Tag Archives: Disney

Men are Victimized! and How to make your Blog title Provocative

I recently watched a couple of good awful movies, which is my way of saying they are good movies but make you want to nuke the world in order to contain and purge all sadness and the possibility of sadness from said world. Not that its relevant, but this genre of movies don’t strictly come into the other genre which is good awful fine-I believe-there-is-some-good-in-the-world-I-guess-I-don’t-need-to-google-search-“how-to-build-a-nuke-in-your-backyard”-just-yet.

Examples of the latter type of movies – Schindler’s List (or Life is Beautiful. You get the pattern – basically anything involving an exorbitant number of dead bodies piled together like so much candy), Mary and Max, Up (to a certain extent). If anybody is interested, there is a certain amount of sociology, philosophy and psychology based film theory critically looking at the need for a different type of aestheticization of the world post Holocaust. Look it up if you want – Kracauer, maybe Bazin, Susan Sontag to a certain extent I think. These recommendations are pure generalizations. Don’t go quoting me on this.

Getting back on point, I saw good awful movies – Soldier’s Girl and Stuart: A Life Backwards. Soldier’s Girl is a movie about a U.S. Army soldier who falls in love with a stripper while he is training, and the ramifications of their love affair. This is a picture of the (extremely hot) girl –

Her name is Calpernia.
Her name is Calpernia.

This is a picture of the actor who plays the girl

A.K.A Thranduil from The Hobbit and Ned the Pie maker from Pushing Daisies. BAM!

So yeah, she’s a transgender woman and the movie basically looks at how ineffective the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was with regards protecting the privacy or safety of the soldiers in the U.S. Army. Maybe it is my born-out-of-cruel-experience slight misandry speaking, or my general dislike of army ethics and social conditioning, but by the end I really wanted to shoot almost every single man (by which I mean self identified man) in that movie (with some exceptions). Either for being phenomenally huge dicks sculpted out of rotten elephant shit, or for staying silent and watching (for the most part) other men be elephant shit based oversized dicks.

Next, there was Stuart: A Life Backwards which has two main attractions for the superficial viewer (a tag I hope to never outlive). This guy

You have my permission to fuck me till I die.

And this guy

Oh, Benedict.

However, the movie starts and even though you have read up so you know its going to be full of awfulness, it proceeds to get awfuller and awfuller, till you want nothing more than access to some Uranium and Plutonium and bunch of disenchanted nuclear scientists to do the calculations so we can summarily put an end to misery.

How very Ayn Rand of me.

I never thought I would ever in my life ever say or write a sentence even similar to that.

Stuart is about an alcoholic heroin-addicted homeless man named Stuart whose story is told backwards – from adulthood to childhood. And as much as we would all like to think that means you get to see something marginally nice towards the end, we all know children and humans too well. Not only does he get younger, the shitty things in his life and the psychological scars they leave get steadily worse as he gets younger. And because he is a child, we feel way worse for the way worse things happening around him.

Both of these movies are based on real life people and events, by the way.

The point is, after having watched these two movies not back-to-back but over the course of 48 hours, I felt really bad for men. Way less than how bad I felt for practically all women including me, but quite bad. Because while I wanted to kill all men, one of the most potent parts of watching men ill-treat other men is that – and I know this is going to sound awful before and possibly even after I explain fully – I can view it more objectively than when men ill-treat women in movies. By which I mean that as soon as something bad happens to a woman in a movie, especially at the hands of a man, I feel a blinding anger and sadness that feels like its coming out of my pores. Sometimes I have goosebumps with this blinding rage and anguish that makes the world a little… scratched. It feels as though someone is scratching at the walls of my world with no intention of quitting till everything I love crumbles under the incessant and determined picking of dirty, unwashed, unclipped fingernails. Which basically means I have no feeling whatsoever left over, no thought of the man in question except that he must die. And painfully.

So, not very objective. This feeling doesn’t come to me when I watch men ill-treat other men. Which may not be a good thing but I don’t think my mind handle that much sensitivity, so it is what it is.

So when I finished watching Stuart and then a day later finished watching Soldier’s Girl, I was left thinking about a conversation I had with a bunch of guyfriends about feminism. Somewhere in the middle of that hours long on and off conversation on sexual politics, comedy and normalizing, I mentioned that I often think feminism concentrates too much on women – teach girls how to be confident, teach them to defend themselves, to know when to go to the police, to want to have careers, to be what they want….

