WWII’s ‘nasty and aggressive campaign by male pilots’ carried on by Disney’s ‘Planes’ in 2013

Yesterday, I posted about the upcoming documentary on the forgotten female pilots from WW2: “We Served Too: The Story of Women Air Force Pilots of World War II.” From the film:

These women flew over 60 million miles within a 2 year period…However, after a nasty and aggressive campaign by male pilots who wanted the WASPs’ jobs, they were the only wartime unit that was denied military status by congress…For many years the WASPs kept their achievements quiet. Their service in World War II would only be known by a few. They are not mentioned in our history books, nor is their story taught in schools.Their accomplishments of being the first women to fly in the military would even be forgotten.

 

I haven’t seen the documentary yet, so I don’t know the details of the “nasty and aggressive campaign by male pilots” which successfully erased the stories of these female heroes from our history books. But I am somewhat of an expert on current kid culture, and I can tell you that stories about female heroes continue to go missing right now.

In a recent post about Disney’s transformation of the story of “The Snow Queen” to “Frozen” I wrote:

Thousands of years ago, conquering armies smashed the idols of their victims and stole their stories, an extremely effective tactic to destroy a community and steal its power. Christians did this to pagans, but of course, this act is all over history. Just like the goddess morphed into the Virgin, girls are going missing under the guise of celebration. Right now, in 2013, Disney is stealing and sanitizing stories. It’s an annihilation. How long before we all forget the original story? Will our children ever hear it?

 

I am reeling from this WW2 story, not because of the sexism of the past, but because of the sexism today. Want to see some sexist male pilots? Check out this preview from Disney’s recent hit, “Planes.”

Plane One: What’s taking this guy so long? Is he really as good as he says he is?

Plane Two: No, better.

Plane One: Whoa! Who was that?

Plane Three: (Descending fast on top of the other two) Well, hello ladies! Ready to lose?

 

Plane Three goes on to leave the “ladies” in the dust.

 

 

When I saw that preview with my three young daughters, I thought the plane who mocks the slow flyers by calling them “ladies,” was having a moment of arrogance. The movie would redeem him when he went through his transition. But when I actually saw the movie, I learned that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The sexist joke is his fantasy, the fantasy of a humble crop duster with a fear of heights who wishes he were a racer. It’s the dream sequence of a “likeable” character. Can you imagine a hero making a racist joke and being likeable? In a movie for little kids? Yet, that’s how much sexism we have to wade through before a female flyer is allowed to win a race in animation.

Yesterday, I posted about a three year old girl in my daughter’s preschool who told a teacher she can’t be a pilot, but she can be a pilot’s wife. You can tell your kids, until you’re blue in the face, that they can be anything they want to be, but if you don’t show them, through images and stories, they won’t believe you. They won’t believe in themselves. Little girls are obsessed with princesses and ballerinas, and later, supermodels, because those are the few times females are allowed to be the star in the show. Everyone wants to be the star in their own movie, their own life, but girls, again and again, are literally, pushed to the sidelines.

If you look at the erasure of these female pilots from World War II, the government obviously participated in the sexism. Allowed it to happen and sanctioned it. This is not an isolated event of the past. How can we, literally, sit back and watch it happen again and again?

On my recent post about WW2 pilots, I got this comment from Abnoba

Lots of women in war have been missing and rarely mentioned in history books, and especially in movies.
There were women fighting in the USA Civil War
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Women-Who-Fought-in-the-Civil-War.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2285841/The-women-fought-men-Rare-Civil-War-pictures-female-soldiers-dressed-males-fight.html
There were samurai women
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onna-bugeisha
The most powerful pirate of all the times was a woman
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ching_Shih
and there were female pirates
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_piracy
Even if they have to dress as a man, take the arms of a fallen soldier in a battle or work as a spy, there were women fighting in every war, because they have to defend themselves, their families and their homes, of course that they are not going to stay at home, just waiting and being killed, but you rarely see that in historical movies.

