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What to Do About Little Orphan Annie?


An AF reader wrote in with the following conundrum:
"My seven-year-old's drama program is putting on the play, Annie. I find the dated story and idea of a orphan as a cartoon character to be inappropriate for our family. The program responded that they feel the play 'educates' children about adoption. Has anyone else's child been exposed to this play, by being part of a production, or just watching the movie? Have your children reacted to or identified with the characters in any way, or not? What have you done? Right now, I wake up in the mornings to my daughter singing 'It's A Hard Knock Life,' and I have to say I find it very disturbing."

Share your thoughts about Annie, or other portrayals of adoption or "orphan" stereotypes in the popular culture, by posting a comment, below.

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My son was adopted from China at 2 yrs old, and he got Annie the movie as a Christmas present from a friend when he was 3. It was his favorite movie for about 5 months, and I cannot tell you how many times he watched it. He was most fascinated with Annie running from the Bad Man on the train tracks, and the helicopter rescue.... we had to talk that one through as he was so afraid Annie would get run over by a train. So much for adoption issues... He does very much identify with Annie being in an orphanage, and points out he was in an orphanage too, and also with her having a dog (he has a large one). And he identified with Annie being adopted and having nice parents afterwards. He saw it as very positive, and was very impressed by how strong a character Annie was: that she faces down the bigger boys who are picking on the dog for instance. Annie remains (at nearly 5 yrs old) one of his favorite movies, and we have also watched Oliver! the film. These are fictionalized romanticized versions of life with over the top characters (the Bad Men really are very bad... I am more worried about nightmares) set in historical periods... I don't find I have issues with them, and they allow my son to relate to children in an orphanage (which doesn't happen to children in North America, but certainly does elsewhere in the world including China), their dramas, and eventual resolution of being adopted "forever, right Mommy?" into loving families. I welcome the opportunity for dialogue and exploration of adoption. Note his current fave movie is Beethoven, as we have a Saint Bernard, and really, it certainly isn't any more realistic re Saints than the other two are about adoption, and it gives us a chance to laugh at the exaggerations, rather than get angry at the unfair portrayals (Beethoven really is the Jim Carrey of Saint Bernards).

Posted by: Leanne at 11:47am Oct 6

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