That’s great and I’m certainly not saying we should be teaching men how to defend themselves. I’m saying a big part of the world is, unfortunately or fortunately, male. And if we are willing to concede that some women may be socialized into acting in ways that are detrimental to womenkind and mankind alike in the long run, why can we not talk about the fact that there are men, many men who are socialized into a mind-set which we may find alienating, misogynistic, gender-insensitive, and unacceptable. I’m not saying we should all sit and have a chat with rapists and domestic abusers. However, shouldn’t it be part of the conversation – that change in the treatment and position of women is not a cause for women alone?

Take this scarring TED talk for instance –

Shouldn’t we as feminists be actively engaging with the fact that a lot of sexism, hetero-normative gendered behavior, as well as perceptions of stronger and weaker sex and gender are taught at a very early age to tiny boys who are given no mechanism to challenge this with? It’s not just about how they treat women, but about how they treat each other.

I’m all for teaching kids to be badasses, to fight and fight and struggle to get what they want, but teaching that is not exclusive to teaching young boys to not be kid-sized turds of human beings. I’m fairly sure its possible to be a go-getter and be a not-asshole at the same time. For fuck’s sake, Emily Bronte talked about this in fucking 1848 in The Tenant at Wildfell Hall, in which Helen Graham asks why she should not protect her boy from learning and internalizing the vagrancies and general male dickishness of the world, when she would definitely do so if she had had a daughter.

I think a serious change in perspective and goals need to happen, at least for every-day feminists or people-who-think-women-are-human-people-with-just-as-much-natural-right-to-agency-and-decision-making-capabilities-as-men if you don’t like using the word “feminist” to describe yourself. Let’s start by having proper sex education for boys. Perhaps campaigns to educate otherwise idiotic parents (I reserve the right to be judgmental about parents who decide to bring new people into the world without intending to take care of them in any and all ways) about what “naughty” “nathkhat” “spirited” “that word that Uncle Vernon used to describe Dudley” “chootiya” boys grow up to become – even bigger chootiyas who will no doubt fall behind in a fast changing world if not end up being eve-teasers and rapists.

Perhaps have school talks to boys about seriously being kinder to each other – nothing wrong with crying, nothing wrong with “being a girl”, nothing wrong with wanting an emotional connection, nothing wrong with not having sex, nothing wrong with having consensual sex, and nothing wrong with being friends with or liking girls. Tell them it’s a sin to like boys though, because they have cooties. Or when you have guyfriends or male acquaintances who don’t seem to get what you’re saying about some gender problem, to engage and not immediately label them a misogynist and give up. Of course after you engage with them, if they seem like a misogynist, feel free to cut off their balls. They should certainly not be having or raising children.

You get the gist – we really need to civilize the not-noble savages that men are currently. Maybe a few feministy decades down the line, they can be the Pocahontas to our John Smith, except their Pocahontas wouldn’t have anything to teach our John Smith. Scratch that analogy actually. Can’t make misogynist joke now. Can’t be racist now. Too soon. Another time, perhaps.

Ok bye.

– Billy

P.S. – This was drafted and saved before 12. The only reason its delayed is because of internet connection and image loading problems. So no embarrassing fact revelation business. Feck off now. Intentional spelling.

Children’s movies and Boys and Girls and Curly haired men who know how to kiss

Well, hello. This is going to be another one of those posts. You know the ones – where I talk about movies and then I talk a little about penises. And today, I’ll be talking about Disney movies. And if you’re like me and you take Dan Brown’s literature as gospel, the two subjects go exceedingly well together. Kind of like Hot Dog and mayonnaise.

Anyway, getting to the point, I finished reading The Beautiful and Damned recently. For those of you who are uncouth, uneducated, unworthy plebeians, that’s a book written by Scott F. Fitzgerald, who also wrote The Great Gatsby and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Although surely, none of you uneducated and so on people would deign to read my illustrious, erudite, culturally high-minded blog where I talk about penises, right? Go away now. Shoo. Chop Chop.

Like he says. Shoo, morons.
Like the tall guy says. Shoo, morons.

 

Anyway, it got me thinking about Disney. Mostly because I recently watched Tangled for the nth time and then watched Frozen. Which got me thinking about Brave. We all know where this is going now, don’t we? Hairstyles. Nope.

Anyway, The Beautiful and Damned is a story about two young people who fall in love and get married, and how their privilege damns them to a life of knowing their lack and their unhappiness. Because if they weren’t privileged, spoilt, without any responsibilities or vocation and so full of expectations about what life would be for them, they may not perhaps have been subject to the peculiar kind of unhappiness they got – the kind where the seemingly reasonable expectations of young people remain unsatisfied, and because those expectations meant so much, their hearts were made irreparably broken – by each other and by themselves.

