[Coral-List] Deconstructing Nemo

Joshua A. Drew jdrew at bu.edu
Sat Apr 17 14:15:43 EDT 2004


As an assignment in an Aquatic Diversity class last year I had students 
deconstruct Finding Nemo.  I had them look at how this movie, portrayed issues 
of power and gender identity.  I had them look at what this movie portrayed as 
pressing issues in marine conservation, and what issues they did not present.  
Obviously the writers were constrained by the requirement to make a movie which 
was digestible by a variety of audiences, but that’s the point.  By presenting 
aquarium collection as a pressing issue, while ignoring issues of habitat 
destruction or global climate change, the makers of this movie are influencing 
how these problems are constructed.

The student’s responses were great.  For the most part they had not thought 
about how these films portray a particular view of gender and power inequities, 
and also how societal views of coral reef degradation do not necessarily mesh 
with what the current scientific thinking is.  As one student put it “I never 
really thought about these issues but now that I did, I’m really pissed off”

This is not to say that threats originating from the collection for the live 
reef fish trade are not real or important, but it is important to realize that 
Finding Nemo is going to be the first lesson in marine conservation for many 
children (and in some cases their only) so the message that it portrays is 
going to have a large impact.

I was hoping to show my students how to deal critically with these issues and 
to think about conservation is portrayed to society at large.  If anyone would 
like a copy of this quiz I’d be happy to share.


Joshua A. Drew
Boston University Marine Program
Marine Biological Laboratory
7 MBL St.
Woods Hole, MA 02543

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