‘Book of Life’ ticks off tropes in most sexist kids’ movie of the year

“Book of Life” is so retro-sexist, if I weren’t with my kids, I would’ve walked out. Instead, I sat there in the theater with my mouth hanging open, trying to focus on the movie’s dazzling animation instead of the cliched plot.

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Manolo, the protagonist of the movie is a bullfighter/ musician. He competes with his rival, Joaquin, a war hero, to marry Maria who is the prize to be won. That’s right, in 2014 children are shown a movie where the female’s role in the narrative is to be a trophy. Typically, as in most contemporary animation, “the girl” actually has a personality! Maria is educated, she likes to read and she likes art. Isn’t that great, parents? Maria is a smart prize. She can fence too, which she gets to do for about 2 minutes of the movie.

“Book of Life” is inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead, art I love and used to collect. The characters and scenery are so gorgeously colorful, I tried hard to overlook the sexism. The point where I didn’t think I could take anymore came when Joaquin is at a party with Maria by his side. He is going on and on about himself and Maria mocks him, “I bet you want a wife who can just cook and clean.” She walks away in a huff. At this point, Joaquin’s buddy comments: “Oh, she’s a feisty one!” If you read Reel Girl, you know I use the term “Minority Feisty” to describe the fake feminism that crops up in almost every animated movie made for kids:

If you see an animated film today, it’s likely to include a token strong female character or two who reviewers will call “feisty.” In “How to Train Your Dragon,” Astrid; in “Toy Story,” Jessie; in “Ratatouille,” Colette. She’s supposed to make us feel like the movie is contemporary and feminist, unlike those sexist films of yesteryear.

 

The problem is that because Pixar or Disney has so magnanimously thrown in this “feisty” female (who may even have some commentary about sexism or male domination) we’re no longer supposed to care that almost all of the other characters in the film are male, including the star who the movie is often titled for and usually his best buddy as well. The crowd scenes in the film are also made up of mostly males.

 

“Feisty” isn’t a word that describes someone with real power, but someone who plays at being powerful. Would you ever call Superman “feisty?”  How would he feel if you did?

 

The Smurfette Principle has evolved into the Minority Feisty. Now instead of a “token” female in a children’s movie, we may see a few females sprinkled around, a “minority” of them. Parents, the next time you watch a children’s movie, try not to let the Minority Feisty population distract you from the limitations female characters are almost always forced into. Ask yourself: Is the female the protagonist in this film? Does the narrative revolve around her quest? Or is she there to (play a crucial role in) helping the male star achieve his goal/ dream?

At the end of the movie, there is a wedding. I’m not going to call that information a spoiler. After the ceremony, Maria is referred to as “Mrs Sanchez.” She has no quest. Instead, “Book of Life” ticks off gender tropes to become the most sexist children’s movie of 2014.

Reel Girl rates “Book of Life” ***SS***

41 thoughts on “‘Book of Life’ ticks off tropes in most sexist kids’ movie of the year

  1. I stopped at the tour guide. I saw her and thought, what…the hell? And couldn’t go any further. And going by what’s been said here, I’m glad I did. I’ll stick to my Hayao Miyazaki animations, thanks. He gets it.

  2. I think people are thinking too much about this kids movie. I love this film because the animation is beautiful, the story is nice and the music is lovely.

  3. Your analysis forgets that Maria is not the only female character. La Muerte is the most powerful character in the film, and she was a woman. Additionally, it is Manolo’s mother that accompanies him on his quest through the underworld, even when he tries to shake her. Then there’s his grandmother, who, as she says “was a BEAST in the ring – A BEAST!” Even the film was narrated by a female character, so it passes the bechdel test.

    I think you went into the film wanting to be offended, and you succeeded by ignoring all of the strong female characters.

