Disney boosts the “gender-neutral” white male default

Girl w/ Pen has a fantastic and disturbing article about Disney’s Tangled. I highly recommend reading it, because I’m only going to touch on one of the many troubling points it makes.

Tangled is being called a “gender neutral makeover.” Perhaps this will make sense when I tell you it’s the story of Flynn Rider, an outlaw who meets some chick who’s been imprisoned in a tower all her life, and eventually marries her. By the way, that chick’s name is Rapunzel.

You see what they’ve done there? When the story was about Rapunzel, it was ABOUT WOMEN OH NOES, which made it not gender neutral. Neutralizing it meant making it about a white guy. White straight not-disabled middle class guys don’t have gender, or race, or sexual orientation or class. They just… are.

Must be nice. Apparently, being both female and from a below-middle-class background, I’m two issues rather than a person, myself. How about you?

Hollywood tells writers that if you make your lead a woman, a black man, a gay person, a disabled person, a poor person or anything but a white born male who’s heterosexual and not disabled and middle class and stuff, suddenly your movie is about being a woman, being black, being gay, etc. It automatically stops being about dragons or saving the world from terrorists or a romance or whatever may have seemed to be the plot, and becomes an “issue movie” about what it’s like to not be a conformist white dude.

We can’t win for losing, can we? We can’t even have stories – we have to have obnoxious political statement movies, which reinforces the idea that those of us who aren’t conformist white dudes are just irritating bundles of complaints that, honestly, no one wants to spend a lot of money to see in a theater.

Oh, and for pity’s sake, don’t point to the genre ghetto as evidence we have a place in movies. Yes, I realize we’re supposed to be content that “chick flicks” can feature women (so long as they’re dealing with depression, romance or  the high cost of cute shoes), and then there’s “urban comedy” or Oscar-aiming dramas like Precious to cover the entire experience of being other-than-white (because not being white is either really, really funny or really, really sad!… to white people!). I guess there’s, oh, fanfiction for gays, and disabled people will always have Helen Keller, right? Yeah, just don’t even go there. See how it makes the case for me?

Let’s face it: loads of people routinely go to the theater and then decide which movie to see. Hollywood waaaaay overestimates the amount of thought people apply to what movie they’re going to see (and this is the very last thing they want to admit, because a whole lot of jobs center on figuring out precisely what the audience wants – “two hours in a darkened room with popcorn and a shared emotional experience” does not justify even one minor salary).

Hollywood argues that they must give us bigoted casting because bigots are in the audience, and not pandering to the bigots hurts their bottom line. But are they looking at the same evidence the rest of us are? Remember when Jeff Rabinov said Warner wouldn’t make anymore movies about women (I know he denied he said it; I don’t believe him) because a Jodie Foster movie hadn’t done so well? The Movie Blog – hardly a feminist critique site – pointed out that a Kevin Bacon film in the same genre had flopped much, much worse around the same time. The truth is, no one would ever think to explain a movie’s failure by saying, “That’s it! No more movies about white straight dudes!” And when a movie featuring a non-white-dude does well? That’s also in spite of the lead’s demographics. When a movie featuring Leo DiCaprio does well, that’s obviously down to him, so give that man a raise.

Not exactly equal, huh?

Sure, loads of movies featuring women or people of color don’t do so well. But far, far more movies featuring white male leads flop. Oh, you say, but that’s just because there are so many more movies about white men to flop. Well, yes. And when a movie about a woman flops, that too is for some other reason than the lead’s demographics. No, I can’t prove this, but I grew up in the region where the KKK was founded, and never did even the most vocal racist or misogynist assholes around me boycott the Aliens movies or a Will Smith movie or any other form of entertainment (sports, anyone?) featuring groups they disliked, because you know what? Entertaining white guys is exactly what we all exist for, according to white male bigots.

It’s time Disney and the rest of them just own the truth: they want to maintain the status quo. They look for excuses to do so.

Comments

  1. The Other Patrick says

    Yeah.

    I just had an argument on the Film Freak Central Blog (filmfreakcentral.blogspot.com) about the game Team Fortress 2 and its lack of female avatars. First, it was a parody of a very specific time where women would not fit – and then, later on, it was about specific kind of genre fiction from a specific time where women would not fit.

    That’s not arguing, that *is* looking for excuses.

      • Rutee says

        That’s fantastic. There’s only one of those I didn’t like, and it was the Engie’s hair that threw me off. The female scout and female medic, in particular, looked coolest.

        • Casey says

          Those character designs make me want to study female Soviet snipers more in-depth.

          And I remember when I first read about the “fan edited” version of Faith from Mirror’s Edge on Sankaku Complex and how much it bugged me…apparently they made her look more moe because she was too “Chinese”-looking? I remember some non-Asian gamers weighing in saying she DID originally look too much like a pointy Dragon Lady stereotype but GODDAMN I AM SO SICK OF MOE

          • Ikkin says

            I think an argument could be made that the perception of Japanese racial traits differs between Japanese and Western audiences, because even the most realistic Japanese depictions of Japanese characters avoid the narrow-eyed look (while still remaining distinctively Japanese). It’s feasible that someone from Japan might dislike that type of portrayal and prefer the larger-eyed look for a reason other than an attraction to moe.

            Though I do suspect that the artist’s intention may have been less “I wish you Westerners would stop making people from Asia look squinty-eyed” and more a dislike of the character’s perceived Chinese characteristics.

            And that’s not even getting started on the rest of the changes, which clearly have no basis in anything other than the fetishization of certain female body parts. That particular fan-edit was kind of a mess all around. =/

          • Rutee says

            I would mind Moe substantially less if it were a gender neutral standard, but it’s typically not. Sure, some artists actually like making both men and women look cute and adorable (even when they eat monsters for breakfast), but mostly it’s about helpless women.

  2. says

    Yeah, my kids have expressed a desire to see Rapunzel…er, Tangled. Even my 9 year old son. His 10 year old male friend went & told him it was really funny, but he wanted to see it before his friend told him that anyhow. Both my kids also wanted to see Megamind (they both liked Despicable Me, which I didn’t like so much-you can reread my review of *that* movie).

    You know, I LOVE that there are smart, funny scripts. I LOVE that animation can do things that live-action movies can’t do in a fantastical setting. But, just like how SF writers and SF media producers keep writing the same old shit starring the same old male tropes and cliches, even with the wit and fun, it’s eye-rolling and repetitive shit.

