Advice for Young Girls from The Little Mermaid

May 23, 2011

Ex Situ: Ice Age 3: Can a Queer Utopia Be Built on Prehistoric Gender Roles?

October 28, 2009

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Never saw Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, but since it’s coming to home video soon (I wish I got paid for that plug), it’s time for an apropos update.

Page Schilt has mixed feelings about Ice Age 3. On one hand, it shows animals of heterogeneous gender permuting peacefully. On the other hand, it does its best to reinforce stale stereotypes, particularly masculine tropes. Here’s a bit:

In an attempt to create a compensatory family of his own, Sid appropriates a trio of dinosaur eggs. Now in nurturing mode, he begins referring to himself as “Mommy” and even–unless I’m much mistaken–using feminine pronouns.

All of this, I know, sounds really queer.

But, like so much pop culture, Ice Age 3 simultaneously subverts and reinforces sex and gender norms. All the stuff it’s dredging up from our collective cultural anxiety closet–changing gender roles, the anti-sociality of the nuclear family, alternative communities, homoeroticism–is, I would argue, kept in check by the film’s policing of traditional gender roles.

and

The utopian nature of the collective is emphasized by the subplot about heterosexual romance between two squirrels. The female squirrel, a hot femme fatale, repeatedly uses her sexual wiles to part the male squirrel from his nut (pun intended, I’m sure). After battling it out in SM foreplay for most of the movie, the squirrels briefly succumb to sexual bliss before descending into domestic hell.

It’s a good read, with some links that I’ll probably highlight individually in the future.

Ice Age 3: Can a Queer Utopia be Built on Prehistoric Gender Roles?
> Catena Ex Situ


From the archives: Thoughts on Peppermint Patty and Marcie

September 3, 2009

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Contributed by Krissy N.

Many people like to hypothesize that perhaps Peppermint Patty and Marcy are lesbians, despite a blatant lack of evidence. Peppermint Patty is not gay. This much is obvious from her treatment of Charlie Brown. She likes him. She expresses her crush through her aggressiveness, by being overly chummy and encouraging him to do things he would normally avoid. She is forcing a relationship between them. Notice that Charlie Brown never contacts her intentionally; they run into each other at school or afterward, on the baseball team, or while shopping. Their relationship is based on knowing the same people and attending the same school.

Why Patty chooses to be aggressive toward Charlie is a matter of observation. Aside from Patty, the other girls include Sally and Lucy. Sally is Charlie’s sister, he has no choice about his relationship with her, they live in the same house. Lucy is the only girl Charlie approaches willingly, seeking her “advice” often. In these sessions she abuses and ridicules him. From observing this type of behavior, one may conclude that Charlie Brown is a masochist. Patty figures that the only way to have any sort of relationship is to abuse the poor boy. But she can’t be like Lucy because of her love for Charlie; she wouldn’t intentionally hurt him.

Marcy has no strong evidence to prove that she is not gay, but there are some interesting things I can say in support. Marcy is very passive. We have never seen her take great action, or even say much beyond offering a few helpful points to Patty or covering for her in class. Marcy reminds me a bit of Charlie Brown in her passiveness. She never places herself into any given situation, more that she is flung into it. Her actions are often dictated by others. She doesn’t have any strong ambitions or goals, neither does Charlie outside of his desire to succeed at least once. Both of them are very polite, honest, and nice to other people (especially adults). The two don’t force their opinions onto anyone, neither of them have an outgoing or aggressive “will” to speak of (Even Linus has a strong will, though no actual personality flaws. Instead, he is a dynamic personality, with an old and knowledgeable soul). Because of these similar traits I always wished to see the pair together.

Their similarities make one think about their relationship to Patty. Charlie Brown is the object of Patty’s affections, so what does that make Marcy? The Peanuts gang is partly defined by its relationships: Patty likes Charlie, Lucy likes Schroeder, Sally likes Linus, Charlie Brown likes the cute little redhead girl. Marcy is an anomaly in this social circle as a figure not involved in any type of crush as the other characters are. So it is not entirely unlikely that Marcy likes Patty. Having some of the same personality traits as Charlie Brown makes her a likely candidate as a significant other for Patty. In contrast to Charlie, Marcy chooses to be near Patty, showing more control over her circumstances than he ever could. Seeing what kind of person Patty chooses to adore, Marcy emulates that behavior, trying to draw the attention toward herself. Of course that is merely not enough. Marcy makes herself helpful so that Patty acknowledges her existence, depending on Marcy to help her out of tough situations. She wedges herself into Patty’s life the way Patty attempts to place herself into Charlie Brown’s day. Marcy uses Patty’s actions as the basis for her own.

