I decided that to be able to tell you about the book I planned to, I needed to re-read it. I haven’t finished it yet, so I’ll put that review/dystopian scary crap off until tomorrow.
Tonight I finally watched Finding Dory, and it was freakin’ adorable. Baby Dory was beyond cute, and I wanted–needed–to see her find her family again.
I never thought about the idea of Dory being mentally disabled until the articles praising Pixar’s take on disability started to come around the time of the movie’s release. Watching this movie, it was clear that they approached the character much differently than in the original. Dory was funny and forgetful in Finding Nemo, and that was pretty much the extent of it. This time, they thoughtfully gave us a backstory to Dory’s disability. She wasn’t a character to laugh at anymore. She was was one to love and admire as you saw her learn to live with her memory loss. Nemo saw that in her before we as the audience saw the full extent of her brilliance at learning to do what she needed to do to keep living or “keep swimming.”
I loved seeing the flashbacks to her parents teaching her to follow shells to find her way home and her realizing that her “just keep swimming” ditty was one her parents had taught her, not just one she had randomly made up.
Oddly enough, my favorite of the new secondary characters wasn’t Hank the “septapus,” although his companionship grew from grudging to actively trying to help and protect her. It was Destiny the nearsighted whale. I loved that she recognized and remembered Dory from their childhood friendship and took her under her wing, when she probably could only see a blue blur. That’s true friendship.
I know this wasn’t a scholarly take on disability culture in films. But the amazing thing about so many of these characters is that they learned to work with what they have to give. They encouraged each other and made a safe place for each other.
On the other hand, I hope Marlon finally got it. Nemo did long ago, and now maybe Marlon can start to appreciate Dory for who she is. I’ve always wondered at the nature of their relationship, since Dory clearly recognized him as part of “family” from the very beginning of their journey in Finding Nemo.
She’s not just a fish with a disability, but she does have a disability she lives with pretty doggone effectively. So when you don’t know what to do next, ask yourself, “What would Dory do?”