    So will I take my kids to see Tangled? Oh, I guess so, since I do appreciate a good laugh. But when I come home, will I be increasingly disturbed by the implications of what I saw? Will I have to bring up those issues with my kids/daughter/son so they become aware of the Shit-Stupid metamessages of every movie I take them to see? (like Up, like Despicable Me, etc). Yeah. Not looking forward to that.

  3. Casey says

    Ugh, and I was already NOT wanting to see this movie because just when Disney was starting to do things half-assed right with Princess and the Frog, they went STRAIGHT back to glorifying white woman-hood with all that long golden-blond hair…and it’s in 3D…I LOVE 2D ANIMATION, DAMMIT! And it bugs me that Rapunzel’s head is so big and her torso is too small.

    I don’t see why they HAD to boost the (white) male default, plenty of guys like the Disney princess movies “in spite of” all the girlishness, my best friend’s boyfriend took her to see both PatF and Tangled because HE wanted to see them, but then again, he’s Latin@, so I guess he doesn’t count, right?

  4. Casey says

    Okay, I read that Girl With Pen article and apparently when Rapunzel gets her hair cut off it turns brown (i.e., not special and magical anymore)~?

    FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

    • says

      …That makes my eyebrow twitch. Like, a lot. I’m sure she is still a Special Snowflake, even as a brunette, but still, what kind of hair are the dolls going to have? Yeah, I thought so.

    • says

      And the saddest thing is how incredibly adorable her hair at the end is. It matches her personality so much better (IMO). And then she actually, like, looks like her parents. But yeah. Not magical. Because everyone knows the only magical hair in the world is blond.

      • Casey says

        I’ve been thinking a lot about why they couldn’t have made Rapunzel have curly brown hair…but then again I’m just projecting because I have curly brown hair…ROFL. :P

        • says

          I’m a ginger and though we make up like 1% of the population or less, we’re a safe fetish for people since we’re white so I get a lot of representation in the media. So I have no desire to see that much red hair…but I would have LOVED to see Rapunzel with brown curly hair. THAT would have been cool!

          • Casey says

            She could have been the first “Jewish Disney Princess in a movie that doesn’t have anything to do with New York, Miami, or the Bible!” :D (I’m not Jewish, I’m Irish/German but hey, stereotypically speaking…)

            There DOES seem to be an overabundance of redheads in fiction, isn’t there? ;) ;P

        • says

          Missed point is missed. ;) You’re not wrong in reasons in the narrative of the movie.

          However, there’s no actual reason to make the hair blond. And because blond hair is such a prominent part of the USA’s beauty constructs, that they made magical hair blond and unmagical hair brown plays a role in a larger context that glorifies certain physical traits over others. This is further troubling when the villain of the film has thick, curly black hair and a darker complexion. It’s using these physical signifiers to say “this is good” and “this is bad.”

          Justifying that with plot points misses the larger picture in which actual thinking people are creating the plots, and choosing these characteristics after many, many character designs. As an animator, filmmaker, painter, drawer, writer and critical thinker I cannot overlook that it was chosen, and chosen deliberately.

          • Casey says

            Rainbow hair colors kinda piss me off nowadays (I’m all burnt out on it because of anime hair) but if Rapunzel was just brunette instead of such a delightfully *retch* Aryan golden blond, then I think the whole Mother Gothel/all swarthy, dark-haired ethnic women are TEH EBIL subliminal messaging wouldn’t have been so glaring.

          • says

            Puck, we’re questioning the choices of the people who made the movie, right? Who decided sunlight would deliver the magic and therefore the hair color? That would be the people who made the movie, yes? So if you argue “I thought the writers made decision B because it followed from their earlier decision A”, we’re just going to come back with, “And why did they choose sunlight?”

            Probably so it would be blond. Either way, I actually am a writer, so I can verify the rumor: writers can write it anyway they like. The only factors limiting them are their own imagination/thought processes, their own biases (we all have ‘em), and the views of their bosses, who are funding the writing and therefore get the final say.

          • The Other Patrick says

            Yeah, re: your “Why don’t film schools teach writers to pass the Bechdel test”, I just had this in a discussion:

            “I am not going to write a scene where two women chat about something other than a man just because someone tells me that it is not politically correct.”

            But why aren’t you writing something where two women chatting is part of the plot? Where it’s not just a token discussion? Why did you decide to write about men?

            When it boils down to: “The story I *chose* made me write the story not the way I want to”, then I find that to be a very flimsy excuse.

            I just read on Stephenie Meyer’s site how she didn’t want New Moon the way it turned out, how she begged her main characters to act differently, to tell her a different story, and all I could think was, “if you wanted to, you could have written it differently. Or you’re deluded”

            The best thing you could say would be that the writers were clueless and didn’t think about the hair color, but with the heavy marketed nature of Disney films I’d find that hard to believe. Plus, we’re in the 21st century, a little late to be clueless. The next best thing would be the writers didn’t care. And that’s only marginally better than to say they did it on purpose because actually, blond does mean good and dark means evil.

            • says

              And they’re missing a point: no one’s telling them to write such a scene, let alone to do so because it’s PC. The Bechdel test is ONLY asking you: why don’t those scenes just naturally happen in your stories? The answer: because you don’t include more than one named female character and/or you don’t develop them enough for them to generate such a conversation between them.

              THAT is the actual problem the test is trying to highlight. That’s why passing the Bechdel test does NOT make your story less sexist or more PC. If your story contains at least two interesting women characters, something very like that conversation (two women engaging in some discussion or activity that advances the story) will happen naturally. Look at Buffy, passing the Bechdel test on a regular basis, simply because it involved several female characters who had very exciting work to do (fighting monsters). You can’t avoid passing the test if your story’s like that.

              Even New Tricks, which only features one regular cast member who’s a woman, passes the test fairly often because a realistic number of witnesses, suspects and other relevant one-off characters happen to be women, and what she’s discussing with them is usually related to a case.

              Maybe I should write an article about this since there seem to be a lot of people who don’t get it.

          • says

            I was just having this conversation regarding female pettiness in the Harry Potter books. My friends were rationalizing Molly and Ginny Weasley’s and Hermione’s behavior toward Fleur with backstory that they’d produced out of nowhere, plus the general jealousy/woman’s-fault-for-men’s-attraction angle, while I was saying, “You know what? If that’s what J. K. Rowling meant, that’s what she damn well should have said. Writers control what happens in their stories.

            I mean, if you want to REALLY go there, in Avatar: the Last Aibender, the otherwise Inuit-looking, dark-skinned character Yue had stark white hair, due to being divinely resurrected by the moon spirit as an infant. Boom. Magic hair. Or, hey, it’s big-budget CGI– make Rapunzel’s hair iridescent. Or color-change mood ring hair. Or lavender-silvery, like the rapunzel flower.

