Posted by: DD | June 5, 2009

UP YOURS

I’m going to try to make this as succinct and as uncomplicated as I possibly can. However, you know me, and I probably will fail miserably.

Last weekend, I took XBoy to see the Pixar movie, Up in 3D. Loved. It. Loveditloveditlovedit.Yes, so did XBoy, but just so you know, I personally enjoyed it for me. If you saw the movie and you also loved it, please do not read the rest of this post. Trust me, OK? If you haven’t seen the movie, and you don’t want to find yourself focusing on one ten second – at best – part of the movie, please do not read the rest of this post.

This past week I’ve seen a couple of posts in passing about the movie, and mommy bloggers are giving it rave reviews…almost.

This is what Maria Young at Blogher wrote after seeing it:

I adored the movie. It celebrates life and love and adventure. There was one thing in particular about the film, a piece of the silent vignette spanning the relationship of Carl (who’s seen during the previews as the crotchety old man) and his love Ellie that made me go ‘huh? in a kid’s movie? who approved that?!’ but it went over my children’s heads as I’m sure it did most kids’.

I had a good inkling of what she was referring to, but waited until someone would give it away in the comments. Someone ALWAYS does.

And lo!

Momtrolfreak* included in her comment:

I totally cried though. Especially during the miscarriage part? Seriously, who greenlighted that? 😉  

and then she included a link to where she did a movie review for Momicillin* and expanded that thought with this:

In keeping with the longstanding Disney tradition of RIPPING YOUR HEART OUT AND STOMPING ON IT (Bambi, Dumbo, Lion King, Nemo) UP includes the longest flashback montage everrrrrrrr of the entire life of a sweet married couple, which culminates in the funeral of the wife. It includes what I believe to be (I am not kidding here) the first ever miscarriage portrayed in a children’s film. We see the young couple dreaming of babies. Then decorating a nursery. Then in an exam room—wife in chair, face buried in hands— while the doctor speaks to them, shaking his head.  Sweet fancy bananas, I thought, please oh please don’t let my kid ask what is going on right now. (He didn’t.)

But wait! There’s more! Maria was full of all kinds of juicy links. Another one was to Motherhood in NYC*where Marinka wrote:

So, I’m watching this movie and give me a fucking break, Pixar. We have to deal with a miscarriage in the first ten minutes? I mean, they’re children. Why not have a few rape/torture scenes too, while you’re at it, you know, to build momentum?

In the comments?

I also thought the infertility thing was an outrage and it pissed me off. Then I was crying 2 minutes later cause of the end of that little life vingette.

Wow.

Just…wow.

Who knew having a miscarriage was so…offensive? So…disgusting and ugly and ironically, so child- and family-UNfriendly, whereas (spoiler alert) the old man falling to his death from his dirigible after his failed attempt to cut the old hero in two with a sword was perfectly sanitary; or when the dogs acting as their master’s minions burst out, sharp fangs and all, towards the audience so abruptly in one scene (remember, 3D) that I heard a little kid start screaming in fear and crying inconsolibly a few rows up from us? Yep. Those are scenes of pure family-fun entertainment!

You know what I saw when they played the couple’s vignette (spoiler alert) and the doctor is with the couple in his office and the woman is distressed? I just thought to myself that he’s explaining how, sadly, the couple weren’t going to be able to have children. That’s how I would have explained it to my seven and a half year old son if he were to ask, which he didn’t. An educational opportunity, really. It’s not like there was any inkling of realism during the scene: no cartoon feet in stirrups; no soulless ultrasound tech holding a condom covered wand; no grainy ultrasound of a baby with no heartbeat. Yep. It was totally unrealistic compared to my four experiences.

Now I’m offended.

*Apparently all mommy bloggers must have to have the moniker “mom” in their blog names. Maybe I should change mine to “Mama Said Knock You Out”, which would keep me in line with my completely irrelevant boxing theme.

PS: I rarely ever, EVER, step on another blogger’s toes openly, but given where I am right now emotionally? Fuck’em.

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Responses

  1. Interesting… I noticed the same moment in the film, but my reaction was just like yours. They’re explaining why the couple was childless. And I had the same thought you did about how I’d explain it if the kids asked (and instantly had the same explanation in mind).

  2. I haven’t seen the movie, and don’t know if I will (opportunity to do movies don’t come up that often these days). But from what everyone says, I suspect I’m heavily on your ‘side’ of the issue. There’s nothing wrong with exposing children to real life issues in movies geared to them so long as they’re handled well.

