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I emailed some folks, but here for the record, Miss E did not have anything dire when I flew home on the Red Eye from Tucson via LAX at the beginning of the month. The doctor and nurse were unimpressed, in fact. Where I was terrified that I would turn on my phone in VA and discover that she was in an emergency room, she was actually on the mend. Her fever wasn't fully gone until Wednesday so, yes, I had to come home early because she stayed home another two days and Weatherdude needed to go back to his office after being at home an entire week. We're not sure what it was. It wasn't strep. The official opinion is that something viral was going around that caused fever and swollen nodes under the jaw. And guess what? She had it again over Thanksgiving. While I was at Philcon, she developed the same symptoms again, leading to a cancellation of our annual trip to Nahant for Thanksgiving. The fever wasn't fully gone until Thursday and we've been recuperating since then. But we were all content to have a relaxing time here without much fuss, though I did make cranberry jelly (twice) to go with 3lbs of turkey breast (twice). Miss E is rarely ill, so I hope this is the end of it for this year. Meanwhile, the upcoming week is filled with various doctor appointments and she's none too happy about that.

Yesterday, we finally went out. We went to see "Tangled" the new Disney movie that's a riff on Rapunzel. And what a riff it is. As a fairy tale fanatic, I was pleased with the depth of the interpretation and the symbolism. And I'm usually not all that pleased with Disney's take on some of my favorite stories. The witch is not a witch at all, she's a crone. And as a near-crone myself, I was delighted. She was selfish and vain and desperate to stay young forever. She tried to keep Rapunzel innocent and isolated from the world for her own ends. Gee, there's no metaphorical meaning to this, is there?

Unfortunately, they did too good a job with her character. She terrified Miss E to the point where she had trouble sleeping last night. As I watched the film, that was exactly what I was concerned about. She sings "Mother Knows Best" and acts for all the world like a parent to Rapunzel. My heart skipped a beat seeing that, wondering how Miss E would interpret it. So many of the lines and actions required subtlety to see the difference between true parental discipline and the wrongful actions of a selfish woman. And then, when her 'Dorian Gray' youthfulness is threatened by Rapunzel's jump to freedom and YA independence, she takes out a knife. She seeks to use violence to control a situation that has already gone out of her control. (No metaphor there, either.) Not violence against Rapunzel, of course. She needs her alive and under her thumb. But Miss E was terrified by this image of a knife-wielding mother figure. And it's all very well to say that Miss E knew all along that she wasn't Rapunzel's mother, but the movie didn't play her as out and out evil. Maleficent is out and out evil. Cinderella's stepmother is evil, not a nice bone in her body toward Cinderella. Ursula, the Sea Witch is powerful and evil. But 'mother' as she's referred to? She's selfish and vain and afraid to grow old...until she picks up that knife. She actually, in a selfish way, cares about Rapunzel. Rapunzel has everything she could want, isn't a slave in any way. She's happy in her tower until she grows up and wants to leave the nest, as children do.

I had to climb into bed with Miss E last night and talk her to sleep because she was afraid that the 'witch' was under her bed with a knife. I explained what a crone is. I explained what the fairy tale trope is all about. I explained that no one will ever do that to her, try to keep her from realizing her full potential. I explained that the old woman wasn't a witch, she didn't do any magic, she was just a woman who was afraid to grow old, who tried to hold onto her youth. (again, no metaphor there, is there?) I explained that Miss E is surrounded by women who aren't afraid to age and by women who want her to become independent and strong, realize her potential. (I still had a few issues with the Disney movie as a feminist, but not as many as I usually do.) I explained that Miss E is guarded by good karma at Walkabout Farm, that karma is my magic and I spread it as far and wide as I can, even while admitting my own imperfections. And that I hoped she would learn to work the same kind of magic when she grew up.

She fell asleep (I have a soporific voice), but this morning she was still afraid that a knife-wielding crone was under her bed and climbed out over the end of it instead. I told her this was a time-honored tradition. I had alligators under mine for years and would take a running jump to get into my bed at night. But I did explain that once the sun was up and one could switch on one's light, well, these monsters under the bed can't stand light. She says she's not sure she wants to own a copy of the movie when it comes out on DVD. Too scary. We'll see. She just finished the first Harry Potter book, old enough for it at long last and then watched the movie from start to finish. Miss E has her mother's wickedly strong imagination, I think, and that means 'scary' things are only too real, they're not fun at all.