One of the early reviews of the book I read talked about how the character of Gloria Gilbert is an “original”. The beautiful and callous Gloria is driven only by one thing – to enjoy herself. And she is the kind of character that knows that her life will be presented to her on a platter as long as she is beautiful. Her moments of solitude, her likes and dislikes, her ability to enchant with the most inane of subjects simply because of her manner, her open disdain for the people she wishes to despise, is all made hers because of the charm her beauty provides. As you may imagine, she is not a particularly likeable character, but not more so than Anthony Patch, her husband. He is a whole other collection of insecurities and neuroses that try to constantly hide behind the skirts of Gloria’s beauty and popularity.

About five years ago, I would have hated reading this book. Not only are the characters so useless, they have very few redeeming qualities and Fitzgerald doesn’t really try to be particularly kind to them (probably because he was quite sure everything would end badly – quite like it did for him and his Gloria-esque wife Zelda). Who ever thought jobless, self aware socialites during prohibition married to supposedly egoistic writers would end up in a mental institution. Such is life.

Now, as much as its difficult to read at times, its worth knowing all the pitfalls your previously magical marriage will succumb to if you don’t have some temerity, some *incomprehensible French phrase meaning confidence*, some Courage of your convictions. And some general lack of selfishness. Another reason to read/ enjoy – well, it’s Fitzgerald. I have a snoot not very well hidden in my not very deep depths.

ME: Sex joke.

me:

 

Though I admit there is a certain awfulness about characters like Gloria. Or for that matter (to bring this closer home for those who don’t give two micropenises about some obscure character from some book) characters like Betty Draper from Mad Men. They seem colorless and one dimensional and utterly childish when we see them. They seem to have finished with the business of life and striving once they get married. And seeing that image is not something a normal woman enjoys – because for most of us, it is our worst nightmare to become relegated to a corner of life after we find people we want to spend all of it with.

But at the same time, I hate it when en masse people hate on poor Betty Draper. Because she, like Gloria, is not simply a figment of someone’s imagination but a representation of what life meant to a lot of women at some point of time. And as much as we can find faults in them, it is equally important to remember how much they are a product of their times. Gender is a construct certainly, but so is every aspect of life inspired by and derived from gender. Betty Draper existed with her childishness and her marital woes, and she existed because someone taught her from a fairly early age about the way things are supposed to be. And then she learned from friends about the kind of husband one should have, and the kind of life that would be ideal, and the kind of children one should raise. And her friends probably knew because of her and their parents, and then, from Disney movies. Where the all suffering, cursed, single girl is taken away from her woeful life by the ever so democratic (democratic in that they’re poor, not in that they are less than the normal standard of beauty) love of their rich, princely, handsome future husbands.

I personally did not grow up on Disney movies. Not because my parents were incredibly aware feminists, but because we never had a lot of TV experience, but I had read all the original fairy tales as a child. My father was against Barbies though this had a lot more to do with his communist anti-American ideas rather than feminist ones. By the time my sister and I had demanded Barbies (like all our friends had) for long enough to actually get one each, we were a little below ten and eight I think. I spent a couple of solid childhood years making my Barbie (Barbies in the plural once my sister dropped hers) fall in love with and then become girlfriends with imaginary Ken. They would go to college or have jobs and houses (that were largely imagined), but the plot of their lives generally involved men (Ken). And that’s not all. Imaginary Ken was a dick (albeit without an actual dick) who practically harassed Barbie in the name of romance before she fell for his rakish charms. I’m not entirely sure where I picked up that rhetoric from except for subversively problematic and sexual Bollywood romances. For a long time, I like many pre-pubescent and pubescent girls assumed that guys being dicks was a manifestation of affection, attraction and unconditional respect for us as human beings. Now of course I know that most guys are dicks to some girls because they have small penises which they feel will be compensated if they are huge cocks to us. Tis a scientifically verifiable truth.

Like this random asshole spreading his legs around like he’s evolution’s endgame. Pffft.

 

So if I hadn’t been taught from the very beginning that I should and could earn and live for myself, perhaps I would have been happy being blissfully ignorant as my handsome husband with the stolen identity cheated on me with an inordinate number of women. Or I may have spent my life being woefully sad as I waited for my husband to get his inheritance (Gloria).

