Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Favorite Non-Animal Disney Sidekick

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and fluffed it out to 31 entries (since December has 31 days).  I have done a 30-day challenge before for movies, though that one was poorly executed (I started it in the middle of a month, at one point I posted 2 entries on one day, it is a mess).  I did another one just this year in August on Video Games, that one was better, go read it after this one, all of it.  Or don’t, no pressure.

            Today is day 7 and the topic is “Favorite Non-Animal Sidekick”.
            I am regretting putting all of the character entries in this blog series in the first week.  6 straight days of me happily endorsing the messages and abilities of things I like while deriding those I don’t might be entertaining, but it also gets a bit same-same.  It wasn’t as much an issue with video games as there were only five entries and that was after talking about 4 bigger scope ideas.
            Maybe this is sleep deprivation, stress, existential ennui, or my desire to take an unpopular opinion about this movie, but my favorite non-human sidekick—and my favorite character in the movie—is Olaf from “Frozen”.

This is actually a comically large desktop image.
            I do not care for “Frozen” but it did have three strong redeeming traits to it—and 1 lesser redeeming trait.  The first was “Let it Go” which is a good fun song without the movie, it is actually pretty good to work out to.  The second is the message of the movie about love being more complex than the traditional Disney idea of being swept up in a romance at first sight.  And the third is Olaf, who is kind of the anti-sidekick.  The other lesser thing is the character arc Anna goes thru which I talked myself into liking the other day.

            Much of what I am saying will mirror the thoughts expressed in this video talking about the character of Olaf.  He has symbolic importance in the story as he represents the innocence and affection the two sisters had at the beginning of the movie when they were both children and a time when Elsa felt she could safely and healthily use her powers for fun.  Olaf is also the funniest part of the movie, with the funniest song, dialogue, and motivations.  And that Olaf’s ignorance of what his goal is—see summer—will result in his death is pretty funny on its own even if he were written as a serious character that would be great.
            Beyond the typical sidekick, which provide a toy opportunity and inform the main character by being cute enough to let you know that the hero is someone who treasures “cute”, Olaf has actual narrative function and is juxtaposed in the story by the monster snowman who rather than having Olaf’s welcoming persona instead serves to drive people off.

Apparently this thing's name is Marshmallow?
That is hilarious.
             Know what else is fun?  How well Olaf contrasts with the Gargoyles from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, whom I—and I think everyone else—consider the nadir of sidekicks because they are so out of tone with the rest of the movie.  “You know what our movie about societal rejection, racial persecution, and sexual repression needs?  Jokes about poker!” 
Olaf fits in the context of “Frozen” and his humor fits in the context of the world.  While the gargoyles of “Hunchback” SEEM to be the delusions of Quasi’s lonely mind, but their humor makes no sense in the context of Paris of that era, Olaf IS a magical manifestation of a character’s emotional state and all of his humor makes sense!
            From a writing standpoint Olaf is the best thing in the movie.

These guys suck.  Not the voice actors, but the characters.  They suck.
I feel the need to point them out because there is no blog entry for "Hated Non-Animal Side Kick".
They would be the most hated.
            Share your own thoughts on this in the comments.  I know I am not the only person out there who is nostalgic for Disney products, and I am sure many people disagree with my selection for today’s entry. 
I picked Disney stuff just because I knew there was so much of it to talk about and it lends itself to discussion in the comments.  So please, tell me how my opinion about cartoon movies is biased and how your opinion on cartoon movies is objectively right.

______________________________
If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Favorite Disney Animal Sidekick

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and fluffed it out to 31 entries (since December has 31 days).  I have done a 30-day challenge before for movies, though that one was poorly executed (I started it in the middle of a month, at one point I posted 2 entries on one day, it is a mess).  I did another one just this year in August on Video Games, that one was better, go read it after this one, all of it.  Or don’t, no pressure.

            Today is day 6 and the topic is “Favorite Animal Sidekick”.
            Back to talking about fun things that I enjoy.  I love dogs.  When raised by a loving home dogs are loyal, loving, and playful.  They do stupid things all the time but overall they are cuddly friends that we should be happy every day for.  My family has had several dogs that I have enjoyed playing with my whole life and since we do not currently have a pet it feels lame.
Sadly, my mom’s dog passed away earlier in 2016 just as my family was really getting to know him (she had adopted him from a friend and had known the dog for years, while the rest of us only got a month and a half), cause this year sucks!

