Sexualized Saturdays: The Life-Changing Magic of Being Not Like Other Girls

As I recently read S. Jae-Jones’s YA novel Wintersong, I noticed something troubling. The book seemed designed to appeal to me: it was a fantasy romance with strong (really strong) inspiration from both the movie Labyrinth and my favorite poem, Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market. However, something about Liesl, the main character, bugged me, and it took me a while to figure it out. Not because it wasn’t obvious, but because I thought that, in this, the Year of Our Lord 2017, we had done away with the “not like other girls” trope.

It’s a tale as old as time: a girl who’s just ~not like~ the other girls around her, against all odds, wins the day. These stories are appealing to us because these girls are framed as the outcasts; we can relate to their being bookish or plain or unpopular. But a problem that uniquely affects the female characters who fit these roles is that they often succeed or achieve victory at the expense of other women and girls, or by denigrating traditional femininity (or both). Liesl is an on-the-nose example of this trope: she is terribly jealous of her sister’s physical beauty, a trait Liesl lacks and constantly laments. Liesl is a genius composer, but her skills are downplayed or overlooked because of her gender. Meanwhile, it feels like her gorgeous sister is set up to be resented, as she at least can win men’s attention with her looks.

The cup of a carpenter is not like those frilly other cups. (via indygear)

However, when offered a beautiful fae gown by the servants of the Goblin King, Liesl instead chooses a plain dress, and this is played like Indiana Jones correctly picking the right Holy Grail. But instead of just rejecting the wealth and majesty of the other dresses, it reads as though Liesl is casting a value judgment on the majority of the other women in the book, who did choose to wear frills and finery.

This is just the latest example of this issue, rather than the only one. Pop culture has a long and varied history of celebrating these not-like-other-girls, from formative Disney flicks all the way up to watch-at-your-own-risk premium television like Game of Thrones. These portrayals enforce a terrible message: that there’s only one right way to be a girl, and that it’s totally acceptable to tear down other girls who don’t meet those standards. Continue reading

Magical Mondays: Beauty and the Beast and Escapism through Magic

Sadly, I still haven’t gone to see the new live-action Beauty and the Beast yet, but since it seemed timely, I decided to go back and revisit the 1991 animated film first. Ever since it came out, Belle has been lauded as one of the more feminist Disney princesses, especially in comparison to other older Disney protagonists such as Cinderella or Ariel. Belle is book-smart, curious, and outgoing, and she defies societal conventions by being completely unapologetic about who she is. So of course we see her as feminist, and it’s through the use of magic that Disney attempts to capture a feminist message in her narrative. However, despite all of Belle’s potential feminist characteristics, Disney still creates a world in which the only possible option for Belle and the other princesses is to fall in love with and marry a man. The magic in these movies exist to subvert some patriarchal values, but in the end, they adhere to others by continuously rewarding its protagonists with unwanted love interests.

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Disney Princesses and Feminist Femininity

Disney PrincessesThe first thing to know about feminism is that it’s concerned with women’s well-being, and the well-being of all. The second thing to know about feminism is that it’s incredibly complicated. There are many, many forms of feminism, including ones that directly conflict with one another. One of the things that all feminists can agree on is that we need good role models for young girls. But what kinds of role models are we talking about? Disney Princesses are a source of love and contention for many feminists. We can’t seem to agree on which princesses are the best; these two different rankings both claim to be done through a feminist lens, yet they’re completely different. In one, Mulan is at the top, the other she’s near the bottom.

On one hand, we see lots of little girls so excited (excited is putting it mildly) to watch Disney Princess movies, wear Disney Princess costumes, meet Disney Princesses at theme parks, and pretend to be Disney Princesses. Many of the popular Disney Princesses exemplify traditional Western standards of feminine perfection, and what’s wrong with wanting to be feminine? On the other hand, some of the Princesses are treated like objects instead of people; their agency is limited to going about their lives until a man (usually a Prince, but not always) swoops in to rescue them. They’re also drawn as unrealistically skinny, and I’m certain that barring a few height differences, every single one could swap outfits with each other. It’s a bad message to send to girls who are already subjected to a lot of body image issues. Other more modern Disney Princesses do have strong personalities and dreams of their own, and send good messages to kids. So which ones really are the good princesses, and are there any redeeming qualities to the seemingly not-so-feminist ones?

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Beauty and the Beast: Power Imbalances, Captivity, and Abuse—The Makings of True Love?

