Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Empty Space

I can get kind of obsessed by little things.

Something will occur to me once and if the wind is blowing in the right direction, the stars are aligned just right or I've consumed exactly the right amount of sugar it'll stay with me.

Not as a constant presence but as a recurring association.

The most enduring example of which was born when I first watched Inspector Gadget.

Sure I enjoyed the show, but at the back of my mind was one persistent and ever-present question.


Why was she living with her uncle at all? Were they out of the country? Did they die in a car crash? Were they locked in an insane asylum? Did he find her in a box somewhere and forget to turn her in? Were they mad scientists? Was that where the computer book came from?

Even at a young age I could understand that having a niece meant that Inspector could have a young relative following him around with his best interests at heart without having him look like a bad parent.

Later on I also realised it meant the viewer wasn't confronted with the idea of him having Go-Go-Gadget-Sex.

No matter my age, I couldn't shake the question. Where did these missing relatives go and why weren't we told?

That particular focus then transferred itself to the next obvious target: Disney movies.

What happened to Ariel's mother? Did she get caught in a tuna net? Did she get eaten by a shark? Did she squirt out one cloud of eggs too many and fade away?

Did Belle's mother get caught in an invention explosion? Leave her no good, dreamer husband to strike out on her own? Die in childbirth trying to deliver Belle's somewhat less aesthetically pleasing and ultimately doomed sibling?

How did Snow White's mother die? When did her father cark it? Where was the Grand Vizier when you needed someone to point out to the king that maybe this woman was a bit off in the brain-pan and that the king should instead look at this hypnotically glinting jewel?

The only two Disney films I can think of off the top of my head where the protagonist had both parents are The Lion King* and Mulan.

I know there are others, Sleeping Beauty for instance, where the parents exist but are removed to let the kids run around doing their own thing in a watered down sugar-coated bildungsroman.

Because apparently Disney didn't think that having your parents save you is as awesome as having some random dude do it.

To which I have a one word rebuttal: Taken**.

I know these characters are left out or side-lined to make the story simpler and make it somewhat more believable that the protagonist would end up running around by themselves but unfortunately for me, it hasn't worked.

I will spend my entire life watching the characters who don't appear in movies.

Which is OK.

Some of the missing pieces have an interest all of there own.

*Well, at least for a while. Depressing...

**Oh, also The Mummy Returns***

***Shut up, you loved it****.

****And by you, I mean me******.

******So shut up!


Anonymous said...

Is there some weird time difference here? Everytime I look at your blog there is a few months delay. If it is actually December then warn Japan! There's going to be an earthquake in March!

However I have also noted the lack of parental guidance in Disney films, probably because most of the animators/writers had overbearing parents and if the characters had both parents (or any parents) they wouldn't start out on any adventures as they would have to stay in and clean the rug.

Lilo & Stich (my favourite) is the only one that comes to mind where the missing parents are actually addressed.

Ricochet said...

Man, I wish that was the explanation, I would superhero the hell out of the last few months if I could travel time :-P
Actual explanation incoming.

Hey yeah, I'd forgotten about Lilo & Stitch. I think Disney is more open to letting characters have those sort of conversations now seeing as these are things we actually talk over with kids.
The idea that you might start a conversation with a child 'You know your friend Marcie's parents have died... What does that mean? Well you remember Lilo & Stitch?' kinda weirds me out though.
Just because I know at that age the message I'd take away from that is that my friend Marcie is about to get an alien.