Though Marcy might act passive to gain Patty’s favor, I do not believe that it is merely a facade. Part of the behavior is native to her personality. She spends a lot of time with Patty, it is nearly impossible for any person to maintain a passive facade that long. Patty is very overbearing and egotistical, if there existed anything with Marcy’s personality to disagree, the two egos would have clashed and the pair of girls would always be fighting. Marcy’s lack of a personality saves her persona from being crushed by the monster that is Peppermint Patty. Marcy’s innate passiveness ultimately prevents her from revealing her true feelings. Admitting now one feels about someone else takes courage, especially for introverts such a Marcy, who must live in the perfect and most likely repressed society that is the world of Peanuts.


From the archives: Thoughts on Biker Mice from Mars

April 3, 2009

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Contributed by Sterling F.

CharleyOf all the shows mentioned on this web site, no one has mentioned Biker Mice from Mars. This truly underrated show had some surprising adult characters and situations.

First let’s look at the main characters. Throttle is the quintessential leader who is smart and your average guy. He is the only one with a girlfriend who is tough and very loyal. Vinnie is the classic young, hyper, oversexed man. He boasts and brags consistently and of course tries to get women (I’ll explain that more later). Modo is the lovable big guy who is committed to family (he is pretty much a mama’s boy). Charley is a woman who lives alone and is a mechanic (she is also the most realistic looking woman as she rarely wears sexy clothing). She obviously enjoys the company the Biker Mice bring her. The villain Limburger is very similar to the British villains seen in James Bond films. His assistant Carbunkle is androgynous in both look and voice. Greasepit, a henchman, is an idiot.

Now, there are tons of sexual overtones and innuendos between Charley and Vinnie. It is evident in the first episodes (in the second episode when Charley is dressed in a short skirt and falls over in front of them, Vinnie asks her to “turn around again”). Other incidents include: his reactions to when Charley is in danger (male protectiveness of his woman), flexing in front of her, jealousy (evident when Charley’s old boyfriend showed up), and many incidences in which he wants her to check him out. Charley flat out refuses all his advances (after all, that is bestiality) but even including that kind of relationship which is more obvious than Elisa and Goliath in Gargoyles is bold.

Also, the Biker Mice are borderline chauvinistic in most of the episodes. They fight while Charley sits in the garage only because they make her. She often has to fight to get equal treatment from them which mirrors the women’s rights movement and the glass ceiling issue.

The villain Limburger could be considered gay. He never does anything himself against the Biker Mice, he hires someone else to do it. Limburger has no family to speak of (except for a nephew…think of Scar from The Lion King) and is often running, yelling, and screaming (with Carbunkle in tow) from the Biker Mice. Also, Limburger has an inferiority complex. He loathes anything dealing with being Plutarkian (he is an alien). He despises doing the Plutarkian greeting and always has on his human mask even when he does not need to (in fact an episode showed a flashback where he was infatuated with Earth movies).

One thing about the show that seemed negative was the portrayal of rats. All the rats on the show are evil or do evil things. Modo, in particular, gets angry when anyone compares him to a rat. The person(?) that brings down the Martian forces is a rat disguised as a mouse who infiltrates the group. He also kidnaps the girlfriend of Vinnie (note that this takes place before they get to Earth). This smells of racism (the rats being African-Americans) and the rat kidnapping one of the mice’s girlfriend goes right into the stereotype of African-American men craving white women.

There are also lots of in-jokes. The voice of Vinnie is Ian Ziering of 90210. Thus, the show had guest appearances by people from 90210 including Luke Perry, Jason Priestly, and Jennie Garth (in fact, Luke Perry’s character looked like a twisted version of him). Also, an episode of the show dealt with Shakespeare. The voice of Limburger is a Shakespearean actor.

