopt. Jeremiah, I suspect, thinks that I'm overreacting. Although I got teary at the depiction of Rapunzel's birthparents, the King and Queen, releasing a lantern each year in memory of their lost daughter, I'm much more concerned with the depiction of the adoptive mother, who, in this case, is completely evil.

"I know this isn't an adoption movie. It's a story about a girl who is stolen and who fights to return to her roots. But there are similarities between the Tangled story and our family's adoption journey, and I have no idea how to explain the nuances in these differences to any of our three children (our two daughters and the son we're waiting to bring home from Korea), if and when they start to notice.

"Rapunzel isn't the only Disney princess who is raised by someone other than her birthparents. Setting aside the many, many princesses with deceased mothers and single fathers, there is Sleeping Beauty, for example, who is raised by her three fairy aunts when her birthparents decide they aren't able to safely parent her because of the threats of an evil fairy in the kingdom. This story doesn't worry me—at least, not as much—because Sleeping Beauty's story is, by and large, a pretty happy adoption-type story. Rapunzel's story, which ends with the death of Mother Gothel and Rapunzel's return to her birthparents, is much more violent and upsetting...."
To read the article in it's entirety click here.

There are some very interesting comments on this article. I just have to quote a bit of one:
Anastasia (orphan girl grows up, learns she was Russian royalty, and finds her grandmother)
Angels in the Outfield
(boy in foster care deals with his biological father giving up his parental rights, but ends up being adopted by baseball coach)
Barbie’s Island Princess
(separated from her family by shipwreck, Rosella grows up with forest friends, but ultimately finds her human mother, a Queen)
(father dies, leaving her to cruel step-family, fairy Godmother helps her meet the prince, and she leaves her step-family to marry her love)
(baby boy stolen from natural parents/gods, “adopted” by normal earth parents, reconnects with his biological parents, but chooses to remain mortal)
Jungle Book
(orphaned baby boy adopted by wolves, then rejoins human village)
Meet the Robinsons
(orphan boy goes into the future, seeing the family who will one day adopt him)
Pete’s dragon
(orphan boy adopted by cruel family, rescued by dragon, then finds new family to adopt him)
Prince of Egypt
(based on biblical story of Moses – baby adopted by Pharoah, then as an adult he learns of his true roots and leaves, later connects with his biological siblings and ends up having to fight his adoptive brother to free his people)
(orphan girl is kidnapped, rescued by mice, then adopted)
Snow White
(evil step-mother tries to kill the princess, she escapes to live with 7 dwarfs, step-mother dies, & Snow White is rescued by her Prince)
(orphaned baby boy adopted by gorillas, meets Jane, and together they choose to stay with Tarzan’s gorilla family)"

So, I still want to see it because almost everyone says it's a great movie, but I don't think we'll be buying it. You know, just in case. That is until my little princess demands it, huh?

I repeat the questions in the article: Have any of you had experiences with adoption in children's media with negative associations? If so, how have you handled it?

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  1. I don't think that Tangled has anything to do with adoption. I can see where she is coming from, but Mother Gothel KIDNAPPED her, not adopted her. I don't see her as an adoptive mom, and I don't think kids would either.
    I love the adoption part of Tarzan, and the song "You'll be in my heart" so sweet.

  2. I have yet to see it, but I can see where you're coming from. Makes sense to me. I love "You'll Be In My Heart" too. Holds special meaning for my family. It's used in our first daughter's life video. http://youtu.be/og7gH91l-sE

  3. I was more worried about the long golden hair affecting my daughter's self esteem. That is one movie that we won't own.

  4. I agree with Kira. There is a HUGE difference between adoption and kidnapping...so I really don't think its a problem.

  5. Well that sure makes sense! I still have yet to see it, but I think I would agree.

  6. Another movie to add to the list is Hotel For Dogs. It highlights fostering and transracial adoption. Being that my husband and I foster, I was not too fond of the way the foster parents were portrayed, but the movie was good with a very sweet ending. Definitely one to screen though before you let your children watch it.

  7. I haven't heard of it yet. Thanks!


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