|4th Grade Field Day 1990 (that's me on the far right)|
I mention this rather embarrassing tidbit because I recently learned there is something of a Spot subculture. Women my age romanticizing about the characters that they use to harbor crushes on when they were tweens. Harmless, right? Well only if you don't take into consideration that Spot is one of the most violent characters in the whole film. In the clip below the Newsies are fighting the thugs hired by the newspapers to put an end to the strike. Jack, Christian Bale's character and the most experienced fighter, is in over his head until Spot and his crew show up to save the day. Notice that Spot and his band of Brooklyn newsies are the only newsboys brandishing weapons.
What does it say that grown women are still fantasizing about a violent man-child? Gabriel Damon was and probably still is attractive but so is Christian Bale. Yet much of the fan fiction and YouTube comments about this film revolve around Spot. Why? He's not even a major character. But he is the "coolest" character--he is a domineering presence (all 5'7" of him), violent, and assertive. It speaks to the power of Dorfman's "secret education" ( 189) that this character has yet to fade into the ether. Spot's aggressive characteristics seems to resonate with Lila Johnson's observations about her brothers who "tossed aside their piles of books and tubs of clay: Heroes didn't read or create--they fought!" (202). These aggressive, volatile, men are suppose to be our princes. Not creators but destroyers. It's frightening to think about.
As a parent, I am very concerned about the messages being carefully aimed at my children. I am especially worried about the effects on the "Princess Culture" upon my daughter something Peggy Orenstein writes about in her book Cinderella Ate My Daughter (her original NY Times article "What's Wrong with Cinderella?" is worth a read). Just walking into Toy R Us gives me the hee bee gee bees. They have organized their toys around franchises--Cars, Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora the Explorer, etc.--and whole isles are dedicated to princess merchandise. I remembering trying to buy invitations to my son's 1st birthday party and not being able to find a single one without some T.V. or movie character on it. How do you fight this indoctrination?