The Top 10 Feminist-Friendly Children’s Movies

April 7, 2010 § 18 Comments

Oh no, wait. I could only think of 5 — and 2 of them are debatable. How depressing? I’m positive there are more out there and it’s quite likely I’m nowhere near as informed on the subject of children’s movies as I think I am or that more openly feminist-friendly children’s movies aren’t what we would exactly call mainstream. I could however think of a whole bunch of feminist un-friendly children’s movies (future list?). Sooo here goes. The top 10 top 5 feminist-friendly children’s movies:

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Where Are All the Poster Children?

September 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I went to the annual poster sale so I could make my side of the room a little bit crazier. I was delighted to find posters of R2D2, E.T., and (woot!) Rosie the Riveter. However…

While flipping through the posters, I noticed some pretty interesting trends. Did you know that every female college student is crazy for either Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, the occasional ironic Britney Spears, or Marilyn Monroe? You do now. I have nothing against these ladies. They are all wildly talented, beautiful, influential women. But come on people, give us some more credit than that!! I would love for the poster sale to offer a few more diverse (in terms of color, personality, age and occupation) options than the double threat white chicks. How about some Michelle Obamas, some Ella Fitzgeralds, some Joni Mitchells (she is a white lady double threat as well, I’m just a little bitter that I couldn’t secure a Joni poster), some Jhumpa Lahiris, some J.K. Rowlings (please please please!!!), or Gloria Steinems… anyone!?! Because women have influence beyond the silver screen (and I mean silver… I’m not sure exactly why girls are supposed to be obsessed with black and whites, but not even Dorothy was in technicolor!).

You might have noticed I mentioned Rosie The Riveter in my purchases… yep. That’s true. There was ONE Rosie poster. Maybe this means that all the feminists snagged the rest of the supply before I got there, but I still think it points to a lack of diversity. Of course, I am entirely ignoring the fact that college women can break the trends of their demographic and go for the aqua teen hunger force or the Bob Marley, but I say with some confidence that we are not the target audience for these posters.

So please, college poster sale, keep us feminists in mind next time you stock up? I like to show my true colors all over the wall, and it’s hard when I have only black and white movie stars to choose from.

Human Perfection: What Could Go Wrong?

August 11, 2009 § 14 Comments

Ads for the movie Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis and set to hit theatres in September, have been dominating the NYC subways recently. I don’t like them very much.




Notice what poses the advertisers consider the “perfect” man, as opposed to woman, to lounge in? Notice where they’re clothed, where they’re nude? Notice that all three models are thin yet chiseled? Notice that they’re all white?

It’s embarassing that this movie is being portrayed as “futuristic” when the ideals it glorifies are decidedly tired. Hello? We see these ideas of perfection in the mainstream media every fucking day. Nothing about this is edgy.

Another movie I won’t be seeing

July 24, 2009 § 4 Comments

Get it? Because men don't have brains, and women don't like sex! It's all becoming clear.

Get it? Because men don't have brains, and women don't like sex! It's all becoming clear.

It’s summer, and though I’m busy working my tail patience off as a camp counselor, I also have quite a bit of downtime. I’ve seen a bunch of movies lately: some silly ones with my family (The Proposal and Year One) as well as films that I actually wanted to see (Away We Go and, last night, 500 Days of Summer — both excellent, the latter mostly because of my enormous crush on Zooey Deschanel). But one movie that I’m certain I won’t spend $12.50 on is The Ugly Truth, starring part-time feminist Katherine Heigl as a “romantically challenged morning show producer” and Gerard Butler as a professional douche. I’ve seen some previews that warned me of its knee-slappin’ “humor,” and then this morning I read the excellently scathing New York Times review by Manohla Dargis, fabulously titled Girl Meets Ape, and Complications Ensue.

When it comes to the old straight-boy-meets-straight-girl configuration with big-studio production values…the romantic comedy is nearly as dead as Meg Ryan’s career. In the best of these films, the women aren’t romantic foils, much less equals: they’re either (nice) sluts or (nicer) wives, and essentially as mysterious and unknowable as the dark side of the moon.

