9.27.2010

A Tale of Two Castaways

Disclaimer: there will be no serious, thought-provoking application today at the end, if that is what you seek. This post is what it is, take it or leave it.

Shipwrecked on a deserted island, the Swiss Family Robinson designed and constructed their personal treehouse resort. But do you ever wonder why, in the same situation, Tom Hanks went nuts talking to a volleyball in a cave?

The Robinsons never really seem to mind that much that they're shipwrecked. The boys galumph around the island, rounding up wild animals to assist in the construction process and swinging on vines because life is grand. Mom's hair looks fabulous as she steps off the life raft, and when her husband wonders why they had ever left Switzerland in the first place, she just smiles, sitting there in the sand on a deserted island, and tells him they did the right thing. Would you say the same thing to your spouse in such a situation?

Need a life raft strong enough to navigate desperately treacherous waters between the shipwreck and the land? Never fear! Dad and the boys can string one together in no time flat that's able to hold two parents, three strapping young men, and two Great Danes.

The treehouse itself is a sight to behold...a tri-level structure that is a child's dream. Beautifully furnished with things from the wrecked ship, none of which were ruined by water damage, it even has a pump system for purified drinking water. Dad managed to salvage a PIANO from the shipwreck and haul it up into the treehouse for mom's pleasure. With only one key that doesn't work.

Foreshadowing lets us know that, oh, by the way, there might be some pirate action coming later on. But are the Robinsons afraid? Apparently not. They'll be ready for 'em, preparing with the same level of emotional intensity that you would have in getting ready for a snowball fight with some kids from your neighborhood. Just build some coconut bombs and let the youngest boy play with them. Set up a booby trapped bridge that will collapse when you pull the rope, and then laugh with delight when a couple of pirates go tumbling into the water, even though 50 more are still charging you.

But here's the real kicker. When the Robinsons are rescued at the end, mom (whose skin has remained fashionably fair for months) realizes all of a sudden that all they ever wanted is right there in front of them. Pirates, tigers, lizards, deserted island diet, and all. Why leave the Disney treehouse resort? So they happily stay. The end.

WHAT?

Poor old Tom Hanks in Castaway didn't have nearly as sweet of a deal. He didn't have strapping young men to help him. He also didn't have wrecked ship supplies. He was absolutely devastated to be stuck. (See facial expression here.) The Robinsons were living it up, and he was running around in his skivvies trying to spear fish in the water. When you're utterly alone on an island, there's no one who can cut your hair for you or perform dental surgery. There's also no one to talk to, to keep you from going insane. Which is exactly what happened to poor old Tom...whose only friend was his volleyball. Wilson. And as for a life raft? It was all he could do to put together a sorry little excuse for one. Compared to the Robinson's BMW raft, it was like a Yugo. I would venture to say that even Gilligan and the Lost crew in all of their lostness had it better than Tom.

So...I guess in one sense, life is what you make of it. But on the other hand, I think that the big take-way here is that it really helps if Disney is telling your story.

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