            “Magic sunlight flower” is justification after-the-fact for a combination of either internalized or deliberate colorism and lazy writing, and sounds like the writers needed to quickly come up with a reason Rapunzel’s hair was magical. *shrugs*

          • sbg says

            And yet somehow I don’t think it matters what the male protagonist’s hair color is. Does it ever? I can’t recall many male characters having this kind of transforming change.

          • says

            The Beast went from brown (Beast) to blond (dude). That weirded me out as a kid.

            And Hank McCoy went from dude to grey and furry to blue and furry to blue and furry and a cat, but I think that might be different. xD

          • sbg says

            Hm, I was too caught up in the Beast going from Beast (bad) to human (good!) to note the hair color change and/or I thought the Beast-hair wasn’t too far off the human-hair mark.

            ;)

  5. Melanie S says

    Flynn, in the movie, is actually poor (and an orphan), not middle-class. It’s not any better, though, because up until he meets Rapunzel his entire life revolves around being a thief. Obviously if you grow up seeing people around you with more stuff, you decide you must devote your life to obtaining wealth by any means possible and nothing and no one else matters.

    • Chai Latte says

      There’s also something about his douchebag hipster facial hair that I find visually offensive. (You must understand that I went to art school, wherein guys like that were everywhere. And I didn’t like them then, either.)

  6. says

    Oh Disney why? My love for you is so disfunctional and only exists because you caught me when I was too young to know better. (But really why? I like the disney movies, because no matter how problematic they are, and they are, at least a girl is the star… mostly. Don’t ruin that for me, Disney!)

  7. M.C. says

    In Germany ‘Tangled’ is titled ‘Rapunzel’, but it probably won’t matter if the film does good. Because Hollywood doesn’t care about the money they make oversea. I know that ‘The Golden Compas’ made $372,234,864 worldwide, but there was no sequel because the Domestic Gross was only $70,107,728.

    You’d think any industry cares about money, but US media apparently only want to inforce the whitestraightmale as status quo.

    • Sabrina says

      The problem with The Golden Compass was that they didn’t believe in the success of the movie after the domestic bomb. New Line Cinema sold the rights to found the production costs and in result they didn’t get the profits overseas. First and foremost it was really bad decisions that sealed the fate of the His Dark Materials trilogy. Of course you could argue that those decisions were based on ignorance.

        • M.C. says

          I bet it would have been good if they hadn’t cut the original ending with Roger being killed by Asriel and Lyra walking over the Bridge to the Stars. Instead they wrote this ridiculously fake happy ending.
          I think New Line wanted the film to bomb because they didn’t have the guts to produce a sequel in which the hero is a girl who kills god.

          • says

            AND the movie was awful.

            The movie was utter crap up to and through their BS ending–that didn’t kill it. I flinched my way through the whole thing, despising every minute of it. And I’m not the kind of person to begrudge changes in an adaptation–so it wasn’t just that.

            It was just a bad movie, that was not made well, with a sequel in which a girl kills god, and with a whole plethora of other bad decisions mixed in. I wouldn’t attribute the failure to one thing, but it just being a bad, bad movie certainly didn’t help.

          • Shaun says

            That movie pissed me off so much. They put so much detail into it, designed amazing sets and costumes, and then deliberately ruined the actual story of the movie. It wasn’t JUST the ending, they jumbled the actual order of events in order to make the ending make more sense, after they’d already filmed them in the original order. You don’t END on a happy note, you hook forward so audiences want to see the sequel. You especially don’t ruin the existing ending to do so.

            And I don’t know that I’d say she kills god, it’s more accurate to say she helps him die. >_>

          • The Other Patrick says

            Yeah, the wrong cliffhanger was a problem, but the film had much bigger ones. It felt rushed, it was confusing, the drama felt fake…

            though they *did* have one of the most brutal fights I have ever seen in a PG13 film, where golden light made it palatable to show dozens of deaths.

          • says

            I also found the subbing in of “The Authority” for the church really disorienting; my mother and sisters had a hard time following what was going on, and why it even mattered what the Authority were doing/saying, until I explained that they were essentially the Steampunk Vatican. Even then, the phrasing around it was really weird, and portrayal of daemons as souls was rather inconsistent to also accomodate it. :/

            And I understand why, for commercial reasons, the steampunk elements were amped up, but when I read the book I got the impression that while steampunk elements were at play, it was more of a general alternative history than anything else. I don’t get the obsession with retrofuturistic tech, but that’s because I find trade routes and cultural alliances more fascinating in alternate historical fiction anyway. *shrugs*

        • Sabrina says

          Yes and no. From a financial point of view its theatrical run worldwide wasn’t such a catastrophe. But they freaked after seeing the US box office, sold everything and made a huge loss. So ‘in theory’ they could have made the sequels if their decisions weren’t so short sighted.

          I personally felt the film was quite okay when you see it as a generic fantasy flick. For an adaptation that might be a different story though *cough*
          And yes, I can imagine that they were afraid of the reception when it came to the other movies and they would’ve gotten to the “girl kills god” part. There was already a huge hysteria in the US prior to release of the first movie. I still remember seeing some of my ‘friends’ on dA campaigning for a boycott because according to them watching the movie was like worshipping satan or stuff like that. O_o

          • Shaun says

            Wtf. And what’s dA?

            IIRC the Catholic Church at least ignored it because they learned from the Da Vinci Code that that boycotting something just gives it more attention (in reality everyone should avoid TDC because it’s terrible).

          • says

            dA = deviantart.com

            And there WERE protests, but because most people’s protests were made without any awareness of the book’s material, and the books weren’t popular enough that the general public was aware of their material, the anti-HDM press just came off really scatterbrained. Plus, since concessions had been made with the original material (church = Authority, different ending), and possibly in part because of Nicole Kidman’s assn. with the film, there wasn’t as much to protest beyond, “Well, it gets worse later! The author’s an atheist!!”

            The other thing is, the movie was released around Christmas, and was aimed at little kids. There wasn’t as much press coverage because news sources found stories that were more interesting to their audience. The weird and confusing steampunk movie with the bear was really not at the top of most people’s radar.

  8. Cassandra says

    I had heard that they were going to focus more on the Rapunzel character, but then when the Princess and the Frog did poorly they decided to up the male character. Yeaaaaaah. It was the FEMALENESS that made Princess and the Frog suck! Not that TERRIBLE plot, lack of believable romance, the fact that the princess was a damn FROG most of the time. Nope, not that at all.