Which leads to “The Ugly Truth,” a cynical, clumsy, aptly titled attempt to cross the female-oriented romantic comedy with the male-oriented gross-out comedy that is interesting on several levels, none having to do with cinema. Katherine Heigl plays Abby, a producer for a ratings-challenged Sacramento morning television show, the kind that specializes in empty smiles, cooking tips and weather updates. She’s single and therefore, in the moral economy of modern Hollywood, unhappy. Her life goes into a tailspin when her boss hires a professional ape, Mike (Gerard Butler), who delivers loutish maxims on camera about the sexes that basically all boil down to this: Men have penises, and women should accommodate them any which way they can, preferably in push-up bras and remote-controlled vibrating panties.

…Ms. Heigl doesn’t do perky all that persuasively, but she does keep her smile and relative dignity even in scenes in which Abby is forced to play the fool, which is often, as when she’s hanging upside down from a tree in her skivvies. She even survives the scene that finds Abby writhing spasmodically during a dinner with her corporate masters, because, well, she’s wearing those pulsating panties, the boy at the next table has the remote, and there’s nothing funnier (or, really, scarier) than the spectacle of female pleasure.

I am SO. TIRED. of media that portrays women’s minds as murky, our bodies as property, and our desires as hilarious. A woman’s sexuality is not so damn difficult to understand — if you talk to and listen to her, which society is apparently loath to do.

And another thing: no one seems to get that these movies are as offensive to men as they are to women. Commenters on IMDB rave that it’s a “comedy for both sexes,” one you can “bring your boyfriend” to. Men should not be like Butler’s skeevy character; and what’s more, they aren’t. But movies like this convince the public that guys are practically children, and we shouldn’t expect to hold them accountable for atrocious sexist behavior.

“The Ugly Truth” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian).
The language is consistently crude and includes the apparently now requisite antigay slurs.

Yeah. Because straight = manly, manly = asshole, and asshole = sexy.

Examining Female Roles in Western versus Japanese Animations

June 9, 2009 § 2 Comments

I apologize rather prematurely for this post, it’s term papers and finals week, so not only is the blog title far from witty, it sounds like the beginning to a bad JStor article written by an undergrad.

However, someone just showed me this open letter by Linda Holmes on the NPR blog. It reminded me of when I was going through my late night (read: early morning) animation fix of Miyazaki, and was astounded during a few of them that my love for the filmmaking wasn’t constantly pitted against the female protagonists need to support jagged-edged gender binaries.


So while I don’t have time to expand on this, here’s another examination of Western animation from Christine Hoff Kraemer over at Inhuman Decency, that seems to converse quite well with Linda’s piece.

Oh, and P.S. Linda: Susan Sontag would love to argue this one out, but half the fun of children’s films and books are the highly politicized (though often implicit) morals and theologies they bring about. Sometimes they SCREAM for a better world, though the characters may only whisper. Tonight my seventh-grade brother summarized a book for me that he just finished reading and was incredibly excited about. Though the plot line was simple, it featured a girl fighting for women’s rights in a fettered, Patriarchal society. If we take each part of a film to have an intended purpose, a princess can and will never be just a princess.

My Feminist To-Watch List

May 6, 2009 § 2 Comments

All of us at Women’s Glib are high school students, which essentially means that we don’t have any time. Seriously – this blog is my chief form of procrastination for all of the homework I “should” be doing.

Since I never have time to watch any movies – the last one I saw in its entirety was Milk in theatres – I’ve accumulated a nice list of feminist films to watch over summer vacation.

What’s on your list – seen or yet to be seen?

The Stoning of Soraya M.

May 5, 2009 § 4 Comments

The description of the movie says:

The women, stripped of all rights and without recourse, nobly confront the overwhelming desires of corrupt men who use and abuse their authority to condemn Soraya, an innocent but inconvenient wife, to an unjust and torturous death. A shocking and true drama, it exposes the dark power of mob rule, uncivil law, and the utter lack of human rights for women.

My interest was piqued when I saw this trailer so I decided to look up the case of Soraya M. I didn’t find much, but it I did find that she was an Iranian woman in an arranged marriage with an abusive husband who no longer wanted to be married to her, so he accused her of adultery and because of this lie, she was eventually stoned by a group of men. (Please correct me if my facts are off.)

