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Disney and Gender

Hello all, we are back! Sorry about the delay.

Beauty and the Beast! A favourite childhood classic of mine. I thought I’d take some time to look at the way that this film depicts gender roles.

Personally, I always viewed the story as being quite progressive –Belle is not a helpless princess waiting for her prince – as seen in the video here, she clearly makes up her own mind about the partner she desires.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUmT-T6n4PA

However, Joanna pointed out to me that this film has some problems in regards to gender roles, namely the way in which Belle tolerates the verbal abuse from the Beast. This got me thinking about other gender depictions in the film, specifically in regards to the character Gaston. Gaston was a character whose arrogance and conceit are met with Belle’s refusal to marry him. Therefore, it appears that the message conveyed through the character is that conceit is not something that is rewarded. To quote the Bible “Pride goeth before a fall”.

However there are gendered ideas presented through the character of Gaston. He is the picture of traditional masculinity, and this is characterized by his muscular appearance, his love of hunting, and his popularity with women. This is, of course, neither good nor bad. It just is.

The problem with this character is his attitudes towards women, seen when he denigrates Belle’s love of reading as it may result in a woman “getting ideas . . . . and thinking”. Take note also of his assumptions of her “dreams”. These involve the ideal of “domestic bliss” –and the assumption that this is something universally desired.

However, as we see in the clip, Belle deals with Gaston’s arrogance by refusing to marry him.

In a way, it could be argued that this film satirizes gender roles by depicting an arrogant, sexist Gaston –who assumes that Belle would be honoured to marry him and blatantly voices a sexist opinion in regards to female literacy –by allowing him to be rejected. However, it may also be argued that this film supports rigid gender roles, by confining males into stereotypes. After all, not only is this a muscular, tall character who enjoys to hunt, but he is clearly a misogynist.

So what do you think? Does the film challenge gender roles? Does it reinforce masculine stereotypes? Worse yet, does it serve to imply that stereotypically masculine = sexist?

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A good example

Before reading this, proceed to watch video:

We see here a teenaged girl relating an interaction between her and her mother. Her mother, we understand, dresses provocatively and lives an exciting nightlife. However, when the girl emulates her mother’s dress, she is not only scorned, but condemned by school staff. She states that her mother FAINTS at the sight of her attire, and when asked where she learned to dress in that manner, she points right at her mother. Then, alarmingly, the girl’s mother raises her hand to her. However, the girl concludes her story by reminding her mother that she is merely living by her example.

Oftentimes, the messages that adults send to and youth children follows a “do as I say, not as I do” pattern. It’s troubling also, to see that her mother would condemn her for following the only example she knows. For all who have children or just know children,  YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL. It’s important to conduct ourselves in a way we wouldn’t mind children around us to emulate.

Just a thought.

-Wilhelmina

David After Dentist

Hello again!

I would just like to draw your attention to a video that I have created concerning the popular “David After Dentist” video. While I think it was disrespectful and insensitive to film the child in this state, I think it even more appalling that the parents of the child have in fact been able to sell “David After Dentist” -themed t-shirts on the internet. Not only is it unethical to humiliate a child -someone who is vulnerable and dependent, but it is shockin that his parents would exploit them for financial gain.

Any thoughts?

-Wilhelmina

Meet the Sailor Scouts

Is there any one girl that appeals to you as a role model? Is there enough variety among the girls?

Discussion: What we Think

“As a young girl, I really liked Sailor Jupiter because she was so strong and sporty.  So in my case there was a girl who appealed to me, and even now, I considered her the best out of the Scouts in the cartoon (in the comic, Sailor Moon becomes the most mature and strongest emotionally and she as well as Jupiter become my favourites). Although, looking back now, Mercury is really appealing because she takes her school work and responsibility seriously and she is always the voice of reason when Moon and Mars argue. I think there is quite a bit variety and most girls will probably find at least one girl whom they can relate to. The only problem in my opinion is that only one Sailor Scout (Mercury) out of five isn’t excessively boy crazy. It would have been more balance if there were two at least who were not obsessed with chasing boys.”