 

This from Mecano:

WASPs were great but the women pilots of WWII who were truly baptised in battle were those of the Soviet Air Forces.True warriors .I have many books about them.
Check
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lydia_Litvyak
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_Witches

http://www.amazon.com/Dance-Death-Soviet-Airwomen-World/dp/1585441775/ref=la_B001KJ2H9M_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383833768&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Red-Sky-Black-Death-Eastern/dp/0893573558/ref=pd_sim_b_3
http://www.amazon.com/Wings-Women-War-Airwomen-Studies/dp/0700615547/ref=pd_sim_b_2

British women also flew.Check for “Spitfire women”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tw1m1
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spitfire-Women-World-War-II/dp/0007235364

 

And here’s a comment from my post on “Planes.”

“The actual race in Planes is totally dominated by male competitors.” How shocking! You mean in real life the actual race is not dominated by male competitors?… This stuff is silly nonsense.
This feminist whine that animated movies for kids should reflect “progressive feminist” values is the kind of thing that gives feminism a bad name. Why? Because it’s silly overreach as usual.
The idea that animators see machines that race (airplanes, cars, dunebuggies, drag racers, etc.) as a male world isn’t an irrational sexist bias – it’s simply reality. Males – and especially boys – are by nature gung ho about machines to a degree that girls are not is obvious to anyone not wearing feminist blinders. That it’s necessary to point this out these days is a comment on the nuttiness of the feminist whiners who are constantly arguing that these natural differences are not natural but socially imposed. It’s B.S. Boys and girls are different from head to toe and always have been and always will be.

Please show this picture to your kids. It’s likely they won’t see it anywhere else.

wasp3

Disney destroys Brave’s Merida with sexy makeover #NotBuyingIt

From the Mary Sue:

“On May 11th Brave‘s Merida will be officially crowned as the 11th Disney Princess, the impact of which is that Disney will be selling more stuff with her on it, I guess? Anyway. Along with the “coronation ceremony,” to be held at Walt Disney World, Merida’s gotten a new redesign…”

A great summary from Toward the Stars:

towardthestars

Here’s one of my favorite pre-botox, pre-makeover Merida expressions.

merida_

Pithy analysis from Peggy Orenstein on the eventual fate of way too many of Disney’s female characters:

Because, in the end, it wasn’t about being brave after all. It was about being pretty…I’m especially creeped out by Belle who appears to have had major surgery… In addition to everything else, they’re pushing the brown girls slowly but surely to the edges…

I’ve always said that it’s not about the movies. It’s about the bait-and-switch that happens in the merchandise, and the way the characters have evolved and proliferated off-screen. Maybe the problem is partly that these characters are designed in Hollywood, where real women are altering their appearance so regularly that animators, and certainly studio execs, think it’s normal.

The disease of homogeneous, anorexic, botoxed, generic females has spread worldwide, through these kinds of images. Did you see the Reddit story about the Korean beauty queens: “Has plastic surgery made these beauty queens all look the same? Koreans complain about pageant clones.” Talk about creepy.

beautyqueens

One commenter wrote:

‘The surgery takes away their individuality and uniqueness and its sad. Most are beautiful without it but telling them that their Korean ethnic features are in fact lovely is as effective as screaming at a brick wall.

‘They wont believe you because they’ve been brainwashed to think westernization of their features is superior, I don’t think they want to look white, but a mix of white and Asian and definitely less Korean.’

This is how one “beauty” queen describes herself:

The student revealed her plastic surgery secret after photos emerged of her looking very different at school, but she said she hadn’t misled anyone.

But she defended her crown telling the Korean media: ‘I never said I was born beautiful.’

 

So sad because this generic look has absolutely nothing to do with “beauty” and everything to do with power, Westernization, capitalism, and status. TV host Stephen Colbert explained it well when he jokingly asked teen writer/ phenom Tavi Gevinson: “But if girls feel good about themselves, how will we sell them things they don’t need?”