  4. Wow. Even as a man, I feel like we watched two different films. All the characters were trying to do is break free of those typical societal conventions of how someone should act male or female, I took in the rating system and how you assess too and think you go in with a preconception of what a film should be to satisfy your quota, a strong female lead doesn’t always actually further the cause for feminism Manolo fights to come back from the dead without ever actually fighting, he plays a guitar against a monster of a bull all because the strong female character inspired him but apparently that makes her a plot device only to you, the sexism in society is often addressed in satire too, I.E when Jakal is scaling the tower and demands the medal in return for the woman and she comments on the typical behaviour of men but she has no fear of this hulking bandit, just annoyance over his belief she needs rescuing, also telling others not to do something because you don’t like it isn’t very feminist at all, everyone is entitled to arrive at that decision themselves and not be told they shouldn’t, I’m entirely sure freedom and equality is the goal and not just to be dictated to by a strong female.

  5. Now a days every film that shows a story of two men trying to get a girl is sexist… Two men love a woman, and both try to make her loving him. She is not the price, she’s just a girl. Sorry for my bad English.

  6. Alright, firstly, this movie is set quite some time ago and as we all probably know, women did not have it fantastic in history and I’d say that Maria was treated quite well in this movie and not much different from the norm. Sometimes two guys fall for the same girl; that’s not exactly sexist, is it? Sometimes girls will or have been expected to behave a certain way; if they hadn’t had that in the movie, then someone else would have some problem about it not being historically accurate or just accurate.
    Also, Maria was very educated and quite feminist herself. In fact, she showed on many occasions that she could do many things a man could, even fighting alongside the the men and others in the fight in their town. Even Joquin saw her as strong and tough in several scenes. While he might not have been very feminist, he still proved that he saw this strength in her a few times. Also, Maria sacrificed herself for Manolo, even though she wasn’t sure what might happened to her if the snake bit her. She states early on in the movie that she ‘belongs to no one.’
    And one of the most powerful characters in the movie was a goddess, De Muerte.
    Manolo’s mother embarks on a quest with her son and her father to help him with his goals and journey and saving the Land Of The Remembered.
    As you can see, I strongly disagree and hope that my points might give you another perspective on the movie.

  7. This movie is dumb and sexist but not for reasons you say. It’s insulting to men that they would chase a woman. The modern man knows chasing women is a waste of time. The idea that a man would dedicate his life and love to something as pointless as a woman’s love is the conceit of this and every movie in which a woman’s primordial fantasy of being the prize is played out.

    Mostly this movie is a female fantasy and an embaressment to boys and men. The woman is smart and sophisticated, the envy of other other woman (clear intersexual competition and dominance), and ultimately the men are powerless to make a choice- only she chooses. Real men have a life mission and begging for the love of a woman with subservient patheticness is not it.

  8. Why is the evil Xibalba a man and the good La Muerte a woman? Where are the female bandits that attacked the town? I think those stereotypes are just as sexist to men.

    • They are part of the same sexist dichotomy. Misogyny doesn’t just put women in stereotypical roles (e.g. the virgin, the beauty, the seductress, the shrew), it also puts men in stereotypical roles (the hero, the bully, the domineer, the aggressor). While some of these roles seem to have positive connotations, the truth is that few people benefit from having expectations placed on them as a result of some random birth trait, be it chromosomal composition, skin color, or what have you.

      • God are you annoying. Go have children, be a mom, and do something useful…. you blathering fool.
        Guess what, darling….. women are attracted to a certain kind of strong man. A certain kind of strong man isn’t attracted to a whiney wind bag of a feminist.

        Again, go get married, have children, raise them, make your husband happy…. and shut up with this bs social commentary on how the world isn’t feminist enough. The last thing we need is more feminist dross mucking up society.

        • Troll much?

          You assume I’m a woman, and you assume I’m interested in men. Just speaking statistically your likelihood of being right is about one in twenty. Accuracy is important, buddy. You can’t play pro ball with a batting average of 0.050.

          Anyway, your point isn’t lost on me. lots of women are attracted to stereotypical men, and lots of men are attracted to stereotypical women. If you subscribe to those stereotypes life is definitely a lot easier – you know your role, and you have a preset way of behaving that is likely to bring you the perception of success (sex, money, power).