    It makes me wonder if these are the same people who were appalled by the first ten minutes of “Nemo”, when ALL the hundreds of baby fish and the mommy fish were eaten and killed by the shark, save one. And Nemo’s dad was beside himself when he realized what had happened (before he found Nemo). I teared up (because I’m a soft-hearted sucker, even in animated films) when that happened, but I would never have questioned what the filmmakers were thinking putting the scene in.

    Death and major disappointment are a part of life; and when my children ask me about that first scene, I will explain it to them.

    • Actually, at least one of these bloggers mentioned how she skips the first chapter in Nemo when she plays the movie for her kids. We took XBoy to see it in the theatres and while I worried it might have been scary, he never asked about it later. I think it’s intentional that Pixar (or WD or whoever) puts those kinds of scenes at the beginning of movies b/c by the end? While they are significant to the story, they no longer cloud the happy memories.

      Even Bambi starts this way.

  3. No one wants to discuss those things with their children – but guess what, people HAVE to. It happens. Life isn’t pretty.

    I’m just sitting here going through all the “life” things that happen in animated movies that are ugly but we accept them. You know, the evil step-mother poisoning Snow White and trying to KILL her or the hunter killing Bambi’s parent…things like that.

  4. *snort* I adore you.

  5. I’m really amazed how well my kids accept that stuff, actually. The bit in Bambi when his Mom dies? I BAWL. Every single time. My kids comfort ME.

    Both of them tell me ‘It’s only a STORY, Mom.’

  6. ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’….You still make me laugh!!
    Now that would be a damn funny blog name!!!

  7. It’s funny because when you described the scene, I just thought the doctor was telling her that she couldn’t have kids, I didn’t jump to miscarriage. But I haven’t seen the movie.

    Oh, we do usually skip the first scene in Nemo but my kid is 2. I wouldn’t do it forever, but I don’t need anything else keeping her from sleeping.

  8. Ugh. I guess most of the mommy bloggers are the ones who had things pretty easy. I can’t imagine anyone who’s had a loss or had to use ART thinking that described scene was anything other than a part of (some people’s) life.

    Mama Said Knock You Out seems kind of appropriate today! 🙂

    BTW, loved the texted 10 Commandments!

  9. Hehe, I used to work in film, and I know some people who know some other people—and do you know that there is an unwritten rule that there are no involved mothers allowed in Disney films? They either have to be dead or absent.

    Ever since Walt’s first film, none, zero, zip.

    They never do it to the dads, which would be a hell of a lot more realistic in light of the number of war widows this century has produced and the present day number of divorces and single moms.

    We used to sit around and speculate on just how fucked up ol’ Walt must have been and what happened to him that he made this rule. And why is it continued so long after his death? Is a major shareholder continuing the decree? Bizarre…. Someone once told me that it was about providing dramatic tension, but you can do that with lots of other methods. Non-cartoon films do it all the time. So no way….

    As for people’s reaction? I’m sorry, but that is just sad, if people don’t get that this is a normal part of life and this is going to happen to people they know and hey, maybe even to them as secondary IF and loss then good God they are not being realistic.

    After 13 years of parenting, I know that these are the same people who are going to freak out about EVERYTHING when it doesn’t turn out like they decree. There is no point in bothering with them, just ignore them. (And frankly if they are that concerned, why didn’t they read the reviews I did which said it really wasn’t a film aimed at young kids? Animated doesn’t mean G, I’ve heard of animated porn for chrissakes.)

  10. I also interpreted it as the doc explaining why they couldn’t have kids, and I thought it was very tastefully done, actually.

  11. Grr. Stupid women. Don’t they get it? Proper fairy tales always have death in them in any event.

  12. *Actually I think the mom was living in Treasure Planet. Was that Disney?

    *I think ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ would be a great name.

    *Some people don’t like the hard questions, it makes them uncomfortable when kids ask them. Eventually the kids quit asking questions, and the parents are left wondering, years later, why they can’t seem to get their kids to communicate with them. Communication is a two way street.

  13. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but do have a blog entry scheduled for Tuesday about the response. (Won’t be able to see it in theatres due to that pesky popcorn allergy thing.) Ultimately, I think it reflects very poorly on those women.

    But, considering my earliest memories include arguments over reincarnation, cemetery plots, and cremation, I might not be the best gauge of normal in response to talking about tragedy.

  14. I never, to this day, let an opportunity pass where I can explain LIFE to my boys.

    I haven’t and probably won’t see the movie (unless it moves to dvd that can be rented) but I get the gist of it from what you have written (and the comments you posted).

    It is perfectly fine to shelter kids to a certain point, and age but I have seen too many kids that are clueless and really think their parents are doing them a disservice by not addressing life issues and showing that you can still survive after disappointment.