How indeed? I was a huge Merida fan, as were my kids, and I bought my three young daughters several figures, books, and posters featuring her because she was cool. Here’s a framed poster over my four year old daughter’s bed so she can see her when she goes to sleep at night, along with her favorite Merida book.

Mposter

Like Merida, my daughter, Rose, has wild, curly hair that she hates to have brushed.

rose

I hope my daughter never feels that she has to look generic and homogeneous in order to be “beautiful.” I hope she always knows that her beauty comes from her spirit. That’s not some meaningless cliche. There’s nothing “attractive” about frozen-faced clones. Disney’s new, madeover Merida has absolutely nothing to offer my kids. I won’t be buying ANY merchandise with this awful, new image.

Reel Girl rates the new Merida ***SSS*** for major stereotyping.

Please Tweet @Disney We want Merida brave, not botoxed. New, madeover Merida is bad for kids #NotBuyingIt

 

 

Superhero chicklit? Lipstick covers infiltrate comics

The horrific epidemic in the publishing world of mutating great female writers (like Virgina Woolf and Sylvia Plath) and great heroines (like Anne of Green Gables) into “chick lit” as a desperate attempt to attract female readers is infecting Marvel and DC Comics.

Wired.com reports:

Today, Marvel Entertainment announced a new partnership with Hyperion Books — like Marvel, a Disney subsidiary — to publish The She-Hulk Diaries and Rogue Touch, two novels described as featuring ‘strong, smart heroines seeking happiness and love while battling cosmic evil.’ Yes, it’s time for superhero chick-lit.

Here’s the art Wired used in its post:

she-hulk-cover-3_4_r536_c534

When I saw this, I wondered if Wired created the image as a parody. Then I saw the same art on a USA Today post, and the photo is credited to Hyperion/ Marvel. Also, notice any similarity between the She-Hulk art and the new 50th anniversary cover of The Bell Jar?

belljar

That’s right, if you want to sell to women, put make-up on the cover. That’s what we girls care about. Looks like a compelling read full of complex characters and exciting drama!

Wired reports:

The move could potentially be part of a response to the realization that Marvel had no female-led comics as of this time last year

Huh? Who “realized” there were no females? How did that great epiphany happen? (I can’t wait for everyone to “realize” that girls have gone missing from children’s movies.) Was it a Marvel insight? They were all in a meeting and one of the artists slapped his hand to his forehead, shouting, “Whoa dudes, we forgot the women!”

Baffled, I went to that link to see if I could find out more. The ComicsAlliance.com report is  actually dated Dec 8, 2011:

Both Marvel and DC Comics have been at the center of concerns and controversies recently regarding women in comics, both in terms of the way they are represented on the page and in the offices of the Big Two comics publishers.

 

While DC Comics has quite a few ongoing titles devoted to female characters (Batgirl, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, Catwoman Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Voodoo), there are very few women actually involved in creating them, an issue that has infused criticism of the company’s relaunch since the beginning, and was recently compounded by the news that writer Gail Simone is leaving Firestorm.

 

This post made me wonder what it feels like to be a female artist at Marvel or DC and marvel (ha ha) at how challenging it must be for women to get their own narratives out on the page in that kind of environment. It’s already risky for any artist to put her vision out in the world. Can you imagine trying to achieve that there? Talk about the opposite of support.

ComicsAlliance goes on:

Marvel Comics, meanwhile, seems to have the opposite problem; with the recent cancellation of X-23, there are no female-led ongoings in the Marvel Universe (with the possible exception of the 12-issue miniseries The Fearless) but significantly more women working in creative and editorial roles. The two companies illustrate two different but interrelated problems: the lack of women playing major roles in the comics, and the lack of women playing major roles in creating them. While neither situation is ideal, what are the implications of both problems, and which has a bigger impact on the comics that are created or the audience they reach?