One high point in the movie is Maximus the horse. Miss E and I laughed at him, but for different reasons. She found him funny in a slap-stick kind of way. He's a white horse and I kept seeing a Lipizzan, courtesy of the horses at DHF. He was something of a cross between Khepera the clown and Pooka the stallion, with some of Camilla thrown in for good measure. He was clever and silly and devoted to what he saw as his job, catching the bad guy, and loyal to the palace guards. But when an unknown young woman talked to him, he melted into a puddle. Oh yeah. Someone who knows a thing or two about horses wrote that part.

Thumbs up for Tangled if you're a fairy tale nut like I am. One of Disney's better efforts.

Frog Out



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 28th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
It *is* Zachary Levi of "Chuck!" He did a voiceover on a Chuck episode advertising it and that made going to see it this weekend that much more fun. He does an excellent job; it's not Chuck and if I hadn't known I might have gone "who did that, it sounds familiar?"

And yes, you'll love Maximus the horse. And I hope you'll enjoy the crone aspects as well. The music is catchy, the composer of their best modern work, whats-his-name.
Nov. 28th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
I took Paidhi Boy to see Tangled yesterday. We'd seen a preview when we'd gone to see Megamind (not half bad, I enjoyed it) and he said he thought it looked like something he wanted to see.

Anyway. I had the same thoughts, wondering how he would interpret the whole Mother Knows Best thing--adults can see, as you say, the nuance there, but it's a bit harder for kids.

I had to climb into bed with Miss E last night and talk her to sleep because she was afraid that the 'witch' was under her bed with a knife.

Poor Miss E! We had a similar experience with Spiderman 3, including the emphatic statement that we ought not buy the DVD. When the DVD came out, Paidhi Boy asked us weren't we buying one already? And then he watched it over several times, in a very short span of time. It hasn't been near the player for a while, but I gather he worked out the thing that had been bothering him that way. I don't know if Miss E will go that route, but it strikes me as a possibility. It might work to rent it, and let her watch it once on a computer or TV screen, where it's smaller and less threatening, and more manageable, if she's up for that.

I liked it better than most Disney, too. And Maximus was very funny, though not knowing Lippizaners I thought of dogs, especially the "Sit. Sit!" and then "Drop it. Drooop it!"

I'd been worried they'd made it all about the prince (who of course isn't a prince here, but you know what I mean) in an effort to Appeal To Boys, but I felt they did a decent job of making it both of them, so that was a pleasant surprise.
Nov. 28th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
I think you're right about the DVD and we'll probably start with it via Netflix.

Yes, they used a lot of dog images for Maximus and dogs aren't like horses, but he had a lot of 'connection' and intelligence and that's all Lipizzan. I saw Toy Story 3 this weekend on DVD and Woody's horse Bullseye doesn't come across quite the same way as Maximus does with his sense of his duty and position as a palace guard horse.

Miss E can't even imagine watching Spiderman, though she's quite fond of Teen Titans and some fairly sophisticated and violent cartoons on Cartoon Network that make me roll my eyes.

My biggest gripe is that the women in these cartoons squeal and scream when threatened, whether or not they fight back. And when Rapunzel squealed when she hit Eugene the first time, I was ready to walk out. But she showed a great deal of self-awareness in later scenes and kept her cool and used her hair in innovative ways to get them out of tight corners. All in all, they did a decent job of portraying her as competent in her own right. And Eugene redeemed his earlier self with his sacrifice. I didn't quite see it coming (because it was Disney), but I approved in terms of plot resolution.

And the constant slapstick between Eugene and Maximus kept us laughing harder than the stuff with the chameleon did.
Nov. 28th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
My biggest gripe is that the women in these cartoons squeal and scream when threatened, whether or not they fight back.

No joke, this is why Tangled is the first Disney movie I've ever taken them to. They've only seen Disney at their Grandparents' house otherwise. This one, I thought did a fairly good job, considering. I mean, it wouldn't win Ann's Ultimate Ideal of Feminist Filmmaking Award, but I'll take what I can get. I also liked the fact that, at the end, it's implied/stated that it's Rapunzel who's going to be ruling the kingdom, and it wasn't the marriage that got her there, either.

We liked both the chameleon and Maximus! But Maximus was pretty awesome, and yeah, the interaction there was very funny.

