Kage Baker loved animation. She revered animators and illustrators the way other kids loved favourite story tellers or television shows. She loved it so much that she boycotted Disney when the animation went down hill in the 1970’s and 80’s. And when they began their renaissance in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, Kage wept in the theatre for sheer joy.
Of course, there were some ogres left running round the Disney lot. Eisner actually shut down the Animation Department, stating that the company could make more money off the parks and the merchandise. Kage promptly joined the Opposition, under the aegis of Roy Disney, Walt’s nephew, and helped push for Eisner’s dismissal. She never forgave him for deliberately not publicizing Treasure Planet and Lilo and Stitch.
Kage never got to see The Frog Princess; she was too sick to go. I have not yet summoned up the courage to see it, just because she wanted to and never got to. I’ve watched Disney films since, with great happiness and enjoyment. But that one … no. The emptiness of the seat beside me is too great.
When Pixar hove upon the scene, she fell in love all over again. The last film of theirs she saw was Up! She watched it at home one weekend in her last Winter – she’d sent me to Dickens in the name of Duty. When I got home, she told me to watch the film as soon as I could. Because, she told me seriously, it’s a good movie about dealing with loss. with perverse stubbornness, I therefore refused to watch it until after she was gone, and I cried my eyes out when I did. Because she was right, and because she wasn’t there, and because she knew she wouldn’t be.
She would have been worried when Disney acquired Pixar, but pleased with the results. She would have been extremely worried when Disney acquired Marvel – but the results of that would have had her dancing with joy. Superhero movies are close kin to animation, and the Marvel hero movies have been terrific. She loved what she saw of them, and the trend would only have made her happier as it’s gone on. Loki alone, as played by the exquisite Tom Hiddleston, would have had her clapping and whistling like a girl.
Today, I went out and saw Big Hero 6 with my family. I liked it enormously and recommend it highly. No spoilers, but I will advise you to stay through the credits, for God’s sake. It’s a Disney and Marvel movie! You don’t leave those early! There’s always something wonderful for dessert!
I cried, though, in the safe darkness of the theatre. Kage would have loved the movie. It tears my heart out, to see these gorgeously animated films without her. She longed all her life for the level of craft that has only emerged in animated films in the last few years – she missed so much of it! And it’s getting better all the time … and every time I sit there without her, I cry. Even while I’m laughing, usually.
But, what the hell, old ladies are given to sentimental tears. It was Kage who taught me to love cartoons past childhood, and I’m sure not going to stop going to the movies now. Kimberly and her son and husband still love them, too, and so every animated film remains a family affair. It hurts, sometimes, but not as much as not seeing them would hurt. Kage would still be gone, and I’d have no bright pledge to make her, nothing to do in her memory.
One of the previews, though, chilled my blood: there’s a Spongebob Squarepants movie coming out. Kage loved that show – it wasn’t that she though it was especially good, or well drawn, or rich with morals. It just made her laugh. And she loved the pineapple that Spongebob lived in. And I know, I just know, that she’d have wanted to see it. It’s advertised as coming out in 3-D, which she would never, ever watch – but I’d have ended up driving all over the Central Coast to find theatres where they were showing it in 2D. And I cannot suppress the tiniest gasp of relief that I won’t be seeing this one …
Hopefully, that would make Kage laugh. Making her laugh was always a good thing. And it’s a large part of why I keep going to the movies I know she would have loved. I’m laughing for her.
And now, I am worn out entirely by laughing and crying and hiding my horrified eyes from Spongebob. I’ll never understand why Kage thought that show was so funny. Of course, she never understood why I liked to read things like Stephen King … and today, while we were out at the movies, the newest novel of his arrived. Kim’s got the hardcover, and I’ve got the Kindle version.
So I’m off to read. Go see Big Hero 6, Dear Readers, and if you get the preview of Spongebob, consider that there are scarier things than even Stephen King out there.
Which, I am sure, is some kind of moral.