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14 responses to “So yeah, kid’s movies.”

  1. Loup

    My daughter has only seen Wreck It Ralph and interestingly enough, a month afterwards when we saw an ad, she couldn’t tell me Vanellope’s name, or Sgt Calhoun’s, but she could tell me who Ralph and Felix were. BUT she told me that Sgt Calhoun was the hero and Vanellope was the one who helped Ralph be good and drove fast. So I am kinda torn about it, but I’m just glad she saw a movie where there was a little girl character AND the adult women characters weren’t overtly sexualised. And there was more than one female (hi pretty much every other kid’s movie).

  2. Nicole

    My eldest daughter saw Wreck it Ralph twice and it’s her favourite movie over the holidays. What she liked about it is the overall moral in that people shouldn’t judge others and stereotype them. She could relate to it because she hates it when people stereotype her because she’s an autistic teenager and it makes her “shit crazy” when people want her to be what she’s not!

  3. Vera

    In Wreck-it Ralph, I remember the racers – all girls, all with names – talked to each several times in different scenes, some of it confrontational but most if it definitely Bechdel passing because they were talking about racing and each other. I enjoyed it a lot because there were so many female characters, quite a difference from most animated films these days. But Wreck-it Ralph went beyond a simple Bechdel measure. I also loved that the arcade gamer POV character was a girl. I picked Vanellope as the lead female character because of her major part in both the problem and the resolution, and her relationship with Ralph. Calhoun was more exposition, muscle and romantic B story, the grizzled vet with a heart of gold, a big gun, a good line in snappy insults and a tragic past. Which is usually a role given to a male character so yay!

    Wreck-it Ralph was pretty amazing for the number and breadth of female roles. The only set that, as far as I could tell, never had a female character, the was Bad Guys Anon meeting room.

  4. Feminist Avatar

    I’ve only seen Hotel Transylvannia and have no kids, but I also thought it was poor because the story plot was just so tired – over protective father, doesn’t like boyfriend, comes to accept daughter as adult thus allowing her to have boyfriend. WOW. That’s original. And it wasn’t that funny – none of the side characters were really given any space to develop into anything, not even side gags.

  5. Kasey Weird

    @Loup: looking at the information your kid retains from the movie is actually a super interesting idea. And I love, love, love that your daughter decided to pick a female as the main character from her perspective. Alternative readings of media FTW! Hopefully name memory issues have to do with the female characters having less common (i.e. harder to remember) names, rather than the actual impact the characters had on her? It does kind of seem like that might be the case.

    In general: I love this way of breaking down/examining films (via the traditional and POC Bechdel tests, and checking for representations of relationships and disability. I really want there to be a database of movies that contains this kind of info in a quick-reference format.

  6. Tansy Rayner Roberts (@tansyrr)

    I agree with Vera that Wreck-It Ralph passed the Bechdel Test with flying colours because of the multiple girl racers, and that most of what they talked about was, well, RACING and each other.

    I also really appreciated that the ‘mean girls’ trope was revealed at the end to have been a symptom that there was something terribly wrong with the game, and that the girls were horrified they had been so mean to Vanellope, and that they had forgotten how important to them she was.

    Likewise, I think Sgt Calhoun was far more than a standard ‘strong female character’ trope – her competence and power was a big deal throughout the whole story, she was consistently proven right, and there was the occasional clever line that showed that the writers were aware of the traditions of this kind of character. I can forgive a LOT for the bit where she swaggers off, Felix says “Wow, she’s… intense,” and one of her men says “Yeah, she was given the most tragic backstory.”

    Plus OMG [spoiler spoiler] Vanellope is made a princess at the end and decides that a democracy would be far more awesome. I love that while she and her memory are more complete at the end of the story, she is not willing to give up the person she has become for a sparkly tiara.

    My daughter came out of the movie talking about nothing but Vanellope who is a kids hero for the ages. I am disappointed greatly by the lack of promotion of her and the girl racers in the toy/merch support of the film.

  7. orlando

    The Lynley Stace article you link to is great, especially the way she tracked down a copy of the shooting script and showed the way the sexist material was embedded right in the core ideas for the movie. It sounds as if Paranorman operates very much on the Harry Potter model, where the only reason the girl isn’t the hero is that the boy is “chosen”.

    Oddly enough I’ve been brewing a kids’ flicks post, too. It must be the time of year. It will most likely include a rant about how much I am growing to loathe the bit where a girl gives a speech about how everyone needs to trust the hero, or a speech to the hero about how he needs to trust himself, because it gives everyone the message that all a girl can be is support crew.

  8. Mindy

    Stace really went into detail with ParaNorman, and I spent a lot of time reading her review thinking ‘oh yeah, I forgot about that, that did annoy me at the time’. It is a bit sad that I came away thinking that it was one of the better movies I saw. Shows how much crap I have internalised and don’t examine often enough anymore.

  9. Loup

    I think the bit I loved most about the Vannellope becoming a princess then ditching it is that it really is an experience/decision my daughter can relate to. She LOVES playing princess and fairy and whatnot, with the shiny dresses and things, but she also loves playing knights and battles and superheroes. So I really liked that it wasn’t one note (and yay democracy!).

    Kasey Weird: Yeah, she still struggles to remember Vannellope (v-nenepolly? Vanenolly? Vaneneponey?) but she’s remembering Sgt Calhoun better. In the movie Sgt Calhoun isn’t named as much though, and certainly not in full.

  10. Rebecca

    The best thing about WIR in my opinion was the the main human player of the games was a girl – in a computer games arcade, which are not exactly the territory of women. Growing up I always felt a little uncomfortable about going into game arcades because they were so heavily dominated by boys and men.

    The behaviour of the boys in the arcade when the girl wants to play Sgt Calhoun’s game was my typical experience of games arcades, “We’re boys, you’re not – go away!”.

    The fact that the writers made the human interaction point a girl speaks volumes to me about the fact that they know the stereotypes of girls and computer games and decided that they’d do their bit to make a difference.

  11. Tansy Rayner Roberts (@tansyrr)

    Rebecca: that’s such a great point, I hadn’t thought of that as she was a ‘framework’ character, but certainly considering what the character does in action, it could so easily have been a boy.

    Hooray for a movie that sneakily LOOKS like it’s all about Boy Stuff while pushing such a subversive message that girls are a) gamers, b) awesome and c) can make great, varied game characters.

    I’m sad that Brave has not received the level of critical attention it deserves, but not sorry at all that Wreck It Ralph seems to be the breakaway kids hit of the year. It is doing so many of the right things.

  12. Mindy

    Seems I have judged WIR harshly! I’m glad so many are finding lots of good things in it. I must re-watch it.

  13. Aqua, of the Questioners

    I read a random comment somewhere in the greater onlineosphere complaining that Wreck It Ralph was too girly or words to that effect. I thought to myself “ah, that probably means it passes the Bechdel Test”. Sigh.

    So it’s not so much that women are supposed to be satisfied if they only have male characters to identify with, as that some men freak out if they might be expected to identify with a female character.

  14. Orlando

    @Aqua, the thing that makes me really cranky is people like that projecting it onto their kids. It’s complete nonsense, the notion that boys won’t watch a movie about a girl. What’s actually going on is that parents either won’t, or simply don’t think to, take their sons to movies with female protagonists. I have a friend who writes text for e-books and iPad apps for children, and he gets briefs like “for 18 month to 2-year old boys”, as if a child that age is capable of demanding a different kind of story about the alphabet depending on its gender.

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