Who cares if Scorsese made ‘Hugo’ for his daughter?

When I posted Golden Globes celebrates boys, ignores girls I got this comment, as I have in the past, on SFGate:

It’s a well know fact that Scorsese made Hugo for his 12 year old daughter!! He mentioned it again last night in his speech.

So what? The movie also has a strong female character, but it’s yet another movie centered on the quest of the male main character: five out of five nominated.

I got this comment on sexism in “Adventures of Tintin:”

Shouldn’t the lack of females not be a problem for you if you’d considered men and women really equal? if you could really identify yourself to a man, and a man to a woman?
So maybe the problem is that men will not identify to women, not the other way around. My point is: the lack of female character is not the problem, the problem is the abundance of women in stupid roles

Huh? Sorry, I identified with females as a child (when I loved Charlie’s Angels because it was one of the few shows on TV where girls actually got to do stuff) and I do now. Those are my choices? No females or females in stupid roles? Really?

People, I don’t know how to write this more clearly. The females in kids’ movies have gone missing. Kids movies. Is “Adventures of Tintin”– created by a misogynist who believed women have no place in his imaginary world– going to win the Academy Award now for best animated film? Is that OK with you? Yes, the animation is spectacular, but would anyone EVER even consider making a kids’ movie based on a series created by a female artist who believed males didn’t belong in her movie? Can you even imagine that movie? If that movie were made, do you think people might notice that males were missing from it?

Sexism in Tintin Part IV

I’ve gotten hundreds of comments on Tintin at Reel Girl and SFGate, two I find really interesting. One is an interview with Herge I can’t find right now, but when I have time to sort through the comments, I’ll post for you (Or if you come across it, resend!) The one below is kind of fascinating about how extremely male Tintin’s world truly is– the part about Tintin “graduating from housekeeper to a male butler.” Wow. But the point Lucas makes about “going even further” with my argument into exploring heteronormativity in Tintin as more interesting than “Tintin is sexist” is funny to me. That’s not a more interesting argument to me, Lucas.

Hey there –

Yeah, the early Tintin is amazingly racist. (But at the same time, “The Blue Lotus,” despite its structural racism and the racist/colonial project that drove Hergé to do albums in Africa, in India, in South America, in China, etc., actually allowed Hergé to work through his racist bias and produce what has been describe as a – for its time – very culturally-sensitive and even subversive piece of work.)

More importantly, the entire Tintin opus is intensely homosocial: all men and boys. Tintin even “graduates” from his female housekeeper to sharing a male butler with Captain Haddock when they move in together. The entire economy of the books is male-centered enough to become a little queer, actually. A more interesting argument than “Tintin is sexist” might be “Tintin is sexist to the point that it subverts itself, and starts to push heteronormativity into different patterns of gender and sexuality.” You don’t have to make that argument, of course, but it would be more surprising.

One of the key exceptions to the rule of Tintin’s masculine universe is Bianca Castafiore. Catherine Clément gives a wonderful reading of Castafiore in her famous and important feminist text “Opera, or the Undoing of Women.” In the comics, Castafiore is portrayed as an almost entirely negative figure. Her signature aria, which she performs at every opportunity, is presented as shrill and unpleasant; Captain Haddock, in particular, is constantly pained by her singing.

It’s a shame you were in the bathroom during the Castafiore scene in Spielberg’s movie. That’s where you get to see the adaptation really, well, adapting. The new film actually portrays Castafiore as a magnetic, powerful, and happy woman – not a “beautiful” one, not a “thin” one, not even an accessible one, but as a talented woman whose voice (and the film gives itself fully over to her aria, allowing Renée Fleming to sing without interruption) charms and enchants all who hear it. It’s quite a turn-around from the albums, and portrays her character as something that, according to the sexist logic surrounding the diva, should not exist – an ambitious, successful, and self-defined woman.

Without any consideration of this scene, your argument about the movie and its relationship to its source-text is undeveloped. You don’t have to agree with me, but it’s worth thinking about a moment like this because it would make your overall argument more complex and powerful. There’s also a worthwhile recent volume on the political/social implications of Tintin published last year (“Tintin aux pays des philosophes”), which includes several surprising essays about race and gender in Tintin. This all by way of suggestion, if you would like to make your arguments about this subject more nuanced or compelling.

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