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If you are lonely then you will know, when someone needs you, you love them so. I won't betray his trust though people say I must.

1.19.2010



I have a confession to make that may surprise you. Until last night, I had never seen Oliver! (1968) and was wholly unfamiliar with the show except for recognizing a handful of songs. It seems wrong to me that I haven't seen it until now, musical lover that I am, but now I don't feel it was much of a loss. I won't say I hated it. If anything, many of the songs were very quality and I liked the choreography. But let me say that having never read Oliver Twist, I was very unprepared for (SPOILER) Nancy's death. You know, the one by the hand of her boyfriend Bill. In a cruel beating in the street.

My immediate reaction was "I AM NEVER SHOWING THIS MUSICAL TO MY CHILDREN." Such explicit domestic violence! Such a horrendous abusive relationship! A woman singing a love song of devotion to a man who is not only a criminal, but an absolute ASS to her. And she's lovely and good! (Not that her moral fiber makes a difference--she doesn't deserve it no matter her character or behavior.) I couldn't believe it. Is Nancy and Bill's relationship the same in the book? Because they should have changed it for the musical.

But then I started thinking, wait, do you show this musical to your children but with great intention, discussing with them afterward what they saw and fully explaining it's total wrongness? Technically the film doesn't excuse Bill's behavior--it definitely makes him out to be the villain. But I'm more concerned about the character of Nancy, and how her fierce devotion to Bill is somehow to be praised and admired! Give me Anna in The King and I any day over her, who doesn't stop at admitting the faults in the man she loves, but actually calls him out and confronts him over them (plus, the King is a much more complicated character than Bill Sikes, so it's not really a fair comparison).

I mean, GOOD GRIEF. It's on par with Julie in Carousel ('sometimes a slap feels like a kiss!'), but even worse! (Weird how the abusive man in Carousel has the name Bill as well.) The character of Nancy is all-around great, except for her ridiculous and terrifying love for this abusive, sociopathic criminal, giving me enough reason to not want to show this to kids, EVER. What do you think? I guess it depends on the kids age, but there are some things I think I would just refuse to expose to them, no matter how quality it may be on other levels (music, other redeeming characters, etc.). I'd much rather their favorite musicals contain strong female characters like Maria in The Sound of Music, Anita in West Side Story, Nora in Pete's Dragon, hell, even Sally Bowles is a better role model!

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