 

I don’t see these as “opposite problems,” or even “different” or “interrelated.”
Here’s the problem in a nutshell. Marvel and DC, are you listening because right now, I’m going to save you millions of dollars in consulting fees and identify the root of your problem for you in just 4 words: NO WOMEN IN POWER. Every time you make a hire, think up a character, or draw an image, ask yourself this simple question: woman in power, yes or no? FYI, this image would be a no.
she-hulk-cover-3_4_r536_c534

Thank you to Cynthia Rodgers, AKA Theamat for the link to the Wired story. I’ll leave you with Theamat’s drawing of Reel Girl.

reelgirl2.gif

 

 

 

Girls gone missing in new Halloween movies for kids

As if Halloween wasn’t sexist enough already with its sexy “cute” costumes aggressively marketed to little girls, this season Hollywood delivers not one, but three animated male-centered monster movies. In each one, males are front and center while females get relegated to the sidelines.

I just saw this poster for “Frankenweenie:”

The movie is about a boy and his dog and named for the male protagonist. The male/ female ratio on the movie poster 4:1 (I thought that the smaller, sidelined cat could be female, but after looking up the character, I learned his name is Mr. Whiskers.)

If you’ve been reading Reel Girl, you know I just blogged about all the sexism in “Hotel Transylvania.” Here’s the poster, male/ female ratio 6:2

And a couple weeks ago, I blogged about ParaNorman.

Also named for the male protag (remember, the name of “Rapunzel” had to be switched to “Tangled” because Disney didn’t want a girl’s name in the title.) Male: female ratio 4:1

These repetitive images put females in the minority and on the sidelines. They are reproduced in toys, games, and clothing, and show kids that boys are more important than girls.

See Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing in Kids’ Movies in 2011.

Book investigates Disney’s global influence

If you read Reel Girl, you know I’ve got a lot of issues with Disney’s hegemony over our kids imaginations. I’ve written about how exposure to the same old narratives, repeatedly, influences how kids brains grow.

Today WWW. TRUTH-OUT.ORG reviewed The Mouse that Roared by Henry A. Giroux and Grace Pollack (though it looks like the book came out in 2010?) I am excited to read the book though the review seems pretty academic, I am hoping the text is less wonky.


Here are some nuggets from the review:

Cuddly cartoon animals and whimsical fairy-tale stories are merely Disney’s public face. The expansive conglomerate is not limited to Disney film and theme parks. It also owns six motion picture studios, ABC television network and its 226 affiliated stations, multiple cable television networks, 227 radio stations, four music companies, three cruise lines, theatrical production companies, publishing houses, 15 magazine titles and five video game development studios. This media and culture monopoly goes unnoticed by most Americans, who just want to indulge their childhood fantasies as Disney so deftly enables with its movies, theme parks and merchandise….

The authors quote Walt Disney: “I think of a child’s mind as a blank book. During the first years of his life, much will be written on the pages. The quality of that writing will affect his life profoundly.” They demonstrate how Disney’s movies, TV shows and toys are doing a majority of that writing in this generation’s children.”

“The Mouse that Roared” also draws attention to the gender stereotypes in Disney princess movies, from older cartoons such as “The Little Mermaid” to their newest, “Enchanted.”

“Disney has become a major player in global culture, and the first casualties of its dominance in popular culture are, of course, those who are most defenseless – children,” the book warns.

Buy the book here.

Disney’s ‘Winnie the Pooh’ leaves girls out

Here’s the poster for Disney’s new summer movie ‘Winnie the Pooh.’ Notice someone missing?

Here’s a hint– I blogged about a poster of Gnomeo and Juliet that had the same invisible issue, in spite of the movie title, no less, though that ratio was 9 to 0.

Disney's Winnie the Pooh movie poster

Here’s the cast of ‘Winnie the Pooh':

Winnie the Pooh

Eyeore

Owl

Christopher Robin

Tigger

Kanga

Piglet

Roo

Rabbit

Disney’s new movie stars eight males and one female. I know this because I’ve been watching Caillou (another boy-starring cartoon named after the boy it stars) on PBS with my two year old daughter. The commercials for summer’s new animated Pooh movie cycle on. So as my daughter meets Tigger and the others (we haven’t seen Kanga yet) she’s learning, once again, that girls are not that important in imaginary world. Just like the real one. So much for telling her she can grow up to be president.