          The problem is that mindless conformity kind of trains a person not to think. When such a person encounters an idea that does not agree with their pre-existing beliefs they get angry and lash out instead of re-evaluating their perspective.

          You kind of give off that earth-is-flat vibe. You might want to reconsider how you deal with the way you process new information. Then again, I’m sure certain women will find the ease with which they can manipulate you very attractive. Just don’t blame them for it. You’re choosing this path.

  9. I don’t get how responders are missing our collective point.
    No, a movie is not inherently sexist if the protagonist isn’t female. A movie is evidently sexist when the major plot arc is a contest between two men over which one will win a woman as a prize, and in which genderist tropes play a large role in causing and resolving conflicts.

    I see several of you have made arguments about Maria’s strength, and leadership. Lots of prejudices are rooted in stereotypes, and it is currently trending to show characterizations of women that exhibit strength and free will within the confines of what is considered acceptable.

    But let me try to be clearer: in this film Maria is not the symbolic representation of sexism. It would be nice if she considered a relationship born of a communication and love, instead of who is making the grandest gesture, but she is evidently inexperienced and we all make mistakes.

    The sexism is in the environment, in the male protagonists, in all of the foils, in the gods and their interaction, and in the script. It’s in the context. Are you glossing over the entire “reveal” scene when she returns from her hiatus and everyone is just waiting for her to lower her fan and show them how attractive she is? It’s a scene in which the entire village objectifies her, and she and all the major characters subscribe to it. That is modelling for everyone watching the film, and little ones (particularly ages 8-14) are extremely susceptible to social validation.

    I get it – lots of you like this movie. Lots of you also like when women are seductive and pretty, and men are tough and heroic. Traditional gender roles make us feel comfortable because most of us have already habituated to identities that rely on them, and when we see relate-able characters on screen using their sex-based privileges to assert their power it makes us feel good about our own ability to influence our environment. It can engender confidence.

    Just understand that some of us don’t want like the consequences of the gender roles our parents and parents’ parents laid out for us, and we’re not altogether pleased when popular media topically reinforces them. The man who thinks women are a treasure is the same man who thinks he has a right to break his baubles when they displease him. The woman who works hard to look good is the same woman who cuts herself when she ages out of the arbitrary standards of physical attractiveness imposed on her.

    Feel free to enjoy the movie, and the misogyny. Just consider, before you vent at us for criticizing something you enjoy, that maybe the reason you like it is because you agree with some of the value systems that have defined roles for men and women. We aren’t saying you can’t have those values, we’re saying you should draw a connection between telling the thousand times you told your daughter she’s pretty and the time you found her crying in front of a mirror because her hair is frizzy.

    • You know, maybe if you just listen to what the other side has to say instead of just dismissing their arguments as “liking the film’s misogyny”, you might learn something about how other people see this film. You shouldn’t just paint with a broad brush of everyone liking this film as being primeval troglodytes just because they see something in a movie you don’t like from a different point of view.

      BTW, I’ve known a lot of feminists to enjoy this film, including feminist animation icon, Lauren Faust.

      • Hi Rhea,

        The other side??? It’s not like my point of view is the popular one, the opposite view is everywhere.

        Margot

          • Hi Rhea,

            Romney worked on the film and had insight about the director’s intention as well which is why I posted her blog here. I always listen to the other side, it’s that what you are saying is not new to my ears, or anyone’s, and your argument is the one everyone makes.

      • While I realize my comment must have offended you, and I do apologize for the ad hominem statements I made in frustration, please consider that you chastized me for not listening then proceeded to misquote me and cast aspersions in my name. I dodnt suggest people who like this movie are troglodytes, I implied they are products of a modern society that has some less than helpful social norms and gender roles. I myself hold to a number of prejudices, many of which I am as yet aware, and it is our collective responsibility to challenge ourselves and our ideas even when (especially when) it is neither easy nor palatable.. Our critiques of this movie are very specific, and relate not to the movies enjoyability but rather its reinforcement of destructive belief structures. The fact that some people enjoy it does not invalidate our arguments – rather, it highlights the importance of our moral challenge. Lots of people enjoy crack. Sexism is just a more subtle drug.

