By Sue Murphy
Sequels are risky. People will invariably say that one issue was better than the other, and truth be told, there isn’t that much more to be said.
Still, I’d like to make a case for filming “Finding Nemo: The College Years.” If you recall, our friend Nemo had a rough start. His mom was eaten by something dark and scary (so very Disney), leaving him the only child of an overprotective father. Nemo’s first day of school set off a chain of events that launched both Nemo and his dad on adventures that tested their commitment and character. Everything ended up OK (the brighter side of Disney) and we left our little family with their new memory-challenged friend, Dory, headed off into a seaweed sunset amidst a merry little band of diverse sea friends. Awwww …
In the first film, the quest is to find Nemo. In the sequel, Nemo would be finding himself. Under the tutelage of Mr. Ray, Nemo has now learned to read “P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney, Australia” all by himself. He’s mastered problems like “If Crush was swimming east at 52 mph and Squirt was swimming west at 32 mph, where would they meet?” Quite an accomplishment for a clown fish! Nemo gets accepted into UU (Underwater University) and dad Marlin drops him off at his new coed sea anemone dorm and swims tearfully away.
Now, the plot thickens. Sadly, in this film, Nemo will find that not everyone sees the advantage to swimming together. The BMOC (Big Mackerel on Campus) insists on breaking into smaller, more elite schools, where they can pick and choose who joins them. Nemo’s little squid friend with the inking problem is a “maybe.” His seahorse buddy with the braces and the lisp isn’t even considered.
Ah, but it gets worse from there. As we all know, BMOC power can bring out the shark in lesser species. They begin asking their initiates to do things specifically designed to humiliate them. They ask their would-be-friends to do things that could be dangerous to prove their worthiness to join the not-so-merry band. The burning question becomes, “Will Nemo do it?”
On second thought, the movie would never make it to the theaters. In order to deal with such themes, you’d have to give it a PG or R rating and that would exclude the loyal Nemo crowd.
Fine. I’ll just skip to the moral: Don’t do it, Nemo … or Kevin or Pat or Bridget, all you college-bound folk out there. If the campus powers-that-be (And who gave them the power?) ask you to do something that is meant to tear you down, say no. If they require you to do something that might endanger yourself or others, say no. And if they hold potential brotherhood or sisterhood over your head, try and remember that brothers and sisters don’t treat each other like that. OK, I did a few unkind things to my sister when we were growing up, but it didn’t take me long to regret it. I grew up.
The point of going off to college is to grow up, so BMOC, grow up already. Be kind to each other. Build up rather than tear down. And if someone is acting like a shark, call them on it. Who knows? A single act of defiance might send a wave of reform across the academic world and save a whole generation of Nemos.
I’ll be so proud. Dory will be proud. She might not remember why, but she’ll be proud just the same.