This is a guest blog by Lesley Williams about the new “Annie”
Seven Things I Love About “Annie”
1) The heroine is a whip-smart African American girl who gets dressed up for a party in age appropriate (i.e. non-sexualized clothing) and without straightening her kinky hair.
2) The hero is an African American millionaire who is neither a drug kingpin, rap star, nor an athlete.
3) There is a chaste, and very sweet interracial romance which no one makes a big deal about.
4) Miss Hannigan is allowed to have a change of heart and ends up saving Annie, rather than callously abandoning her. In so many children’s films, the villain is a 2 dimensional caricature, with no nuance and no redeeming characteristics, who typically gets killed, or at least carted off to jail at the end. Kudos to the filmmakers for imagining a person who might do bad stuff, but is not an irredeemably bad person, (and who incidentally has a love interest who believed in her goodness all along).
5) The film is forthright in its depiction of how depersonalizing the child welfare system can be, even though individuals within it may be kind. We see Annie waiting in an absurdly long line and coldly told to bring back a certain form, yet when the rich guy character turns up it’s a very different story.
6) Annie is illiterate. We see how she copes: memorization, verbal skills, and chutzpah, but when she is caught off-guard and asked to read in public she is terrified and humiliated. There is talk of how kids often get overlooked in overcrowded schools, and the film ends with Annie and her adopted dad opening a literacy center.
7) Unlike almost every film I’ve seen with a similar scenario, when the soulless opportunist running for office has a change of heart, he doesn’t win the election, he says, “Hey, I have no business being mayor. Vote for my opponent with the solid record of public service!”
Lesley Williams is a librarian in the Chicago suburbs with a rad and righteous teen daughter. She has a blog on African American literature at aalevanston.blogspot.com/ and is passionately concerned about sexism, racism and under-representation of females and racial minorities in pop culture.