        So yes, the movie has merit. It is colorful, some of the ideals about challenging conformity are well-formed, and I enjoyed certain aspects quite a bit (the quest to the realm of the dead,for example). None of that changes the simple fact that the movie is rife with endorsement of various genderist norms.

    • Hi Robilarx,

      Thanks for your comment YES YES YES

      And once again, I am referring to A PATTERN OF SEXISM IN MOVIE AFTER MOVIE, the repetitive pattern of males starring and females on the sidelines is sexist.

      Margot

      • Perhaps this is simply a poor medium for dialogue. Forum posts allow people to go on lengthy monologues without interruption, which might explain their appeal, but we should aknowledge that there is a lot of room for misinterpretation. Maybe we should set up a chat or something so we could hash out some of these differences of opinion. It might be that we all really agree about a lot of the fundamental points which, here in this back-and-forth, seem contentious.

        In any case, I am glad Reel Girl has provided us with this forum. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read through my thoughts and offer counterpoint. We may not agree about what is fair or right, but I am glad we live in a time and place that allows for these philosophical debates.

    • I fought a competition with another man for my wife and won. Yay me! I did like Manolo by just being genuine and caring about her more than myself.

      Gender relationships aren’t just tropes, they are based on realities, and these are not always unpalatable ones. My wife physically gave birth and goes gooey over babies and got up at night with them. I worked to provide and as the kids are growing I’m picking up wherever I can so my wife can work on her own career. But I fail to see why the idea of a woman being the person who chooses between two men who are utterly subservient to her, is so terrible to you. The person who makes the feisty comment gets smacked in the jaw as I recall, and in this village of around 150 years ago it we see old attitudes rejected for something pure and even older – one man, one woman, who adore each other.

      Why politicize it beyond a realistic level?

      And here is the question I have to ask that I think I never understand. Why is it that the typical aggressive-submissive mating ritual of men and women of the last 2000 years or more offends you so much? I’m put in mind of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. Shakespeare understood that beneath all the strutting and striving beneath that there has to be more and genuine care for another or a relationship is meaningless. Manolo died for Maria. Isn’t that good enough? Yeesh.

  10. “Minority Feisty”?! WTH? It’s a beautiful movie. The characters are rich and vibrant and the female characters remind me of a lot amazing females I’ve known throughout my life. My son’s classmates (girls) have watched and acknowledge the positive messages in BOL. Maria gets married and her life ends? Marriage does not end ones quest for adventure & happiness. Oh, wait a minute…Anna in Frozen buys her guy an ice cart.. That’s how it’s supposed to end, right?

  11. Yeah, the movie definitely has a lot of 90s tropes which, to be fair, is due to the fact that the script was written fourteen years ago, but while it might not provide anything new for female characters in the film, it is FAR from the most sexist kids movie I’ve ever seen.

    Also, for those who are having doubts about the director’s views on gender, he’s actually coming out with two sequels to this one; one starring Joaquin, and the other starring Maria. This film was meant to be one in a series of films following the three protagonists of the first.

  12. It is a cartoon people. A cartoon that celebrates love, life, friendship, and it is done in an artful way. Find something more meaningful to bash, where you can actually do good.

  13. FYI misogeny doesn’t say women are weak, it says women are strong only in specific (sexist) domains. Like the domain of Being Attractive, and the domain of Controlling Men with Their Prettiness. Y’know, the areas Maria demonstrates strength.

    I have not been so enraged by a movie since I got tricked into seeing Drive, and at least that movie was just a ruse on the audience. This film was an ongoing lesson in misogyny, couching all the sexism in pseudo-romantic gestures. Manolo never even has a conversation with Maria, yet we are supposed to admire his undying devotion? That isn’t romantic, it’s creepy.

