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Home arrow Language & Literature arrow The Absent Mother in the Cultural Imagination : Missing, Presumed Dead


  • 1. With the exception of Finding Nemo and Cloudy, all the films are made by Disney. I argue, however, that in a discussion of cultural representation, there is little difference between Sony, DreamWorks, Disney and Twentieth Century Fox.
  • 2. Ariel is sixteen. Jasmine’s and Belle’s ages are not given, but they appear to be under twenty.
  • 3. It should be noted that ‘postfeminism’ is not an uncontested term: having been debated for more than twenty years, there is still no consensus as to whether it is simply a chronological term, denoting what comes after feminism, or ‘a conceptual framework’ in which the ‘tenets of feminism’ are assimilated into ‘the cultural imaginary and social relations’ (Clark 2014, 447). Some scholars use postfeminism as a relatively neutral concept, denoting a situation where women expect to experience the results of feminism, to have the same rights as men (Wooden and Gillam). Others read it as a way of paying lip service to feminism whilst at the same time dismissing it as no longer relevant, since equality between the sexes has ostensibly been achieved (McRobbie 2004; Tasker and Negra 2007). It is this latter definition of postfeminism that Hamad employs, and which I also use.
  • 4. Exceptions are Brave (Pixar 2012), Inside Out (Pixar 2015) and Hotel Transylvania (Sony Pictures Animation 2012).
  • 5. It is noteworthy that there are no parents at all in the folktale Chicken Little, and that the family depicted in the book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs consists of grandfather, mother and two children.
  • 6. As CinemaSins (2015) observes, the barracuda would not have known about the eggs if Coral had not dived towards them. His comment is that ‘Motherly instinct is a dick to kids’.
  • 7. Although there are some negative comments online and in newspaper columns, most viewers and critics seem to regard Coral’s death as an acceptable opening to the film. One exception is the research undertaken by Ian Colman et al. (2014), citing Finding Nemo, which suggests that children might become traumatized if faced with this type of violence, particularly when directed at a parent.
  • 8. Suzan G. Brydon reads Marlin’s actions as maternal behaviour, which seems to suggest that men are incapable of nurturing actions and emotions (2009,139).
  • 9. See, for example, Finding Nemo Psych Analysis (n. d), The Character Therapist (2011) and Melissa Bradley-Ball (2013).
  • 10. As Jessica Birthisel has noted in her study of construction of masculinity in Pixar and DreamWorks films, the films always focus on boys, and the boys never have sisters (2014, 346.)
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