- Paula Tiberius
Black Anthropomorphic Beauty
I don’t know why I’m suddenly so filled with compassion for animals. Becoming a vegetarian, worrying about flies, and now….bawling my eyes out watching Black Beauty, a movie about a horse, based on a book about a horse. Have you seen this anthropomorphic tear-jerker? The old cynical me would have scoffed at how ridiculous it was – this horse narrating his own life story showcasing both the compassion and the cruelty of humans – every vignette a cloying manipulation of the heart strings dressed up to seem profound. But apparently my nervous breakthrough has made me a big ol’ sucker.
At the point where Black Beauty gets sold to an abusive asshole, I was absolutely riveted. Violet grabbed my shoulder and said, “Mommy, are you okay?” The question caught me completely off guard. How could I possibly be okay? This beautiful majestic horse whose only dream is to run free in the English countryside is stuck in the smoggy city with an uncomfortable thing on his head, forced to be a taxi! “I’m fine sweetie. The movie’s just a bit sad.” She was baffled of course. For a two and a half year old, it wasn’t sad – it was just boring as hell. I looked down and realized that not only was Violet wearing a pair of my fuzzy socks pulled up to her thighs, but she also had one of my bras on her head. When did she leave the room for long enough to fashion this outfit? Good lord, I had to turn off this freaking movie. Which I did.
Then Violet exclaimed that she wanted to “watch another mooovie!” I was going to say no when I realized that actually that was a great idea for me, never mind that we were about to teeter over the edge of the two-hour television time limit that I always tell the pediatrician we adhere to. In this case, I needed to get some new images in my head or I’d have nightmares about sad horses. So she picked another newcomer to our Netflix queue – Gordy. We watched the first scene and I declared movie time over. Gordy is a young pig whose father gets carted away in a pick-up truck in scene one. Bye-bye Gordy. Another time, another crime, as my husband says.
Does anyone know why kids movies are always about animals? And why, in general, kids are bombarded with animal imagery? I never noticed this before, but Violet’s bedroom is a veritable homage to the barnyard. I’m hatching a theory that there’s an important connection between animals and kids. They both bring out emotions you didn’t know you had and amplify your empathy. They’re united in their ability to pull at your heartstrings and cut through the cynical layers to reveal that throbbing mass of goo that feels the pain of every ‘owie.’
Anyway, I feel depressed now. Even pressing the “remove from queue” button on Black Beauty didn’t make me feel better. I saw Free Willy sitting there innocently waiting to take its place. Hmm.