“My favourite was always Sailor Mars, as she was fierce and feisty. From this clip, however, I definitely see the virtues of Sailor Jupiter, who appears to be the most well-rounded. I think that the personality types, from frivolous, to serious, to feisty, to well-rounded, to feminine are very encompassing and most girls will relate to at least one scout.”

Continue the Discussion: Tell us What you Think

Gender Roles in Last Unicorn

Often it is during endings that the message of the movie is conveyed. Taken together does the ending of Last Unicorn reinforce gender roles, or does it subvert them?

Discussion: What we Think

“I am really torn about the ending. On the one hand, Amalthea refuses to do what she must until she is forced. First, she refuses to return to being a unicorn to save the others until she is forced by Schmendrick’s magic when the Red Bull attacks. Second, when she is a unicorn, she only fights back when Prince Lir is wounded/killed. This part seems to strongly reinforce the notion that women are naturally gentle and only fight back when the their loved ones are threatened. On the other hand, for a movie made in 1982, the heroine is quite active, she does fight her battle and the ending is bittersweet. She doesn’t stay with her beloved, she returns to the forest, to her former life. The lack of a pairing at the ending is amazing. It subverts the notion that lovers need to always be together regardless of their other dreams and obligations. In the Last Unicorn, love is important but it doesn’t take precedence over other important things and that in itself is very subversive to the notion that love is the most important thing in a woman’s life.”

“I think that the ending of the last unicorn is really gendered in the sense that once she has turned into a unicorn, she goes back to the forest and doesn’t live in the “wild” anymore or what not. I mean if it were the prince that turned into the horse he’d end up staying around the castle and what not. It seemed as the unicorn went off to the quiet forest where she will be accepted”

“It appears that this both subverts and reinforces gender norms simultaneously. On the one hand, the hero breaks out of the norm by telling the heroine that this doesn’t have to be their “happily ever after”. Also, SHE appears to rescue HIM, and defeats the red bull, however the issue with this is the idea that the female character defers to the male character for guidance and becomes more attached to him than he is to her.”

“That is very true Mina. There was something that bothered me about that exchange but I could not put my finger on it. Now I can. The exchange was very paternalistic. The men (Lir and Schmendrick) were both telling Amalthea what she should do, what has to be done. I did not like that either, that she could not come to her own conclusion that saving the unicorns is important; instead she need a man to point it out to her.”

Continue the Discussion: Tell us What you Think

Behaviour and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Part 1

Part 2

When watching charlie and the chocolate factory, one thing was imminent: the behaviour of kids, the behaviour of adults, and their relationship. In these two clips, it is evident that the kids have done something that Wonka has opposed them not to and that has resulted them various consequences. You can see that majority of these kids act the way they do because of the parents influence. They aren’t “bad” kids because of themselves but because their parents refused to teach them the different between right and wrong!

“I honestly thought that this had both positives and negatives.  The positive parts include that it does show kids that if you do something bad or something that shouldn’t be done then there are consequences. The one negative I can think of is the fact that it’s not the kid’s fault that they are doing bad things. I think that if the parents had intervened then they wouldn’t act this way.”- Sadaf

“I think one of the good things about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the way in which it satirizes modern families and the way in which people raise their children. Some people spoil their children, push them too hard overfeed them, or let the television raise them. However i think it problematic that the film allows a depiction in which the children are punished for the mistakes of the parents also problematic are cultural stereotypes, take for instance the german stereotype of agustus gloop, or the colonialist attitude of willy wonka towards the oompa-loompas (colonizer verses primitive tribe). these cultural stereotypes are innacurate and outdated” – Mina

What do you guys think? Is it the parents fault? Do bad things always happen to bad people and good to only good people? LET US KNOW!

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