    There are a thousand plot points and off-hand comments that reinforce destructive gender stereotypes, and the sad thing is that a lot of people don’t see them *because they subscribe to the same stereotypes*. Of course many people think it’s perfectly fine for men to compete over women, because many people think these behaviors are normal and natural. These people will love Book of Life. And they will bring their children to see the movie, and subject them to an unending bombardment of destructive modelling. Every time the boys refer to Maria as a trophy, and she responds with a happy smile, children in the audience are learning to treat women like objects (boys) or be treated like objects (girls). Maybe if it was just once or twice it could be dismissed, or at least discussed, but it’s the whole entire movie. Every line, every monologue, every plot twist has some casual off-hand stereotyping. The tour guide uses sensual charms to get past the security guard. The entire town eagerly awaits the visual reveal of Maria’s beauty. Maria’s father’s only concern is partnering his daughter with a virile man. Hell, even the gods are bloody stereotypes of the quick-to-anger woman and the lying cheating man who doesn’t deserve her but still wins her over, which is basically a blueprint for abusive relationships. On and on and on.

    The whole movie reminds me of a racist trying really hard to pretend he isn’t racist. Book of Life is an advertisement for misogyny, and I am angry because people seem to be eager to buy what they’re selling.

  14. In my opinion, the rating you have assigned to this movie (indicating mostly gender stereotypes) shows us that your analysis is very shortsighted. The gender stereotypes are a necessary factor in this movie, for it is the struggle of the three protagonists against those stereotypes that MAKES the story. Maria, Manolo and Joaquin each are walking that awkward line between fulfilling familial and societal expectations and still remaining true to their authentic selves–and they know that their true selves do not fully conform to the gender stereotypes of their times. Ultimately, they each achieve some degree of success in “writing their own story” — freeing themselves from the confinement of traditional roles. Also, we cannot ignore that the story’s narrator is a female (La Muerte disguised as Tour Guide), who by the end of the movie has effectively convinced five kids that they can (and should) go out into the world and “write their own story”. Obviously the movie does not have enough feminism to suit you, but it clearly advocates self-empowerment and taking control of one’s destiny.

  15. I completely agree with you, as I watched the movie with my parents, my father said something extremely right about Maria- She just announces that she’s strong, but we never see her being strong.
    And that’s true, she doesn’t do much, she truly a prize to be won, and it’s pretty sad.
    La Muerte is some what a better female character them Maria, Katrina is more interesting and more active female character.
    Even Manolo’s Mother and cousin’s(the twins) are far more better characters than our female lead.
    It’s pretty said, since we could have better characters, I thought the movie as gorgeous visually but lacking a lot of story and direction.

    Susana

  16. Yes, your coined phrase “Minority Feisty” is true. the Book of Life is Manolo’s story, and out of the 5 main characters only 2 are women.

    However, I think calling this the “most sexist kids” film goes too far, and dismisses strong female characters, even though they’re not the lead.

    It even goes against your own ratings system. You dismissed that there are 2 female characters out of the film’s 5. I would think that Book of Life could at least be rated by your system: “H – Features a strong female character but not nearly enough of her or them, and may perpetuate sexism in the plot or some other ways as well.”

  17. Margot, I respectfully disagree. I broke the movie down plot point after plot point about how Maria’s character is strong from the beginning on your facebook page comments. However the point you are really making is not that the female characters in this movie are not strong (because they were intended and written to be some of the strongest), but that Book of Life is Manolo’s (a male) and not Maria’s (a female) movie to begin with.

    I agree that we need more female protagonists in animated films, and I fight for it every day in my job. However I think you do a disservice to the Book of Life and its film makers (a husband a wife duo) when you say to not take children to see it because of your mistakenly perceived sexist message, when in fact, you missed so much that is positive for girls (being of your own mind despite what the culture is saying all around you) and boys.