I hope this gives you an idea of the show, which was on the air for three seasons. Even though the animation was not nearly as good as Disney or Warner Bros., the writing combined sexual tension, humor, action, and adult in-jokes in virtually every episode while staying within the realm of children’s television. Also, what show geared toward kids would stretch out a storyline through 3 weekly episodes (as it did in its final season, before shows like ReBoot or Beast Wars did it)? Anyone who is a fan of this show or vaguely remembers it should comment and tell me what you think.

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Mini-Analyzations

February 27, 2009

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  • A long-running – seemingly endlessly iterated, in fact – conflict between enemies known as Tom and Jerry. Where else have we seen this?  That’s right, the First World War, in which the Brits were known collectively as “Tommy Atkins” and they called the Germans “Jerries” (well, when they weren’t calling them “Huns”).  Interesting, then, that it’s with Jerry – the historical loser – that our sympathies lie. Revisionist propaganda? Perhaps. Perhaps.
    Come to think of it, weren’t the majority of these cartoons produced during and shortly after the second World War, in which Jerry (if you will) was once again the enemy?  Posited: a subversive attempt to counteract the “all Germans are Nazis are Evil” propaganda then current – a sort of Don’t Let’s be Beastly to the Germans, without Noel Coward’s sarcasm.
    -Contributed by Jeffie
  • You know, if you think about it, The Muppets were quite a sublime commentary on the human condition. None of the Muppets were good at what they wanted to be. Piggy wasn’t beautiful. Fozzie wasn’t funny. Kermit couldn’t make his show a success. The Swedish Chef could not cook, etc. They all constantly failed, yet kept trying.
    -From Scott Kurtz’s PvP, 12/10/2008
  • There’s one reservation I have about [The Rescuers Down Under]. Why does the villain have to be so noticeably dark-complexioned compared to all of the other characters? Is Disney aware of the racially coded message it is sending? When I made that point to another critic, he argued that McLeach wasn’t dark-skinned – he was simply always seen in shadow. Those are shadows are cast by insensitivity to negative racial stereotyping.
    -From Roger Ebert’s Review of The Rescuers Down Under
  • The Count from Sesame Street shows classic symptoms of OCD.
    -Contributed by Jim W.
  • In WALL•E, the span of years listed for each of the Axiom’s previous captains is ambiguous about whether it denotes each captain’s lifespan or the number of years in which he or she was captain of the ship. It should be noted that there is no overlap in the years for each captain. This leans towards the possibility that each person’s time as captain lasted an average of 133.2 years. Regardless, whatever each captain’s span of years denotes, they just happen to total out to 666.
    From the first captain to the last one before Jeff Garlin’s character:
    143+131+140+124+128 = 666
    -Contributed by Joon K.

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Ex Situ: Carrot and Shtick

November 4, 2008

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Cold on the heels of our last article, another one claiming Bugs Bunny for the Jews. The ancient and semi-Yiddish Forward newspaper printed a column last year discussing the concern:

Can we find the rabbi in the rabbit? As far as I can tell, Bugs never uses a word of Yiddish, but he does have a yidisher kop. He has the gift of gab as well as a fine command of Acme products. Poor Elmer — was there ever a Jew named Elmer? — never stands a chance. Of course, it is well known that Bugs comes from a long line of tricksters. He is an Eastern Anansi, an American Hershele Ostropoler. He’s even distantly related to Isaac Babel’s Odessa gangster, Benya Krik.

Carrot and Shtick >Catena Ex Situ


From the archives: Bugs Bunny is Jewish

October 23, 2008

Contributed by Krissy N.

Me and my friends were recently watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon, a take on the “Tortoise and the Hare”, when we began to notice some things about his behavior:

He was stereotypically Jewish.

It first came to notice at the beginning of the cartoon, when Bugs is reading a book. He reading it backwards, from right to left, turning the pages in that manner as well. Of course, one can read Hebrew or Japanese in this manner, and Bugs is definitely not Japanese.

We then begin to notice other things. Like Bugs’ Brooklyn accent. The stereotypical Jewish person always has a Brooklyn accent.

He kisses people a lot. My Jewish friends pointed this out as something their relatives do often, as well as people they just met. Bugs is awfully friendly…

He’s cheap. There’s a point in the cartoon where he has to cross a river, and instead of paying the bridge toll, he swims across the river.

Of course, being smart asses, we have to add that RABBIT - T = RABBI.

