The Last Days of Disco

Lady and the Tramp

An Excerpt from The Last Days of Disco.

Whit Stillman's famous interpretation of Disney's primer on love and marriage.

::: Whit Stillman

CHARLOTTE: Saturday, I took my niece, whos seven, to see the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp. She loved it! It was so cute. Im beginning to fall in love with the whole idea of having kids.

ALICE: I hate that movie.


ALICE: Its so tacky. Not to mention depressing.

CHARLOTTE: This sweet movie about cute cartoon dogs you found depressing?

: There is something depressing about it, and its not really about dogs. Except for some superficial bow-wow stuff at the start, the dogs all represent human types, which is where it gets into real trouble. Lady, the ostensible protagonist, is a fluffy blonde cocker spaniel with absolutely nothing on her mind. Shes great looking but, lets be honest, incredibly insipid. Tramp, the love interest, is a smarmy braggart of the most obnoxious kind. An oily jailbird, out for a piece of tail, or whatever he can get.

CHARLOTTE: Oh, cmon.

JOSH: No, hes a self-confessed chicken thiefan all around sleaze ball. Whats the function of a film of this kind? Essentially its a primer on love and marriage directed at very young people; imprinting on their little psyches the idea that smooth talking delinquents, recently escaped from the local pound, are a good match for nice girls from sheltered homes. When in ten years, the icky human version of Tramp shows up around the house, their hormones will be racing, and no one will understand why. Films like this program woman to adore jerks.

DES: God, youre nuts!

JOSH: The only sympathetic character, the little Scotty whos so loyal and concerned about Lady, is mocked as old-fashioned and irrelevant, and shunted off to the side.

Lady and the Tramp

DES: Isnt the whole point that Tramp changes? OK, maybe in the past he stole chickens, ran around without a license, and wasnt always sincere with members of the opposite sex. But through his love for Lady, and beneficent influences of Fatherhood and Matrimony, he changes and becomes a valued member of that rather idealic household.

JOSH: I dont think people really change that way. We can change our context, but we cant change ourselves.

ALICE: I agree with Josh. Scotty is the only admirable character. It would have been a much better movie if Lady ended up with him.

DES: Im really surprised. I think Tramp really changed.

JOSH: Maybe he wanted to change, or tried to change, but there is not a lot of integrity there. First hed be hanging around the house, drinking, watching ball games, maybe knocking Lady around a little bit. But pretty soon, hed be back at the town dump chasing tail.

DES: Oh give me a break! Are you taking your medication? Because what youre saying is completely nuts!

Posted by: editor on Mar 11, 2001 | 10:55 pm

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