The gig? Eh. People showed, were obnoxious and drunk, and left without paying. Not exactly an "audience".
On the ride home, Miss P, Husband and I discussed, among other things, Disney animated movies and the peculiar pattern we noticed in them -- almost every big Disney animated movie we could think of showed some kind of broken or disfunctional family. Orphans were a big topic, too. Let's look:
1937 - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Orphan in the care of an abusive stepparent (stepmother), finds safety and love in an unconventional family (7 male dwarfs)
1940 - Pinocchio
Artificially created child raised by a single male, separated from parent
1941 - Dumbo
Child separated from mother, no apparent father. ChIld witnesses abuse/imprisonment of mother.
1942 - Bambi
Child traumatically loses mother, has distant relationship with father
1950 - Cinderella
Orphan in the care of an abusive stepparent (stepmother)
1955 - Lady and The Tramp
"Child" (Lady) loses her home and is separated from her parents ("Dear" and "Darling"), whenthey have another child. Meets with a romantic male (Tramp) and lives on the road with him. Eventually returns home and establishes a "normal" family again.
1957 - Sleeping Beauty
Child separated from parents, finds safety and love in an unconventional family (3 elderly female fairies)
1961 - One Hundred and One Dalmations
One of the few to depict a "traditional nuclear family" -- mother, father, children. Children traumatically separated from parents, thrown together with other orphaned children.
1967 - The Jungle Book
Orphan raised by unconventional family - a male bear, a male panther
1970 - The Aristocats
Single mother family, family loses home, mother finds a male to whom she is attracted.
1973 - Robin Hood
Depictions of single mother family (Widow Rabbit), infantile male in power (King John), Robin Hood romances Maid Marian.
1988 - Oliver and Company
Orphan (cat) is adopted by an unconventional family(gang of dogs) involved in petty criminal pursuits.
1989 - The Little Mermaid
Single father with many daughters. One daughter separates herself from her family to fulfill a romantic dream.
1991 - Beauty and the Beast
Single (ineffectual) father with personal ambitions distracting him from his daughter's situations must be rescued by her, leading to her separation from him to live with another male.
1992 - Aladdin
Orphan boy meets daughter of an ineffectual and somewhat childlike king. Romance ensues, in the pursuit of which he alienates his devoted friends.
1994 - The Lion King
"Normal" family. Child tramautically loses father, abandons mother, creates a new family with two male characters/friends, returns later to find his mother being abused by another male member of the family.
1995 - Pochanontas
Single father with daughter, father threatens to kill daughter's romantic interest
1997 - Hercules
Adopted child seeks his birth parents only to learn that he cannot be with them until he "proves himself"
1998 - Mulan
"Normal" family risks losing the father until the daughter takes his place and separates from them. Disguised as a man, she proves herself as a soldier and creates another "family" from an assortment of odd (male) characters.
1999 - Tarzan
Human infant survives violent death of parents -- ape parents moarn the death of their infant. Ape mother adopts human child, but ape father remains rejecting and distant. Child finally wins love of ape-father, only to lose that father to death.
OK that's a pretty good list. See what I mean about patterns?
I should note that I've seen all these movies and own many of them. I've loved a number of them since I was a child and seen them dozens of times. They depict many good and positive things, are very funny, entertaining, and even -- occasionally - through provoking. What I find worth noting is the contradictions around them.
I think these movies show us as we want to be -- orphans of the world who triumph in the end. I think this comes in large part from the whole immigrant experience, people who leave their familes behind or lose those familys and must go forth to find their future or make it for themselves. They show that often we will make a family out of whomever comes our way and offers us love, without too much consideration for what is "proper" or "normal".
The stakes are always high in these movies. There is always death -- death in the past (children are orphans or lose one parent), death in the present (child witnesses death of parent or other important "family" member), or future (child is threatened with death, someone important to the child is threatened). Death is, of course, a common and powerful dramatic element. However, these movies are (at least in the last 20 years) intended mostly for children and are now considered all "children's movies". In our modern culture, we usually try to protect children from ideas and depictions of death, or such depictions are met with protests.
Movies reflect to us how we want to see our selves and, sometimes, how we don't want to see ourselves. In a fabric of fantasy and outright fictions, if you look carefully, you can winnow out a little truth. There are a lot of things said about these movies -- they depict the wholesome goodness of childhood, they create false expectations, they hide truth, they exemplify family values. I think that, depending on who is watching them and how they are watched, these movies do all those things. They are (almost) all mythically based, full of archetypes and symbols that tell us about ourselves and the world in which we live. They have conflicts and contradictions, and the power to either sooth us or anger us, again depending on what we see when we look and how that vision aligns with our own ideas.
I think what irritates and puzzles me most is how some people will nitpick and fuss over the smallest, most inconcequential things (like what the dust spells in Lion King) in these movies and never see what is really on screen. We usually accept these "non-traditonal" configurations of family without much thought because in our lives we usually accept whatever configuration of family we can find. The loss of a parent is a universal experience, as are separations and fear and going into the world alone. I think these Disney movies really do illustrate family values -- they just aren't the (in my view) artififical, rigid and unyielding values put forth by those groups of people who yell the term the most loudly.