I'm no dummy, but it took me about twenty-five years to realize that there is a common link amongst animal movies: an animal always dies.

Maybe this sounds weird, but I can handle watching a human bloodbath (uh ... not in real life); however, watching a movie animal die (or even hearing about the animal's death after the fact) can start a flood of tears the like of which has rarely been seen.

And you know that there is a new animal movie out every two weeks, and somebody in my family is going to want to see it, and then I will be forced to go too, and there will be An Embarrassing Incident in which I leave the theater with the Ugly Crying Face and run into three ex-boyfriends, forty-five students, and that girl I hated in high school.

So I have created the Old Yeller Policy (OYP).

Probably there are not many people who actually have a policy that determines what movies they will see. On the other hand, I am EXACTLY the type of person who will think out her policies in advance and quote them verbatim in the middle of family screaming matches calm rational discussions. In addition to the OYP, I also have these:

----The SBMP (Stupid Boy Movie Policy), in which I do not watch anything which is in any way attached to any of the Wayans Brothers. Generally, any film whose preview includes diarrhea or wedgies falls under the SBMP.

----The SMP (Scary Movie Policy), in which I do not watch scary movies--EVER--because filling my head with ideas of serial killers and whacked-out murderers and demonic forces and malevolent ghosts is just gonna turn me crazy (-er?).

----The TCP (Tom Cruise Policy), in which I never watch a Tom Cruise movie, even the ones I've already seen, because the sight of him makes me so mad I cannot concentrate on anything else except how much I hate him, and I can do that at home for free.

But the policy I invoke most often is definitely the OYP. I named it that because Old Yeller is probably the progenitor of all Animal Movies That Make Me Cry. I've never seen it myself, but I did see that one episode of the Cosby Show where Cliff Huxtable talks about it. That alone convinced me that I should never watch it.

I have, of course, watched many many animal movies in my time. And I cried every time. Here are a few that contributed to the Policy Making.

Well, duh. People always bring this one up, but there's a good reason for it. Because Bambi's mom DIES. And it is traumatizing, especially to a tiny little six-year-old girl who doesn't know anything about hunting and thinks that meat grows in the garden, or something.

Benji the Hunted
Yeah, you probably think that's an odd choice. Except there is one part where Benji jumps off a cliff and you think he's dead. There was a pretty tense situation where I wanted to complain to the theater manager except I was eight and I didn't know any big words.

Of Mice and Men
It seems out of place, but I distinctly recall being in the ninth grade, in English, and watching this film. And there is one part where some random guy goes outside and kills his dog. You don't even see it, all you hear is a gunshot offscreen, but I was devastated. I cried AT SCHOOL. But I didn't cry at all when George killed Lenny (or the other way around, I forget).

The Lion King
This is actually the last animal movie I saw, I think. When Simba's dad fell off that cliff and was trampled by the stampeding wildebeasts, that's when I was like, "I'm out."

But the worst one of all, the one which I cannot even talk about without getting choked up, the one that has scarred me for life is

Now, you've seen Ferris Bueller, right? And doesn't Matthew Broderick always look like he's having a great time, and hey, come watch this movie, it's probably going to be super-funny and you'll love it! ... oh, but it's not. ... and you won't.

This complete travesty on film is about the 80s space program, and about killing killing killing monkeys but they know you're going to do it and right before you shoot 'em up with laser beams, they look at you with a sorrowful and reproachful expression, and then they are exploded into a billion pieces.

We watched this at home, on the VCR, and I remember I ran into my room, flung myself on my bed, and BAWLED. (Granted, I was thirteen, so that may have been normal behavior).

I cried for a solid thirty minutes without a break. It was not the quiet crying, either; we're talking great big sobs with the huge gasps of breath in between, the kind where you try to say something and it goes like this: "But(sob)the(sob)mon(sob)key's(sob)f-f-f-f(sob) FAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!! (huge gale of tears)

It was the kind of crying where you start coughing and you sound like you're horking up a lung but you still have tears and snot streaming down your face and you're all red and your eyes are swollen shut but you can't stop because: "He(sob)looked(sob)right(sob)at(sob)him(sob)but(sob)he(sob)still(sob)k-k-k(sob)KILLED HIM!!!!!!!!" (gigantic banshee wails)

This was, of course, right in the middle of the film, and I didn't want to watch the rest of it, but my mom made me. And even though Ferris Bueller exposed the highly illegal practices of KILLING MONKEYS FOR OUTER SPACE, and the mean scientist MONKEY-KILLERS went to jail, I was not pacified. I'm still not. (maybe this explains my aversion to science?)


Anyway, when I was twenty-seven, I started to say to myself, "I am TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD. I shouldn't have to _________!"
(put up with kids talking in the movie theater; let a jerk talk me into the "full automobile check-up, only $175!"; allow a child to tell me how to teach; watch animal movies, etc.)

So I instituted the OYP. It took a while before people started to take it seriously, but now it's sort of a foregone conclusion. It's been almost four years, and I think it's one of my best ideas yet.

"Wait a minute," you're saying. "There are about seven hundred animal movies that have been released in that time! And you didn't watch them?"

That's what I'm saying.

"Not even-" ...nope.
"What about-" ...nope.
"You haven't se-" ...nope.
"But surely you-" ...nope.

I don't watch 'em. And when one comes along, and somebody wants me to see it, I just say, "You know my policy," and the wrestling match accompanied by screamed obscenities extremely low-key and entirely reasonable debate in which everyone is an adult is over.

The Old Yeller Policy demands a certain respect; it makes people think ("Hey, animals really DO die in all those movies!"); it stands firm; it offers an inflexible point of reference for people who like to yell at each other when choosing what movie they want to see.

Also, it just sounds cool.

*note: I am SUCH a nerd.


Reel Fanatic said...

Very funny stuff ... I don't think I have any movie policies, but I decided long ago that I could get through my life without ever again seeing Rob Schneider on screen, so I guess maybe that's one

Mei said...

Yeah, Rob Schneider definitely falls under the SBMP. Actually, most of the movies of SNL alums are covered by that policy.


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