28 3 / 2014
Finale of Kill la Kill. Oh my god my mommy issues and sister issues all over the floor. *sobs*
27 3 / 2014
21 3 / 2014
It was interesting when Ariel wanted to live on land. Exciting when Belle preferred books to marriage. But it got old when Jasmine wanted to go slumming.
Recently Titmouse gave a shout out to this Amazon Original Series, Spellbound. I tried to get through the opening animatics, but the song about how, “I’m not a boring girlie girl like those other girlie girls. I want moooooore…” and the following sluggish plot about how hard it is to be the perfect princess when you really want moooooore… Holy crap! How many times has this tired story been trotted out and put through its paces? Did we not just do this with Brave?
I don’t like stories like this for several reasons:
- The idea that someone is unhappy with a very privileged station in life just because it doesn’t suit them is a weak setup for a plot. Very few little girls actually have this feeling, especially when we live in a time where we’re push that they can do or be whatever they want. Who is this supposed to resonate with? Teen celebrities trapped in mansions, wishing they weren’t famous anymore? I don’t know! I honestly don’t know!
- It sends an inaccurate image of noblewomen as having no power or authority, of existing like court baubles. Actual history is far from the truth. There have been ebbs and flows in women’s courtly power over the generations, but for a great chunk of European history women have run businesses, castles, and even war machines either on their own or in cooperation with their husbands. This image is dangerous because it furthers that inaccurate image of women having been mostly disposable smiling faces throughout history.
- Weak plot = poor performance = “This is why we should never make anything for girls ever again!”
When was the last time you saw a story about a prince who wanted moooooore… Aside from Prince and the Pauper.
A story about someone trying to leave their assigned role in life can be compelling: a slave escaping to freedom, a peasant becoming a general, an ignorant person uncovering their own hidden genius, an unknown becoming famous. Those are compelling stories that deliver. These life decisions are not arbitrary whims of bored youth. There has to be ambition, motivation:
"I want to be a soldier to save my father." —Mulan (which I disliked for its execution—but the premise was solid gold)
"I want to escape my control freak dad and explore and unknown world." — Ariel in The Little Mermaid
"I don’t want to be queen of people who think I’m a monster. I don’t want to kill the people I love most." — Elsa in Frozen
Compare those with these:
"I want to be a knight because their lives are so exciting." — What’s her face in Quest for Camelot (uh, why? Your dad died as a knight…)
"I want to escape from this posh palace and see how the other half lives, then go back to living in my posh palace." — Jasmine in Aladdin
If someone gives up their role in society, there has to be a bigger motivation behind it than “just because.” This can be done powerfully, as in Prince of Egypt. Moses has it all, but he gives it up. He sees his privilege and has a total perception shift: I’m the bad guy. Oh my god. I’m the bad guy. And he gives it all up for his people and his religion. Powerful, dramatic, compelling.
In the mean time, girls should want moooooore… because.
21 2 / 2014
When I was a kid, I loved catching critters, bugs, amphibians, anything I could put in a jar and gaze at adoringly. Sadly, I noticed that if I caught one insect, it became increasingly difficult to find another to catch. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I thought of it as though the caught insect was telling all the others of its own kind, “This is no fun. You don’t want to come here,” in its own secret language I couldn’t hear.
As an adult fighting off cockroaches in a shitty apartment complex inhabited by college students, I wondered if I caught one roach, if I’d have trouble finding more, just like when I was a kid. So the very next roach I saw, I trapped it under a tumbler and waited to see if any others would appear. I didn’t bother feeding the poor thing. There was no way to get food in without releasing it. But I gave it water by sliding the glass over water drops I’d placed on the table. This was the Ambassador Roach, an honored guest in our home, and its glass prison occupied a distinguished spot on a sideboard within sight of the dining room table.
Sure enough, roaches didn’t show. And when the roach died and others began to creep back in, I merely replaced the tumbler over another, letting it inherit the same revered position as its predecessor.
I suspect that when under stress insects release a pheromone that says, “This is no fun. You don’t want to come here.” This was the secret insect language that vexed me so as a child, reworked to new purposes as an adult.