I just saw Jungle Book 2 with my six-year-old granddaughters and I’m telling you—it was among the best movies I have ever seen!
The animation was beyond belief, the story line had everything in it you could want (a hero who loses friends, makes friends, faces his fears and grows up), a musical score that is entertaining and provocative—what’s not to like. It was absolutely fabulous. So fabulous in fact, that I would go back again and take my husband to see it.
The only thing “wrong” with it?
The hero—a child of about five or six years old—was clearly a boy.
Not necessary. In this day and age the hero could have been androgynous and not specifically identifiable as a boy or a girl.
Watching the story, however, I clearly felt that the hero being a boy left my granddaughters out of the story in a subliminal yet profound way.
Bad on Disney for not thinking of that.
I would say it was a flawless movie if not for that huge flaw—and I do mean huge.
It’s almost like I had to come out of the movie and have “the talk” with my granddaughters. You know, “the talk” about how girls are brave too and about how girls can make friends in the jungle too and about how girls can turn around and look a lion in the eye and say, “I’m not afraid of you.”
I don’t want to go all political here, and yes I know it was “only” a movie. But it was “only” a movie about “only” a boy when it didn’t have to be. It could have been a movie about a child—a brave, strong, agile, smart, child—thereby allowing all the children watching it to decide for themselves what gender the child in the movie was.
Who knows, maybe my granddaughters did that anyway. I don’t know because I didn’t mention my thoughts out loud to them. I didn’t give them “the talk” because I thought that maybe doing so would have made the boy-girl issue as big for them as it was for me.
Deep inside however, I felt it. I felt the tightening of the noose. The one that says:
“Boys run free in the jungle and make friends with elephants. Girls don’t.
“Boys are heroes and save the day, Girls don’t.”
In the end, I decided that what I would do, rather than talk to my granddaughters about my thoughts, would be to show them my thoughts by the way I live.
Just like the “boy” in Jungle 2:
I would make unlikely friends.
I wouldn’t let anybody stop me from being who I was.
I would allow my creativity to show.
I would be as strong as I could be.
I would run as fast as I could, climb trees as fast as I could and wear whatever I wanted.
And most of all—
I would turn around, and look tigers in the eye and tell them, “I’m not afraid of you.”
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Travis May
Image: Movie Still