This is just a random dog.
For the non-psychopaths in my readership this image made you marginally happier.
 I want to put that all up front because Disney makes animal sidekicks all the time and often main characters are the animals.  Just from the biggest hits of the 90’s you have a fish, seagull, crab, monkey, tiger, parrot, meerkat, warthog, cricket, humming bird, raccoon, dog, goat, and if you dip into the mythical there are also a pegasus and a dragon.
            Merchandising!  Merchandising!  Giving a character a pet or friend that often doesn’t talk, is cute, and is loyal is a pretty easy way to show the main character in a positive light.  Sure he’s a thief, but he has a monkey!  Yeah, he is a lazy coward but his buddies are the most laid back meerkat and hog ever!  She’s a liar, but Eddie Murphy likes her… I guess that is a good thing.
            There are so many animal sidekicks going all the way back to Cinderella’s mice that the idea of Disney handing out these sidekicks was parodied with… Eddie Murphy?  Weird.  When he played Donkey in “Shrek” over at Dreamworks.
            So I have plenty of non-dog things to choose from, but this guy made an impression immediately and I do not think anybody would give me trouble for picking him.
My name is Dug, I have just met you, and I love you, my Master made me this collar, he is a good and smart Master and he made me this collar so that I may talk – SQUIRREL!! – My master is good and smart.” -Dug from the movie “Up”.
 
I am surprised I do not see Dug turning up in more places as far as products.
            And yes, it is a happy coincidence that this follows yesterday’s entry.  Ironically the best liked character on that show was the dog too.

            Dug is a good dog, and I love him.  That is all.

            Share your own thoughts on this in the comments.  I know I am not the only person out there who is nostalgic for Disney products, and I am sure many people disagree with my selection for today’s entry. 
I picked Disney stuff just because I knew there was so much of it to talk about and it lends itself to discussion in the comments.  So please, tell me how my opinion about cartoon movies is biased and how your opinion on cartoon movies is objectively right.

______________________________
If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Most Hated Disney Protagonist (Male)

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and fluffed it out to 31 entries (since December has 31 days).  I have done a 30-day challenge before for movies, though that one was poorly executed (I started it in the middle of a month, at one point I posted 2 entries on one day, it is a mess).  I did another one just this year in August on Video Games, that one was better, go read it after this one, all of it.  Or don’t, no pressure.

            Today is day 5 and the topic is “Most Hated Male Protagonist”.
            This one is kind of cheat.  But it is my blog, so I am going to go thru with this…

I am a fan of escapist entertainment.  I like the fantastic, hence why I talk about things with several more mutants, wizards, and spaceships than I encounter in real life.  I like fun, and part of having fun when experiencing fiction is being able to identify with someone who is on an adventure.  So, if all of the elements of the fantastic are gone I expect an emotional or narrative journey that makes up for the spectacle.

When I tell you that I hate in a real way this boring flat character, believe me that it is for this reason: I feel nothing watching this character, and I feel every chance I have given this guy has been a waste of my time.  I hate this pathetic asshole so much that I went out of my way to learn how to put a hidden feature in my blog just so the reveal could hold impact.





            I think I can explain this one with a somewhat paraphrased quote from my brother, “I like Doug.  He’s boring.  Sometimes you just need to watch something really boring.”
            Doug Funnie from “Doug’s First Movie” is the nadir of creativity.  For a show about a creative kid who likes to draw it is one of the most boring and paint by numbers non-shows in the world, and the movie, which tries to create something… is nothing.  (This is primarily my grievances against the character in the context of his show.)
            This is one of those things that bothers as a person who considers himself creative, but the is show about someone who is “creative” whose greatest creations are incredibly lame self-insert characters.  They go on non-adventures where he just makes parodies of the guys at school he doesn’t like and how he "cleverly" defeats them in his boring derivative fantasy land.  I find it almost personally offensive.
            And you know what baffles me?  People like this guy.  And it is not like I was outside the demographics for this, it ran from 1991-1999 (Jesus, I apparently have to start making blander stuff if I want to work as a creative type) I was 6-14-year-old boy at those times.  And I just did not get it.

