Thursday, June 15, 2017

Summertime Life Lessons

It's week 3 of my summer break with my kids. I like to make up little games while we're hanging out, mostly for my own sanity. I sometimes make them drinking games because adulting allows me to do that. However, one of our summer activities, watching Moana, can never be a drinking game. My liver wouldn't survive.

I grew up in the 80's and 90's, so I know all about the Disney marketing machine. Happy Meal toys. Toys from the toy aisle. Commercials. Books. Accessories. I know it all. I had it all! But living in the age of such amazing technology, like we do now, has upped the ante. We now have Moana playing in the DVD player anytime we get into the car. We have musical books we must read every single night before bedtime. If we aren't in the car or don't have the books, it's okay. YouTube allows us to watch the songs incessantly. The last time I checked, "You're Welcome" had over 165 million views. I guarantee my kids are at least a million of those views. Can you imagine if I took a shot every time I heard Dwayne Johnson singing "You're Welcome" in his oh-so-sexy voice?! I'd need a liver transplant. Like yesterday.

No, instead of lamenting about how many times I've seen this movie, or the fact that we are on our 2nd copy because the first one got scratched, or the fact that my son wants a chicken because of Hei Hei, I want to talk about the fact that I absolutely LOVE this movie! Seriously. If my husband asks me to pick out a movie for us to watch without the kids, he has to tell me I can't pick Moana. If you have somehow avoided seeing this movie thus far, I'll summarize it briefly, trying to avoid spoilers: a demi-god steals the heart from a goddess, who goes on a rampage and starts destroying islands. The ocean chooses the chief's daughter to take the goddess's heart back to her. This "not a princess" has to enlist the demi-god to help her. She discovers her strength and saves the day.

Now that we've got that out of the way, here's what I love about it. There is no love story. At all! No one is trying to win Moana's heart or hand in marriage. She doesn't need to have a man to take over as chief of her island. Her parents don't try to force her into a relationship. For a girl who grew up with princesses, who were saved by valiant knights and princes, this is huge! This is teaching my daughter that she isn't a damsel-in-distress waiting to be rescued. This is teaching my son that he doesn't have to go searching for a princess to save. This is teaching my kids to be their own persons without needing anyone else to complete them.

Moana capitalizes on the idea of "Nevertheless she persisted." Moana is told by her father that she is never to go beyond the reef. What does she do? She goes beyond the reef, of course. But it is more than that. She teaches herself to sail a canoe across the ocean, she figures out a way out of a cave, she risks her life to get the heart back from the coconut pirates (If you haven't seen it, this makes no sense. Go watch the movie!), she becomes a wave-finder, and she gives the goddess her heart back and saves her island. She is a superhero that all kids can relate to. Hell, she's a superhero adults can relate to! She never lets her situation get the better of her.

Also, she is not too proud to accept help. This is a huge lesson for me! She has her grandma who becomes her guide. She has her mom who helps her pack and does not try to stop her. She has a demigod, who teaches her not only to be a wave finder, but also how to save the islands. Moana is the sum of the people who are in her life, which makes her stronger than she would have been on her own.

One of the most beautiful scenes of the movie is when Moana and the lava monster, Te Ka, face off. It is artistically beautiful, but also the sentiment is the heart of the movie. Moana is literally looking a monster made of lava in the face and approaches her with love. Moana's love and understanding completely cools the lava. She doesn't lash out or try to match Te Ka with violence. Moana is humble and sees the lava monster for what she really is, not for her outward appearance. How many times have I lashed out against someone else, instead of being calm and seeing who they really are? Infinity times. That's how many. How wonderful that I am able to show my kids that they don't have to match anger for anger or rage for rage. They can be the peaceful ones.

I'm sure I could find more things to talk about when it comes to this movie, but my kids just asked to watch it again - for the 3rd time today. Of course I said, "yes." When my daughter said, "Oh thank you, Mom! So much!" my only response was, "You're welcome."

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