By Craig Yoshihara
Dory isn’t normal.
But then, who is?
That’s why I guess I loved Finding Dory. I love the way the creators of the film treated her. Even though she suffers from short-term memory loss, nobody makes fun of her, and they don’t pity her either. They don’t treat her as somebody who needs to be cured, just cared for.
In one of the special features on the Blu-ray disc, Lindsey Collins, the film’s producer, said, “We never wanted her memory loss to be seen as something that could be cured. By doing that we would be taking away the very thing that defined her and made her so lovable.” And that’s so true. Part of Dory’s charm IS her short-term memory loss. It’s also what drives people up the wall! It would have been easy to find a cure for Dory’s short-term memory loss — some latent memory or trigger that would make her remember everything and resolve all her problems. But they didn’t. Instead, they simply made it part of who she is.
When you’re little, it’s harder to understand this concept. Things that are different than what you’re used to scares you. The first time I took my daughter Emma to Disneyland, I remember how scared she was of Santa Goofy. It was just after Christmas and also her very first visit, so I did what virtually every parent does and took her to get a picture with a character. She was having NONE of that! Being 20 months old, I’m sure seeing a gigantic dog bigger than her dad might have been somewhat off-putting. The best I could manage was to hold her semi-close to Goofy as she clung on to me with all the might she could muster.
But as we get older, it’s really important to help our kids realize that different IS normal, and that we are all different in some way. That’s why I think movies like Finding Dory are so important for our kids to watch. It normalizes what we might be tempted to call “abnormal.” And it helps to teach kids at an early age that being different is just that — different. It’s not something to be feared. It’s not something we have to avoid. It’s learning to treat people with love and care, dignity and respect.
When I was young, I struggled with weight. Still do. But back then, it was really tough. People would make fat jokes to me, right to my face. Or worse, they would avoid me like I had some kind of disease. It’s hard to describe how you can feel lonely being surrounded by people. I bet there are lots of others who feel that way at least once in a while. Don’t get me wrong — I had some great friends. But there were times when I knew I was “different.” Even though I really wasn’t. People just saw me that way. Being different isn’t something that needs to be cured; it’s just a person (or fish) that needs to be cared for.
Just like Dory.
Originally published on Babble