This time I am confused about why people like a thing.
Not why I dislike something less than what I thought.
            I am talking out loud to myself write now looking for something say, somewhere to take this discussion.  Trying to make this sound like anything.  NOTHINGCOMES.  The stakes are so small, the humor so dull, the style so bland, the everything is so nothing.
            Just compare this to yesterday’s entry on Basil of Baker Street.  A dynamic intelligent character who seizes the moment and looks for adventure.  He uses his mind to solve his problems rather than wallow in them.  He uses his creativity to get into dangerous situations and then gets out of them.  He is motivated, he is driven, he is flawed.

            What does Doug Funny HAVE?  WHAT?  WHAT?  Why do people watch this?  I am now upset from having wrote this.  Fuck this character!  Goodnight!

            Share your own thoughts on this in the comments.  I know I am not the only person out there who is nostalgic for Disney products, and I am sure many people disagree with my selection for today’s entry.
I picked Disney stuff just because I knew there was so much of it to talk about and it lends itself to discussion in the comments.  So please, tell me how my opinion about cartoon movies is biased and how your opinion on cartoon movies is objectively right.

No!  I’m not Done YET!

If you can, please tell me what this guy’s appeal is.  But please try to explain this.  Don’t just tell me that you liked it, or that you associate it with something else you liked, “Grandma would make us chicken fingers and sit and watch it with us.  And the show reminds me of her and I miss my grandma.”  <- NOT THAT.
Something that resonates on a level that you have to ponder to reach.  Were you a loser who drew pictures of yourself as a superhero so you could pretend to beat up the popular kids?  If so, why in god’s name did you want to watch a character doing what you already do?  The appeal.  WHAT?  What is it?

______________________________

If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

My Favorite Disney Protagonist (Male)

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and fluffed it out to 31 entries (since December has 31 days).  I have done a 30-day challenge before for movies, though that one was poorly executed (I started it in the middle of a month, at one point I posted 2 entries on one day, it is a mess).  I did another one just this year in August on Video Games, that one was better, go read it after this one, all of it.  Or don’t, no pressure.

            Today is day 4 and the topic is “Favorite Male Protagonist”.
            Unlike with the female protagonists I do not have any sort of hesitation in this selection.  While there are plenty of characters I enjoy one has been going thru a visitation by me (prior to my starting this blog series) in regards to an ongoing cultural shift.  My favorite (currently) is Basil of Baker Street from “The Great Mouse Detective”.
 
Ironically the deerstalker hat was not part of the original Sherlock stuff.
It was in a film adaptation and became part of the pop culture image.
The Plot
            After a little girl sees her father taken by a menacing figure with a peg leg she is taken by a kindly doctor to the home of a genius detective.  After displaying his penchant for being a dangerous and moody—but high functioning—psychopath, the detective is on the case.
            While chasing down clues and leads they are led to the menacing camp gay villain and arch-nemesis of the detective who is out to take over the nation thru the use of a steam punk doppelganger of the queen.  One death trap and a dramatic confrontation later the heroes return home to find the promise of future adventures—adventures Disney apparently will never deliver on.

My Thoughts
Basil is a mouse version of Sherlock Holmes, it is not hard to see and it is nothing to lament.  Sherlock is a character that has such appeal that he has been undergoing a renaissance since the 90’s because of the growth of forensic investigation in network television—thanks “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” for helping people to think crawling around on the floor with a flashlight looking for blood stains was fun.

And people say the Marvel Cinematic Universe is too expansive.
This thing doesn't even show all the NCIS stuff.
The growth of forensics is a positive cultural force in that it focuses on actual evidence and thinking rather than BS and racism, but bad in that a lot of these shows give the general public a stupidly high bar for forensic proof when they are on juries—guys you don’t need to match fibers or DNA for 99% of cases—and it has made criminals much more conscious of all the shit they leave behind, meaning they leave fewer clues to find—till they get home and post evidence of their robberies on facebook.
The bigger factor in Sherlock being such a monumental cultural force right now: the character moving into the public domain.  This greater access to for people to create their own stories with the character has allowed several programs and films starring him in many different interpretations.
As an aside, I would like to point out that Disney is the primary proponent of extending copyrights, wanting to keep characters created by Walt in the House of Mouse and part of their merchandising empire—ironic when you consider that modern interpretations of public domain material is unquestionably their most profitable creative outlet, and had they not been making copyrights tougher and tougher, Superman and Batman would be public domain now, meaning Disney could make movies out of their rival studios’ most profitable and iconic characters.

