Thursday, July 1, 2010

Rapunzel, Rapunzel: This Isn't Your Story Anymore, Okay?

Let me be up front: This is a rant.

I found out sometime last year (early this year? who knows) that Disney was working on a Rapunzel movie. Which, you know, I'm almost always down for animated kid movies so I'm sure that this one will be no exception. (But let's admit, the original story is WAY CREEPY and I don't like to think about it).

Anyway, there's been some controversy because they've changed the title from Rapunzel to Tangled. Which I don't like that much, but when I found out that they did it so the movie would be more appealing to boys, it irked me even more. And THEN I read that they expanded the male role so that, um, he's KIND OF THE MAIN CHARACTER. Here's the trailer:

I mean, okay, he's portrayed as a lovable, cocky thief (and who doesn't love some of that, amirite?) but the notion that somehow anything girly about the movie has to be eradicated so that it's commercially feasible makes me mad. Because here's the thing: girls and women read Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and no one says that the male lead alienates or excludes women. But to have a female lead? Boys shouldn't have to put up with that! The injustice. I guess some of this was in response to the fact that The Frog Princess didn't make as much money as Disney had hoped.

I'm not saying we should force men into watching things they're not interested in. But the fact is that men are treated as the norm and (as Simone de Beauvoir wrote) women are still the second sex. Somehow, men are "people," but women are "women." A lot of times, women and girls are erased or made secondary in media because producers and corporations (helmed by old white men) argue that "women stories" will alienate/disinterest half the population (less than half the population, if we're being accurate) and that females don't consume in a way that's as profitable for the company. But, um, hello: Twilight is this insanely popular, profitable, money-machine that is basically fueled entirely by female consumers. So obviously women are legitimate consumers/fans that can drive a franchise into record breaking popularity without the help of male consumers. Oh, but wait: as soon as women like something, it's ridiculed. It's like, "Can you believe the crazy crap all these frenzied hens like?"(Read this post about it for more analysis. It talks about how female fans are held in contempt as stupid "uber-consumers" while men are seen as resisting the mainstream by being fans).

Thoughts? Agree or disagree, I love discussions about these kinds of topics.

More relevant articles can be found here, here, and here.


1) Yes, I am a feminist (which I think people know already and are not scandalized by this)
2) No, man-hating is not a part of that. But the way our system privileges and legitimizes men's experiences/opinions/representation over women's is problematic.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my god. I LOVE THIS POST. I was really looking forward to the Rapunzel movie, too, and it looked like it was going to be so great-- Disney really needs some proper movies instead of Hannah Montana and all that... But I can't believe they changed the title just to make it less girly. And ugh, I hope The Princess and the Frog's average run didn't start this. It's not like they try to make summer blockbuster guy movies appealing to girls... Gah! I'm so disappointed.