Pictured: most likely me when someone tries to explain this. (via PopKey)
One of the biggest mysteries of this season in my eyes is “how in the world have the Harry Potter films become a Christmas/holiday tradition?” Sorcerer’s Stone came out in November back in 2001, but the timeframe doesn’t instantly make a film a Christmas classic. Sure enough, though, every December I can turn the channel to ABC Family (or whatever it’s called now) and find each and every Harry Potter film nestled snugly in between other classics such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express. While this mystery may never be solved in my eyes, it got me thinking about a certain facet of the Harry Potter series that, in all its exploration of magic, seems to be woefully underutilized—a fellow holiday tradition, food.
Fans of course remember the grand banquets during the sorting ceremonies and have fond memories of the pumpkin pasties and the chocolate frogs available on the Hogwarts Express, but all things considered, wizard food remains strangely mundane compared to Muggle food. Stranger still is how it seems that, in general, the more realistic the story, the more magical its food seems to be. Yet in a way this makes sense; these seemingly at odds representations of the magic of food serve to reinforce what the characters are looking for in their respective stories.
A while back I reviewed a trailer for a little movie called Moana. I was worried about the lack of early advertising the movie was getting—I hoped that the hype among my own age group and demographic would translate to ticket sales, so that Disney couldn’t use a less-than-successful premiere to justify avoiding nonwhite Princess stories for another decade.
Turns out I needn’t have worried—Moana opened this weekend to a phenomenal box office take, only barely failing to unseat Frozen as the #1 Thanksgiving animated film opening of all time, and I’m honestly pinching pennies in the hope of seeing it again soon. To me, it was a sweet, empowering, and well-made movie; however, some native Polynesian critics felt that it played too fast and loose with their culture. Let’s get into it after the jump!
Most people have what they would consider their quintessential Halloween movie, from groan-worthy B movies to the scariest of horror flicks. While I would be hard pressed to pick the Halloween movie for me—I’m indecisive—I would absolutely say that one of them is the 1998 made-for-Disney-TV-movie Halloweentown. I mean, it’s got “Halloween” right in the title. Yet, as with most things from our childhoods, there’s always the fear that going back and revisiting previously cherished media will reveal how shitty and terrible it actually was. I’m not sure if it was by virtue of it being a Disney flick (and thus having to be pretty safe anyway) or the quality of the film’s script, but even almost twenty years later, Halloweentown, despite some problems, remains a bright spot in Disney’s filmography because it focuses on the power of family in an almost unbelievable situation.
The movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit is probably one of my all time favorite movies and Jessica Rabbit is definitely one of my favorite characters. In the movie, Eddie Valiant suspects Jessica of being somehow involved in a murder that Roger Rabbit, her husband, was framed for. During the movie, she is accused of being everything from a seductress, to a gold digger, to an adulteress, to a murderer, but is proven to be nothing but a loyal wife as the movie progresses. She even tells Eddie that she’s “not bad, [she’s] just drawn that way” and in that regard Jessica has a point. Throughout the movie Jessica is viewed as a bad person largely because of how she looks. It seems in animation the more sexualized a woman is or the more she engages in stereotypical feminine things like wearing makeup and sexy outfits, the more likely she is to be portrayed as evil.
Disney is probably one of the biggest perpetrators of this negative trope. While their female heroines dress mostly modestly and appear to wear little to no makeup, female villains are usually portrayed as very sexual, wearing lots of makeup and are often drawn with seductive, heavy-lidded eyes. It doesn’t take much to see what female qualities are being demonized and which lauded as virtuous.
I love Disney movies. They’re a nostalgic staple of my childhood, but like almost everything, when viewed from an adult perspective, they are far from perfect. One worrying trend that I see in childhood films is the idea that death is the same thing as justice. Disney is hardly the only company at fault for doing this, and this trope does show up in media designed for older audiences as well. But my experience with Disney was really the first time I was exposed to the idea that villains deserve to die awful horrible deaths. Even if the heroes initially want to show their villains mercy, the mercy will be misplaced, and very rarely will actual justice be done.
This of course begs the question: do villainous characters truly deserve to die, especially in such awful, violent, and painful ways?
Well, this movie was… nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be, especially considering how bad thetrailers were. Overall, the remake has gotten a lot of favorable reviews and ratings, and while I can see where those opinions come from, I wasn’t exactly blown away by the story. On the whole, I’d say that the remake is cute and harmless, and it’s most certainly not a carbon copy of the original. The plot isn’t half-bad either, but the story is just so derivative that you’d be better off spending your time watching something else, like Ghostbusters.
Sleeping Beauty is one of those popular fairy tales that’s just a little bit embarrassing. Early last year I took a feminist look at the Disney Princess lineup, and Sleeping Beauty came up pretty much dead last when it comes to empowering feminist messages. Its leading lady could be replaced by a sexy lamp and you’d still have the same story, even if you have a whole lot more female supporting characters (and a female villain!) than in the typical Disney film. At least back then Disney wasn’t afraid of naming their movies with female leads after those leads (I’m looking at you, Tangled and Frozen). Disney’s Aurora is a pretty good example of the pure virgin power trope, in that Aurora’s worth comes from her goodness, which we assume to be true because of her status as the most maiden-like maiden to ever maiden. You’d think this is another result of prudish Christians enforcing gender stereotypes and shaming women into keeping their legs closed, but the real origins of the folk tale are far more interesting and far more pagan.
Trigger warning for rape and suicide after the jump.