Not to say that Jewish people exhibit any of these characteristics, but they are common stereotypes.

COMMENT: Another thing altogether. In reference to what someone wrote about Bugs Bunny being stereotypically Jewish, one must also note that there is a Bugs Bunny cartoon showing Bugs reminiscing about when he was growing up (as a young rabbit either in the late thirties or early forties) in the Lower East Side. This also implies stereotype to being Jewish.
- Comment by Bugssbunni

COMMENT: Bugs does not have a Brooklyn accent. He has a Bronx accent. Just ask Mel Blanc. Oh wait, he’s dead. But I did hear him say that in an interview. As I long-time NYC area resident (not a native though), I must agree.
- Comment by JasonH2084

COMMENT: Just would like to comment on what someone said about Bugs Bunny have a Bronx accent, and not a Brooklyn one. I have read in several places that Bugs Bunny had a combination of a Brooklyn and Bronx accent.
– Comment by Mameshmeshuga

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Mini-Analyzations

September 29, 2008

  • I don’t know if others have noticed, but Pepe Le Pew is a glaringly insulting portrayal of the French people and all things Gallic. The cartoon relies on the stereotype that the French don’t bathe, hence Le Pew being a skunk, a rather malodorous animal. (Some people might think that the cartoons portrayal of the French as oversexed is a stereotype but, as anyone who has been to France knows, this is an astonishingly real picture of the French.) He speaks with a funny accent, too! It is completely galling! Could it get any worse? At least there was never an episode of Pepe capitulating to the Nazis. Vive l’amour!
    -Contributed by Mark C.
  • Brendan S. mentions several characters seen in the feature Who Framed Roger Rabbit? that were created after 1947, the year the film takes place. I read an interview with the filmmakers where they stated their excuse for this was that these characters were hanging around Toon Town in that year until they were “discovered” a few years later by the studios, as if they really existed and shared the same legends as live action movie stars. A bit of dramatic license. I think a bigger problem is the glaring lack of Tom and Jerry in the film. I guess they couldn’t get the rights to these characters.
    -Contributed by Mark C.
  • Is it just me, or does Panthro of the Thundercats seem like a feline representation of a black man?  It’s interesting to me that even when human protagonists are replaced with somewhat more bestial protagonists, that animation directors would feel the need to express racial diversity.  If you ask me, Thundercats was already demonstrating diversity by depicting feline humanoids, which have been grossly under-represented on television and elsewhere.  (I mean, just because they don’t exist doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be represented, right?)
    -Contributed by YHN

Ex Situ: Masculinity in Disney Films

August 12, 2008

Found via The Disney Blog, here is a  video essay on YouTube™ entitled Sexism, Strength and Dominance: Masculinity in Disney Films. Some brief comments afterward.

I found the essay to be short-sighted and reductionist. He seemed to cherry-pick the characters which fit his thesis (mostly from Beauty and the Beast, which is often used as a dead horse for essays of this nature). For every shallow example he brings up, a counterexample could surely be found. Off the top of my head: characters in Tarzan, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound. The topic of the representations of masculinity and femininity in Disney movies is worthy and interesting, and deserves better. For a much more thoughtful and insightful discussion (without the crutch of video clips or lame This American Life-esque background music), see the very excellent over-analyzation Mulan: A Modern Rescripting of the Classic Romance.


Ex Situ: Your Guide to the WALL-E Controversy

July 10, 2008

Well, here we were, all planning to write up an article tonight linking to and discussing the assorted controversies surrounding the release of Pixar’s newest precious stone, WALL•E, only to find out that The Onion‘s excellent The A.V. Club has beaten us to the proverbial punch. Such is the cutthroat cosm of over-analyzationing. The A.V. Club categorizes the controversies into four groups:

  1. It promotes liberal fascism!
  2. It’s prejudiced against fat people!
  3. It’s hypocritical!
  4. It’s too popular!

The staff here was quite fond of WALL•E, and did not find it to be too preachy or damning about anything. We thought it was a charming satirical fantasy encouraging responsible awareness and making connections with others, wrapped around a chewy nougat of sweet romance and amazing character animation. Also, we are so not tired of posting articles about it.

Your Guide to the WALL•E Controversy >Catena Ex Situ


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