Posted in Watching Movies

“Old Yeller” Complex

I am not a fan of animal movies.  Not to say I’m not a fan of animals.  I like most animals.  They’re a necessary part of the whole circle of life thing, and pets can do wonders for people’s lives.  I also believe animal cruelty is horrible and should be stopped.  But what about the cruelty towards humans by making us watch movies about animals???

Of course I blame all this on the 1957 Disney classic movie Old Yeller.  I think pretty much every kid in the world (at least in my day) has seen this movie, and I’m sure they’re all scarred deeply by it.  It’s about a boy and his dog, who is also his best friend in the entire world, which should be an automatic cue to us that THE DOG IS GOING TO DIE.*

*I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you that this post is riddled with spoilers.  But I’m doing you a favor, trust me.

The boy (Travis) and his family live in post-Civil War Texas, and they are just about as poor as you can be.  They live on a farm, and they come across Old Yeller when he saves the youngest son (Arliss) from a bear attack.  The boys then keep the dog as their own.

You know, Ma?  He’s my best friend in the entire world!

So everything is fine and dandy on the farm for a while until the family realizes that one of their cows has rabies.  So Travis does what any other boy would do at that time.  Grabs his rifle and shoots the cow dead.*

*This is a SET-UP, by the way, letting us know how skilled Travis is with a gun.  Because, you know, he might have to use it again later on in the movie.

Then that same night a rabid (re: RABIES INFESTED) wolf comes to the farm and starts attacking everything.  Our beloved Old Yeller tries to once again save the day by attacking back and defending his family.  But of course he gets bitten by said wolf.  Uh-oh!

I’m totally fine, I swear!

Worried that Old Yeller may have gotten rabies from the wolf, the family locks up poor Old Yeller to keep an eye on him.  And then when Travis goes out one day to feed him, Old Yeller – with what I’m sure looked like the demons’ eyes from Supernatural – growls and snaps at Travis.  Which, you know, is TOTALLY not what Old Yeller normally does when he’s hungry.  Which can only mean one thing.


What’s a boy to do?  He can’t just let Old Yeller run around all rabid and crazy and killing everything in sight.  Seriously, remember in Pet Sematary when the dad buried his dead son in the Indian burial ground just so he could rise again, and the kid was totally psycho???  THERE ARE ALWAYS CONSEQUENCES WHEN YOU TAMPER WITH THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS.  So when your dog gets rabies, I’m sorry, but you have to kill it.

So that’s what Travis does.  He gets his trusty gun, and he shoots his best friend.

This hurts me more than it hurts you.  

Mind you, THIS IS A KIDS MOVIE.  Whose twisted idea was it to make a movie FOR KIDS about a poor farm kid who has to shoot his dog?  I’m sorry, but the whole “this is Travis’s first step in becoming a man” lesson gets completely lost on me when I’m still shaking in a fetal postition in the corner over the fact that he had to shoot his own freaking dog.

Anyway.  Old Yeller is the sole reason why I hate animal movies.  I should hate Disney, too, since they’re the ones who make most of the animal movies out there, but luckily their princesses outnumber their animals.  And to save you the pain and heartache of discovering the horror on your own, here’s a list of animal movies to avoid at all costs:

Bambi (1942)

Bambi is a cute little deer with cute animal friends like “They Call Me Thumper” Thumper the bunny, and an adorable skunk named Flower.  Then Bambi’s mother is shot by a hunter, and the forest burns down.  The end.

The Fox and the Hound (1981)

It’s like Romeo and Juliet for animals.  Two animals…both alike in dignity…in fair…um…woods…where we lay our scene.  In non-Shakespeare words, it’s a fox and a dog who grow up being friends until someone tells them they can’t be friends anymore because they’re different.  The end.

Marley & Me (2008)

Cute dog brings struggling family back together.  And then the dog dies.  The end.

The Lion King (1994)

Simba (son),  to Mufasa (father):  “We’re pals, right?  And we’ll always be together, right?”  And then Mufasa gets pushed off a cliff run over by a huge stampede down below.  The end.

Turner & Hooch (1989)

Well, GEEZ…when a cop’s partner is a DOG, what the hell do you think is going happen???  The end.

Black Beauty (1994)

Lets’s see…abused horses?  This may have a happyish ending, but the damage has already been done.  The end.

Dumbo (1941)

Circus elephant is nicknamed Dumbo because his ears are abnormally large.  His mom is locked up in a madhouse but still manages to sing a horribly depressing song called “Baby Mine”, which will reduce even the toughest bad-ass to tears.  The end.

The Yearling (1946)

A boy named Jody has a pet deer named Flag.  They’re besties.  When Flag grows up, Jody’s dad tells him he has to shoot Flag – not because it’s been infected with rabies, but because it’s “a nuisance”.  Jody runs away, but his dad shoots Flag anyway.  The end.

Final words:  Don’t watch movies that star animals, because 9 times out of 10, that animal will die a horrible death that will never, ever leave your mind.  You’re much better off watching movies about princesses (unless she owns a beloved pet, in which case you must stay far, far away).



I have way too much information floating around in my head, which is why I write things down. I find that books, movies, music, and television are much more interesting than my local news.

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