O Juliet, Juliet, wherefore art thou Juliet?

Driving to school today, my three daughters and I passed a poster for Disney’s new movie “Gnomeo and Juliet” coming to theaters February 11. My kids wanted to know, where’s Juliet?

Can you find her?

How many beards do you see?

If you spot Juliet around town, preferably with eight or so of her girlfriends frolicking behind her, Romeo nowhere in sight, please let me know. Extra points if she’s doing something acrobatic and looking grumpy, instead of standing around beaming at Romeo which, of course, she won’t be because, remember, he’s not in the poster.

Last year, at the same billboard location, around Townsend and Brannan, there was an ad for Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.” It featured only the flame-haired Madhatter.

I’m sure Alice found her way out of Disney’s marketing machine rabbit hole onto some poster, somewhere in San Francisco, but my daughters and I never discovered her. Maybe we should’ve checked the backs of milk cartons.

Girls in kids’ movies have gone missing.

Just last month, Disney’s male executives announced they were going to stop making princess movies, practically the only animation vehicle where girls were allowed to be stars. It may be a lame genre, but at least it acknowledged that girls do, in fact, exist.

Movies that feature girls in title roles, star girls, or feature female characters of any kind continue to decline. See statistics here.

Research is also showing that the limited role models for girls in the media along with the increasingly gendered toys sold to them is affecting children’s brain development.

Apparently, imaginary land never got the memo that we’ve all achieved gender equality and are living happily ever after in a post-feminist world.

Female desire and the princess culture

Thank you Peggy Orenstein for writing the brilliant book Cinderella Ate My Daughter. Every parent should read this new, excellent analysis of the ubiquitous princess kid-culture and its various mutations in the world of grown-up women.

 

Orenstein, a NY Times journalist, mom, and writer takes on and deconstructs two (so annoying!) messages every parent hears if she dares to challenge the monarchy of these frothy creatures.

Myth number one: we’re just giving girls what they want!

Orenstein responds with a brief history of marketing and information on child brain development– some major points paraphrased here:

Pink Children were not color-coded until early twentieth century. Before that, babies wore all white, because to get clothing clean, it had to be boiled. Boys and girls also used to all wear dresses. When nursery colors were introduced, pink was more masculine, a pastel version of the red, which was associated with strength. Blue was like the Virgin Mary and symbolized innocence, thus the girl color. When the color switched is vague. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Alice in Wonderland all wear blue. Sleeping Beauty’s gown was switched to pink to differentiate her from Cinderella.

Baby doll In an 1898 survey, less than 25% of girls said dolls were their favorite toy. “President Theodore Roosevelt… obsessed with declining birth rates among white, Anglo-Saxon women, began waging a campaign against ‘race-suicide.’ When women ‘feared motherhood,” he warned, our nation trembled on the ‘brink of doom.’ Baby dolls were seen as a way to revive the flagging maternal instinct of girls, to remind them of their patriotic duty to conceive; within a few years, dolls were ubiquitous, synonymous with girlhood itself. Miniature brooms, dustpans, and stoves tutored these same young ladies in the skills of homemaking…”

Princess When Orenstein herself was a kid, being called a Princess, specifically Jewish-American, was the worst insult a kid (and her family) could get. How had a generation transformed this word into a coveted compliment?

Disney Princesses as a group brand did not exist until 2000. Disney hired Andy Mooney from Nike. He went to a Disney on Ice show and saw little girls in homemade princess costumes. Disney had never marketed characters outside of a movie release and never princesses from different movies together. Roy Disney was against it, and that’s why, still, even on pull-ups, you won’t see the princesses looking at each other. (How’s that for a model for girls in groups or female friendships?) Princesses are now marketed to girls ages 2 – 6. Mooney began the campaign by envisioning a girl’s room and thinking about a princess fantasy: what kind of clock would a princess have? What type of bedding? Dora and Mattel followed suit with Dora and Barbie princess versions and then along came everyone else.

