As a "giant statue" in the entertainment industry for young children, Walt Disney has maintained and promoted traditional values through fairy tales and old romance stories with happy and bright ending for decades. Love, happiness, courage, sacrifice, sympathy..., Disney has gradually brought these values into the film and partly influenced many generations of childhood. Moreover, Disney has incorporated into its films contemporary social phenomena or trends, with powerful and thought-provoking messages for parents if they have the opportunity to watch movies with their children. One of these messages was the image of a father and the father-son relationship in many Disney movies, which if you have seen them, it would not be difficult for viewers to recognize.
After the Cold War, the United States developed strongly in terms of the economic and social factors. But like other developed countries, the United States also faces a number of social problems, which includes the trends and divorce rates. Pressure in high-tech life, changing views on feminism, relationship between men and women in society... are some of the reasons contributing to this social trend. Divorce laws have become more liberal since the 1970s, which has skyrocketed the divorce rate, which according to statistics from the U.S. Census Commission, has skyrocketed in the last decades. The law favors the mother who has custody of the child and the father who bears the alimony responsibilities. However, for different reasons in each family, many fathers raise their children by themselves, playing both the roles of parents. This is a difficulty, especially for single fathers raising daughters, which requires delicate behaviors in shaping their personality and psychophysiology while as a mother, it would be easier rather than providing care or guidance. In addition, the mother's role also changes as she begins to participate in society more equally. The mother also goes to work and requires the father to take care of children and share responsibility of taking care of the children or everything in the family, and thinking about the responsibility for his children. And this is when Disney deliberately enters this phenomenon, through cartoons or fairy tales that seems to be exclusively for children. A lot of Disney's movies don't feature the mother at all. Or are distantly metaphorically dead, or died in some accident or murdered right in the movie. Disney builds the image of a father, through many different personalities, and it especially emphasizes the relationship between father and daughter.
King Triton, Ariel and Queen Athena
The Little Mermaid, based on Hans Andersen's fairy tale, is one of the pioneers of this trend. The film portrays a strict, authoritative and commanding father, King Triton. For him, the mermaid Ariel and his daughters, despite his great fortune, the troubles happened since the Queen was killed by pirates. He became strict with his children and brought the Aquarium life to him. He ruled to become quiet, melancholy, when even music was forbidden. This is the type of father who has always been with the command "No", regardless of what he thought or wanted from his children. But Ariel was an unruly Full Moon Princess, always yearning for a free life on the shore. While the sisters were always afraid, submitting to their strict father, Ariel always had arguments against her father. King Triton considered humans a dangerous species to prevent his children from going to the surface. But then he still couldn't hold Ariel, when he once snuck out of the water, saved his life and fell in love with Prince Eric-Prince of the human world. Eric did not know the face of the person who saved him, but he only knew that it was a young girl with a beautiful and seductive singing voice. Then the love between the little Mermaid Ariel and Prince Eric also experienced turbulent dangers, when the witch Ursula stole Ariel's voice, transformed into a girl with Ariel's voice to deceive Eric and then kidnaped Ariel too. King Triton sacrificed his throne in exchange for his daughter's freedom. Eric, when he realized Ariel was the one who saved his life, he helped to drive away the witch Ursula, and saved the Aquarium from destruction. Returning to the throne, King Triton realized the intense love of his daughter and the human Prince, he used his power to transform Ariel into the person that he married Prince Eric. King Triton has been a model of a father who was strict and aloof, but also sacrificed everything, putting aside his framed thoughts to help his daughter move towards a free sky and choose her happiness in life.
In the movie Beauty and the Beast released a couple of years later, Disney nested in a classic fairy tale familiar to generations, another touching story of father and son. Bella was a young girl who lost her mother, living with her father's boundless love, no less than Bella's love for her father. Contrary to King Triton, the father Maurice in Beauty and the Beast was a poor father but he was full of love and affection for his daughter. In one time straying into the castle of a Prince who was under a curse in the form of a beast, the father was imprisoned. Bella went to find her father and agreed to be the captive in place of her father's freedom. When Maurice was on his way back to rescue his daughter, he was in danger in the deep forest and the Beast agreed to let Bella go to save her father. Once he has fallen in love with Bella with the hope that Bella would help him neutralize it. The curse would return to humans when a certain young woman uttered words of love to her. When the village boys attack the castle and the Beast was injured, seemingly desperate, Bella appeared. Touched by the Beast's love and sacrifice that he had to suffer, Bella returned to the castle to whisper her love confession. The prince, his servants, and the cursed castle came to life, returning to human form. The film ended with her father and servants happily watching Bella dance with the Prince. Contrary to the authority, discipline, and prohibition of his father King Triton in The Little Mermaid, Maurice in Beauty and the Beast was an idyllic father who completely let his daughter lead his love. Both love and the willingness to sacrifice for their children would be going further, Beauty and the Beast promoted a more positive parent-child relationship. When Bella herself as the child was willing to make sacrifices, facing the danger and difficulty to rescue his father, a more complete and meaningful father-son love appeared.