    But you do a bigger disservice because Jorge Gutierrez is a minority filmmaker making a latino-centric main stream animated film. Do you even realize what a feat it was and how many studios it went through to get to where it was? He broke barriers for latinos in film, and this entire film is a commentary on machismo culture in his native Mexico, and what Maria has to face every day.

    So before you go telling people to boycott this film because you are offended by “fiesty” female characters on the sidelines, realize the achievements it has made on so many other fronts. And also, take a second look and watch the film, even though it has a male protagonist, I think YOU are doing a disservice to Maria and La Muerte and the positive role they play for both girls and latinas, you have put them in a corner not the film maker.

    • Hi Romney,

      I got many comments on Reel Girl’s Facebook page that because the movie is created by and about Latinos I should overlook the sexism. I respectfully disagree. I agree with this comment from Luis Serna on my page:

      “The trailer is full of tropes and tired plot devices. I don’t want my daughters to see this movie. We celebrate dia de los muertos, but the traditions portrayed here need to be left in the past. If this movie represents being Latino, then we need a new way of being Latino.”

      Animation is a great opportunity to show gender equality.

      Margot

      • Women I am latin, I am bolivian I have a vagina and you can’t talk because YOU ARE NOT FROM HERE, that movie is AWESOME! we live with the sexism my mother was a Maria, she fought! I FIGHT with my grandpapi because he wanted me to study to be an Petroleum engineer like the family tradition, this is showing FUCKING EQUALITY! I CAN CHOOSE! LIKE HE DID AT MY AGE! and….i did it! and now my family accept me :D…
        like, after YEARS of dissaporval, because i played guitar and I like drawing, they told me that that kind of things wasnt good for a señorita, a quinceañera for a dama de sociedad, you have any idea of the impact of this movie for all the kids outside of the US? 🙂 im so sorry if we are not so “advanced” like you americans, but I am a Maria like mi mamá, like my sisters, we will not fall not now! NOT EVER! :DD

        so many stories like this, the bullying in school, the teachers telling me that drawing was satanic for showing my point of view, my classmates telling me I was a hermafrodite for not having a quince or a boyfriend…you have any idea what are you talking about? this movie..es lo que necesitaba cuando era una niña, me alegra haber podido tener la mirada de mi mamá que me decía que siga adelante…Im so happy, so glad, I can choose my way, just like my grandpapi did in 1953, I choose to be an Ilustration artist 🙂

        I love my family, mis abuelitos, y tíos, I want them to be proud of me,I know my grandpapi will be proud of me, one day, I will prove that I learn from him the most important thing… to follow my dreams, like he did when he was my age UwU he was destined to be a carpenteer like his dad, and his dad befire him, but he said no.

        I am a feisty one

  18. I must whole heartedly disagree! First of all the husband and WIFE duo who not only made the story but designed the characters focused on strong females. Sandra Equihna designed ALL the female characters and she would also disagree with you point for point, and she is one of the strongest women I know.

    You saw one thing that biased you, and then shut your mind off the entire rest of the movie. Perhaps you should read up, see what the film makers have to say for themselves, open your mind and watch it again.

    First of all it is not Maria’s story, it is Manolo’s. Manolo gives up his family tradition of Bulfighting to save the animals, a fight that as children *Maria* led him on. It was her strong willed nature even as a child that got her shipped off to boarding school. But that is besides the point.

    You missed out on La Muerte, a GODDESS who plays equal parts alongside her male God counterpart the entire movie. One of the strongest female characters I’ve seen in an animated movie in a long time.

    From the beginning even though Maria *is seen by the boys as a trophy* SHE never allows herself to be one. She excuses herself from the dinner when she rails Joaquin for only thinking that is what women are for, and back handedly calls him worse than a pig, since she leaves with her pet Chuy. You focus on the *clearly comic relief* character calling her feisty. You missed that she was poised intelligent and strong in her own defense against these clearly stereotypical macho males she is surrounded by.

