Momentum Liveblog Note: My netbook started to fail around the same time I started to feel kinda sick at the conference… so I switched to paper notes. Expect posts on burlesque, race and sexuality, feminist porn, and probably a few other things sometime this week as I wrap up my recaps of the panels I got to attend!
Its no secret that I’m not a huge fan of Disney. This video, however, is so impressive that I just had to share it anyway…
The planning, technical skill, and vocal range that went into making this are simply astounding.
“Three out of four characters in G-rated movies are male. We studied the top 100 movies released from 1990 to 2005. Of characters shown in groups, only 17% were female, and, of the few female characters that were in these movies, most of them were highly stereotyped. And, by the way, during this 15-year period, there was zero improvement as far as the percentage of female characters. So you have to think: ‘What message is our culture still sending to kids?’ That women and girls are worth less, and their worth is different than men and boys.
What if, partly because the media children are seeing from the very beginning, programming that’s aimed at our very youngest kids, have this huge imbalance, it’s affecting them when they’re adults?”
- Geena Davis at the NCMR, video and quote found here.
Let me begin by saying this: I LOVED Up. I don’t think it would have been possible for me to have enjoyed that movie more – it was appropriate for all ages, had a diverse range of characters, a unique, whimsical, and highly entertaining storyline… and it had a kick-ass female character! Its actually because I loved Up so much that I felt the need to write this post, a post that it turns out has already been written (in part) by many other talented bloggers/journalists.
For instance, I totally agree with NPR journalist Linda Holmes, who writes in an open letter to Pixar:
“This is not an angry letter. It is especially not an angry letter about Up, which I adored. I could have sat in the theater and watched it two more times in a row. I cried, but I also laughed so hard in places that it wore me out.
So I’m not complaining; I’m asking. I’m asking because I think so highly of you.
Please make a movie about a girl who is not a princess.”
Amanda from Pandagon also voices similar thoughts to my own in her review of Up:
“Unfortunately, the one female character in the film of any note (besides the bird) is Ellie, the deceased wife. It’s hard to be too mad about this, because they actually give her a real personality before they kill her off, and they allow her to be an old woman, to boot, which is more than any of the Manic Pixie Dream Girls get. It’s amazing how much of her personality comes across in the short period she’s onscreen, and it makes you long for a Pixar movie that actually puts a woman front and center as the main character. They’re able to give us old men and whiny kids*, so why not a woman?”
It bothers me that there are so few strong and capable lead female characters being featured in movies, especially children’s movies. It bothers me because this exclusion** means that the gender dichotomy and the idea that girls are supposed to be nothing more than dainty, passive, princesses lives on in the media that this generation of children are watching, which means that on some level these children will be internalizing these ideas and living them out – another generation of girls brainwashed into believing “princess” is the female ideal and pressured to hold in many of their strengths in order to be acceptably feminine (obviously there will be girls who fight this pressure, but the point is they should not have to fight anything – they should be allowed to express their power and abilities without social pressure!)
Watching The Rescuers earlier this week with some feminist friends got me to thinking about Disney movies (again) and the messages that they portray. With this in mind I noticed a few things while looking through the Disney Princesses that I’d like to take some time to highlight here:
If you line the princesses up chronologically, in the order their movies were released, some things become strangely apparent. Look at their waistlines – although Snow White starts off incredibly thin, as time goes by the princesses only get thinner and thinner. The 1960s are when the real thin ideal came into its full force in our culture – is it a coincidence that Disney princesses had started shrinking in the decade before? Its true that culture informs media, but it goes the other way too – little girls who grow up idolizing impossibly thin princesses become young women who perpetuate and buy into the idea that thin is the only acceptable form of beauty and one should strive to be thin, regardless of the price. Obviously Disney is not the only perpetrator of this ideal (but considering its constantly growing power, revenue, and influence it plays a large role) and all little girls do not grow up and internalize this message, but enough of them do to make a difference – as evidenced by the shifting ideals between 1950 and 1960.