The End…A Farewell

December 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hello all,

It has been wonderful being in a class with all of you. I had a great time and it was easily one of my favorite classes, in no small part due to the our awesome class. I doubt many of you will read this – what with the class being over and second semester seniors to boot – but I wanted to thank all of you for such a great semester. Especially Carla, since it’s not often that I get watch The Lion King and call it research =D


Have a great 5 days and 2011 everyone!

-Matthew Roy, “sǝɹıɟ & sɹıɟ”




Circle of Life

October 11, 2010 § 5 Comments

Bambi, The Lion King and Call of the Wild share many similarities. In each story there is a strong natural order and a social hierarchy in which one species dominates over another. Each protagonist also has a destiny to fulfill and inner strength that must be recognized. In Bambi, the title character had to mature in order to fill his father’s shoes as Great Prince of the forrest, Simba had to take charge and bring order back to his kingdom, and Buck must recognize the beast within. Another similarities between the three stories was the fact that all of the title characters underwent a transformation and came of age. For me the most striking similarity was a theme of respecting nature and its creatures.

Both of my parents are strict vegetarians. Despite my mother’s own refusal to eat meat she always left the decision up to me. I have never had meat in my life, not one bite (except that one time with my nanny at the grocery store but I spit it out) but my mom actually encouraged it. I of course couldn’t bear the thought of eating a dead animal and I think that these three stories actually led me to remain a vegetarian.

In Bambi, cute, lovable animals are destroyed for sport. As a little girl Bambi made me feverntly opposed to hunting and taught me to respect the natural world.

The Lion King also has some serious animal rights themes. The Lion King reinforced the respect for nature that Bambi introduced me to. It reminded me that just because you are “superior” to something does not mean that you should disrespect it just because you can. All links of the food chain are to be respected as they are all crucial aspects of the circle of life. It’s interesting that Simba ends up living off of bugs. All animals in The Lion King are personified but since the bugs weren’t it’s almost like Simba was living a off of a vegetarian diet.

In Call of the Wild, Buck is tormented by man. The first time I read Call of the Wild I became obsessed with dogs. I would wear those really ugly dog shirts with no intention of being ironic  and volunteered at animal shelters with my friend. I would never eat a dog and knew that I could never eat a pig either.

Bambi, Call of the Wild, and The Lion King are kind of like PETA’s wet dream.  Man is a source of corruption and a force of evil that exploits and abuses the natural world. Each story personified animals in such a way that they were more than cute they were human. These stories led me to respect nature and teach all children to do the same. 

Dealing with Loss

October 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

In response to the recent tragedy that struck the Menlo community, I feel it is appropriate to discuss how different characters we have read about deal with loss. In Tom Sawyer, Bambi, and The Lion King death and loss is an very present issue. On more than one occasion, Aunt Polly believes that she has lost her beloved Tom in the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In the Lion King, Simba and the all of the pride-lands deal with the loss of the great king, Mufasa. Similarly in Bambi, Bambi’s mother is shot and killed by hunters when she is unprotected in the meadow. The differences between how the different age groups are portrayed dealing with loss presents an interesting idea of maturity and adolescence.

In Tom Sawyer, when Tom and his friends decide to run away from home and be pirates on a nearby island, his Aunt Polly is overcome with grief because she believes that Tom has died. When Tom returns home and watches Aunt Polly sobbing, yet does nothing to make her aware of his presence, he demonstrates that he does not fully understand the concept of loss. Similarly when Mufasa dies, Simba repeatedly tells him to “get up,” and refuses to accept that he is gone until Scar explains the situation. Lastly, in Bambi when his mother is shot, Bambi is confused and relies on his fathers explanation that “[his] mother can no longer be with [him].” All three of these examples seem to suggest that children do not fully comprehend the idea of loss.

Conversely, all three have interesting portrayals of adults in tragic situations. Both Sarabi, Simba’s mother, and Bambi’s father are depicted as very strong in the case of the loss of their spouse. We see Sarabi’s overwhelming strength as she approaches her husband’s successor, Scar. Similarly we see Bambi’s father’s strength when he does not display emotion and instead takes Simba under his wing. Both of these characters seem not to display their emotions in a healthy manor. Each character seems weighed down by the responsibility they feel to either their kingdom (Sarabi) or their child (Bambi’s father) and thus deal with loss by just simply moving on. Alternatively, Aunt Polly in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, is petrified by emotion and is unable to do anything productive to help her cope with the loss of Tom. Aunt Polly somehow feels she is responsible for Tom’s death which causes her to deal with her grief in such a unhealthy way. These examples portray adults at one extreme or another in terms of how they deal with losses that they face.

In seems that teenagers seem to deal with loss in the most healthy manor of all of the age groups. They are old enough to understand the concept and comprehend the implications of losing someone that they love, but their emotions are not clouded by their sense of responsibility. Simba fights for revenge to save the kingdom, tom finds a way out of the cave, and Bambi is able to overcome his own gunshot wound. While all three of these stories are consistent in their portrayal of teenagers as dealing with loss in a more balanced manor, I don’t think that there is one “right” way to deal with loss. The teenagers are portrayed as being empowered by loss, but I don’t think that this is necessarily true. Loss brings about such a complicated set of emotions that it upsets me that it seems to be simplified in such a manor in these examples.

Deer Ecology…is hunting good in Bambi?

September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Bambi definitely scarred us children as suggested “Is it due to Bambi that I refuse to hunt?” and the fact the only thing most people remember  is the death of Bambi’s mother which you don’t even see.  The question really is how has/how much has Bambi scarred us?