Back to Basil and Sherlock, characters based around intelligence hold great appeal to me.  And Basil is another instance of highly educated person using their exceptional intelligence to make the world a better place, but also finding it hard to connect with the people around him who just can’t see the world the same way he does.  Which makes them both aspirational and identifiable, it is the central appeal of these characters—some others would be Ender from “Ender’s Game” or the popular image of historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin.
Basil encapsulates this perfectly and I am shocked that in this era of Sherlock, Disney has made no attempt to bring the character back in some way.  I think an animated series would be perfect, as we all know police procedurals lend themselves to episodic installments as the 10,000 episodes of “Law and Order” can attest.  Kids’ television is as sophisticated as it has ever been, and the steam punk elements of the story that tie into the mouse society mean that there can be plenty of adventures with cool set pieces, like was the case with “Rescue Rangers” back in the 90’s.

(They name check Holmes in the song.)

            To go back a second I would like to once again emphasize how much I appreciate the use of harder science in police work and that being an expectation.  Unfortunately, there was a trend in the 90’s to glorify BS in the form of Profilers.  People who used a lot of pop-psychology and guessing to find criminals thru a romanticized trick of, “seeing it thru the eyes of the killer,”—see the Hannibal Lecture series of films, “Profiler” TV show, and even “The X-Files” had Mulder working as a profiler prior to being assigned to the supernatural—now all that stupid crap is in the past as the Thrilling aspect of modern crime drama tends to be finding or manipulating evidence rather than bullshit head tricks (though those still show up to the sound of my eyes rolling).
Where once the psychological profile was the key to catching dangerous serial killers… Now it is actual science being used to gather evidence and seek convictions that are conclusive rather than being based on, “He fits the profile”.  This article by Malcolm Gladwell gives a better explanation for why that shit doesn’t work, and I want more people to take time to understand why it doesn’t work.
Conversely, the growth of forensics has resulted in wrongful convictions being thrown out and reversed, saving many innocent people from life in prison or a death sentence.  And maybe all of those factors are why I am looking on Basil so fondly.  He was my first exposure to this sort of thinking and as I see science vindicated in the popular sphere I look back more and more positively on “The Great Mouse Detective”.
 
A cartoonish and over the top version of what science is.
But, the IDEA of experimentation and seeking truth is still front and center.
The Beg for Attention
            Share your own thoughts on this in the comments.  I know I am not the only person out there who is nostalgic for Disney products, and I am sure many people disagree with my selection for today’s entry, I spent most of it talking about the character this character is based on, cultural trends, the nature of public domain characters, and how psychologically profiling people is stupid.  None of that is very Disney.
I picked this stuff for a 31-day blog challenge because I knew there was so much of it to talk about and it lends itself to discussion in the comments.  So please, tell me how my opinion about cartoon movies is biased and how your opinion on cartoon movies is objectively right.  Or your opinion on the idea of the Public Domain.  Whatever.
 
Keep in mind that Public Domain has allowed for the creation of lots of new and interesting things.
You could rename this book "Public Domain Action Force".
______________________________
If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Most Disliked Disney Protagonist (Female)

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and fluffed it out to 31 entries (since December has 31 days).  I have done a 30-day challenge before for movies, though that one was poorly executed (I started it in the middle of a month, at one point I posted 2 entries on one day, it is a mess).  I did another one just this year in August on Video Games, that one was better, go read it after this one, all of it.  Or don’t, no pressure.

            Today is day 3 and the topic is “Most Disliked Female Protagonist”.
            Two days ago, I talked about how “The Little Mermaid” had a painfully naïve protagonist whom I did not care for because she has no arc and does not grow as a person after having been exploited by a bad person and then getting bailed out by her Dad and boyfriend.
            Yesterday, I mentioned really liking the recent output of Disney with my love of both “Inside Out” and “Zootopia”.  But, I don’t like everything they have been doing.  Case in point, I think one of the most annoying characters in recent cinema history is Anna from “Frozen”.
            So which of the two do I think is worse?  Let me pontificate on each of their merits for a moment before ultimately condemn one to be the worst.
 