    She is the character- NOT Joaquin the “Hero” nor Manolo – who rallies the village to fight for themselves against the villain in the act 3 climax. She fights alongside Manolo as equals at the end. Getting married isn’t awful if it is to someone who you love and who sees you as an equal.

    Maria was conceived from the beginning as strong woman, and every turn of the plot portrays her as such, despite the town and men, and her father’s own dismissal because of her gender and beauty. You have done the same thing here. And I am disappointed that a Reel Girl like you can’t see this.

    • Hi Romney,

      “Book of Life” is not Maria’s story. Manolo is the protagonist, it is he who goes on his quest through the realms. Even the synopses of the movie describe it as this:

      “Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2262227/

      Strong willed Maria inspired him, she is a classic Minority Feisty, as I wrote ob my blog about the MF years ago http://reelgirl.com/2012/02/the-curse-of-the-minority-feisty-female-in-kids-movies/

      “Ask yourself: Is the female the protagonist in this film? Does the narrative revolve around her quest? Or is she there to (play a crucial role in) helping the male star achieve his goal/ dream?”

      La Muerte is another Minority Feisty in the movie. There is a MINORITY of strong females in most children’s movies today while the males remain the protagonist and make up most of the population of speaking characters. If you doubt me, look up the stats from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media http://seejane.org/

      Your description of this scene is TYPICAL in most movies today for kids. The Minority Feisty is FEISTY so people like you overlook the sexism. Colette in “Ratatouille” for example is the only female chef, surrounded by males, practically the only female in the movie. She has whole speech on feminism where she gets mad about being in a male dominated kitchen. Why not instead have a female chef star the movie? With her best friend, a FEMALE rat? Oh, that’s right, it’s not realistic to have a female top chef, a talking rat chef on the other hand, totally believable!

      As far as this comment:

      “She is the character- NOT Joaquin the “Hero” nor Manolo – who rallies the village to fight for themselves against the villain in the act 3 climax.She fights alongside Manolo as equals at the end.”

      Yes, Maria plays a crucial role in helping the hero achieve his quest, just like Hermione does for Harry and all the other Minority Feisty.

      As far as this comment:

      “Getting married isn’t awful if it is to someone who you love and who sees you as an equal”

      I agree with you, I am happily married, but that doesn’t mean that the woman’s role in story after story should be to get married. Why can’t she go on a quest? Why can’t she bullfight and then decide to be a musician and venture into realms? If the female had this MF role once in a while, or even half the time, it would be no big deal, but she is confined to this role again and again, in movies made for kids.

      Margot

      • I don’t believe that you need to have a female protagonist in order to display positive aspects of feminity. Sure having one would be amazing but completely dismissing this movie because it lacks more girls which by the way would just be there as set decoration along with the rest of the extras is completely missing the point.
        Manolo’s journey is one of finding and accepting his gentle side which is often dismissed as a female attribute all the people around him are telling him that if he doesn’t start killing which is branded as a masculine trait he is basically worthless. In the end he shows everybody that it is precisely his kindness that doesn’t only make him special but it makes him more advanced than the rest of his ancestors which have been suppressing this aspect of their personality for many generations.
        The same could be said with Joaquin who though all his life is taught that he is amazing but deep down knows what he is doing is wrong and hesitates at the wedding, and later lets himself love others as much as he loves himself and is willing to sacrifice himself for others.
        María’s journey is one that makes her understand that her fighting nature is needed but that there is a time and a place for it and she learns it by the time she is back from spain, however she never stops fighting for what she deems right and never undervalues her worth as a human and she displays it all throughout the movie.
        You may want to argue that María is the price but remember that also Manolo and Joaquin are pawns in La Muerte and Xibalba’s heartless game.
        And regarding the trailer of course it looks cliché, trailers are meant to be cliché in order to pull as much of the audience as possible. I’m not saying they do but they intend to.
        The message of the movie is about challenging what past generations have determined that is the proper way to behave and be honorable. This of course includes the gender roles that we are meant to have and telling us that it’s limiting and backwards, and I don’t think it gets more feminist than that.

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