Monday, January 7, 2013

How I Got it All Wrong or, Pocahontas

Last night my kid watched the movie Pocahontas, the Disney version. She came across it by accident, on Netflix, as I surely would have never chosen that film to show her.
Yup, gorgeous. But real? I don't think so.

Why not?

Well, let's start with the serious disregard of history, plus the demeaning of a princess's act of kindness and courage turned into a ploy to save her boyfriend. Plus - a one-shoulder dress that just happens to showcase the girl's body .... mutter.... Lovely though she is, and I do think that Pocahontas is one of the prettiest Disney Princesses ever, the movie was on my Do Not Watch Ever list.

The real Pocahontas, in England. OK, girlfriend was still gorgeous.

My kid loved it. LOVED it.

I mean, she kept stopping the film to research what really happened, plus she couldn't wait to find out the end. I've tried to get her interested in the Disney Princesses, to no avail, and it just figures that the one I never showed her captured her interest.

So, Mom is being all PC, and kid is simply enjoying a movie.

There are some things I can take away from this:

1. Kids love history and facts. Once I told my daughter, "Parts of this actually happened" she was enthralled. While I was all excited about Tangled, she was more interested in finding out about Captain John Smith (who did not look like that in real life, FYI, kid.)

2. Kids are going to love what they love, and parents simply can't stop that. Sure, I can provide guidance along the way, but at the end of the day Miss Thing is her own person.

3. My daughter was critical of the music in the movie. "Look, mommy - now even the willow is singing." Not every movie has to be eventually turned into a stage musical, Disney.
What Captain John Smith really looked like. That's very different, now, isn't it.

4. MUST POCAHONTAS HAVE A PERFECT MODEL'S MOUTH AS WELL AS LONG LEGS AND HAIR DOWN TO HER BUTT? REALLY? REALLY? AND HE HAS A CLEFT CHIN AND BLUE EYES.... argh - Obviously, I still have issues with this movie. Does that mean I forbid my daughter's watching it? In the end, I have to say No. Hopefully, I can provide some real historical content soon.

5. *SPOILER ALERT* The ending is really, really sad. No, I'm not talking about the movie - I'm talking about what happened for centuries afterwards. That's the main reason why I didn't want to watch Pocahontas - it makes me too depressed.

Still - back to the main point - my kid really, really loved it. And that, I suppose, is all.


Connie J Jasperson said...

You did the best thing by letting her enjoy the fantasy and then allowing her to find the truth on her own.

Alison DeLuca said...

Thanks. It was a kick to see how involved she became in the plot, although Momma seriously had to watch her mouth.

Johanna Garth said...

My daughter reviled the Disney princesses, but I remember a close friend's daughter having a deep and emotional connection with this movie. We discussed it over coffee AT LENGTH and covered a lot of the same issues you brought up today.

Alison DeLuca said...

Whew, I'm not the only one! Thanks so much, Johanna. I don't want to be that overly PC mom, but at the same time - a little historical accuracy would be nice!

Unknown said...

That's how Aidan was about Lincoln. I think they are entering "biography" phase, where kids love reading about real people. We should visit the Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian when we finally go down there. It is IMO the most stunning architecture of the lot, and she can see a lot of full-sized artifacts from a way of life stolen away. Plus, really good restaurant. Try her on some other bios. Our school used to have a great line.

Alison DeLuca said...

I'm so in for that!

karastewart said...

I 2nd and 3rd what Lesley said. I never let my kids watch this because it IS so not accurate. Daughter may have seen it at a friend's house, not sure. But they know that that's not real history or 'real' Indians. So the challenge is to get them the real info. to counteract what is put out there.

Krista McLaughlin said...

Kids like what they wanna like - so true. We try to change their opinions, but we can only do so much. I've never really cared for that movie either, since John Smith was kinda an a-hole in real life, but she is super pretty. And her pet raccoon is awesome.

Alison DeLuca said...

Kara, I was thinking of you as I wrote this blog. I felt that if I "forbid" it, the movie would become an issue - better to confront it head on with my daughter and let us move together, as a team, to research the real Pocahontas and her history. Did I do the right thing? Who knows.

karastewart said...

Al, I think that is absolutely the right thing to do. Watch it together. Write down your points of where you know it isn't accurate, point them out, then have her (and you together) research what the facts are. I didn't want mine to watch it bc for us, it is more than the facts - it is the identity issue of Indian children who don't look Indian and pounding that in to them (that Indians should look like the Hollywood stereotype - we all do not and never have. Myth.)