Neither win for best redhead in the Disney canon.  They are just in better regarded films than "Brave".
            Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” is the worst… Sorry, I should have pontificated in text form.  On Day 1 I spelled out how little I enjoy “The Little Mermaid” and pretty much all of it came down to the characters—and the plot, but that is not what we are talking about.  This is the sort of thing that kind of requires people to have seen each movie and then to see how those movies break by the failure of the characters as elements in the story.  It also means that a character can be superior via growth in the story or fitting into the world/narrative better, or just by learning a better lesson from the story—such as the story is.  So let’s start by explaining what each is about.

The Plots
First the recap of “The Little Mermaid” I wrote on Monday and touched up a little.  Ariel is the undersea princess of a race of mer-people but views the surface world of humans as a magical place that she wants to learn more about.  Her father, King Triton uber masculine bully of the sea, derides her obsession and after he destroys her collection of tchotchkes taken from human ship wrecks, Ariel runs—swims—away from home.

Body Language!
Ariel meets with the sea witch Ursula and strikes a deal to turn human for three days, if during that time she can find love on land she will be allowed to remain human and live out her life on the surface world.  If Ariel is unable to find love she will become one of the cursed creatures that Ursula torments for amusement.  Ultimately Ursula uses trickery to win the bargain and leverages Ariel’s freedom to take over the undersea kingdom from Triton.  Ursula is then justly murdered and everyone else has a happily ever after.  Ariel learns nothing from this experience.


            Now let’s look at “Frozen”.  After Anna is nearly killed by her sister she is mentally lobotomized by a cadre of helpful(?) trolls.  She and her sister spend the next decade being both neglected and sheltered by their parents until one day those god awful parental units are mercifully put out of the sisters’ misery by dying at sea.  Cooped up in the palace for decades Anna’s sister, Elsa is due to be coordinated.  On the day of the coronation Anna is seduced and Elsa’s freak magical powers cause havoc, these two things are not directly related, but sub textually they are very related.

Body Language!
Elsa exiles herself and Anna goes to bring her back—at the very least Elsa should stop the apocalyptic magical snow storm she summoned while leaving.
            After a series of adventures with a sentient snowman, a guy who sells ice for a living, and a funny reindeer, Anna finds her sister living in a magical ice palace.  Anna is betrayed by her would be lover for no reason and must rise to the occasion to save her menace of a sister from being justly murdered and in doing so Anna saves the kingdom.  Along the way she learns the difference between romantic love, familial love, and lust.  A pretty good set of lessons for young people.
  
My Thoughts
            Do you see the obvious difference?  That Anna learns from her experiences and grows as a person, ultimately being the key to saving everything thru an act of heroism.  Ariel by contrast does not.  In fact, the split between the two is so big you might ask, “Why did you even bring up Anna and ‘Frozen’ at all if the answer is so obvious?”  And that is a fair question.
1)     I already talked about “The Little Mermaid” and wanted a little more meat for this entry.
2)     I dislike “Frozen” and Anna is a part of why and I wanted to bring it up now so that when I start talking about “Frozen” down the line I can link back to this with the words, “She’s not all bad”.

            “So what is your problem with Anna then?” you are now asking, followed by the words, “You’re an asshole” as the fandom of “Frozen” is rather intense.  I dislike a couple minor things that stack into something more.
1)     Anna complains about not wanting to be cooped up in the palace, but unlike Jasmine or Miranda before her she doesn’t do anything to change her position in the world, she remains locked in the palace.  Even Ariel ran away, that was the impetus for the whole story.
2)     Anna is annoying, I do not find her all that funny and aside from the bemusement I feel watching other characters reacting to her BS.  She doesn’t really do anything for me.  Better than boring, but not by much.

            “Those 2 things don’t stack into anything,” you are saying.
Well, the more I write this the more I feel like I am being overly harsh.  You know what, the decision was easy and now my dislike of Anna seems tremendously small.
 
I am so confused.  This image isn't even from either of these movies!
I think I just figured out that I dislike “Frozen” for other reasons and while Anna doesn’t help the case of the movie she is not the bugbear that I thought she was when I started writing this.

            Ariel Sucks!  Anna is fine.  Internal argument over without ever getting going.

            You know if I were not doing a daily thing and had more time to think this over I would scrap this blog and do something else entirely.  Can’t do that now!

Beg for Attention
            Share your own thoughts on this in the comments.  I know I am not the only person out there who is nostalgic for Disney products, and I am sure many people disagree with my selection for today’s entry.  Tell me how this non-argument was not entertaining, confusing, and a waste of time that would have been better served by a more straightforward blog.  Or whatever.
I picked Disney stuff just because I knew there was so much of it to talk about and it lends itself to discussion in the comments.  So please, tell me how my opinion about cartoon movies is biased and how your opinion on cartoon movies is objectively right.