I want to see this so badly, yet have been unable to find the release date anywhere near me. I’ve read October 2008, February 2009, and July 2009 and yet, up until just now, I haven’t heard anything about it. I think this film is important and has the potential to be eye opening (especially since the civil rights of women are violated particularly in the Middle East very often, even currently), but the cynical part of me doubts that many people will see it — after all, where’s the appeal in a movie released this summer that’s not about robots?

Spread the word!

Miss March

March 4, 2009 § 1 Comment

On March 13th the movie Miss March will open in theatres everywhere. It is about a high school sweethearts, the guy falls into a coma for four years and wakes up to find out that his girlfriend has become the center fold girl for a magazine, and is named Miss March. This story will be amusing and fun for some, but for me it is maddening.

If you weren’t aware, March is significant for another reason. March marks women’s history month, something I find slightly more important. This ‘sex comedy’ I am certain does nothing to promote the leaders of the women’s movement. Commercials for Miss March outweigh the media attention given to women’s history, that is if the crucial month is getting any attention at all.

When I turned my calendar to the month of March I started to think about what has been accomplished so far for women. I think a lot has been achieved thus far, but this movie sends a strong anti-feminist message that makes me think we have achieved nothing. Maybe it is simply a coincidence that this movie is about the month March, but I still believe that this irony should not be ignored. To be clear, I have not yet seen this movie, but I don’t think I will, I don’t think I’ll make it to Miss April, or Miss May either. I would post a trailer to Miss March, but I do not want to publicize this movie at all, I want to promote women and their history.

I Love You, Dustin Lance Black.

February 25, 2009 § Leave a comment

This is going to be quick. Did anyone catch Dustin Lance Black’s (writer of the film Milk about the gay politician Harvey Milk) emotional acceptance speech? I think it’s beautiful and touching and extremely hopeful. So much love.

For your viewing pleasure:

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl

February 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

In October, National Public Radio released an article and four-minute movie alongside it entitled Manic Pixie Dream Girls: A Cinematic Scourge? In case you’re not familiar with the term Manic Pixie Dream Girl, in the article it’s defined by film critic Nathan Rabin:

The Manic Pixie is, in his words, “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

And while I agree with the NPR article and video posted for the most part, I do have a a bit of an issue with it: the character of Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I don’t find her to be the typical MPDG as defined by Rabin. I think she’s more complicated than that. She IS the type of girl that will, “go off into a quiet corner and cry,” and does so in the movie. And while I think her main device in the movie is to uplift the male protagonist, she isn’t actually a secondary character in the slightest. In fact, I think many people who watch the movie care more about her than him. I also think that a lot of the “adventures” (for lack of a better word) that they go on together aren’t solely for him, but for her as well. She wants to have a good time and do crazy things. She likes him, so he’s included in her antics. Another thing that separates her from being a typical MPDG is that she doesn’t come into his life and cause him to undergo a change, as is the normal formula, but she is the one that undergoes a change because of him. I think there’s a fine line between being one of those free, live-life-to-the-fullest characters and being a character who only does such things to help their love interest (no matter how unrealistic both characters may be). It’s the latter that I take issue with far more that the first.

Another problem I had wasn’t so much about the article, but it was with myself. While reading through the list of MPDG’s, I came across Natalie Portman’s character from Garden State, Katherine Hepburn’s character from Bringing Up Baby, Penny Lane in Almost Famous, and Annie Hall. These are all movies and characters that I love and have loved for a long time. Does that mean that I’ve bought into sexist bullshit that everyone’s supposed to buy into? As a feminist am I obligated to dislike all of these characters because they portray unrealistically bubbly, happy, free and completely shallow versions of real women? And even if they are sexist, as long as I recognize that, can I continue to like them? Also, in our modern day cinema, among the slutty female characters, the bitchy female characters, and the neurotic female characters, MPDG’s don’t offend me the most.

Okay, well I’ve sort of gone off a bit and I apologize if this is unclear, as I’m still trying to sort out my opinions and feelings regarding this topic. Thoughts, anyone?

For more on the MPDG phenomenon:

16 films featuring MPGD’s (A. V. Club)

MPGD’s are the Scourge of Modern Cinema (Jezebel)

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