Kiddertainment Review: “Dumbo” Full of Life Lessons for Children



Ed. Note: As a father of two young daughters, our television is typically tuned into the latest heaping slop from the likes of Disney, Nickelodeon, Pixar, and other billion-dollar corporations looking to fleece moms and dads (like myself) out of mountains of moulah to keep their youngsters shut-the-hell-up long enough to allow parents to zone out for a few moments each day, I am starting a new review series of our ‘favorite’ children’s entertainment.

As a parent who cares about my children deeply, I often find myself analyzing the good, the bad, and the crazy that abounds in children’s entertainment so that I can choose appropriate content for my kids to watch — all while taking comfort in the notion that good quality family entertainment builds strong moral character. And classic Disney movies have it all.

Re-watching these titles some thirty years later sheds light on society’s norms and values at the time of the films’ release — particularly less-than-veiled values of sexism, misogyny, and racism. These factors surely explain why, in today’s America, we are still collectively backwards sons-of-bitches in our heart of hearts (or is it “hearts of heartses?).

Let’s start this series with one of Disney’s first offerings: 1941’s “Dumbo.”

Dumbo is a story about an underdog. Dumbo is a story about discovery of one’s inner potential. Dumbo is a story of a “chosen son” who overcomes his physical deficiencies through an accidental dosage of hallucinogenic champagne that randomly helped the protagonist discover his hidden talent. Dumbo is a lot of things and more, and after watching this more recently, I realize it has truly helped youngsters dating back from decades ago up through today’s modern society to learn several of life’s key lessons.

Continue reading

Eid: The Power of Beef Reigns Supreme in Bangladesh

Image of the Power of Beef.

Album artwork for Pigmy Love Circus’ globally acclaimed “The Power of Beef.”

Eid ul-Adha, also referred to as qurbani Eid (qurbani meaning sacrifice), is the grand-daddy of all holidays in Bangladesh and holds a unique power that reigns supreme over every other holiday known to man: the Power of Beef.

Living in a foreign country allows one to learn a lot about differences in cultures, traditions, and even philosophies that aim to explain the meaning of life and allay our uncertainties about the origin of existence. More importantly, one realizes the many parallels between people and cultures of every land, gaining a profound appreciation for the things that bring us together.

These similarities between East and West are perhaps most noticeable during the Islamic Eid holidays. It is a time when people enjoy spending time with family and loved ones, relishing the ideal of peace on earth, exchanging gifts, watching sport on television, spending money recklessly, traveling in painstaking conditions, and…indulging in massive amounts of meat.

Most importantly, Eid ul-Adha is rich in parable to illustrate life lessons in their most basic forms: Before there is reward, there must be sacrifice.

This theme of sacrifice stems from the holiday’s symbolic reverence toward the Koranic (and biblical) story of the prophet Abraham who, when commanded by God to offer up a sacrifice to prove his loyal reverence, was fully prepared to slit the throat of his first-born son Isaac to appease the omnipotent and somewhat meddlesome creator of man in the story.

Thankfully, the originators of the Eid holiday did not call for the blood of first-born children, but rather for goats, sheep, cattle, or any other tasty animal to be substituted upon the altar of sacrifice. However, unlike Abraham’s story, the sacrificial beast does not escape the knife in real life.

While many Islamic countries witness significant reductions in their goat and sheep populations after qurbani Eid, cattle are the animals of choice to sacrifice in Bangladesh. I’m not sure why, but I think it might have something to do with added pleasure of importing (legally or illegally) sacred cows from India to spill their blood and feast upon the reincarnated relatives of their Indian neighbors. I’m probably wrong, though. All right, I am definitely wrong.

Continue reading

Review: Little Mermaid’s Magical Formula Reveals Disney Delusion


As a middle-aged American, I — like many others of my generation — have been subjected to hours, months, and ultimately many years of meticulously crafted entertainment from the Disney Company. Consciously, we view Disney as a hallmark of purity and high-quality family entertainment that espouses only the highest morals and family values. But under the surface, there is more than meets the eye.