______________________________
If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Favorite Disney Protagonist (Female)

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and fluffed it out to 31 entries (since December has 31 days).  I have done a 30-day challenge before for movies, though that one was poorly executed (I started it in the middle of a month, at one point I posted 2 entries on one day, it is a mess).  I did another one just this year in August on Video Games, that one was better, go read it after this one, all of it.  Or don’t, no pressure.

            I am already feeling the fatigue of writing these.  What day is it?

            Today is day 2 and the topic is “Favorite Female Protagonist”.

            Damn.

            I have two favorite female protagonists and I don’t really want to pick between them.  Because they are both amazing and they both have similar personalities, though their character arcs are both the same and different in interesting ways.  I am not making as much sense as I would like to.
Anyway, my picks are between Joy from “Inside Out” and Officer Judy Hopps from “Zootopia”.  Needless to say, I have been impressed with the recent output of Disney Studios.

I had to take two images and put them side by side.  Sounds simple.
Having to put those images together in PAINT?  Not fun.
Let’s look at each of them and then see if one wins out over the other.

Joy is a metaphysical construct representing a young girl’s ability to feel joy.  Joy is played by Amy Poehler—who kind of proved to me that I will never find true love because Leslie Knope is not a real person—and Joy is possessed of the energy Poehler has brought to all of her performances.
The plot of the movie “Inside Out” goes as follows: Joy and Sadness, two of the five governing emotions of the little girl Riley, are lost inside the mind of the little girl along with several core memories—this movie is deeply metaphysical in a strangely literal sense—these core memories and emotions are necessary for Riley to behave in a healthy and “normal” fashion.  Joy and Sadness must get back to the main control center of Riley’s mind before she does something rash or dangerous without her full spectrum of emotions and memories to guide her.

This movie will likely make another appearance this month.
Along the way the movie teaches a complex lesson on the nature of emotional complexity and how it is necessary to let yourself feel emotions along a spectrum, a blending of ideas that make you a deeper and more mature person.  Joy learns to understand and appreciate her role as part of that spectrum rather than the only emotion that matters.
It will also rip out your living guts and make you cry like a bitch.  It is also hilarious.

Officer Hopps is a young bunny from the country trying to make it in the big city as a police officer.  She is played by Ginnifer Goodwin whom you might know as Snow White from “Once Upon a Time”, but I only know her from muttering, “Who spells their child’s name like that?  Must be a Screen Actors’ Guild thing,” to myself while looking at imdb.
The plot of the movie “Zootopia” goes as follows: Officer Hopps must enlist the help of a conman in her search for several missing people tied to mysterious incidents of violence.  Along the way she must face off against the lack of respect she gets from being the only small mammal in a police force where most of her comrades are multi-ton weighing giant mammals like Rhinos and Water Buffalo who feel she lacks the muscle to get things done.

This movie will likely make another appearance this month.
Over the course of the movie she and the audience learn a complex lesson about bigotry in numerous forms.  Guising the whole thing behind animals allows them to touch on multiple issues without making any 1-to-1 racial stand ins, which would have instantly killed the movie’s value and turn it into racist trash.  Instead it deftly handles stereotyping and all of the characters see a larger more complex picture of society by the end.
This movie will also rip your guts out, but more with the sentiments of, “Aww… They’re friends! … Why am I so happy about this?”

Can you see the tension I have in choosing between the two?  One deals with coming to terms with yourself as part of a system, the other deals with coming to terms with yourself as part of a system.  Albeit one system is a healthy growing mind and the other is a complex multi-ethnic city, but it is still about finding one’s part in it.
I guess if I had to pick one, I will have to go with Officer Judy Hopps.  I wanted to be a police officer growing up so I understand that drive, and I fully understand not enjoying it once I got to be one.  I can’t really identify with Joy as much as I am not a metaphor, so even though I like the character, the existential nature of her keeps me from seeing her as superior.

These movies are also buddy comedies with two strongly contrasting leads.
Judy and Joy are the main protagonists of each.
I should also point out something you would not expect.  I did not do movie reviews for movies I saw in 2015 this year, I was burnt out and feeling on the ropes so I just let the whole thing slide, and I probably won’t do them for 2016 either.  With that in mind, “Inside Out” was my favorite movie of 2015 and “Zootopia” is probably going to be my number one for 2016.  So take that to whatever opinion bank you use.