  15. Haven’t seen the movie yet, but when I read your post all I could think was ‘dumb fertiles, so clueless’. IF seen diagnosis because we know that story, we don’t need details we just need a hint or two; dumb fertiles see miscarriage because they just assume pregnancy when they see the nursery. Dummies. Now I’m all mad.

  16. Haven’t seen it. Probably won’t til it comes out on cable.

    HAHA!! Will has a t-shirt with boxing gloves on it & EVERY time he wears it, he sings, “Mama says knock you out, I’m gonna knock you out….DONTCALLITACOMEBACK!!!”

    LL Cool Will…

  17. I can’t believe people would get worked up over that. How wonderful it must be where nothing bad ever happens in your real life that merits explaining to your children.

  18. Haven’t seen the movie, but it’s interesting that the mommy bloggers interpreted that scene so differently than the infertiles who commented here.

    I guess it’s mom’s like these that makes Disney change the endings to stories like The Little Mermaid (a practice which bugs me to no end).

    Oh, please, please change your blog name to MSKYO!! Love it!

    • My poor blog can’t handle another blog-name change. It’s already limped through three. Too bad I didn’t think about it a little more the 3rd time, eh?

  19. I only wish this movie had come out sooner- it might have made having to explain to my 8 year old daughter about the death of her baby brother a little easier.

    I find it sick that parents can’t explain a miscarriage that’s in a MOVIE to their kids- what the hell would they do if they actually had to explain REAL babyloss?? As it is, having an 8 year old who’s actually EXPERIENCED it, I wonder how the kids she talks to approach the subject with their parents- I wonder about the friends of my daughter and what they might ask.

    I say KUDOS to pixar for having some balls to broach a very touchy subject- the fact of the matter is, miscarriage and babyloss are very emotionally-charged subjects and make people uncomfortable. I think that if it makes you offended, you need to stop and think about how it would feel to have it happen to you, and never be able to talk about it- because it just might offend someone.

  20. I saw this movie with Zack. I really liked it and was not at all bothered by that scene in the movie. It is real life, there is no reason to not include it. There is a heck of a lot more violence in those movies that should be taken out before worrying about a miscarriage scene.

  21. Punch Drunk and readers, I just stumbled upon this post through a google alert based on my moniker.

    I apologize if anyone was offended–as you clearly seem to be–by my review of UP.

    You took it somewhat out of context as I clearly state in my review that my child is three (not seven), so that makes a bit of a difference, don’t you think? What is appropriate for a first or second grader is not necessarily appropriate for a preschooler.

    I didn’t think it should have been left out of the movie altogether (the greenlighting comment was a JOKE, and you’ve lumped me in with Motherhood in NYC by saying we were both offended or pissed off by its inclusion–keep the bloggers you hate straight, please). I simply said that I as a parent would have liked some warning so that if my child DID have questions, I would have been prepared.

    And I do, actually, also warn parents of young children about the scary dogs AND about the old man falling to his certain death. Did you choose to ignore that and act like you thought of it, or were you too blinded with rage to read the rest of my review before you hacked it up, copied my proposed title, and flamed me on your blog?

    The longer version of my blog, which was cut by my editor due to word count, went into more detail about the montage being in keeping with Disney’s longstanding tradition of featuring a death in the first ten minutes, usually by killing off one or both parents.

    FWIW, I did assume that it was a miscarriage because they had already decorated the nursery–I have never known anyone to do that before getting pregnant. I’m sorry if I am “clueless” because that is something that people do, I had no idea.

    Overall, my review stated that it’s an awesome film overall and did NOT tell parents to avoid it based on the montage, it was simply to warn them in advance; I suggest in my review that parents can plan ahead to turn some of the issues covered into teaching moments with their kids. What a horrible idea, a teaching moment. How dare I.

    p.s. I have, actually, experienced a miscarriage myself, when trying to have a second child, so being repeatedly called a “dumb,” “clueless,” and “stupid fertile” is not only inaccurate but quite hurtful and frankly, juvenile. I have had plenty of bad things happen in my life, thank you. I’m really taken aback by the viciousness of your post and of the comments, as if I and the other bloggers have personally attacked you and your readers. We bloggers are all trying to do the best we can, and trying to entertain and share ourselves a bit in the process. We may tease our friends or poke fun at a movie or at pop culture, but I’ve never felt such hatred before based on nothing, and I wonder what purpose it serves. Did it make you feel better? I hope it accomplished at least that.

    I find it hard to believe that you “hardly ever” step on another blogger’s toes openly–you seem to enjoy it a bit too much for it to be that new to you.

