Motherless Heroes: The Strange Case of the Best Animation Feature Oscar Nominees—2015
This year’s five Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature have something unusual in common: in none of them is the young protagonist raised by his or her birth mother.
In Disney’s Big Hero 6, Hiro and his brother Tadashi have been raised by their aunt. In DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup’s mother abandoned him and he was raised by his father. The protagonists of Song of the Sea from Ireland, Ben and Saoirse, were also abandoned by their mother and raised by their father. In The Boxtrolls, Eggs was given away by his father and raised collectively by a bunch of trolls. His mother never even enters into the story. Finally, the heroine of the Japanese film The Tale of Princess Kaguya was born on the Moon and raised on Earth by a childless couple who found her inside a bamboo shoot.
All of these films promote positive lessons, and in two of the films the mother does reappear and explain why she abandoned her child. However, the target audience for all of the nominees (even the more sophisticated Princess Kaguya) is children, and I can’t help but wonder what unintended message is being embedded in their consciousness while they watch these five Academy Award nominees.
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