An American Tail
Do you remember an animated movie called An American Tail, from 1986? I used to like this cartoon when I was little and when VCRs were starting to gain popularity in my country. I watched all the Disney animated movies, karate-kid movies, Goonies. American culture was becoming wide-spread in then Yugoslavia.
If you are not familiar, the plot goes something like this (courtesy of Wikipedia):
In Shostka in 1885, the Mousekewitzes, a Ukrainian-Jewish family of mice who live with a human family named Moskowitz, are having a celebration of Hanukkah where Papa Mousekewitz gives his hat to his 5-year old son, Fievel, and tells about the United States, a country where there are no cats. The celebration is interrupted when a battery of Cossacks ride through the village square in an arson attack and their cats likewise attack the village mice. Because of this, the Moskowitz home, along with that of the Mousekewitzes, is destroyed.
In Hamburg, the Mousekewitzes board a tramp steamer headed for New York City. During a thunderstorm on their journey, Fievel suddenly finds himself separated from his family and washed overboard. Thinking that he has died, they proceed to the city as planned, though they become depressed at his loss.
However, Fievel floats to New York City in a bottle and, after a pep talk from a French pigeon named Henri, embarks on a quest to find his family. He is waylaid by con man Warren T. Rat, who gains his trust and then sells him to a sweatshop. He escapes with Tony Toponi, a street-smart Italian mouse, and they join up with Bridget, an Irish mouse trying to rouse her fellow mice to fight the cats. When a gang of them called the Mott Street Maulers attacks a mouse marketplace, the immigrant mice learn that the tales of a cat-free country are not true.
I was thinking about An American Tail lately as an immigrant. Every immigrant coming to America has a vision of a free country where roads are wide, nature is sprawling, and the cities are big and beautiful. A country where people are friendly and warm, not concerned about dress-codes and ties; a country of great athletes, great writers, and an unprecedented moral code. In our far-away countries, we imagined a place with few criminals and some homeless people, but the American heroes (army, cops, Superman) fought against this every day.
After last week’s and this week’s events, it is safe to say that there are definitely cats in America. Ordinary Fievels like me are no longer convinced that the cats are only in our war-torn countries. However, I still believe that that American heroes are fighting against the injustice every day and that the bad cats will definitely end up in a pound.