I would also like to note the original prompt for today was “Prettiest Disney Princess”.  So, I shit canned that crap immediately.
 
Although if you want to read a lame article on the subject, here is one from the nadir-of-human-sexuality, Cosmopolitan.
The format of this thing makes me want to slap the editor.  You don't start a ranked list on the #1 slot.
Has VH-1 taught you nothing?  YOU COUNT DOWN TO THE #1!  Idiots.
            Share your own thoughts on this in the comments.  I know I am not the only person out there who is nostalgic for Disney products, and I am sure many people disagree with my selection for today’s entry.  There are probably people who would prefer me to talk about who I think the prettiest princess is, those people are odd but they probably think I would be funny about the whole thing… I hope, I can’t otherwise imagine why they would want me to rate the bang-ability of Disney Princesses.
I picked Disney stuff just because I knew there was so much of it to talk about and it lends itself to discussion in the comments.  So please, tell me how my opinion about cartoon movies is biased and how your opinion on cartoon movies is objectively right.  Who is your favorite female protagonist in Disney?

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

My First Disney Movie

            I have not been posting nearly enough this year and I want to steer back from that.  To that end I have found a 30-day blog challenge and fluffed it out to 31 entries (since December has 31 days).  I have done a 30-day challenge before for movies, though that one was poorly executed (I started it in the middle of a month, at one point I posted 2 entries on one day, it is a mess).  I did another one just this year in August on Video Games, that one was better, go read it after this one, all of it.  Or don’t, no pressure.

            Today is day 1 and the topic is fittingly “My First Disney Movie”.

            I was born in 1985, so I was in the prime age of 2 things:
1)     The growth of home video to a world dominating concept in media
And,
2)     The Disney Renaissance which began in 1989 with “The Little Mermaid”, which allowed Disney to grow into a world dominating media entity

So, “The Little Mermaid” was my first Disney movie.  A film that works so well on the strength of its fantastic music and animation that its annoyingly naïve protagonist and shockingly bland love interest were allowed to slide.  I should note, I don’t really like this movie as a whole, and that is a theme that will reoccur this month.
Ariel, who like most Disney protagonists has inspired shocking amounts of Waifu like devotion.
The Plot
Let me talk about the plot for those of you who don’t know (and the movie is 25+ years old, so that might be a lot of people).  Ariel is the undersea princess of a race of mermaids but views the surface world of humans as a magical place that she wants to learn more about.  Her father derides this obsession and after he destroys her collection of tchotchkes taken from human ship wrecks, Ariel runs—swims—away from home.
Ariel meets with the sea witch Ursula and strikes a deal to turn human for three days, if during that time she can find love on land she will be allowed to remain human and live out her life on the surface world.  If she is unable to she will become one of the cursed creatures that Ursula torments for amusement.  Ultimately Ursula uses trickery to win the bargain and leverages Ariel’s freedom to take over the undersea kingdom.  She is then justly murdered and happily ever after.

My Thoughts
Ariel, the protagonist of the film is a strong character, just not a very good one.  We understand her hopes, hobbies, friends, loved ones, place in her society, and beyond that we see her save a drowning man so we know she is not a complete jerk—we understand and identify with her completely—but, I don’t like her.
Ariel doesn’t take responsibility for her part in her family, she leaves them hanging; her friends are often dragged into dangerous situations by her desires to gather more junk; she ignores authority (which I guess I am supposed to say, “teenagers” with a shrug); and while she seeks to know more about the surface world as her own personal obsession she does it thru a poor resource, the moronic seagull, Scuttle—really her willingness to take the moron’s word for what things are and then add it to her undersea wall of junk kind of predicted the fake news issues currently plaguing social media, “I don’t know what it is, but I will post it on my wall and pretend that I am informed on the subject”.

