As we’ve mentioned several times before, Disney movies are far from the innocent cartoons they pretend to be. And Pixar, which joined Disney in 2006, isn’t slacking on their end, either.
Take Finding Nemo. It’s a heartfelt father-and-son story in which an entire family of clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) is viciously devoured by a barracuda, and then the son is abducted by scuba divers and forced into performing peepshows for a sociopathic human child.
Marlin, the father of the titular clownfish, goes on a harrowing journey to rescue his son. With the help of Ellen DeGeneres the Fish, Marlin outsmarts sharks, whales, hungry birds, and jellyfish. Nemo and Marlin are reunited and — with their odyssey over — live happily ever after.
Disturbingly happily ever after.
We touched on this topic briefly before, ignorant of the implications — but sometimes ignorance is bliss. You see, a clownfish colony — which doesn’t stray far from its anemone host — is dominated by one male and one female. These two are the only ones who are trading fluids in the entire group. Why? Because all clownfish are born male. Why? Because Mother Nature is one crazy broad.
Naturally, the next question is “Where did that male clownfish get his woman bits from?” Well, clownfish are sequential hermaphrodites, meaning that the male can transform himself into an intoxicating lady quicker than Wesley Snipes in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.
So what does this mean for Finding Nemo? Well, when the female in the colony dies or disappears, the dominant male will change into the dominant female, and the fish who was waiting in line behind him takes over as the new top guy.
Remember that Nemo’s mom became fish food in the first act, along with all of Nemo’s brothers. This makes Marlin the dominant male, and Nemo the second-most dominant. Are you starting to pick up what we’re putting down, preferably while wearing latex gloves?
You know that tiny fish egg that Marlin nurtured, cared for, and almost died for? Yup, he was totally just trying to get his son home so they could repopulate their colony.
In other words, once Marlin rescued Nemo from that Australian dentist, he basically led his son to the anemone boudoir, popped on “Lemon Incest” by Serge Gainsbourg, spread his new ladylike fins, and bellowed “TODAY YOU BECOME A MAN AND THE MAN OF THE HOUSE.”
And given the fact that Pixar meticulously researched marine life for Finding Nemo, someone during the production process must have realized, “Hey, we’re totally making a more fucked-up version of Oedipus Rex starring fish.”
We’re not going to grouse about biological accuracy here — this is a movie with a talking sea turtle, after all — but if you’re going to make a heartwarming G-rated animated flick about a father-son duo of anthropomorphized fish, maybe you shouldn’t choose a species that bangs the shit out of its relatives during an emergency. Likewise, this knowledge makes Finding Nemo on Ice a billion times more mind-shattering than it normally is.