When I went to law school/ college, I was introduced to some other Disney movies – Mulan and The Frog Princess. And I did not need the inspiration at the time but it was good to know Disney made movies where the girls had more to do than get cursed and passively wait around till some handsome chappie comes along and molests them as they sleep. This got even better when I saw Penelope which is a little known film with Cristina Ricci playing the titular character who is cursed by a witch to be born with a pig snout (and little piggy ears) till one of her own accepts her. So her parents keep her away from the rest of the world and try and make her the most “accomplished” young lady, so that eventually some blue blooded rich man would eventually agree to marry her for a phenomenal dowry. Towards the end of the movie, she is about to be married to said rich dude (who is disgusted by her but has to marry her because of some publicity reasons that are too complicated to explain here) when she runs away from the altar. Her mother follows her, begging her to go back so that she can become a “whole new you”. To which Penelope replies that she doesn’t want to be a whole new version and that likes herself the way she is, breaking the curse.

This was before Tangled or Frozen, and was such a beautiful surprise. And somewhere in the movie, Penelope runs away from home and spends a few weeks discovering herself and making friends on the sly. The first thing we see her do when she leaves her parents’ house after breaking the curse is get the job she wanted – as a school teacher teaching biology, largely horticulture and plant biology. Later she makes up with the guy she likes, but while that is certainly the most romantic bit of the movie, it is not the most important part, as elucidated by its conclusion. It’s about finding your strength and own way, overcoming insecurities and fears, finding ways to be happy in spite of or because of them.

Then there was Tangled where both Rapunzel and the hot-as-motherfucking-bananas Flynn Rider save each other time and time again. Not one of them is more responsible for the other. Pixar’s Brave is a story primarily about a mother and daughter who have different opinions of what life and duty should mean. Her mother tells her it is her duty to get married to one of the haggardly princes from neighboring clans, and Merida doesn’t want to get married. The story is about how she ends up getting her lesbian way without having all the super awesome men fight between themselves over her.

And recently I watched Frozen, admittedly because I initially thought that was the movie with the cute animated guy who looks like a white haired pixie (Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians, which is what I’ll be watching next). But I was not disappointed despite the palpable lack of said cute animated boy. Frozen is about two sisters who have to deal with the fact that one of them, Elsa, is a raging Ice Queen who accidentally turns her kingdom (yes, they’re royalty) into an freezing hell-ice-scape. Her sister Anna, having missed her older sibling because of the latter’s isolation while trying to control this admittedly problematic power follows her to try and convince her to come back and make things hot again.

Done and ...
Done and …
Done. Dayyym gurrll.
…Done. Dayyym gurrll.

 

Anna was the one who made her sister lose control of her powers by arguing with her when Elsa refused to give Anna permission to marry a guy she knew for less than a day.

What is amazing about this movie is not just that it is primarily about the two sisters and how they end up helping each other, but the men in it. The man Anna wants to marry turns out, after spending more than half the movie seeming rather perfect, to be only marrying Anna to gain power of the throne. Anna stops him from murdering her sister towards the end. Another significant character is that of the Duke of Weselton who tries to use the unfortunate forever-damned-to-winter state of the kingdom to change trade agreements to his country’s benefits. Both of these men are stopped by the sisters working together. On the other hand, Kristoff and Olaf, both of whom help and support and fight alongside the women to get things done receive just rewards not just in terms of “getting the girl” but in having their own independent aspirations fulfilled.

As Colin Stokes points out in this awesome video, children’s movies need to address concerns and quests for both boys and girls, with proper, characteristic role models for both boys and girls. He speaks to the fact that movies with primary male characters tend to go about their quests by themselves, or in each other’s company, but with very little involvement with girls. And in the same way, very rarely do Disney movies provide respectful, supportive male characters who succeed because of their ability to work with each other and with strong, independent women characters. In Tangled, Penelope, Brave and Frozen, not only do the women work (often with each other) to make their own lives and/ or their kingdoms a better place, but the men who join their “team” as Stokes puts it, end up having a better deal as well.

I don’t really need inspiration from Disney movies anymore, but representation is incredibly important. And I’m glad that at least for a certain socio economic section of the population, not only are Disney movies more accessible, but that they are likely to inspire Barbie to take college seriously, get a Ph.D., have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, and then work to improve herself or the world and do any number of things to make herself and other people happy.

Barbie shouldn’t have to live a complacent, sedentary life. That seven foot tall, blonde, double-breasted Amazon she male deserves more in life than just dong-less Ken.

Regards,

– Billy

P.S. – On a side note I have avoided mentioning the show I have been obsessing over recently out of respect for the topic at hand. Can you guess what it is? Can you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is kissing. I can do the hair thing. I have to get to work on perfecting the rest.
This is kissing. I can do the hair thing. I have to get to work on perfecting the rest.
He did it again!! With the neck and the scarf!!

 

Ok. Yeah. Sherlock. Yup.

– Billy