    • says

      And the music. I hated the music. Not even because it was bad music, but it was so lifeless. It felt like “okay now we need The Romantic Song here, and The Quirky Sidekick Song goes here, and here’s The Villain Song!”

      The whole movie was kind of lifeless, no matter how much I adored Tiana and the alligator, and the animation, the movie was…poor, at best.

      And there were a lot of social implications that bothered me as well, but eh. Whatevs.

      It was definitely NOT the femaleness that made that movie suck, you’re definitely right. Disney is most assuredly wrong. And making this movie all about Rapunzel, an incredibly interesting and lighthearted girl, would only have made this movie better. And they shouldn’t have had them sing. Or done that part better.

      Uuuggghhhh, it was more of a trainwreck than Unstoppable.

    • Patrick McGraw says

      Of course! If a movie with a male lead does poorly, it has nothing to do with having a male lead, but due to some other factor. If it does well, the lead is clearly a big star, even if he is Sam Worthington, the Most Generic White Guy Ever.

      If a movie with a female lead does poorly, it is only because audiences don’t want to see female leads, even if they are Jodie Foster. If it does well, it did so in spite of having a female lead, because it of cross-promotion or something.

      Studio execs have charts and things, so this must be true.

    • says

      GOD, thank you. I felt like the movie was incredibly half-assed and generic, but on ALL fronts, not just the “this is a weird portrayal of a Black princess” front. And it was a series of very weird choices. I just felt like I was watching a mashup of The Swan Princess, Anastasia, and some of the best and worst elements of HBO Family’s Fairy Tales for Every Child episodes. I’ve seen everything in it before, done better.

      That said, the romance was about as believable as some of Disney’s other movies, so I wasn’t too disappointed with that. You know, relatively speaking.

      • says

        I want to see a Disney movie featuring a JEWISH princess, dammit! And NOT one from a stereotypical location, like New York or Miami, and not one from the bible!

        And honestly, I’m not being quite facetious here. I’ve never even *thought* about how not a one was Jewish!

      • Casey says

        I’ve actually seen Princess and the Frog fan art on DA and Tegaki-E that’s way better than the movie/makes the movie look way better and less half-arsed than it really is…it’s…funny, to say the least.
        I’m also still griping about Tiana NOT being a flapper…I remember seeing old character design art a few years before the movie came out and thought she looked awesome, that this would be a snazzy modern fairy tale…then they gave her a big green and yellow lily pad for a dress (‘cuz of the frogs so yeah)…why does the Negress have to look like a cadaver!? (blecch color scheme is blecch)

        • says

          I know for some of the initial art, Tiana was still working-class, but worked, like, waitressing and cleaning another woman’s restaurant? And her name was Maddie. Which I didn’t mind, I mean, that’s better off than where Cinderella was, right? Buuut, lots of people pointed out that a black woman working for/being held back by a rich, evil white woman would be problematic, and that Maddie sounded close enough to Mammie that it made folks uncomfortable. Whatchagonnado.

          • Casey says

            Yeah, I remember the big brou-haha of Tiana being named Maddie (why couldn’t they just call her Madeline?) and how she was originally going to be a scullery maid like Snow White before her…all this stuff just makes me think like you did, WHY did they decide on making a black princess who lives in such a problematic area in such problematic times? But yaaay it wasn’t as bad as everyone thought it was gonna be (albeit being very lackluster).

  9. Robin says

    ::sigh::

    As much as I love me some Zach Levi, I very much dislike that Disney has decided to make freaking Rapunzel a story about a male character rather than, y’know, the title character. They could just as easily taken what is admittedly a passive character in the original fairy tale and made her awesome in the vein of Belle, Jasmine, and Mulan. All they had to do was make using her hair as a rope be her idea. Then Rapunzel can go off on wild adventures outside the tower all on her own. If she happens to meet some guy (or ::gasp:: girl) and fall in love to satisfy the formula after that, so be it.

    • Alara Rogers says

      I intend to write a Rapunzel book in which the reason the witch puts her in the tower in the first place is that the magical plant her dad stole to feed to her mom gave her SUPER STRENGTH. Because how else do you explain how she can keep from falling out a window when a guy is climbing up her hair? The witch isn’t an evil bitch, she wants to protect society from a super strong baby! And then she doesn’t know how to let go.

    • says

      To be fair, Mulan wasn’t passive at all in the original Ballad of Mu-Lan. If anything, Disney feminized her and made her more passive; the original story went that Mulan was from a family where her father was too old to fight for China, and her brother was too young, so for the glory of China she went forth and did battle. At the end of the war, when all the veterans went back home, she showed up in her female clothing and shocked the hell out of her comrades, who had had no idea, which she just shrugged off like it wasn’t no thang.

      You can see how the movie is kind of different. “You know what this story needs? MORE MEN. Men who are important to Mulan! She makes ALL her decisions because of the MEN in her life! Father, love interest, emperor. BOOM. Oh, let’s add in a talking dragon, too. A MAN DRAGON. And let’s make her really conflicted about all of this.” It was a gorgeous movie, no doubt, but it’s influenced even subsequent Chinese portrayals of the character as a folkloric figure.

      • says

        A PERVERTED man dragon whose perversions and invasions are waved off as humorous, despite him threatening her entire family when she retaliates.

        I also love how in the poem she fights alongside her male comrades for, what is it, EIGHT years with no hint that she can’t/is weak/is a failure at “being a woman”/whatever instead of her just being a GREAT hero figure?

        Not to mention that Mulan has incredibly troubling anti-feminist undertones, while purporting to be feminist-y.

        (It is very hard for me to watch Disney anymore. I just start wondering if the filmmakers even NOTICE the implications of so much of this stuff.)

        • says

          Not if “Waking Sleeping Beauty” is any indication. I mean, I get that the animation artists work hard for their money (and work hard for it, honey), but the fact remains that you are working in show business and drawing cartoons for a living, so bitching that Disney execs split into “art for art’s sake!” and “baby needs a new pair of shoes” teams is just really, really, obnoxious. Boohoo, you had to throw out drawings that didn’t work. You were still paid for them, Jesus.

          …So, yeah. Even how Disney got into hot water (pun not intended) with The Little Mermaid for having some pretty messed-up messages in the story, they then took (stole) some of the nifty background elements from Tanith Lee’s 1977 book, Beauty based on Beauty and the Beast, completely threw out the messages of marital equality and finding self-worth, and added MORE problematic male-female relations/power-structures to their Oscar-nominated adaptation. Plus Frollo’s VA as a Crypt-Keeper-esque Insane Asylum guy. *shudders/facepalm*

          • says

            That makes me cry.