The affectionate father-son relationship between Bella and Maurice in Beauty and the Beast
In a number of other later films, the father-daughter relationship is also depicted boldly or silently throughout the film. It is the story of Chief Powhatan with his daughter Pocahontas who lost her mother in the movie of the same name. Pocahontas overcame her father's prohibition, when she fell in love with the white captain in the crew searching for a new land. The film also had intense conflicts, there were sacrifices of fatherhood, but more than that, Pocahontas played an important role as a mediator in the conflict between his father's tribe and the white people.
Chief Powhatan with his daughter Pocahontas
Or is it the story of Princess Jasmine in the movie Aladin when the king's father Sultan allowed Jasmin to marry his chosen one, Aladin. All these movies with happy-endings not only promoted the father-son relationship, but also sent messages about the freedom and choice of children as adults.
Jasmin and his father Sultan
More touching about the father-daughter relationship, the movie Finding Nemo is attractive and well-received in recent times. Nemo was also a baby fish that has lost its mother and lived with its father. Marlin's father was a father who wholeheartedly cared and protected his only child, since Nemo's mother was killed by a fisherman, as well as doubting his son's ability because Nemo was a crippled baby fish. The distraught image of the father Marlin when Nemo was caught by the divers on the ship, as well as during the dangerous journey of finding his son to Australia, created many emotions for viewers, not only children. Nemo plans to escape, reuniting with his father. On the way home, despite hesitation, Marlin allowed the brave and smart Nemo to rescue his friend from the fishing net. Marlin is a model of a father who is too loving and overprotective for his children, doubting his children's abilities and maturity, only to realize that it is the challenges and dangers that are the opportunity to forge his children towards them and face and deal with the uncertainties of life. Disney has given the movie a meaningful title, as "Finding Nemo" means "finding and saving Nemo", but it can also mean "finding or realizing" the true ability of your child.
Nemo and Father Marlin
And finally, in the more recent mythological film, Enchanted, a film with a fresher concept, Disney connects the fairy-tale world with the real world that happens in New York. In the film, it is also the image of a single father raising a baby girl. The father is a lawyer Robert who bears the image of a dry father and does not want his children to believe in dreamy fairy tales because he wants him to face difficult reality. After a few decades, perhaps Disney has had a clearer, stronger and more straightforward message on the issue of divorce in society when the little girl Morgan in the film lacks a mother because her parents are divorced. Princess Giselle from the beautiful fairy tale world where everything always ended happily faced a more complicated and conflicted reality. She was furious when she saw the divorce scenes at Robert's law firm. And it was the same romance, idealization and optimism brought from her fairy tale world, that Giselle has transformed and changed the dry father. Then, in the end, the two came together when they realized their love for each other. No longer avoiding or hiding the truth, Disney chose to bring a brighter view when eliciting more optimistic and hopeful signals for the divorce issue into its fairy tales.
To name a few of the Disney films mentioned above, it may not be exhaustive about the father-daughter relationship of all Disney movies, but they are indeed the Disney movies that are boldest about father-daughter relationships. Despite the passion and influence from the values contained in these films, the metaphors and messages in the film are unlikely to be fully understood by the small audience. They seem to target fathers and mothers more. When somewhat Disney gives them some thoughts and feelings about love, it reminds them of their fatherly role and responsibilities. Because fatherhood is a grace, a journey of discovery back to one's childhood and endless learning and experience. In a particular way, they not only give fathers moments of great joy when watching Disney movies with their children, but it also reminds them to let go of the stereotypes, the fear, limitation and pragmatic thoughts. It reminds them to be the one who gives wings to fly to the boundless aspirational sky. With passion, desire and ability, there is an open, free, and transcendent horizon with eternal values and real happiness.
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