    Sincerely,
    Momtrolfreak

    • You are definitely overreacting if you think this is hatred. If you have never been in a Usenet Flame War, you don’t know hate on the internet.

      What people are offended by was the way many, many, many reviewers seemed to think that the vignette including a loss scene was too inappropriate for children. Yours was not a review I read. I also saw the over arching tendency to be appalled by the inclusion among reviews in various mommy blogs. That your editor cut something you feel would have left your review less inflammatory in regards to this does not speak well of him or her. Please remember, editors only care about getting readers. They don’t care whether the readers think well of the writer as long as “it sells”.

      You also don’t seem to understand the constant barrage infertile women, especially, are under by society and the media for any choice they make. Women are looked upon askance when they don’t have children – no matter the reason. And, a very significant part of society does “hate on” infertile couples. It makes those in the community very, very touchy and likely to withdraw – one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of bridging the gap. I like islands where various groups can discuss issues that affect them differently. Of course, this comes from seeing what happens when too many unalike groups try to come together.

      DD simply wrote on her impressions. Remember, nobody knows what you are thinking when you write the words – only what the words say. And, the minute you put out any opinion, I can guarantee there will be 10s, if not 1000s, of differing opinions. Some you will not like. That is not “hate.” That is just the reality of writing any type of opinion piece. If you write opinion, you will get those who will be offended, hurt, angered, by it as well as the echo chamber of those you agree with. This is why many forums have specific rooms for debate and opinion and none is allowed elsewhere.

      Welcome to the world of the published writer.

  22. Momtrolfreak,
    I was the one who called you dumb, clueless and fertile. I’m really sorry. It was childish and cruel of me. I apologise.

  23. MOntrolfreak, I don’t think DD should be held responsible for what her commenters say, nor should she know what your editor took out! This doesn’t feel like a particularly egregious example of bashing someone else, it’s simply expressing, quite clearly, a different point of view.

    DD, for what it’s worth, I haven’t seen the film and am frankly unlikely to, but am glad this sequence is in the film, and agree with others who have spoken about the trauma in disney films. I get a bit tired of this conversation. Disney is in the business of telling fairy tales, transformational stories that describe essential elements of the human experience. In stories from before the written word, the hero (it’s usually a man) has something traumatic happen such that they have to undertake a physical or emotional journey to fulfillment. Disney didn’t invent the trauma, they were just smart enough to figure out how to milk it for all it is worth.

  24. For what it’s worth, my son is in kindergarten. Last month, the art teacher left to give birth. The baby died at birth, and now she’s back in the classroom. They told the kids that her baby died at birth, and to please not ask her about it because it makes her sad. And you know what? I’m really pleased they said that so honestly. Also, when he asked me months before about death, and if even babies die, I said sometimes, and he referred back to it now.

    Meanwhile, kids get what they can handle…

  25. Isabel, thank you for your apology, that was very kind of you.
    Look, you guys, I don’t mean to stir up trouble. I know that there is a lot of pain involved here and that it can make you lash out at others when you feel you are being persecuted. I did not mean to cause anyone to feel badly.
    Sara, I too agree with how the school handled telling your son’s kindergarten class what happened with his teacher. Kindergartners are, I think, able to handle that a little better than my three year old would. We do have a friend whose baby brother died in utero two days before his due date, and I witnessed that devastation and we did deal honestly with our son about that. But this is a kid who fixates on a goldfish dying and asks about it for MONTHS afterwards, to where I regretted telling him the fish died and thought maybe a little bit of creative fibbing would have been more appropriate at his then-age (2). At this age they also repeat everything they hear, so if I tell him babies can die, he’s going to ask the three pregnant moms from his preschool class if their baby is going to die, and pregnancy is fraught with enough worry without having some random three year old make you worry about extra stuff.

    MLO, it’s a bit condescending to say “welcome to the world of the published writer;” just because this is the first you’ve read my stuff doesn’t mean I’m green. Sheesh. Having a blog is not being a published writer, BTW. Even having written an invited review on somebody else’s blog doesn’t qualify. I am a published writer under my real name, however, and I’ve never had any problem with people disagreeing with my review–what stung were the personal attacks that many of the commenters hurled at me (that Isabel has apologized for), which of course DD should not be held accountable for, and DD’s own comment “fuck ’em.”

    Again, I’m not saying that it should not have been in the film, just that it was something that I would have wanted to know in advance just in case it raised questions (just like the the murder of Nemo’s mom, or Bambi’s mom getting shot, etc), and so I included it in my review as a warning to other parents so they could prepare what they might say. I realize that this topic is a sore spot, and you all have a right to your opinions. I have sore spots about mental illness and alcoholism because of my own family, so if a Disney movie portrayed that inappropriately I would be mad about that too. Sorry if I rubbed everyone the wrong way.