Ralph H. Lutts discusses Disney’s Bambi and its effect on “the American view of nature” .  Lutts notes that Bambi portrays nature and man’s relationship as one where man hunts and cruelly takes innocent, beautiful, animal lives.  In Lutts’s opinion, this led to many hunting regulations to be passed and to people being more generally opposed to the killing of creatures especially deer. While Lutts’s actual argument isn’t that interesting, his acknowledgements of how Disney can be seen as pro and con hunting and evidence for how Disney went about causing the audience to empathize is.

Lutts explains predation is never shown in Bambi’s forest; all animals even ones that would in the real world eat each other, talk to one another and make merry conversation.  Predation obviously happens in the forest as it is a forest, but Disney choose not to portray it in Bambi in order to not distract human hunting from dominating the viewer’s mind.  “The Bambi Factor” elaborates on the idea of Disney unfairly projecting the animals in the forest to create more empathy for the creatures.

WTF...Owls eat rodents

On the other hand, Disney actually “presents a strong argument in favor of using hunting as a tool to manage deer herds.” Disney goes to great lengths (like bringing in two live fawns) in order to make sure nature is being depicted as accurately as possible.  Yet both Faline and Bambi have no brothers or sisters even though does usually give birth to twins.  Thus it is reasonable to assume there is something causing the does to only give birth to one child.  The does could be stressed out  in this case by the hunters in the meadow or lack of food and/or malnourished due to deer exceeding their carrying capacity.  The audience views the tremendous amount of deer in the meadow and then the lack of bark to go around in the winter.  The harsh winter along with hunters probably helped keep deer population down and thus made deer stress levels lower.  “The evidence? As the film ended Faline gave birth to twins.”

While Lotts does make an argument for how the hunters actually may help the deer in Bambi, I find it interesting that in the predation segment he choose not to include the fact that we could being preying on animals for the same reason animals prey on other animals; human survival.  We need to eat, and one of the best nutritious forms of food is meat.  The argument that man is actually helping deer is pretty weak, yet Lutts choose to include that information and not the basic idea of human’s needing food.  This is done either because Lutts didn’t think human survival was an interesting enough point or because Lutts isn’t attempting to actually note the pros of hunting.  In reality, it probably is some combination of both.

Bambi portrayed hunting in overall negative light and thus helped shape a culture of American-nature-loving-deer-hugging-against-hunters.  Something both Lutts and I can agree upon is the biggest question we now face is, “can humans make peace with the deer?”

Audiences and Purposes: Bambi

September 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

Audience often affects the percieved purpose of a work. The original Bambi, written in Europe in 1923 by Felix Salten, probably was not intended for the same audience that Disney’s adaptation was with his film version in 1942. The film, created as entertainment for American children in the 1940’s, may lack many of the motives driving Felix Salten’s writing, and simultaneously include some of Disney’s own, separate motives. Before I realized this, I treated the book and the film as one and the same in my mind. So, when I came across an essay published in Midstream regarding Bambi the 1923 book, I initially judged its contents based on my knowledge from watching the 1942 American Film. 

In the article, Richard Glaser argues that Bambi was written as an allegory for the conditions of Jewish struggle in Europe. Felix Salten, whose true name was Sigmund Salzmann, was a Jew living in Vienna.

Glaser asserts that Bambi’s forest environment represents the Jewish environment surrounded by the greater non-Jewish environment. Within  the Jewish community, there is safety, but outside there is danger. In Bambi, “Man” represents the non-Jewish persecuting majority. The meadow that Bambi and his mother traverse for food is middle ground between the safe, Jewish forest and the dangerous, outside world.

I could not see the connection between a children’s movie and Jewish repression. I have yet to read the original book, so I could not accurately form an opinion on Salten’s motives. Disney, an American with a non-Jewish bias, probably did not produce the film with the intention of a Jewish allegory. If anything, the film more was more literal: humans are destructive to animals and nature. The book may have likely carried more literary symbolism that is not so present in the film. Disney’s audience– young children– usually cannot accurately read past the literal.

What I learned from this experience was this: acknowledge the audience before you read too far into the motives of the composer.

Nature in Bambi, but not in man?

September 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

One might ask ones self, “What is the role of nature in the animal’s lives, in the Disney movie Bambi?” (Or rather only our class would be asked that). To find the answer we have to dive deep into the movie. Nature seems to provide for animals, and is always on the animals side. We see this when we look at the cave that Bambi and his mother live in, and we see sticks around the corners of the screen, providing a sort of protective circle around the two. Or when we look at the scene with the leaves, and music being made from the drops of rain on the leaves, we can see that nature creates happiness for them (in that scene in the form of music).

On the other hand we have man, standing against everything that nature is. We never actually get to see their faces, showing that they are as far from nature as possible. They represent everything that nature is not, even worse than the evil dogs, who are still able to be seen on the screen. We then see them destroy nature by causing the wildfire. That is their final act of hatred against nature, and the final light we see man cast in before the end of the movie.

Is it due to Bambi that I refuse to hunt?

September 19, 2010 § 1 Comment

Bambi, A Life in the Woods was written in 1923 by Felix Salten, intended for an adult audience, and one of the first environmental novels published.

After reading part of Disney’s biography, it’s understandable why Disney would create an animated film that was based on an adult novel.  He believed in capturing youth and bringing it to adults and youth alike.

But the other four feature-length films previously produced by Disney, Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo, involve happy interaction with nature but don’t seem as environmentally charged as Bambi so there lies my question with Disney, is it due to Bambi that I refuse to hunt?

David Whitley seems to think so.  He believes Disney “films have taught us variously about having a fundamental respect for nature” where Bambi has been “the most influential.”  Well, at least I’m not totally crazy.

When I think of Bambi, my initial reaction is to picture the little cute fawn called Bambi and then it quickly switches and stays on the image of the forest burning with the island in the foreground.

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