Toddler Clothing manufacturers in the 1930s counseled department stores that in order to increase sales they should create a ‘third stepping stone’ between infant wear and older kids clothing

Tween Coined in the mid-1980s as a marketing contrivance (originally included kids 8 – 15)

More on tweens, toddlers, girls and boys: if there is micro-segmentation of products by age and gender, people buy more stuff. If kids need a pink bat and a blue bat, you double your sales. Orenstein writes: “Splitting kids and adults, or for that matter, penguins, into ever tinier categories has proved a surefire way to boost profits. So where there was once a big group called kids we now have toddlers, pre-schoolers, tweens, young-adolescents and older adolescents, each with their own developmental and marketing profile…One of the easiest ways to segment the market is to magnify gender differences or invent them where they did not previously exist.”

SeoWoo and Her Pink Things by JeongMee Yoonhttp://www.jeongmeeyoon.com/aw_pinkblue.htm SeoWoo and Her Pink Things by JeongMee Yoon 

One major fallout of gendering every plaything? “Segregated toys discourage cross-sex friendships.” Boys and girls stop playing together. Orenstein writes about the long-term effects: “This is a public health issue. It becomes detrimental to relationships, to psychological health and well-being, when boys and girls don’t learn how to talk to one another…Part of the reason we have the divorce rates we do, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking behaviors, sexual harassment is because the lack of ability to communicate between men and women.”

Orenstein argues: “Eliminating divorce or domestic violence may be an ambitious mandate for a pre-school curriculum, but its not without basis: young children who have friends of the opposite sex have a more positive transition into dating as teenagers and sustain their romantic relationships better.”

Myth #2: that princess stuff is just a phase– she’ll grow out of it!

Princesses are marketed to girls 2 – 6 years old; there’s something very creepy and dangerous about making these kids victims of billion dollar industries. Kids brains are literally being formed, they’re malleable. So this little phase is helping to create a brain that lasts forever.

Scientists have pretty much moved on from the anachronistic, simplistic debate of nature versus nurture. It’s now understood that nature and nurture form and create each other in an endless loop. Your experiences influence your wiring.

For example, small kids can make all kinds of sounds to learn languages. Lise Eliot, author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain is quoted by Orenstein: “Babies are born ready to absorb the sounds, grammar, and intonation of any language, but then the brain wires it up only to perceive and produce a specific language. After puberty, its possible to learn another language but far more difficult. I think of gender differences similarly. The ones that exist become amplified by the two different cultures that boys and girls are immersed in from birth. This contributes to the way their emotional and cognitive circuits get wired.”

“It’s not that pink is intrinsically bad, it is such a tiny slice of the rainbow,” Orenstein writes. To grow brains, kids need more, varied experiences, not fewer.

Phases don’t vanish, they mutate.

Orenstein’s book traces how the real life Disney stars/ girl princesses (i.e. Lindsay Lohan, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Hilary Duff, Miley Cyrus etc) attempt to make their transitions from girl-princesses into adult ones; or more crassly, from virgin to whore. Orenstein writes it’s impossible to commodify one end of the spectrum and not the other, and there are so few models of healthy female sexuality out there. She writes, “Our daughters may not be faced with the decision of whether to strip for Maxim, but they will have to figure out how to become sexual beings without being objectified or stigmatized.” All that early training for girls to focus incessantly on their appearance lasts a lifetime. What happens when these girls try to grow up? Orenstein writes girls learn, “Look sexy, but don’t feel sexual, to provoke desire in others without experiencing it themselves.”

How does this emphasis on dressing up and attention for appearance affect kids as they grow? Stephen Hinshaw, quoted from his book The Triple Bind, explains, “Girls pushed to be sexy too soon can’t really understand what they’re doing…they may never learn to connect their performance to erotic feelings or intimacy. They learn how to act desirable, but not to desire, undermining, rather than promoting, healthy sexuality.”

