Why does that woman want to steal the little Dalmatian doggies? Well, my dear daughter, that mean looking lady wanted to kill those cute little puppies, take the skin from their dead bodies, and use it to make herself a fine looking, brand new winter fur coat.
OK fine, that was an inner monologue. My actual answer to the plot behind 101 Dalmatians was, at best, vague. Alright, it was a flat out lie. To spare me some time to work out how I would eventually answer, I loftily stated, “I don’t remember, honey…it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it.”
Let’s backtrack. Last weekend while visiting my parents, Sofia was diving into some old Disney VHS tapes that my mom had saved for the kids’ viewing pleasure. Earlier in the day she had found Snow White, and begged to watch it. This presented a wee bit of a problem. I’ve been reading the story of Snow White to her for several months now (over, and over, and oh-my-god-save-me over), but I have a tendency to tweak the bad parts. The whole, ‘Hey you. Woodsman. Take that Snow White out to the forest, kill her, and bring me back her heart in this here box to prove it’ bit? I change up the story big time.
Were I to let Sofia watch the movie, there would be no mistaking the plot change. I had concern over how much she would understand, and in turn be frightened. I’ve had this conundrum before. Though animated and meant for children, there’s no mistaking it that Disney can present some disturbing hard life lessons, fully equipped with the suggestion that villains are very real. I suffer inwardly with how much exposure to this tainted world I want my not quite four year old daughter to receive. I worry that once she is exposed she will conclude that some form of this world could truly exist. I’m not blind to the fact that she probably already has an inkling (even some kids at the age of three can be pretty darn cruel), but for my part I’d like to keep the issue at bay as long as possible.
In the end I relented and let Sofia watch Snow White. Prior to I had a discussion with her that she should keep in mind that the story is not real, and if she became scared she should let me know. I looked at her wearily as she watched Snow White cower from the Woodsman’s raised blade and then run for her life through the dark woods; its branches turning into ghostly hands and reaching to take hold of her clothing. She stared at the screen wide-eyed, but did not appear to be afraid. I sighed that perhaps I do not give her enough credit.
While I do consider Snow White to be much worse than 101 Dalmatians, I was able to postpone her viewing of the proposed puppy slaughter until her next visit to my parents’ house. I told myself that she will likely forget about it by then. When am I going to realize that I should know better than this? It’s been 4 days, and she has mentioned Cruella Deville every day, multiple times a day ever since she first spied that puppy-ful tape case.
What is that mean woman’s name again?
Why does she want to steal the puppies?
When are we going to Nonnie and Papa’s to watch it?
My curious little girl, she really wants to find out who this Cruella woman is all about. Sometimes I just wish I could keep out the bad stuff. But in reality I know without the villains to be triumphed, Sofia just wouldn’t find the stories all that interesting. I suppose if she’s going to have heroes to look up to, she’s going to need to experience her share of villains.