Bambi’s hard lesson

The cherry-red Mustang GTO shuddered with excitement as I engaged the clutch for the first time. Except, a car can’t get excited any easier than you or I can transform 87 octane into 300 horsepower of asphalt-chewing speed.

Transferring human characteristics onto inanimate objects, called personification, is a trick writers and movie producers use all the time. Just ask Lightning McQueen, Larry the Cucumber and … Bambi.

Of course, those who hunt deer would be quick to point out that deer are far from inanimate objects, but the concept is the same. Walt Disney and his team of illustrators didn’t just dabble in the personification pool when creating Bambi. They dove in with both feet, creating a little fawn that was more human than deer.

The result is an emotionally charged movie that can pull on a child’s heartstrings today as well as it did nearly 70 years ago when the movie was first introduced.

When Bambi’s mother is killed by an unseen hunter, we feel just as lost, lonely and scared as the little deer.

The heart gets pumping when hunters later pursue Bambi’s love interest, unleash their blood-thirsty dogs and are careless enough to allow their blazing campfire to ultimately burn down Bambi’s forest land.

Never shown in the movie, the hunter is perceived as faceless, cold and unforgiving — just as vile a villain as Cruella DeVille, Skar, Cinderella’s evil stepmother and countless other antagonists in Disney’s large stable of films.

No wonder many hunters cringe when someone mentions Bambi. There are some who have taken time to research the slow decline of hunting and suggest it parallels the Bambi timeline.

But there is a scene in the movie that suggests a deeper meaning and a larger base of villain-hood. At one point, Bambi and his mother first visit an open meadow together. After some exploring and meeting new friends, the animals all run for cover when hunters barge into the scene, bullets zinging through the air.

Later, Bambi and his mother take a moment to reflect in a safer part of the forest. The young deer asks his mother what just happened.

“Man,” the doe responds, “has entered the forest.”

That man represents people in general. Not just men. Not just hunters.

Yes, hunters shoot and kill deer. Is it as traumatic to the real deer as it is to the personified Bambi and company? That’s a debate for a different day.

The point here is that while hunters do “harvest” deer, that is hardly the only threat we represent to deer and other wildlife.

What about the massive destruction of habitat for houses, amusement parks, parking lots, etc.? Everyone who lives in a home is guilty of taking habitat away from wildlife in some form or another.

What about those who drive cars? Thousands upon thousands of deer and other wildlife are mutilated on our man-made highways by our man-made vehicles.

Of course, the point here involves what Bambi really teaches our children, or at least what it should be.

Not that hunters are villains, but yet another piece of the predator-prey life cycle that has sustains life on this planet.

And that we all have an effect on the world around us.

Make yours count.

~ by zaktansky on December 27, 2011.

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