The basic message I got from this book: the issue is not pink or princesses, but to give your kid more experiences not less. Remember– many colors in the rainbow!

(1) Encourage and reinforce cross-gender play. If your daughter is playing with a boy, acknowledge it, reinforce what they’re doing. You are the biggest influence in your kid’s life, you’re not ‘just another person.’ Talk to your kids pre-school teachers and administrators about encouraging cross-gender play. There is lots in this book about how teachers are not trained in this area at all and miss opportunities to help brains grow.

(2) Remember, your kid is not a small adult. She has a different brain. Help that brain grow! If your son picks up a My Little Pony, buy it for him instead of yet another car. It won’t make him gay! It will make him smart!

(3) Your kids are watching you! Again, they are not just little people with fully formed minds. If you criticize your appearance (or another woman’s), how you treat your partner, how you eat, she takes note.

Can’t get past the hair

On the blog, Girl w/Pen! Natalie Wilson writes about sexism and racism in Disney’s “Tangled:”

Renee of Womanist Musings points out, the glorifying of blonde hair – yet again – is problematic. She writes:

“As a Black woman, I know all to well how complicated the issue of hair can be.  Looking at the above image [of Tangled’s Rapunzel], I found that I could not see beyond her long blond hair and blue eyes.  I believe that this will also become the focal point of many girls of colour.  The standard of long flowing blond hair as the epitome of femininity necessarily excludes and challenges the idea that WOC are feminine, desired, and some cases loved and therefore, while Disney is creating an image of Rapunzel that we are accustomed to, her rebirth in a modern day context is problematic, because her body represents the celebration of White femininity.

The fact that Tangled is coming on the heels of the first African American princess is indeed problematic.  It makes Princess Tiana seem like an impotent token, with Rapunzel appearing to reset the standard of what princess means and even more precisely what womanhood means.”

I watched “Tangled” with my sister, both of us brunettes, and when we heard the line about how Rapunzel’s hair, if cut, loses its magic and turns brown, we looked at each other and started cracking up.

There is some other reference in the movie to “browness.” Does anyone remember what it is? Flynn takes Rapunzel into a bar full of drunken men, and he says something, or someone says something like: “It seems very brown in here” or it “smells brown.” Please tell me if you know what I’m talking about.

It is notable to, as Girl W/ Pen! refers to, that the princess death sentence is coming right after the first African-American young royal finally made her way to the animated screen. There’s lots of talk about ending the only cartoon vehicle that repeatedly allowed girls be stars, but not so much discussion about the racism involved in the timing of this decision. Also, I keep hearing that adjusted for inflation dollars, “The Princess and the Frog” did just as well as “The Little Mermaid.” If this is true, I don’t get why Disney execs claim the film was such a failure.

Again, I don’t want to be defending princesses here. I don’t like them. But I don’t like the way they’re being used to get rid of starring girls roles all together.

Natalie Wilson writes the cast of “Tangled” isn’t quite all white. On Rapunzel’s wicked mother:

Notably, Mother Gothel, Rapunzel’s evil abductress, has dark hair and eyes and non-Caucasian features.

According to Christian Blaulvelt of Entertainment Weekly, Mother Gothel is a dark, dark character. I mean, she’s a baby snatcher.” Ah yes, and she is dark in more ways than one – her dark skin, hair, and clothing contrasting with the golden whiteness of Rapunzel.

Alan Menken, the musical composer for the film, similarly notes that “Mother Gothel is a scary piece of work. Nothing she is doing is for the good of Rapunzel at all. It’s all for herself” Emphasizing her manipulative relationship with Rapunzel, Menken admits, “I was concerned when writing it. Like, will there be a rash of children trying to kill their parents after they’ve seen the movie?” Wow – how about worrying if there will be a rash of children who will see DARK-SKINNED mothers (and non-wedded ones) as evil and sinister?