Beauty-and-the-BeastIt is now only a couple weeks until the monstrosity of a movie Fifty Shades of Grey hits theaters—which has gotten me thinking about a lot of different “love” stories we’re fed that are actually abusive. Of course, probably the most famous, and even my personal favorite, is Beauty and the Beast. We had a post on this quite a while ago, but I figured it would be best to go over once again what about this relationship makes it so bad, especially since so many people seem to be unaware of what abuse actually is. I also find Beauty and the Beast interesting because by the time the movie ends, the relationship between the two titular characters could be seen as healthy. Sadly, it doesn’t start off this way, and the movie never feels the need to address the abuse their relationship was founded on.

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Lady Geek Girl’s Top 5 Kick-Ass Lady Characters Who Don’t Literally Kick Ass

I think Hollywood sometimes has a problem understanding what truly makes a strong character, especially a strong female character. Being a strong female character does not have to mean that you can kick some literal ass. Often, being a kick-ass lady can simply mean being intelligent, confident, and in control. It’s nice when lady characters fight and kick ass, but as with all things, we need diversity.


Pictured: Diverse Female Characters

We need lady characters who kick literal and metaphorical butt. Sadly, trends seem to lean towards having female characters that are fighters in order to prove their badassery. So in no particular order, I’ve compiled a list of my top five female characters who kick ass without literally kicking ass.

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In Brightest Day: Belle

(Warning: Beauty and the Beast spoilers galore. You have been warned.)

Before I begin, I would like to state that I love Beauty and the Beast. It’s a great musical, and arguably the best Disney piece ever created. That said, I still am constantly surprised that Belle and Beast are in a healthy relationship come the end of the musical. I mean, let’s be honest: that should not have worked.

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Theatre Thursdays: Beauty and the Beast

So I finally saw the Beauty and the Beast musical for the first time about a month ago. I didn’t like it, but of course that doesn’t mean much since most of my posts are about how I don’t like things. To clarify, I love the original movie. I think it’s fantastic, but I don’t believe it translated well, and maybe it was just the performance I saw, but I thought the play lost the original tone and epicness of the movie. It didn’t feel committed to telling the story it was based off. To be fair, plot-wise, it’s exactly the same. Everything else, however, completely differed.

I know that movies and musical performances are two very different mediums and that not everything done in one can be done in another, so I was expecting it to vary on some level, but not to the extent that it did. For the most part, what I can say about the musical is that it captures the visuals of the movie very well. Seeing them actually raise the beast and transform him at the end sends chills down my spine. All the magic of the movie came across in the play, and it was awesome.

That said, nothing else came across well. Some of the criticism of the movie is that Belle suffers from Stockholm syndrome, and I personally disagree with this. I can see the argument behind it, but I never thought that was the case. Whatever the original Disney film did to avoid that did not show up in the play. Maybe that’s because in the play the Beast, who’s obviously abusive, never learns to be more respectful until after Belle starts being nice. This doesn’t happen until after he saves her from the wolves, but Belle’s reaction is to suddenly fall in love with the man holding her prisoner. Her starting to like him is what brings out his kindness, as opposed to in the movie when his slowly blooming kindness brings out her like in him.

Furthermore, while the movie seemed very aware of the precarious positions it put the characters in, the musical did not. It turned everyone but Belle into comic relief characters. Everyone. Even the Beast. Gags flew around in every scene but the very first and the very last. With those exceptions, never once did the show break from the comic relief to have a more serious moment, and instead it turned the serious moments into jokes.

In fact, because the ending didn’t have any jokes marring it like the rest of the show, it felt like a different play. Because the musical never takes any time to develop and work with any of the serious scenes, Gaston’s death didn’t fit in anymore.

Speaking of Gaston, he was probably the only character in the play to not be completely insufferable as a comic relief character, and a lot of that has to do with how he’s presented in the movie and my not liking him than it does a good decision on the play’s part.

But for everything else? The humor just wouldn’t go away. Watching the Beast whimper in pain like a kicked puppy while Belle tends his arm after the wolf attack was just degrading. I want you to understand that when I say every opportunity made a joke, I mean every opportunity.

While Beauty and the Beast may have been more family friendly as a children’s movie, that was not the case in the play. These jokes were designed very much with only small kids in mind, which confuses the overall tone when they added all the over-the-top sexual innuendos between Lumiere and Featherduster. They didn’t stop. Constantly, they were at it, suggestively telling each other what they wanted to do offstage. And maybe something like that will go over a small child’s head, but they took the extra step to make Featherduster’s outfit as provocative as possible.

So we had these two, and then we had a bunch of childish jokes. And because of all this, it wasn’t really family friendly, nor can I tell what age group they were aiming for with their audience. Obviously, there were a lot of children at the theatre, but there were just so many adult-only suggestions in the play.

I know some of this may be nitpicking, and for the most part, people Online seem to love it, so I’m possibly in a small minority of people who hated this play. The music was great, the acting with the given roles was fantastic, and it didn’t hold back from trying to capture the magic in the movie, but for the other things, I most certainly could have done without.