When my daughter was about two years old, we took her to see the movie Pocahontas. Yeah, I know, we probably shouldn’t have, but Braveheart was sold out, so the Disney movie was about all that was left.
Now I’m not going to say I hated the movie, but I did construct a Pocahontas voodoo doll out of bits of popcorn and a couple of Junior Mints I dropped on the floor. I don’t think there’s ever been an animated movie where I wished the illustrators had used the eraser more.
I found the movie tedious, unlike say a well-plotted, movie with great timing and dialogue, like say something by the Three Stooges.
But my daughter was taken with the movie. Loved it, in fact.
Not long after the movie, her grandmother bought her some Pocahontas toys. It was funny to watch her because she would carry around Pocahontas, John Smith, and Meeko every where she went. She always called them her “friends” and never went anywhere without them. And she especially loved “Pocolontus” her name for the movie’s main character.
Well, it was funny until the day I thought we were going to have to take her to the doctor to have the doctor pry her hand open to remove the toys. I pictured my daughter, scarred for life, walking the earth with a deformed hand.
There is one lesson from the movie that we still talk about to this day, and it’s this: the difference between John Smith and the Kocoum, man from Pocahontas’ tribe who she was going to marry.
Kocoum was a great warrior. Strong. Respected by members of his tribe.
But did Pocahontas love him? Nope. Instead, she was all about the new guy on the scene. The adventurous, free-wheeling John Smith.
And “John Smith” probably wasn’t even his real name. I’ve always wondered how Pocahontas could be so naïve. I always imagine her going back to her village and telling one of her friends, “I met this great guy on from the ship!” And one of her friends says, “Really? You need to be careful, girl. What’s his name?” And Pocahontas, in her soft, innocent Disney voice says “John Smith.” It’s a reply that draws the a stern warning from her friend. “Girl, don’t you know ANYTHING! All those guys say they’re John Smith. Why, I went down to the beach yesterday, and I had FIVE guys hitting on me, and every ONE of them told me his name was John Smith!”
Once she took a gander at ole John, Pocahontas immediately labeled poor Kocoum as “too serious.” She was set to buy him a PC, and then hitch her wagon to the new dude.
And that’s what my daughter and I still joke about. Any time one of us seems really serious, the other will ask, who are you? Kokoum?
Or if she’s about to go out with a new person, I all her if he’s nice or fun, or something like that. Or is he VERY SERIOUS? Like Kocoum.
So that’s the important lesson the movie left us with.
Not lessons about folks and coming and taking what isn’t there’s. Not lessons about judging people by the color of their skin. Or some other deep, meaningful lesson.
Nope. We learned the same basic thing that the Apple Computer TV commercials taught us – if you’re too serious, you’ll end up with a bad PC.
I guess it could have been worse. I could have taken her to see Braveheart. I hate to think what lessons she might be inflicting on me today. And with a battle-axe, no less!
I’m Kocoum the whole way.