Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fairy Tales

So I just finished watching a Disney Channel original movie entitled Minutemen.  It's a film about high school, fitting in and time travel.  Yes, time travel.  But two of the three protagonists meet the day the younger one (who is one of those kid-inventor-geniuses) rides his rocket-powered (at least that's what it looked like) vehicle all over the school football field, and the main character stands up for the younger one when all the football players gang up on him.  The end result is that they're both dressed up as cheerleaders, makeup and all, and hung up on each of the two horns of their giant school mascot, a ram.

I thought it was kind of interesting how playing with gender lines can be seen as a way of humiliating people.  It's hard to guess what people who have their fun by putting other people down think.  But besides "making fun," they were also saying, you don't fit into the male paradigm, you don't belong.  The problem is that the way they say "you're not enough of a guy" is by saying, "you're like a girl."  It groups people into halves: the real men, then all the weaker men, the women and the miscellaneous losers (apologies for such rudimentary, and probably insulting, classifications).

Now, of course there was a female lead in this movie.  She had a great personality, she was a school cheerleader, and she was interested in becoming an architect - the prototypical girl-next-door.  Where does someone like her fit into the world of those male football-playing winners?  She's obviously not a loser.  But who lifts her up from the dirt where she's been grouped with all the losers but the actions of those football players?

The thing is, she may be a nice person, but she's also weak.  She believes her boyfriend, the high school quarterback, when he tells her he tried to stop the other players from ganging up on the kid-genius and the main character.  (The main character, the female lead, and the quarterback were bosom buddies before high school.)  She dates the quarterback for four years, then when it looks like he's interested in someone else, she starts to develop feelings for the main character.  (I'm sorry I don't remember anyone's name.  For some reason the name Lars keeps on popping into my head though.)  I mean, I don't mean this in a bad way, necessarily, but she's very pliable.

So I'm not sure who lifts her up exactly.  It just looks like Disney is still selling that same old story though.  The woman has to fit into a man's world.  She can be a princess in yet, but she has to play by male rules.  She has to bend like the willow reeds to accommodate the world around her.  (Cue music to Mulan).

1 comment:

Meredith Wallis said...

Not sure if you regularly watch the Disney Channel, but while babysitting, I was able to watch the gem, "Go Figure." The synopsis: a figure skater needs to train with the amazing Russian coach, but the only way to get to the elite boarding school is on a hockey scholarship (because there are no scholarships for figure skating). So she has to learn hockey while training for the olympic trials. The gender angle: the normative, pretty white girls who figure skate but are "mean girls". And the gender non-conforming, chunkier (potentially queer) hockey girls who are a "family" (although in a masculine, sports way, meaning not immediately accepting). In the end, the cute white skater turned occasional hockey player is forced to choose between her career--Olympic try-outs--and her family--the hockey game. It's nice to see we start them young.