|WHO THE HELL IS THIS GUY|
WHAT IS HE DOING IN THIS STORY
Cultural Monday will take a little look at how culture is used to mold consciousness, in this particular case, the consciousness of and about women...and starting with little girls.
We will be talking about the new Disney animation anticipated blockbuster Frozen.
Before we go there, I will ask you if you have ever noticed, as Feminist Fangirl points out that,
...Disney, and most all media for that matter, makes stories about the same thin, wide eyed white women over and over again...
Back to Frozen which is an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's story, The Snow Queen. The Snow Queen is a pretty feminist fairy tale.
It tells the story of a young girl named Gerda who must embark on a journey to rescue her best friend, a boy named Kai, from both the clutches of the Snow Queen and the soul killing influence of a cursed shard of mirror that has become lodged in his heart.
It is told in seven chapters:
Snow Queen has, as you can see just from the chapter title, lots of heroic female figures and a formidable female villain, the Snow Queen herself, to boot.
The Disney version goes another route entirely. Disney cut out every single major female character save for Gerda, now called Anna, and the Snow Queen (who isn't). Disney didn't just ditch the females, it replaced them with a cast of men. Anna herself is stuck with a male sidekick. That sidekick becomes the romantic interest of Anna. That sidekick helps to reproduce all the same nonsense about the weak little female in need of help from a big strong male. Further, In the original story Gerda felt a platonic love for her female friend...who isn't even in the Disney version. Oh, by the way, the Snow Queen is no longer a villain but a cursed sister.
In the Disney version, the main character Anna goes on a journey to find her sister Elsa, who has covered the kingdom in eternal winter. But not only is she not rescuing a boy, she's accompanied on the journey by a mountain man named Kristoff.
Again from Fangirl,
That Disney feels it’s necessary to take a female driven, female dominated story and cut it down to one princess protagonist with a dashing male helper/love interest, is honestly disgusting and one of the most blatant examples of Hollywood’s lack of faith in women in recent memory.
It’s one of those clear examples in which everything that is wrong with our media’s approach to women and female agency is even more apparent, if only because we have a clear source to compare it to, and we can see what the studio chose to change.
A female protagonist who primarily goes it alone? Can’t have that. She needs a hot dude to be by her side so the audience doesn’t get bored by all the lady time, and also she needs someone to get with at the end. And on that note, let’s make her older and also a princess.
A bunch of women who, if expanded, could be diverse and original characters, friends, villains and comic relief? No way that would work. Let’s just replace them with some dudes and a talking snowman. We can’t have more than two women in a story. After all, every other fairy tale we’ve produced has only let women be a princess or a villain. Why break the pattern now? Why let girls know that they have inherent power no matter where they come from? Why let them know they have other options. And while we’re at it, we’ve got to make sure everyone is white.
There is more, of course. Like virtually evey such animated film, especially those from Disney, all these female characters go beyond pretty. They are impossibly "perfect."
The Christian Science Monitor asks,
Would people go to see a princess who wasn't "pretty"? "Shrek" made a joke of this and succeeded. But what if there was no joke? What if the princess simply was ordinary? It would be a risk, if only because it has never been done. Just look at society – our local TV news anchors and gossip-page celebrities. Where are the un-"pretty" examples there? Disney is just reflecting society back at itself.
And then back at itself again. Kinda dialectical, huh?
Cogpunk Steamscibe tells us something else.
Disney has ‘white-washed’ the fairy tale. I always imagined the Little Robber Girl as being of a Sámi extraction (because of the reindeer, not because she was a bandit), but it looks like she is gone from the story, and of course the Lapp Woman and the Finn Woman are gone as well.
These sorts of things don't just happen in a vacuum. Again, our consciousness, our being is shaped by such things. Consciousness doesn't just fall from the sky. Cute little films like Frozen are part of the foundation of patriarchy and white supremacy...and patriarchy and white supremacy are part of the foundation of the consciousness of the creators of Frozen.
How do we change this. Do we just magically change our and THEIR consciousness. Marx doesn't think so.For Marx in "The German Ideology" it is reality which creates the mind, and not the other way around. For Marx in "The German Ideology" people's ideas and ideologies are conditioned by the historical formation of powers of production and relations of production. Holly Graff writes,
In the Poverty of Philosophy Marx writes that human beings are "both the authors and the actors of their own drama." (TPOP 115) Then in Capital Marx writes that human beings are "governed by laws not only independent of human will, consciousness and intelligence, but rather, on the contrary, determining that will, consciousness and intelligence." (C1 18) Engels attempts to resolve this seeming contradiction by putting forth a conception of reciprocal causality which stresses that while material conditions determine ideas, ideas in turn can change material conditions.