In addition to carrying on Disney’s tradition of problematic representations of race, the film also keeps with the tradition of framing females beauty obsession as evil and “creepy” (Flyn’s words) rather than as understandable in a world of Disneyfied feminine norms. A mirror worshipper to rival the evil queen in Snow White, Gothel is presented as a passive-aggressive nightmare — she is the tyrannical single mother that is so overbearing Rapunzel must beg for the opportunity to leave the tower.

I always ask my daughter when we’re watching these movies: where are the moms? Belle in “Beauty in the Beast,” no mom. “Ariel” in The Little Mermaid, no mom. “Jasmine” in Aladdin, no mom.

Disney/ Pixar male execs stop movies starring girls

At first it seems like possible good news. Disney/ Pixar announces: no more fairy tales, code for princess movies. Great! No more damsels in distress who end the movie by landing a man. Now we’re going to have a slew of new movies with cool girl heroes who bravely rescue boys from peril, exuding power and beauty by performing all kinds of risk-taking tasks and challenges.

But, no.

First of all, the reason the fairy tale movies are stopping is because Disney/ Pixar executives have decided that little girls aren’t worth making movies for at all.

The LA Times reports the fairy tale movies “appealed to too narrow an audience: little girls. This prompted the studio to change the name of its Rapunzel movie to the gender-neutral ‘Tangled’ and shift the lens of its marketing to the film’s swashbuckling male costar, Flynn Rider.”

Can you imagine if Disney decided to shut down a genre because it only appealed to little boys? Or if they switched a movie title so it wouldn’t risk highlighting a male star? It’s awful that this kind of radical gender discrimination exists for our smallest people– little kids who come into this world with huge imaginations and aspirations, big dreams that get squashed by a bunch of billionaire guys who run massive entertainment franchises.

Disney bigwigs Ed Catmull and John Lasseterwww.businessweek.com Disney bigwigs Ed Catmull and John Lasseter

The LA Times reports:

Alas, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Jasmine and the other Disney royals were all born in the 20th century. Now, different kinds of Disney characters are elbowing their way into the megaplexes and toy aisles, including Pixar’s “Toy Story” buddies Buzz Lightyear and Woody, Capt. Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and a platoon of superheroes from the recent acquisition of Marvel Entertainment.

Do you notice something about the characters listed above? Because neither the LA Times reporter or the Disney execs mention in the article that we are losing girls (Snow White, Ariel, and Jasmine) and getting boys (Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and Captain Jack Sparrow.) The LA Times goes on to report the current roster of upcoming movies includes, surprise, surprise, three more movies with males in the title roles: “Winnie the Pooh” (along with his all male possy: Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet, and Christopher Robin?) and “Joe Jump.”

Disney/ Pixar execs at 82nd Academy Awardswww.zimbio.com Disney/ Pixar execs at 82nd Academy Awards

Remarkably, the men who run Disney/ Pixar, Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, go on in this article to congratulate themselves on their originality and creativity. I kid you not! This would be totally hilarious if these guys didn’t have such a hegemony on the kinds of movies– and accompanying toys and accompanying mass-marketing campaigns– our kids are exposed to. But because this boys club completely dominates kidworld, their privileging of males over females with no care at all, their disregard for half the population, is really sad.

Catmull said he and Lasseter have been encouraging filmmakers to break with safe and predictable formulas and push creative boundaries.

“If you say to somebody, ‘You should be doing fairy tales,’ it’s like saying, ‘Don’t be risky,'” Catmull said. “We’re saying, ‘Tell us what’s driving you.'”

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Executives, Producers and stars of www.washingtonpost.com Executives, producers and stars of “Up”

Dude– could you be any more safe and predictable than putting out a line up of kids movies starring males? What’s driving you guys? Gender programming! And you don’t even see it! Or you are just pretending to be that cluless? Don’t you get that you are teaching and training girls starting at the youngest possible age that their roles will be only supporting? You are telling the girls of the world that they exist to make boys look good and to help them along on their cool quests and incredible adventures. How about some real creativity, Lasseter and Catmull? Can you try to imagine a magical world where girls’ stories are valued just as much as boys’ stories are? Where girls and boys are treated equally? Can you make a movie about that?