            Well, I want to be an animator/direct for animation–so hopefully I can at least contribute to the good animation with good messages and not to the culture of undermining gender equality.

          • says

            To be fair, while Disney artists are “paid for their time” during the era depicted in “Waking Sleeping Beauty” they also worked such ridiculous hours and put in so much overtime that as noted in the film, many of them found it incredibly difficult to try to have families or an outside life. So if you’re putting all your energies into your work and you spend months and or/years working on a project only to have huge chunks of that work shelved because Katzenberg or some other suit doesn’t think it will make enough money – yeah, I can see being kind of frustrated about that.

          • Casey says

            I’m kinda with Armchairshrink about this one, I’m an artist and if I were lucky enough to work for a big animation company like Disney and toiled endlessly plying my craft on pages and pages of scenes, then they got shelved for whatever reason, I’d fucking shit myself with rage and frustration, it’s not just a matter of “you got paid, why ya’ complaining?” I don’t want to be an asshole or dismiss your opinion but in this case it seems your hatred of all things Disney clouded your opinion about that? :|

          • says

            It’s not that I don’t understand their frustration, or that working long hours doesn’t take a toll on a person, or that work in the arts is somehow “less” than non-artistic labor, or even that considering your job in jeopardy isn’t strenuous. It’s not even the association with Disney, because to be honest, the animators are the Disney workers I find the most inspiring, and Disney has a reputation of fucking over animators first (see: The Thief and the Cobbler, Miramax edition, and Richard Williams’s previous work with the Disney company).

            My biggest issues with the animators was that the frustrations they were coming up against are very typical of show business– against both the idea that someone has to be the necessary evil of the business end of showbiz, and be the asshole always worrying about the money, and the concept that sometimes, your labor will be fruitless, and cuts that you don’t agree with will be made. That’s show business. You won’t always have creative control, and when your job is to produce X product to Y standards, it’s your choice to do it and keep the job, or to not do it and get another job. It sucks to be in that position as an artist, but them’s the breaks.

            To be clear, I did think all the other complaints aired were completely valid, even when it came to some of those corporate executives being out of touch with the work being done, or infighting being bad for company morale, but it really irked me that some of the animators were so sanctimonious about their work being edited, like they were somehow above criticism because they were the artists. Snobbery is an issue I have with the art world in general, and why I don’t pursue a professional career in art myself.

            • says

              I’m going to second this, based on my own experience in film. I came into screenwriting totally prepared to cut essential scenes because some stupid suit told me it was too expensive, to alter crucial elements on the fly, etc. I knew about that stuff. I was a good enough writer to generate what was required to keep the story alive no matter what concessions I was asked to make. That, as Gena says, is show business. Awful, but part of the job.

              What I did NOT accept as part of the job was being asked to erase or minimize characters who weren’t white men. I also wasn’t wild about being asked to work for free (and I’m talking performing labor for free as a PA, not writing scripts on spec, because on spec is also part of the job).

              Point: there are much bigger problems in the entertainment industry than artists having their creativity broken down into dollars and cents. I only wish there weren’t.

          • Casey says

            Now that you’ve explained, that’s also a part of why I’m an outsider artist, because I can’t be arsed to deal with showbiz bullshit and I want to work on my art on my own terms…This reminds me, I guess we can’t all have a producer or higher-up executives as chill as Ghibli studios, who say as long as they finish their product on time, they can make their movies about anything they want.

    • Charles RB says

      “All they had to do was make using her hair as a rope be her idea”

      I’ve now got a mental image of Rapunzel swinging around like Spider-Man.

      Now THAT in a trailer, that would make me see it.

  10. Alara Rogers says

    You know, the other day I was thinking about Toy Story 3, and I realized that there’s a “heads we like boys, tails we don’t like girls” embedded in it.

    When there’s no good reason to gender a character, they default to male. Pixar does that in general. Okay, fine, whatever, society does work that way. But on what planet are *baby dolls* generally gendered *male*?

    Big Baby, the doll who acts as the enforcer for the evil teddy bear in the movie, has a tragic past; he, the teddy bear, and another toy were accidentally abandoned by a little girl, and replaced. The teddy bear went crazy as a result, the other toy left them, and Big Baby stayed with the evil teddy bear as his sidekick and enforcer until the toys point out to him the evidence that his owner loved him and didn’t mean to leave him, at which point he turns on the teddy bear and helps the main characters. And, um, since when are BABY DOLLS MALE?

    I mean, I *looked* for male baby dolls for my sons. There are very, very few. I could maybe buy a little girl who has randomly gendered two of her favorite stuffed animals as male, although every girl I know genders her favorite toys as female… but her baby doll? No. Baby dolls are female, unless there is a good, plot-based reason for them to be male, and “we need a scary badass enforcer” is not a good reason for a BABY DOLL to be male… like any baby doll, he has a baby voice, and is indistinguishable from a female doll except that they refer to him as a male. He’s the enforcer because he’s a really big toy. Well, uh, baby dolls are bigger than action figures! Duh! That doesn’t make them not female toys!

    yeah, they have a computer-using dinosaur who’s randomly female, and a little girl who likes to play with action figures, but that does not make up for gendering a character who *should* logically have been female as male for no good plot reason whatsoever. Their whole excuse why most of the toys are male is that they’re Andy’s toys, and Andy is a boy. Well, the little girl who owned Big Baby and the evil teddy bear is a girl, and girls have girl toys. They’re more likely to have male-gendered stuffed animals than boys are likely to own Bo Peep, I admit, but their BABY DOLLS are GIRLS. If you put two seconds of thought into it, it becomes as absurd as the male cow in Barnyard.

    • Casey says

      I figure asking why Pixar felt the need to gender Big Baby as male is the same as asking why Dreamworks felt the need to gender and ant colony and bee hive as mostly male, ‘cuz they’re dumb-fucks. ;)

      But seriously, you made me think back to my childhood and how all the stuffed animals I had, which for the most part, I gendered all as female, except for my Felix the Cat, Beast, Snoopy, Raggedy Andy, teddy bear, and more arbitrarily, my lemur and orangutan, because for whatever reason I felt my lemur and orangutan were masculine (I also thought Flower (from Bambi) was a girl for a while and he confused and angered me because of that. :D

      • says

        Ooooh, me too! I was more irritated when I found out Flower was a boy, because by then I was like, “What were you trying to do here, Disney? What message were you trying to send?” and I couldn’t think of anything positive.