Now, as a fatter, older, and surly grey-haired father of two girls, I am subjected to Disney movies and cartoons at an unprecedented rate. Through all of this, I also see a stark formula readily apparent in these films that I watched casually over the last 30-plus years and films that I am now forced to watch religiously. And it is quite troubling.

What is this Disney formula so ubiquitously found throughout its entire catalog? After watching “Little Mermaid” a few times over the past day or two (it’s playing on our DVD player as I type), I realize that from a father’s perspective, this plot is a direct kick-to-the nuts for dads everywhere. It is probably no better for mothers, either, though I suspect many moms grew up loving this freakin’ movie. Most of all, this formula is even worse for the little girls who watch this movie and are thereby expected to pattern their life’s path to parallel a fictional mermaid princess that exists in an absurd universe of fairy tales and magic spells.

Continue reading

Spending Quality Daddy Daughter Time…Just Like ‘Commando’

Image of daddy-daughter quality time in Commando.

I have spent the past week watching over my daughter as the virtual sole caretaker. Through it all, I was aiming for greatness.

When it comes to watching over and caring for their daughters, fathers seek to create a lifelong bond with their female offspring built upon trust, protection and fond moments of truly connecting on the deepest of levels that will remain with us for the rest of our lives.

This is not easy. Perhaps this ideal is impossible and is best portrayed not in reality, but in the dreamscape of television and movies. Some fathers in the real world aim to equal fictional icons like Danny Tanner on “Full House,” those two dads from “My Two Dads,” or maybe even Steve Martin in “Father of the Bride.” I, however, shoot for the best display of fatherhood ever committed to film: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heartwarming and awe-inspiring depiction of daddy dearest in his role as John Matrix in 1985’s “Commando.”

Most people who have seen this movie remember it fondly for its high body count and fantastic (some say cheesy, I say fantastic) one-liners dispensed from Arnold Schwarzenegger at a pace nearly as rapid as his fully automatic machine gun spits out deadly rounds at his victims-to-be. What many forget is that this story is perhaps the greatest exhibition of a father’s love for his daughter ever, fiction or reality.

While this theme ultimately centers upon merciless revenge enacted upon hundreds of people for conspiring to kidnap his daughter, Schwarzenegger truly shows what it means to be “dear old dad” in the early and oft-forgotten scenes of this cinematic masterpiece.
Continue reading

Cricket Crazy in Dhaka

Image of street vendor in Dhaka before cricket match in Bangladesh.

Yes, it has been a while since I posted anything new here and nearly forgot how to write for fun until I had the fortune to attend a cricket match in Dhaka. That’s when inspiration struck.

Cricket. For people who have actually heard of it as a sport and not as a crop-killing insect or American cell phone service for the elderly, cricket rests high atop the pantheon of the most boring athletic activities known to planet earth.

In the minds of many, or at least mine, cricket welcomes comparisons to other traditionally upper-class games of privilege and snobbery like polo, croquet, or bridge. All are probably enjoyable for the participants, but for the casual spectator of sports, they all fall miserably short in satiating the appetite for witnessing the beauty of the human body falling violently to the turf during a heart-pounding two-minute drive in American football or the thrill of Game 7 in the World Series.

When I was younger, I had heard about cricket but never actually saw the game played. Referred to as a “gentleman’s game,” I knew it had English roots and therefore assumed it was basically lawn bowling with middle-aged, monocle-wearing British chaps smoking pipes and doing something with a ball. Turns out, I was mostly right. At least back then.

Now, I have come to understand that cricket, due to Great Britain’s colonial heritage, is actually a sport that fuels the dreams of kids and adults alike in India, Bangladesh, West Indies, Zimbabwe, South Africa, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Moreover, cricket is a wildfire that has swept throughout the South Asian subcontinent and become a way of life for well over a billion people.

Continue reading