I’ve made no secret of my feelings for the movies di$ney puts out for kids. I love the fun of it. That you can get lost in their animation, songs and characters is a good thing. They managed to hook you. Pull you into the story and make you care about the characters. You’re not just watching them. You’re a part of their story.
That’s good storytelling.
In recent years there’s been a decline in the quality of the story, the animation and the songs but they still manage to engage their audience.
How do we get the children engaged? Play on their fears. What are they afraid of? A parent dying. Being kidnapped. Being orphaned. Being lost and alone in an abandoned house-swamp-jungle-planet-tower. It isn’t always overt. Sometimes you’re dropped into it as a normal way of life for these characters. Other times you’re watching a little baby deer stroll around the forest and the BAM!!! Mom is dead.
But that’s not the only theme I’ve found upsetting. As we progress as a society I expect that our role models should progress too. So I can’t believe that in 2011 (Tangled was released in 2010, I’m a bit behind) we’re still making films for kids that portray a female character as a helpless little slip of a thing that needs a man or a giant group of evil marauding men with hearts of gold to save her.
In the end the girl will learn her lesson and be empowered and shit. But the journey to her empowerment is about her getting men to save her. To complete her. To teach us that we have to sit around and wait for someone to present a solution to our problems because we are too weak to do anything on our own except purse our lips, bat our eyelashes, smash a guy over the head with a frying pan and fall in love with the guy while he’s in the process of breaking and entering and try to make him a better man. Because let’s face it, we should all fall in love with someone so that we can change them and make them be a completely different person than they were when we met. Changing people works every time! And then, only then, can you be a strong empowered woman in love with a guy that forcibly cuts off all your long magical hair. Oh and then you can marry him and presumably let said man (and the band of ruffians with hearts of gold) run your kingdom for you.
So yeah. Let’s make movies for little girls to watch that are sexist, anti-feminist, teach us to love the criminal element and never take responsibility for our own happiness. All with a saccharin sweet song. Yes! Let’s get them ready to go on Jerry Springer. Wait, does Jerry still have a show?
In short, I saw Tangled over the weekend and I didn’t like it at all.