        • Casey says

          Even though this is a deeply problematic theory, it’s gotten to the point now that I firmly believe Flower is gay and that girl-skunk from when he got all “twitter-pated” is his beard. ;) :P

          (even though I WOULD LLLOVE a femme boyfriend with a passion for all things sweet-smelling)

        • Alara Rogers says

          That reminds me of Big Bird. I was convinced as a kid that Big Bird was female, because there *had* to be a girl among the main Muppet characters, and Big Bird seemed the most likely candidate. Sesame Street has pissed me off royally in that way… not only did they betray my baby self by not, in fact, having any girls in the main Muppet characters, but then in the 80’s they added a new main Muppet… who was male. It wasn’t until a handful of years ago that they explicitly added a main female Muppet, and Abby Kadabby has no marketing juggernaut behind her like Elmo did when he was introduced.

          But hey, not every show sucks in this way! I was shocked and pleased to discover recently that Linnie the Guinea Pig in Wonder Pets, who is the team leader, dresses in non-gendered clothing most of the time, and is the character who’s basically always right, is FEMALE! I thought for the longest time that she was a boy, just because I have never seen a show with anthropomorphic creatures, aimed at both genders, where there are two girls and a boy, and her having a female voice actor didn’t mean much because most boy characters do. But no, Nick’s website states that she is female! They seem to downplay it — I see few references to Linnie’s gender anywhere — but they do occasionally have her dress in goofy feminine costumes when they do their brief silly costume bit in every episode (as does Ming-Ming, and Tuck the turtle’s costumes are equally silly but generally gendered male). So the Wonder Pets are actually mostly female! This may be a record for children’s shows aimed at both genders.

          • Casey says

            OMFG, two girls and a guy?
            THAT’S BEEN MY NAKAMA SINCE I WAS SEVEN.
            And now I’m too old to enjoy it….:(
            (mostly ‘cuz I find most Nick Jr. shows nowadays to be unbearably dull…I miss Face and Allegra’s Castle and Rupert and Busy World of Richard Scary and Gullah Gullah Island. :()

          • says

            Hey, what about Rosita? And Zoë? They were both pretty prominent for a while… But I see what you mean. That’s why I always preferred Little Bear and Arthur to Franklin the Turtle and Thomas the Tank Engine. If I can’t relate to what’s going on, I’m not watching, even if I AM four years old.

        • Casey says

          Regarding Nick Jr:

          I could never get into Franklin or Thomas the Tank Engine because Franklin was such a massive WHINER (the same reason I detested Caillou) and Thomas, IIRC, was just a bunch of inanimate toys on a model track talking whilst remaining expressionless, and that bored the shit out of me.

          As far as Disney Channel shows for little kids go, does anyone remember Katie and Orbie? Or PB&J? And of course that live-action Beauty and the Beast show with Belle in that library/bookshop/whatever-the-fuck?

    • says

      That’s why I never liked the Toy Story movies! Even as a little kid, I rarely-to-never watched or read anything that didn’t have a strong female lead character in it. Like, I think The Hobbit counts, and maybe Dragon Ball Z, but I can’t think of anything else, at all.

      One of my teddy bears was male because it had a bow tie, and a stuffed dog that had a tag on it that said “Mr. Wrinkles” (I think?) was, naturally, male. Most of my other toys were female if gender markers suggested that (my musical teddy bear had a flowered bow on it, ergo, it was a girl). I wasn’t big on anthropomorphization, though, and I didn’t even name my toys. Because they were toys. *shrugs*

    • Robin says

      I had a male baby doll. When I was a kid (maybe 5 or 6) I got two Cabbage Patch Kids for my birthday. One was clearly female due to her long hair, but the other was a “preemie” model completely lacking gender markers. Both came with girl names on the packaging, but I didn’t like either and ended up renaming them. After my twin cousins, who are a boy and a girl. Ergo, I gave the bald one an arbitrary sex change requiring no operation, since CPKs are decidedly lacking in genitalia.

      That said, I was also the little girl who decided that Ken was lame, so Barbie went camping in the woods behind our house with She-Ra, my older brother’s 6-inch G.I. Joes, and Optimus Prime.

      • Casey says

        I feel dirty, on my 9th Christmas, I got a Barbie suitcase that folded out into a bed and breakfast, along with two pairs of Barbie lingerie…I dressed up my Belle and Jasmine with them and they had a three-way with my Phoebus doll…I don’t know what to say about that. :|

        The only reason Esmeralda wasn’t involved is because her Barbie doll had flat feet and the lingerie came with pumps. :P

      • Shaun says

        That said, I was also the little girl who decided that Ken was lame, so Barbie went camping in the woods behind our house with She-Ra, my older brother’s 6-inch G.I. Joes, and Optimus Prime.

        I want to see this series.

    • Mana G says

      I have to admit that my favorite thing about “Toy Story” was that the little girl actually played with her toys the way *I* did when I was a kid, as opposed to the stereotypical tea party they tend to show in films.

  11. Em says

    This is why I’d rather re-read Rapunzel’s Revenge. She gets out of the tower herself, figures out how to use her hair as a weapon herself, and goes around rescuing people oppressed by the witch (who is apparently standing in for a railroad baron, since it’s a Wild West setting). Including her real mom, who was forced into the mines. There’s a guy, but he isn’t the star of a story named after someone else!

  12. Chai Latte says

    I took my niece to see this movie, and I was really underwhelmed. I liked the animation just fine, but the songs were blah–and Flynn really grated on my nerves, though I can’t fully articulate why. Maybe I was projecting my residual hatred for his hijacking of Rapunzel’s story?

    But honestly? I freaking LOVED Princess and the Frog to pieces. Tiana was a relatable heroine, and her beauty was never a central theme–present, certainly, but it wasn’t constantly referred to/nor was it a plot point. She was a truly strong, admirable princess. Tiana knows what she wants, and has flaws, and is interesting. Rapunzel….not so much. Tiana would have no patience for Rapunzel at all!

    And Naveen gets a lot of flack, but to be honest, he’s my absolute favorite Disney prince, and the only one whom I’ve ever found to be genuinely charming. (And definitely the sexiest, WHOAMAMA.) His flaws mostly reside in his carelessness and the fact that he just isn’t jused to doing for himself or considering others–elements of Kuzco in there, and yet, when he does begin to change, it’s believable and honest. Some complain that it was rushed, though most Disney pairings are–and in this one, they had a chance to teach each other something and bond a bit before making the actual declaration.)