    • Just a heads up- babies DO die.

      It makes people uncomfortable, and I understand wanting to be prepared for that bit in the movie, however, if your child is old enough to ASK about it- they are old enough to have it explained to them (my daughter was 3 when she learned about c-sections).

      As far as your toddler asking every pregnant woman he sees if her baby is going to die- shame on you for not teaching him better manners. Just because he’s a toddler doesn’t give him the right to verbal diarrhea. Would you just let him run around telling fat people they are fat? Would you let him run up to an elderly person shouting “you’re old. are you going to die soon?” OR- Would you explain to him that stating those things makes people uncomfortable and he shouldn’t do it?

      I hope you don’t feel I’m attacking you personally. I didn’t read your article, nor do I know your personal situation, BUT from what I have inferred from your comments, you ARE coming from an ignorant place. You state that you’ve experienced a miscarriage- but did you have to explain it to your child?

  26. mrsfinn:
    It’s horrible that some of you have been treated so badly and made to feel shamed for your experiences with infertility that you now think that everyone is attacking you. You hope I don’t feel attacked, while you tell me “shame on me” for what you assume is my parenting style. You didn’t read my article, you don’t know my background, and half of the people commenting on this board have decided they wholeheartedly agree with DD when they haven’t even seen the movie to make an educated judgment of their own, and yet I am the one who is “coming from an ignorant place”?!? Give me a break. I tried to extend an olive branch, and all I get is people who don’t know me telling me I’m a bad mother and that–am I getting this right–MY MISCARRIAGE ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU because I didn’t have to explain it to a first child. Seriously? Take a step back and think about who is belittling whose experiences here. . You know, MLO is right, you SHOULD sequester yourselves; I don’t see how anyone could ever get along with you. Stay on your island. I’m going back to the real world.

    • I’m closing comments. Pissing matches shouldn’t be going on between commenters. If there’s anger or frustration, it can be directed towards me.

  27. I’m staying out of the “war” here.

    Just wanted to say DD that I saw the movie. I initially thought it was a miscarriage, then thought it could be the “you’re likely to never have children”. Both of which are dificult.

    I took my 2.5 year old (he’ll be 3 in September.) I truly don’t think the kids that age really pay much attention to that part.

    To Aurelia: Isn’t the Incredibles a Disney Pixar movie? The Mom is very prominent on that movie.

  28. The real power of the internet:

    Making mountains out of any disagreement in perception whatsoever.

    Without having seen the movie, I felt discomfort at the way the generalized “mommybloggers” (and their editors) were characterizing this as wholly inappropriate. I still find it disturbing. I find people who have trouble with the Sailor Saturn storyline (Sailor Uranus and Neptune were actually a couple in the original manga) just as baffling. Things exist. Death, homosexuality, infertility, war, famine, etc. All of it exits and it serves no one when parents aren’t prepared to discuss in an age appropriate way with their children.

    As to the island, there are reasons to reach out – awareness, “dry” medical education, etc. I don’t think, however, that true understanding comes when someone just “enters” a community and thinks they know what is behind what is said.

    Maybe I was already sensitized as to how awful the general public was while dealing with food allergy. It is mocked and derided in such a manner that it is not taken seriously by most. For that reason, the allergy communities are “closed” communities.

    Yes, raise awareness, but never bother to make others “understand” your pain. They never will. (Yeah, I’m a cynic.)

  29. As to the inference of greenness? I have to say I am beginning to think that writers on the coast were coddled by their editors. They never saw the nastier letters that publications get. Now that filter is gone and I’m surprised at how thin-skinned the supposedly “seasoned” writers really are.

    I guess I just hang out with a tougher bunch. Never take anything said about your opinion personally. If you are finding you do, step back and stop. Walk away for at least a day. Let someone who is not in the midst of it read and assess whether your actions will “feed the troll,” to use an old internet aphorism. (And, yes, I realize I am – sorry DD.)

    Of course, OpEd writing is much more likely to bring out rancor than just about anything else in the publishing world. If you are going to write OpEds, be prepared to be attacked about your opinion and to have it construed in ways you never intended.

    I think the big difference today is that a bunch of people who used to have filters between them and the public are no longer shielded from the rawness that the editorial staff dealt with daily. That is just my opinion. Do with it what you will.

  30. Momtrolfreak: Here’s some free advice from the not-real-world: Don’t go to someone else’s blog and tell them and their commenters to stay there. It’s silly. Also, don’t take back your olive branches. Being gracious is hard and we all fail sometimes. I’m the one who called names and had to apologise (I wish it was the first time).


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