Here on this blog, we’ve unintentionally managed to cover just about every animation nominee for the 2017 Academy Awards in one way or another. Not that I particularly care about the Academy or their opinion, but after giving some page space to Kubo and the Two Strings, Zootopia, and Moana, it felt kind of strange to just ignore the other two films and my artsy ass can never resist delving into productions by lesser known studios. So I set out to tackle the first of these two films: My Life as a Zucchini (or Ma Vie de Courgette in the original French). Distributed by Gebeka Films and premiering at the 2016 film festival in Cannes, the quirky stop-motion film tackles a surprisingly dark subject, and does it well. However, as with most things, this doesn’t mean it was devoid of problems.
Spoilers below and trigger warning for mentions of child abuse.
I don’t have to tell you, dear readers, that Jordan Peele’s Get Out is good; all other film review outlets have done that for me. But allow me to say that if you haven’t seen this film yet, do so as soon as you can. If you’re worried that this film is a Boo! Haunted House sort of horror, then let me soothe your fears. Get Out is absolutely a horror film, but it’s horrific more in its realism than in any sense of gore or otherworldly fiends (though there is gore to be had). More than horror, though, the film is clever in its message. Like Zootopia, Get Out relays the message that racism continues to be damaging in its persistence in modern-day culture, but unlike the Disney flick, Get Out doesn’t lose its message due to a lack of direction. Instead, Get Out focuses on exposing the subconscious racism that lingers in a portion of its audience. Get Out sets itself apart by subtly—and then not-so-subtly—showing that white people who consider themselves progressive can be just as racist as the blatantly racist, and that this liberal-coded racism can perhaps be some of the most damaging racism of all.
So I’m not gonna lie, I absolutely loved Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but I was probably more critical of this movie than most other movies I’ve seen recently. I tend to hold the Harry Potter franchise to a higher standard because I love it so much.In essence, the Harry Potter franchise, like many others, has always been incredibly problematic; I was just too young and privileged to notice this when I first started reading the books. I’m now an adult watching Fantastic Beasts, and there are still aspects in the worldbuilding that we at this blog have criticized before and that others have criticized as well, so it’s a wonder that J.K. Rowling—or even Warner Bros—hasn’t attempted to fix some of these issues yet.
There is plenty to discuss about the recent movie, but today I want to focus on the house elves and how they were a stand-in for the period-era racism that Black people faced (but, you know, there weren’t actually any Black people in the movie). Once again, the Harry Potter franchise finds itself discussing racism without actually discussing racism.
I’m not going to lie, I struggled with what to write about today. As someone already dealing with depression, this week has been extremely trying as I worry about myself and many of my friends and family. And I will not lie that as a white woman, I am utterly enraged by the actions of my fellow white women this election. While I always knew that all white women (I do not exclude myself from this) have issues with racism, due to our privilege, I guess I never realized how bad it was. So today I want to write about some amazing female characters of color from my favorite podcast Welcome to Night Vale, and some of the amazing women of color who have been elected to office and give us hope.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that this season of Steven Universe is tackling some very difficult, mature issues. From feelings of inadequacy, to the struggle with accepting grief and moving on, to ways of coping, approaching, and dealing with different forms of abuse, the crew behind the show seem genuinely invested in giving kids (and their older audience) outlets and role models for healthier ways of dealing with these very real problems. So when the newest episode “Bismuth” came up, many were interested in seeing what issues it would tackle. The crew had teased Bismuth’s existence by proof of her gem for a while, and designs of her humanoid form had been floating around way before the episode even aired: needless to say that there was a general consensus of excitement over having another Black-coded gem joining the cast, if only for a little while.Yet, after the episode, many fans were left confused and angry by Bismuth’s episode. Indeed, despite their best intent, the heads behind Steven Universe tackled an issue that they didn’t have time to account for, and in the end this lack of time hindered Bismuth as a character, the Crystal Gems, and the perception of the crew behind the show.
During my recent Disney marathon, I came across several of my favorite Disney movies that are not as well known. At least, I don’t think they are. While my husband seemed to only vaguely remember watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks with his grandmother, I had very vivid memories of the movie and was excited to watch it again. I remember my mother had recorded it on a VHS that I watched frequently, and it is one of the movies that made me obsessed with witches as a kid long before Harry Potter came around. While re-watching it, I was extremely nervous that the movie would be nowhere near as good as I remembered, but thankfully, while it had a lot more problematic elements than I noticed as a kid, it definitely has held up over time.
When I saw B.R.U.H. available on Amazon, I knew I had to pick it up. B.R.U.H.: Black Renditions of Universal Heroes, is a great little art book by Markus Prime featuring exactly what it says: Black renditions of heroes from fiction.