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The cartoon fantasy gives us an understanding of life from start to finish. We all re-watch our childhood cartoon shows and movies, but do we appreciate its final conclusion where it’s the same happy ending. In Sarah Boxer’s article “Why Are All The Cartoon Mothers Dead” she points out the pattern of deaths or missing mothers in disney cartoon movies. Boxer takes us to an adventure, supplying us examples of disney movie mothers disappearing or ending up dead in the beginning of the movie, while the father takes the role of the mother by taking care of their child. This article is persuasive, provides entertaining content, and grabs our attention however, her research was poorly announced, a lack of counter argument, and an informal tone and word choice.
The article starts off by Boxer noticing how every disney children movie starts with a mother being pictured in her grave from the perspective of their children or being dead already. This always ends up with the father of the children taking care of them, representing both the father and the mother figure. She proves her claim with the understanding of using these disney movies that represent the dominance of the father figures. An example she stated such as Finding Nemo, where Marlin the single father replaces the mother character by defeating his fear to protect his son Nemo. This creates interests for both Boxer and the reader’s attention about the replacements of mothers in these movies.
In addition, she proposes the story writers don’t care about the dead mothers. And they are purposely being replaced by the fathers. She provides an example of the movie Barnyard, where the bull Otis is being taught by his dad Ben how to be stronger and tough man without having a mother in their lives. Another example Boxer includes is the movie Brother Bear where Koda follows the father figure Kenai not knowing he killed his mom. As you already know, the ending leads to both of them living happily in a world without mothers. “And yet, in this medium where the creators have a total control, we keep getting the same damned world – a world without mothers. Is this really the dearest wish of animation? Can mothers really be so threatening?”. As you can see she is very persuasive and demanding, wanting the readers to agree with her of these movie examples she sets up for us. This ends up with Boxer bringing up a discussion about sexism in these films by comparing today’s movie fathers and Mickey Mouse, describing them as “magnanimous, caring, and fun. ”
Everyone knows Mickey Mouse and loves him. Since he is so perfect, anything a women can do, Mickey Mouse can also do. Although Boxer provides a good use of evidence, some of her arguments leads to a misunderstanding. After being told to get over it, she starts talking about reality towards the audience about single and married households, stating “Did you know that 67 percent of U. S households with kids are headed by married couples. 25 percent by single mothers, and only 8 percent by single fathers (almost half of whom live with their partners)? In other words the fantasy of the fabulous single father that’s being served up in a theater near you isn’t just any fantasy; it’s close to the opposite of reality. And so I wonder: Why, when so many real families have mothers and no fathers, do so many children’s movies present fathers as the only parents”. Her argument jumps from dead cartoon mothers to family living arrangements which could confuse the audience and doesn’t support her thesis of the pattern of dead and missing mothers in disney movies.
From a personal point of view, I enjoy Boxer’s approach which attracts the reader’s attention however she has this aggressive and hostile attitude towards the crowd who disagree with her or believe she is overreacting. In the beginning she references to the audience “Dear reader, I hear your objection: So what? Hollywood has always been a fantasyland. Or, to quote the cat in Bolt, a kids’ movie about a dog who think he’s actually a superhero because he plays no one on TV: “Look genius… It’s entertainment for people. It’s fake! Nothing you think is real is real!” Get over it. It’s just a movie”. Is this a counter argument or is she stating another person’s opinion? Furthermore, she makes an inappropriate remark later in the article after proposing her other counter argument against the readers. “Patriarchy is slyly served We’ve been slipped a Mickey!”. I love her frustration but in a professional view, we all know her remark was unneeded and inappropriate. I watch a lot of disney films, and it never caught up to my attention about the dead mothers being left behind. It shocked me as a surprise after reading her article and the trend that is maybe still going on. Boxer purposely wants us to have a perception of the article and mainly towards how Disney treats its movies.
Overall, Boxer’s article was very persuasive, provides strong evidence, entertainment, and awareness despite it didn’t have a precise research, counter argument, and a poor rhetoric in terms of tone and word choice.
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