    I suppose I appreciate Naveen because he represents a different, more positive kind of masculinity–one that is caring, supportive, and family-oriented (in the way that Naveen is willing to make sacrifices for Tiana’s dream–which, in most films and real life, is a duty that usually falls to the woman). This doesn’t make him ‘less’ than a man, simply a different one.

    Flynn, unfortunately, is more of the same. I feel like Disney lost an opportunity to make him truly interesting. While he isn’t as bland as some of his predecessors, he needs work–I had a really hard time buying his and Rapunzel’s love story.

    • Mana G says

      I and my twenty-month-old son both adore “Princess and the Frog.” In fact, my SON prefers this princess movie to “Up,” ”Kung Fu Panda,”and “Monsters, Inc,” and will rather watch “Princess and the Frog” AGAIN and AGAIN.

    • says

      Tiana is definitely up there with Nala as my fav Disney princess. (Oh, wait, Nala’s not considered a princess, is she? Is it because she’s queen by the end, or because she’s not human? Hmmm…Oh well.)

      I just wish I’d liked her movie more.

      I think a lot of my love of her character is that she was a lot more Miyazakian (in character) than most Disney girls and princesses, considering she’s opinionated, goal-oriented, and she works HARD and is NOT afraid to get dirty.

      And I do like that at the end of the movie the prince pretty much works for HER. :)

      • Chai Latte says

        ….and Naveen doesn’t seem to mind one bit! :D Gotta love a man like that. Now where do I get my own personal Naveen? ;-)

      • says

        Yeah, I think Tiana was/is the most “Miyazakian” Disney princess so far, but the story is still firmly a classic Disney piece, so the plot’s progress felt really weird to me. There was character growth from Tiana and Naveen, but not a whole lot of screentime dedicated to introspection; however, Mama Odie and Dr. Facilier both had very limited appearances as compared to other villains from more… I don’t want to say “balanced,” but less-off-feeling Disney movies? Idk. There were just a lot of plot elements that seemed incomplete to me. I’m not the target audience, though, so I’m more interested in the cultural indoctrination/cultural history aspects of the film than whether or not I was personally entertained. *shrugs*

        I did notice Tiana probably has the most costume changes of all the Disney princesses up until this point, even without “Frog” making the list, and even more than the other “transforming” princess, Ariel. All I could think was, “Cha-ching! Marketing megabux.” :P

        Nala’s on the Disney Princess Tumblr, so I think popular consensus is that she counts! Though Lilo, Mulan, Alice are all on there, too. Hmm. I always just used the “are they or are they not actually royalty by blood or marriage” test, personally. Seeing as TLK is heavily Hamlet-influenced, even though lions don’t work that way, Nala gets a pass imo.

        • says

          Can I really really give the filmakers of Princess and the Frog props, however, in that Tiana did not have to give up anything (her family, body, dreams and aspirations, and friends) in the process of falling in love with a man? That is, besides my adoration of her character to begin with, the real highlight of that film to me.

          • Chai Latte says

            Me too! That’s why it’s my favorite Disney film in the last few years.

            Also, Tiana never expresses a desire to serve–she wants to work for herself, and is very much her own boss. A self-made princess! Who’d have thought? And a prince who wants to help her? Even better.

            Naveen and Tiana are my favorite Disney couple, because they work together. They are also the only couple I can imagine as parents.

            Oh, and she was a princess at the end…Naveen’s parents were still very much alive at the end of the film.

          • says

            Oh, yeah, Tiana was definitely a princess! Royalty by marriage. I was just saying how technically Nala IS a princess, but, like, not a very marketable one.

          • says

            Yeah, wow, living parents??? IN A DISNEY FILM? What rare specimens!

            That is one odd thing about the Disney princesses. A good deal of them SEEM like they should be queen, as there are no other rulers in sight, though I may just not really understand how royalty works.

            And, going against what Disney tells little girls they should want, I have absolutely no desire to find out how royalty works. XD

          • Patrick McGraw says

            I suspect Nala isn’t part of the Disney Princesses line because she can’t be dressed up in ridiculous outfits.

          • says

            Interesting about Nala was how she was MADE to be helpless by her own father (the hero in the previous movie). She tried getting around his overprotectiveness, but honestly–like the Bee movie and other movies with female societies, so is lion society. It’s the females that hunt the most. By making her a horrible hunter, her father crippled her future.

            Ya gotta love a hero that does that to his own daughter. As did Triton. It’s something fathers identify with, but daughters dislike, if they’re into having their own minds.

          • Ikkin says

            Interesting about Nala was how she was MADE to be helpless by her own father (the hero in the previous movie).

            You’re actually thinking about Kiara, not Nala. ;)

            The interesting thing about Simba as an overprotective father is that it’s got nothing to do with Kiara being a princess, and everything to do with Kiara being like Simba. He basically treated her like a second chance at his own childhood, did everything he could to make sure she didn’t make the same mistakes as he did, and messed her life up because of it.

            That he wasn’t acting like a father should behave and he still needed to get over his own guilt and insecurity seemed to be the point. (Plus, Kiara’s the one who most people who watch the movie are going to identify with, so he’s an antagonist until the end)

  13. Casey says

    @Gategrrrl

    I thought Simba’s daughter was named Kiara. Nala’s Simba’s cousin/wife…so technically she’s a “Disney Queen”. :D :P

      • says

        And ain’t THAT just something Disney totes glossed over? Why is it that Simba is the only prince? And were there OTHER cousins of Simba’s as possibilities?

        There aren’t usually only two cubs in a pride THAT large in a time when they would have cubs around…and there’s NO way Scar would have been allowed to stick around, either.

        Eh, biology/ecology fail.

        Though I DO remembering loving the sequel, for some reason…there’s no accounting for a 10 year-old’s taste!

        • Casey says

          I think the only part of that movie I liked was the “IN UBENDI~!!” tunnel of love song… :D

          Oh, and LOL @ Scar’s widow (??) being an evil matriarch.[/puke]

          • says

            Yeah, which made no sense for Scar to HAVE a widow, and yet another example of color coded darkness for evil….BUT, I liked all of those characters WAY more than the “good” characters, with the exception of Kiara, who was adorable.

    • says

      I thought Nala was a sister/wife? Uuuunless she’s a sister/cousin/wife because Simba’s and Nala’s mothers are also sisters. I didn’t think there were any other male lions around in the pride besides Scar.