Make Atlantis Great Again.
All of her personal shortcomings make sense, she is a child who is in the process of growing up and it would be expected that she will grow over the course of the movie.  This process is usually termed “A Character Arc”.  But, she really doesn’t.  At the end of the movie, Ariel is still the same naïve child as she was at the beginning, only now she is allowed to fully indulge in what was previously just a personal curiosity.  What is more, she only escapes being turned into a creepy sea crawler because her dad bails her out of one of the most ludicrous contracts I have seen in fiction—say what you will about Faust, he was an adult who had a good grasp on what he was doing when he sold his soul.
In fact, let me talk about making a deal with the devil in this movie.  Ursula has a child sign a contract, without the presence of the child’s parents.  Ursula then interferes with Ariel’s ability to fulfill the contract twice, first by flipping the canoe at the end of “Kiss the Girl” and again by just shapeshifting and using magic to brain rape the bland prince—this is called acting in bad faith.  She then transfers the contract to Triton… and then usurps his throne?

True sign of someone who knows what they are getting into: Closed eyes, torso turned away in horror.
How exacting can a contract made with a child and violated by the issuing party be transferred to someone else and that someone else end’s up relinquishing titles to the contract holder?  How does Ursula get Triton’s powers?  This makes no sense!  Even if minors can enter into magical bargains shouldn’t the spell be broken after the first time Ursula acted in bad faith?  This isn’t professional wrestling, if the ref doesn’t see the cheating the cheating is still cheating… do spells not care?  Because I would think magic would require certain rules or else it would just fall apart like cake in heavy storm.
Whatever.  Let’s go back to Ariel.
Ariel does something I see as being bad on multiple levels: Objectification.  She does not know anything about the target of her “true love”, Prince Eric.  She does not know anything about the human world in general.  But she builds them up in her mind as an exotic fantasy that is just out of reach.  Eric is not really a person to her with his own wants and needs, but instead as distant two-dimensional figure that provoke her curiosity (and lust?).  When she saves Eric and later attempts to seduce him she does so knowing nothing about him or knowing anything at all about the world.  It is all just a set of things that she wants to fill some emptiness inside her.

I may be boring, but I am rich... and far less threatening than King Triton on the masculinity scale.
So let me put it to you this way, “What is Eric were gay?”  Ariel just sold her soul to Ursula to seduce a gay guy.  Anything in the fine print of the glowing contract to take a mulligan on that one?  I’m guessing not.  But, I guess she got lucky in that Eric was merely boring and without flaw or interesting traits at all.
Let’s talk about Prince Eric, in contrast to Ariel I know almost nothing about him and interactions with Ariel are bland meet-cutes.  He has no idea of the stakes she has in getting him to fall for her, and the only reason he has any positive disposition toward her is Ariel saved his life and he vaguely remembers what she looked like.  Compare this to the romantic interactions of “Beauty and the Beast”.

-
(I realize this is not a fair comparison)

Beast is a complex, damaged character who knows full well that he will be a monster forever if he cannot find love, but having been a monster for so long he doesn’t know how to connect; Belle spends her time finding out why he is so damaged and seeing him grow as a person as she recognizes the nobility behind the monster.  Eric by contrast has no tension, Ariel does but can’t express it, and neither of them is damaged or able to see damage in the other person.  They do not grow thru interacting with each other, they don’t grow of their own volition, and they don’t grow as a result of the story.  Eric and Ariel are awful as romantic leads.
Really the story could have gone another way entirely, have Ariel realize that Eric is not what she wanted, that Eric is a jerk, or just a nice person she doesn’t connect with, have her break the contract with Ursula.  Have her fight and win on her own.  If you want a magic way to weasel out of the stupid contract plot just have Ariel say, “I have grown so much by learning about myself and the world above I am not the person who signed that contract.”  Not the best lesson to teach kids about contract law, but certainly better on the topic of love, empathy, and growing up.

I guess in my version we wouldn't get kaiju sized Ursula.
But, we also wouldn't have so many people now thinking Eric is a good romantic target.
That all being said, the songs are great, and the movie looks gorgeous with a style that subtle changes to match the tone of the scenes, being goofier in funny instances, but taking on an ethereal quality during “Part of Your World”.  It is a good movie to look at and listen to, but not a good one to think about.

Beg for Attention
            Share your own thoughts on this in the comments.  I know I am not the only person out there who is nostalgic for Disney products, and I am sure many people disagree with my thoughts on today’s entry.  Honestly I picked Disney stuff just because I knew there was so much of it to talk about and it lends itself to discussion in the comments.  So please, tell me how my opinion about cartoon movies is biased and how your opinion on cartoon movies is objectively right.  Or, just share your first Disney movie.
            Thank you for reading.

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If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.