A Look at ‘The Brave Little Toaster’: Kid’s Cartoon or Domestic Abuse Propaganda?

Posted in The Screening Room by - December 15, 2014

Ah, the sweet innocence of youth. So starkly unaware of the subtler undertones of films or the more adult jokes and gags. One such film, coming from nearly 30 years ago, is a Disney financed, Hyperion Pictures created, animated flick about a spunky Toaster, an obnoxious alarm clock, a wet blanket, an oblivious lamp, and last but not least, a grumpy vacuum. Sounds like the perfect cast for a team of abandoned appliances to quest to find their lost, loving Master. Or is it actually a not-so-subtly disguised piece of propaganda promoting domestic abuse and demeaning women? Well let’s look at the facts.

This rag-tag group of friends each, in some manner, represents a “woman” acts or is supposed to act, as some from a different generation may believe. The toaster? Cooking. Vacuum? Cleaning. Blanket? Clingy and innocent. Alarm clock? Never stops talking. Lamp? Pretty, but dumb. I can’t help but to feel like I just had Don Draper describe a woman to me…

Let’s just ignore these facts for a second however. The film starts with these humble appliances doing their best to keep the abandoned home of their master from falling to shambles, as any dutiful woman – I mean, set of appliances, would. After fearing that they have truly been discarded, they embark on a journey to reclaim their master’s love. They are so utterly possessed by the need to be with him and receive his attention, that each of these companions is willing to put themselves into mortal peril. Nearly torn asunder by wild creatures? Master loves us. Come to the brink of plummeting to death? Master wants us. Narrowly escape having organs harvested and sold? Master needs us. 

Concurrent to the journey the appliances are taking, we see into the Master’s life. With a cold heart and flippant behavior, he decides that he can use these things (which are nearly fanatically devoted to him), even if just one more time. He completely disregards the items he supposedly “loves” until HE can get some use out of them again. Sounds like a stereotypical abusive relationship.

In the latter part of the film, the appliances have successfully arrived at the home of their Master, to find they have been replaced by sleeker, sexier, younger appliances. Our crew of loyal companions are dismayed at this discovery, however, their devotion knows no bounds, and they are willing to be the “side hoes” in this torrid love triangle of technology and humanity. The current girlfriend, sorry, set of appliances aren’t too keen on this and manage to send our intrepid heroes on a one-way ticket to the junkyard and listen to a song about how “Worthless” old things are. Not even joking.

The film ends with Master reclaiming his variety of cherished appliances and living happily ever after, until he abandons them again after college. Now, I’m not going to say that this film promotes domestic abuse or reinforces traditional gender stereotypes, but come on. Seems pretty obvious. Or it could be just a kids movie because not everything we watched growing up or made by Disney is trying to subconsciously program the youth. But I’ll leave that up to you.

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