Friday, February 11, 2011

The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Eating Disorders

today in my (amazing, exhilarating, totally awesome) Popular Culture class, we watched Fantasia. 
For those of you who don't know, Fantasia is a film that was originally produced by Disney and released in 1940. It was all about the merging of cartoon and classical music, a phenomenon that was really well received by film critics but that pissed a lot of music critics off (because they think Disney was "cheapening" the music)
For my class, we had to read an essay about "Reception theory" , which is basically what it sounds like, a study of how audiences receive or understand certain media based upon their personal experiences, outlook, socio-economic status, race, etc.
I had never seen Fantasia before. What's funny is that my favorite part of it was definitely the Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment, which i've embedded below.
In it, (if you don't want to take 8 minutes to watch it, which is totally understandable, even though it is a Friday - thank god!!!) Mickey is the apprentice to a sorcerer. He is shown carrying heavy buckets of water up and down stairs, and feeling tired and strung out from all the heavy-lifting. He then starts playing around a little bit (by putting on the sorcerer's hat) and tries to make a broom come to life. It does. And then Mickey tries to teach the broom to do the heavy lifting for him.
The broom starts going up and down the stairs while Mickey just enjoys himself, sits back and relaxes. then Mickey falls asleep, and the next thing he knows, he is drowning in water because the broom  has totally overdone it and is out of his control. Mickey doesn't know what to do. He freaks out and tries to get it to stop but then the brooms multiply and there are tons of them and they go faster and faster and Mickey is drowning and scared.
Eventually, the Sorcerer comes along and stops all of this madness, and Mickey is left ashamed and, well, in trouble for playing around.
I "received" this as an analogy for eating disorders. It hit me immediately that we are Mickey.
Tired and bored of the hum-drum of everyday life and feelings and all that other stuff, we tried to find a way out of it. We tried  to find a way where we wouldn't have to do all the work. Feel all those bad things. The broom is our eating disorders.
At first, it was nice. We had a nice system going. The brooms were doing all the heavy-lifting. It gave us a nice break, a chance to relax, "take the edge off", kick up our feet (as Mickey does, literally) and just sail smoothly for a while, not feeling any feelings or having to actually engage in life.
Inevitably, though, we somehow let it get out of our control. We couldn't stop restricting. Or purging. Or bingeing. We begged and pleaded with our eating disorder to just stop, stop the awful thoughts and the crazy behaviors, as Mickey fruitlessly pleads with the brooms. It doesn't work.
Eventually, someone intervenes and we are left ashamed and confused as to how we got there. I mean, c'mon-- we were just playing around a little bit! Skipping a couple meals. Seeing if sticking our fingers down our throats would make us feel better. Trying on the proverbial sorcerer's cap. We then spiraled out of control and were drowning in our own, self-made flood of anxiety and fear and food. Finally, (hopefully), someone steps in and makes it all stop. Calms the waves for a little bit. Takes control. We, having (again, hopefully) learned our lesson walk away, not unscathed, but at least we didn't drown.
We are the Sorcerer's Apprentices. 



  1. I had a very similar experience while watching "Snoopy Come Home"
    Thanks for sharing this....awesome insight.

  2. This is an amazing post. That is all.

  3. Your interpretation is interesting, because I think everyone feels that same unease during this scene, but everyone might have a different specific reaction (mine makes me feel like my schedule is too full and I'm saying no to everything or yes to everything, and I just want to press "stop.")
    Interesting post! I miss school sometimes because of assignments like this :)

  4. I love Fantasia! Haha-this is such an interesting analogy. I shall have to see the movie again :P

  5. Ironically this has always been my favorite part of Fantasia. And your analogy is so profound. I read your blog often and struggle with ed thoughts on a daily basis so this just really resonates with me.

  6. I think that you are really, incedibly smart. You will go very far in life, I am sure of it.

  7. thank you!!!

  8. Meryl @ scribbled musingsFebruary 12, 2011 at 5:32 AM

    I love this analysis.

  9. I once had to talk about this in school too. We read the original poem though:

    I really should watch the movie :)

  10. You are so wise beyond your years Rose. I thoroughly enjoyed this :) Especially the bit about "Trying on the proverbial sorcerer's cap"

  11. I agree with Tatianna - you are really wise beyond your years. To pick up this parallel is really pretty amazing and insightful.

    Great post my friend!!