The thing that got Paidhi boy about Spiderman was mostly that he hadn't seen enough of that sort of thing to realize that no matter what, Spiderman would always win. So it got to the big climactic fight and he was really upset that Spiderman would lose. And I leaned over and said "First off, Spiderman always wins. And second, Harry will come help him." And of course Harry came, and of course--why had I not seen this coming? I should have--Harry dies.

And then it became clear that even though Paidhi boy knew on an intellectual level that movies were pretend, he just could not bring himself to believe that Harry wasn't real and wasn't really dead because he'd seen him die right there, and seen him buried! We had a long talk about how actors get paid to pretend stories, and how those actors had shot those scenes and then said "What fun that was! Let's go home and have supper!" and then gone on to do other movies. And he knew that, but...on the big screen, it had been so real. We got home and I pulled the people up on imdb to show him. And he said, he understood now, but he did not want the DVD.

Every now and then, when we see even an innocuous live-action movie, I say something about how the actors must have been having a great time pretending the story, just, you know, so it stays there, because I'm sure there'll be another one like Spiderman 3.
Nov. 28th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
I think the kids who suffer the most from scary movies are the ones with a strong creative streak. Of course, I might think that because I woke up screaming after seeing the PG-13 movie version of Roald Dahl's WITCHES— and I was in my 40's! Seriously, it's why I try not to watch horror movies or read horror novels. Has Miss E read or seen CORALINE? I can foresee the same problem— the creepy mother-figure. She sure scared me.

Glad to hear Disney pulled off a non-50's princess plot. I liked MULAN, too, and my daughter liked it a lot. Do kids still watch that one?

Nov. 28th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
I think that the horse in this movie is also based on the horse of Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty. Very much his own kind of hero.
Nov. 28th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
I had alligators under mine for years

Tick! Tick! Tick!
Nov. 29th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)
Miss E has her mother's wickedly strong imagination, I think, and that means 'scary' things are only too real, they're not fun at all.

I had the same problem with my sons' vivid imaginations. But then I was weird and read them things like LOTR as a bedtime story (when their ages ranged from 9-12); it took six months. And after reading about the Dark Riders, they had serious problems with monsters under the bed. "Monster Spray" helped, which is easily made out of any air freshener spray can.

The kids are all LOTR fans now. When the first movie came out, we sat there gripping each other's hands--white knuckled--breathing, "I hope they get the Balrog right!"
Nov. 29th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I wasn't particularly interested in Tangled, but now you've convinced me it's something I want to see!

I remember being terrified of the fight scene in the Secret of Nihm the first time I saw it, and it's the first movie I remember scaring me. Fast forward a bit, and it became my favorite movie. Fast forward a bit more, and I was begging my mom to let me watch Psycho.
Dec. 23rd, 2010 03:43 am (UTC)
Princess Problems
I hadn't really given much thought to any princess problems, since I have a son, but I did read something that caught my eye last week. On some blog, a woman was complaining that all the girls in the class wanted to grow up to be a princess, but the boys in the class had no interest in being princes. Since I've got no philosophical problem with promoting traditional gender roles, I decided I will do my small part to even out this societal imbalance by encouraging my baby W to emulate princely behavior whenever possible. Since he's got neither a steed nor a castle and is not yet of marriageable age, I think I'll focus on training him to come to the aid of whatever damsel is squealing in distress, I gather that's the main responsibility. We don't get a ton of visitors out here on the farm, so I'm the main damsel, but since W is frequently the *cause* of my distress I don't know how this experiment will work. . .
Dec. 23rd, 2010 11:15 am (UTC)
Re: Princess Problems
How nice to see you! Hello! :::Air Kisses:::

Happy to hear that W is causing you distress, that's his primary job. He can practice coming to your rescue and finding that you are competent and have taken care of things on your own. Or you can make him an anomaly and let him rescue damsels, as you said. Some woman will be very pleased that he toils to provide her with her own castle and keeps the creditor-wolves from the door.

Most of the girls in E's class have no interest in being princesses, if they ever did. One likes to fish with her Dad. Another has a horse of her own. But right now, all of them are annoyed by the boys, as E is. Mildly, because E admits the boys in her class are pretty decent compared to the boys in her last class. This will change, I'm sure.

Happy holidays from Almost West Virginia.

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )