Archive for February, 2010

Marriage in Sailor Moon

Discussion: What we Think

“While it’s nice to see a pair that isn’t about appearances and just wants to be together. The excessive attention paid to the ritual of marriage by Serena and her home room teacher draws the viewers attention from what really matters, i.e. that two individuals want to be together regardless of each one’s faults and the fact that they cannot afford a nice marriage ceremony, to less meaningful things, i.e. the white dress, the big party. Now I think the wedding ceremony is important as it is a physical manifestation of each partner’s commitment, however, the important thing isn’t the ceremony itself, but the emotions and decisions behind it.”

“They say women grow up anticipating their “big white wedding” because it’s the happiest day of their lives. But would women really feel that way if it weren’t for pop culture influences that push that idea upon us? This episode simply proves that the idea is fed to us from the time we are little girls. It shows the fantasy of marriage -not the reality of communicating with another person, paying bills with them, running a home with them, or raising children together”

Continue the Discussion: Tell us What You Think

Masculinity in the Last Unicorn

Lir: The Traditional Hero

Lir represents the traditional hero: he falls in love at first sight with the fair Amalthea, tries to court her by killing a dragon and later writing poetry. He does all in his power to be of “use” to Amalthea.

Lir represents the very old archetype of hero and the belief that men should woo the women that they love. If she ignores you, you just got to keep trying to win her love. Note the implicit notion of passivity in the female and the activeness of the male.

Also recall Mina’s comment from the previous post: “The idea that the heroine’s falling in love has caused her to “forget who she is” is tied to a very antiquated notion.” This is further reinforced here, when Amalthea urges Lir to make her forget what the dreams keep telling her to remember. And when she finally does forget, she falls in love with Lir.

Furthermore, Lir’s total devotion to Amalthea is very romanticized notion of manhood. A romanticized notion that often appears in media aimed primarily at young girls. Think of the prince’s total devotion to Cinderella or Aurora. Girls are shown very unrealistic images of manhood (as well as womanhood), which paints unrealistic notions of themselves and boys. This likewise happens to boys.

Are such romanticized images good for either sex? Is there something true about the view that falling in love means forgetting your own dreams or has this arisen from the assumption that women have to conform to men when they choose mutual life (i.e. fall in love and start a family)?

Masculinity in the Red Bull

The Red Bull is another representation of masculinity. Firstly, he is a bull and therefore male in nature. Second, he is aggressive and large and relentlessly chases the feminine Unicorn.

It’s interesting that the negative side of masculinity is shown when we have the idealization of manhood present in the character of Lir. Ultimately, however, the Red Bull only reinforces the notions that men are violent and aggressive, while women are not.

Schmendrick: The other Man

What is curious about “The Last Unicorn” is Schmendrick, who is quite unlike any male hero one would normally find in a children’s movie. First off, he has trouble rescuing the Unicorn and being a magician. He doesn’t think much of himself or his magic yet tries his hardest. He’s very pessimistic yet still tries to do what he feels he should. But most importantly, he is paired with Molly, the middle-aged ex-wife of a bandit. The two of them aren’t seen doing anything “romantic”, and the viewer only realizes the two are together in the last moments of the film when Schmendrick helps Molly onto a horse and the two of them leave together. Their love is shown to have arisen through mutual exchanges, slow and gradual. A much more realistic notion than love at first sight.

It is interesting that him and Molly are present in the film, almost parallel to the idealistic relationship of Lir and Amalthea. However, even still, the focus is on Amalthea and Lir as the main relationship. In the end, I cannot but wonder why such an unusual pair and a far more realistic duo was even present in the film.

Is the Last Unicorn attempting to subvert the idealized relationship of Amalthea and Lir? Or are Schmendrick and Molly more tacked on? But even if they are tacked on, is the presence of a more realistic relationship revolutionary in itself? What is the significance of idealized masculinity in Lir and brutish masculinity of the Bull?

The Last Unicorn: Amalthea’s Eyes

Also consider Amalthea’s song:

Discussion: What we Think

“There is a close link between loss of innocence and adulthood (as King Haggard mentions Lir’s eyes are the same) that is expressed in the change in Lady Amalthea’s eyes.  While this and a few other images do express a romanticism of innocence and in turn childhood, there is competing imagery that expresses the need to grow up; after all the Unicorn’s journey is a coming of age story. In the end, what the Last Unicorn stumbles upon is the assumption that childhood is an age of innocence. That innocent creatures do not know what love or regret is. Thus while it doesn’t romanticize childhood to the degree of Peter Pan, there are still some western presuppositions of what childhood is about present in the film.”

“The idea that falling in love with a man/ being physical with a man tie a woman to him is seen here. The idea that the heroine’s falling in love has caused her to “forget who she is” is tied to a very antiquated notion. This idea, therefore, reinforces traditional gender binaries within the context of a children’s film, which may cause them to perpetuate this stereotype in later life.”

“the message is clear when you see this clip, women are the beholders of innocence and once that is lost, they are nothing. At least that’s what I got from it. The Evil king seemed like he was angry when he found “no innocence” in amalthea’s eyes. I think this is really sad because it should be the same for men and it’s not. Only women are looked down upon or looked at a different way when the innocence is gone.”

Continue the Discussion: Tell us What You Think

Animal Cruelty and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

When I saw this part in the movie, I was shocked and disheartened that they would show something like this in a movie. I understand that it was all in good humour and it was used to show how Willy Wonka is mentally incoherent, I still thought it was inappropriate. As a guardian or a parent, I would make sure that my kids understand that “whipped” cream doesn’t actually happen by “whipping” cows with whips.  I also believe that older kids can actually distinguish that it isn’t true, I fear for younger kids who watch the movie without parent/guardian supervision. I definitely agree when Veruca Salt tells Wonka, that it doesn’t make sense but I also see the fantasy aspect of this movie. All in all, I don’t think this was a necessarily the right way to show “whipped” cream, but I understand that to show the character of Willy Wonka, it was necessary! – Sadaf, 20

Joanna, 23: “Truthfully this scene wasn’t really necessary as it was less than a minute in length. However, I do not think it was there for jokes, rather I think it was there to show how crazy Willy Wonka is. In the words of the little girl, whipping a cow for whipped cream “doesn’t make sense.” However, the fact that the scene is there so nonchalantly shows that our society doesn’t put much stock into animal cruelty.”

Tell us what you think! Is this a relevant scene? Would kids really understand the “animal cruelty” aspect of it? Comment away! 🙂

Online Videos

Hello All! This is the first entry on our blog that doesn’t deal with children’s media, but rather, children in adult’s media, and the way they are depicted.

Generally, many of us would agree that it’s wrong to pick on someone who’s vulnerable. In elementary school, we’re taught that it’s wrong to bully others. I’m sure we have all heard the rebuttal “pick on someone your own size” in the schoolyard or the playground, and the ever-repeated “How would you feel if someone did/said that to you?” from parents and teachers.

But in the world of the internet, none of that seems to apply. In the link provided below, one can see two of today’s most popular “funny” videos. Both of these depict very small children who have been hurt in some way, seeking help from their caregivers. Most of us would agree that it’s a parent’s job to help their child and then comfort them if they’re still upset. But here, we see caregivers exploiting the situation at the child’s expense.

Is this right?

I would advise you all to read an article I found here:

http://www.parentdish.com/2009/12/28/suffer-the-little-children-how-funny-is-that

The article presents a scenario where an adult is hurt and in need of help, but in the process of receiving help, they are publically humiliated and mocked for finding themselves in this situation.

Would anyone be comfortable in this position? I think not.

Why then, do we subject children to this?

We condemn bullying and mockery based on race, gender, sexual preference etc. Should we not also condemn age-based bullying? If children are the most vulnerable members of society, our role is to help them and be there for them, not to exploit and humiliate them.

Just a thought

-Wilhelemina

Wendy’s Father

Hello all! Just wanted to provide a brief commentary for the second video featuring scenes from Peter Pan. If you haven’t checked this one out, take a look:

Now some of you may not see anything wrong with the clip. That’s fine. But the question I would like to pose is this: Why do adults desire to be “respected” by their peers and “feared” by children?  It is concerning that Mr. Darling –who is portrayed earlier in the movie as a loving father who has “made many sacrifices for his family –would express this sentiment. It doesn’t seem to make sense for a loving father to state this, simply because it doesn’t make sense to want to instil fear in those one loves. In fact, it seems almost cowardly.

So why do you think this is? Why is it, that adults often feel the need to underline their position of power over children? Do you find this problematic? Why or why not?

-Wilhelmina

Stereotypes and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Discussion: What We Think

Stereotypes, generally, have been an ongoing silent issue in the past couple decades. When viewing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I was amazed at the fact that there were distinct stereotypes portrayed in the movie (which i am also aware is based on the novel by Roald Dahl). In the clip posted above, you can see that there are 5 different stereotypes portrayed to the viewers:

Sadaf, 20: “I think that the portrayal of the Indian Prince/Princess is ridiculously stereotypical. It is really sad to see that the princess is just sitting there and serving the prince and not saying anything. The West seems to be viewing the East as still a group of people who are patriarchal. Also, when the clip shows the different cities where the chocolate is being sold, it’s really interesting to see the difference amongst the places (the Moroccans are shown in a slight lower class area, whereas New York city is upscale). I think that kids are prone to believe what they see, especially if they are younger and a parent or guardian don’t explain to them that certain stereotypes are not what the people are like (All Germans are not fat and own meat shops or all people from England have rich mansions and are spoiled). I believe that if there is no guidance by someone else explaining to kids that these aren’t true then we have a problem. I also believe that the stereotypes aren’t really that relevant to the plot and I think the story could have done without it.”

Joanna, 23, believes, ” While children can distinguish between reality and fantasy, when the fiction resembles reality, that distinction is much harder to make. In the case of the chocolate palace, I would not be surprised if younger children believed that an Indian prince built a chocolate palace. I know that I once believed the world rotated around really quickly and that humans lived with dinosaurs. However regardless of whether children actually do in fact think there is a chocolate palace in India, what is more problematic is the image of Indian people. The prince is seen as fickle and dumb by making a chocolate palace and believing it will not melt. Furthermore, the way in which the Indian woman is subordinate to the Indian man (unlike the white women) sends a very colonist message: brown men don’t treat brown women properly. And I find it shocking that messages like these are still being imbedded into movies, both children and adult alike”

Some other interesting responses:

anonymous female, 12: ” I really don’t see why stereotypes are a problem…they are clearly portrayed somewhat correctly since it must be true [because] why would someone make that up”

anonymous male, 16: “I understand why this can be a problem today, kids tend to believe everything they see [especially this day in age]. Though I don’t think the movie is to blame since it is based on a book, I still think some of the stereotypes were unnecessary.  I also don’t think the plot could have been that much better without it, since that is what kept me watching the movie!”

Vanny, 13: “I think that if u read the book  it makes more sense, because it’s  a lot  like the book , unlike  the original movie and that it’s not really trying to send a message, but to sort of show a fantasy or something and portraying it more or less the way kids would see it”

do you agree or disagree with any of these comments? Do you think that stereotypes are an ongoing problem today? Would you let kids watch this and believe it? TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!