A new Pixar offering is always going to get me in a theater seat, and Inside Out was no exception. I saw it a few days ago, and while it was definitely a good movie, I don’t know that I’d call it a great one. Mild spoilers below the jump.
Here’s a not very secret confession about yours truly: I flippin’ love Scooby-Doo. While I adore it in pretty much all its iterations, there’s a special place in my heart for the animated Scooby Doo movies, like Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, or Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost. These movies all have a pretty standard plot progression: 1) Mystery, Inc. starts investigating something that seems supernatural; 2) it turns out that the supernatural thing was just some peeps in masks, but 3) there is an actual supernatural thing that is much more powerful and scary than the pretend thing that the villains were masquerading as, and 4) Scoob and the gang have to figure out how to deal with that, too. While these plots are relatively predictable, I humbly submit that one ought not to mess too much with something that works. While it’s hard for me to pick a true favorite out of all these movies (cough Zombie Island cough) I distinctly remember adoring Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders as a kid. Did it stand up to my high youthful opinion of it?
I’m on something of a Trek kick right now, and I have a lot of feelings about Vulcans. While in the Star Trek universe Earth is supposed to be a utopia where everyone is equal, other species in the Federation are extremely far from a utopia. Though Vulcans are humanity’s biggest allies in the Federation and profess a philosophy of stoicism and logic, I have found them a bit illogical. Mostly because I don’t think a society with such extreme prejudices is logical.
So let’s talk about everything that is wrong with Vulcan society, and thus everything that is wrong with our own.
I want to discuss a strange one-sided trope I’ve noticed, and why I have a problem with it: immortal male characters who have a series of mortal girlfriends. For some reason, this trope appears in geek media fairly often,
yet I can’t think of a single example of the reverse (i.e., immortal women with several mortal boyfriends) or of a queer version. In fact, immortal women tend to only be allowed to have a single male lover, and must spend the rest of their long lives alone after their lovers die—or else give up their immortality. This perpetuates the double standard that it’s okay for otherwise good men—heroic men, even—to have multiple lovers, while if women want to remain “pure” and upstanding, they can only ever love a single man. This whole issue is worse than a double standard; it’s a matter of differential power in relationships. Slight spoilers for Doctor Who, Watchmen, Sandman, Lord of the Rings, Stardust, and The Last Unicorn below!
For a franchise about breaking free of socialized norms and clichés, High School Musical is absurdly heteronormative. Heteronormativity, for those of you who aren’t sure, is the idea or belief that heterosexual relationships are the norm and thus everyone and everything must be straight (and often includes the belief that men and women must follow certain gender roles). Now, it seems unlikely that Disney will ever have a queer character in any of its media, but it has a long history of promoting and extolling the virtues of heterosexual romance. Think of any Disney princess movie, where “true love’s first kiss” will transform a beast into a man or a woman into a princess, and heterosexual marriages can save whole kingdoms. High School Musical is no different with its heterosexual romances.
Spoilers for all the High School Musical movies below.
It was quite clear after watching the trailers that The Giver would be significantly different from its book counterpart. Right away we can see that Jonas is older—in the books he’s twelve, but here he’s eighteen—and he and Fiona also share a kiss or two, when in the books, nothing romantic ever happens between them. While this movie was certainly a visual experience—its use of both color and black-and-white images was beautifully done—its narrative sadly conformed to the “sameness” that it actively attempts to tell us is bad. The Giver offers little to nothing new in its narrative and instead adheres to the same annoying standards and minority erasure as every other movie out there. This is only made more disappointing because the movie’s intended message is the exact opposite of the one it sends.
A while back, I wrote a post on Stargate and feminism, and said that I appreciated that the show at least tried to talk about women’s issues. Unfortunately, the episode in question, “Emancipation”, did it in the worst way possible, and it ended up being both racist and sexist. Sadly, “Emancipation” is hardly the only harmful episode in the first season. The other episode that stuck out to me is “Hathor”. In some ways, “Emancipation” is worse than “Hathor”, since the offensive material is so much more obvious, but at least “Emancipation” knew it was trying to address certain issues. In “Hathor”, one of the main characters is raped, and the show doesn’t even seem to be aware that it happened.