      But then, darkness is actually a marker of health in lions, so Scar would have been the dominant of the two brothers (between him and Mufasa), until he developed a limp (if I’m remembering correctly that he had one). (I do find it odd that Scar was made to be handicapped/scarred for TLK but Shere Khan wasn’t for TJB, seeing as he was Lungri in the book and all. But that’s neither here nor there.)

      Anyway, I didn’t watch the sequels, so… *ducks out*

  14. The Other Patrick says

    Just saw a trailer for the game “Dead Space 2″, which is about an armored marine in space and monsters. I’m not sure the character’s name was mentioned in the first game, but you never saw anything of the body, only the sleek combat armor. And here the producer says, “In Dead Space 2, you will get to see his face and hear him speak from time to time.”

    So where I was perfectly capable of imagining whomever under that suit before, now I get reminded every so often that yes, this is a white dude with a scraggy beard.

    • Casey says

      Not a white dude with a scraggy beard, but a white dude with a brown crew-cut and a scraggy five o’ clock shadow! THE MOST GENERIC VIDYA GAEM CHARACTER EVAR. I only tolerated that character design with Chris Redfield.

      Wasn’t there a Dead Space Wii spin-off where one of the main characters was a sexy (albeit reasonably clothed) space-nurse with 60’s style hair?

  15. Elle says

    The “issue” movie is actually something that annoys me a lot. A few years ago I suddenly felt like watching movies with gay roles, just because I was tired of the male/female movie dynamic. I went to the video shop, grabbed a bunch of movies with gay themes, and checked out. All these movies had brightly coloured covers, and the blurbs all read like the back of any common comedy. I put one on, and suddenly it was all brooding camera angles, flashbacks, unsettling sex scenes and yelling. The next one? Same thing. All of them.

    I realised that the makers weren’t making what I’d wanted: normal crappy comedy films with gay characters, they were making art films about gay issues and marketing them as normal crappy comedy. I acknowlege that the gay community still has a lot of issues to deal with, but making these films isn’t helping- clearly noone watches them, if people did they wouldn’t be marketed misleadingly. And now I think twice about any film about gay characters because I except judgmental, sundance-approved art films.

    Looks like I’ll be sticking to my fanfiction. At least it’s honest about it’s genre…. and I can choose from a variety.

  16. Casey says

    Elle,

    Ugh, that reminds me, my friend (a gay man) decided to go on a gay-centric movie bender and he pretty much had the exact same experience as you EXCEPT in all the movies he watched one or more of the main characters killed themselves at the end. He ended up ranting to me on MSN about how depressing it was. :(

  17. says

    Casey,

    Wow, harsh! That reminds me of high school English class, when every book they gave us ended with teenage boys killing themselves, and one of the boys finally observed this in class and asked, “Are you trying to tell us something?”

  18. Casey says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    YEESH! I could never have dreamed reading that kinda stuff in high school. In my experience, tragic suicidal stuff was reserved for marginalized bodies. My friend and I had a good long talk about how irritating it is that gay love ALWAYS has to be tragic…I think the TVTrope term for this is “Bury Your Dead Gays” or something.
    I hated it on Sailor Moon and I hate it to this day.

  19. Patrick McGraw says

    Casey,

    I’m running into unexpected issues with the Bury Your Gays trope in the screenplay I’m currently working on. It’s a monster movie inspired by how many tropes like the above seem omnipresent in monster movies, and aren’t what I want to see.

    Of the seven characters in the film (apart from the monster) six are teenage girls. Three of them survive because they finally decide “screw trying to get away, we’re killing to kill it.” These are the main character, her best friend, and the girl that the best friend is secretly in love with. She finds out about it at the end of the film and reciprocates.

    …. and then during the writing process as I developed the characters, I worked out that the main character and one of the girls who is killed probably had a romantic relationship that went sour, with lots of issues that affect their survival situation. But this girl was supposed to die. And then I realized how this girl’s death was actually the final straw that galvanizes the main character into organizing their “kill the monster” plan, and worked even better with the relationship backstory.

    And which point I’m worrying that the other romantic relationship looks like it’s just a sop to say “see, I’m not doing Bury Your Gays” even though I despise “Bury Your Gays.” Though we do thus wind up with all the survivors being QUILTBAG.

    It’s very frustrating, because I really want to make this a story that avoids the crap I dislike in monster movies… but then I find that what makes the story stronger ends up falling into that crap.

  20. says

    Patrick McGraw,

    I had a similar issue with a book I reviewed, Darkship Thieves. Quote from me:

    In this particular example, it’s justified. The doomed relationship needed to be kept secret for plot-related reasons, and the stigma of homosexuality is a ready and realistic explanation. It worked for the story and made the story stronger. But in the larger context of our society, it bothers me that it’s yet another example of how gays don’t get equal treatment.

    These are the tropes with which I have the most trouble, the ones where it works for this particular story but when viewed from a more distant perspective, reinforces troubling stereotypes. The best way to counter-act it is to have more than just one example of whatever group you’re portraying (which it sounds like you do), but even that isn’t foolproof because it’s possible to end up with (or be interpreted as, even if you don’t mean it) as simply having a collection of different stereotypes; like the Camp Gay, the Gaynsting Gay, the Predator Gay, etc.

  21. Patrick McGraw says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    These are the tropes with which I have the most trouble, the ones where it works for this particular story but when viewed from a more distant perspective, reinforces troubling stereotypes.

    Same here. Tropes are not bad, but a pattern of the trope becomes reinforcing. There’s nothing wrong with a movie failing the Bechdel test, the problem is that the vast majority of films fail it.

    The best way to counter-act it is to have more than just one example of whatever group you’re portraying (which it sounds like you do), but even that isn’t foolproof because it’s possible to end up with (or be interpreted as, even if you don’t mean it) as simply having a collection of different stereotypes; like the Camp Gay, the Gaynsting Gay, the Predator Gay, etc.

    That is pretty much my worry. When there’s just one example of X in a work, it runs a big risk of being read as Saying Something About X. (Consider the Smurfette Principle, where the sole female character usually seems defined by her sex rather than other attributes.)

  22. ToastyWaffles says

    Since I’m neither white, male or straight and therefore not a person according to Hollywood, I suppose I’ll be in the corner being…a barnacle or something.

    Great article, though. It’s really depressing to realize that Hollywood and major movie companies continue to push the heteronormative white middle-class male=the epitome of humanity message (but don’t call them racist/sexist/ableist/otherist, oh no, because they make PLENTY of movies with those “other” people. It’s just a coincidence that those characters are stereotyped and completely without personality and/or they always die at the end).

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