"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Heroines

I have a soft spot for strong women in animated films. I'm not a rabid feminist or anything, it's just that a good heroine is hard to find these days. I really like medieval stories, especially, or pre-medieval, even, so I guess I got pretty excited when I heard about Disney-Pixar's The Bear and the Bow, which is due out in 2011.

I guess it's no secret that I kind of hate Disney and I kind of hate Pixar and I really seem to hate 3D animation (because it's pushing 2D trad off the drawing board and making me pretty cranky. Disney's even picked up Rapunzel- my favorite fairy tale of all time- You guessed it- 3D. At least, though, they're attempting to give it a 'painted' look, which may prove to its benefit, as I tire of the overly-smooth look CG animation tends to have.)

I need (NEED) my animation to be reverent- a true art form. This, perhaps, is why I seem to lean toward the work of Japanese animation studios, and away from Americans. But perhaps it isn't Americans outright that are the problem. After all, some of the animated films I hold in the highest esteem are results of the talented people at Dreamworks. I mean- Prince of Egypt? Road to El Dorado? Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron? I think there's no argument that these films have managed to be both artistically stunning and devoid of talking animal sidekicks.

Those gargoyles? Ruined Hunchback. Ruined it.

Call me a curmudgeon but I require some semblance of respect. Any Joe Shmoe can pick up the classic works of Victor Hugo, but it takes someone great to give it what it deserves. Disney are not those people.

And this, perhaps, is why my excitement over Bear and the Bow is apprehensive; what's being set up as an excellent bold-daughter story (albiet redundant of Mulan) taking place in medieval Scotland is beyond a shadow of a doubt going to be annihilated by something akin to a stone sculpture with Jason Alexander's sense of humor, or a little red dragon with Eddie Murphy's wack fabulosity. Perfect.

Give it a rest, Disney! Take a clue from Hayao Miyazaki and the fine folks at Studio Ghibli and show these stories some degree of seriousness- if you honestly think they wouldn't sell you wouldn't have imported Spirited Away in your own name. COME ON.

Pardon my cranky, but as much as I did love Mulan and as much as I had chills and tears in my eyes when all of China bowed down to her, I would sooner set my daughter in front of Princess Mononoke or Kiki's Delivery Service than make her watch that. Hua Mulan was a real woman who did great things and Eddie Murphy shrieking things about egg rolls does not do her justice.

I think my favorite (and most accurate) depiction of a woman in an animated film is likely that of Zipporah, Moses' wife, in Prince of Egypt. But, like I said, Disney isn't responsible for that, and god forbid they should ever take a character seriously. It's enough to make me want to plunk Ro down in front of some Cowboy Bebop or Aeon Flux and worry about the consequences later.

Honestly.

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