Thursday, 14 May 2009

Sterotyping - Fantasia and The Jungle Book

We watched Fantasia, which admittedly I've never watched before. I used to adore Disney movies as a kid, but these days I can't stand them. I guess it's because I am revolted by the beauty which only highlights how much more difficult it is in real life. Disney makes everything too perfect. Anyway, looking beyond the superficial prettiness there is a lot of stereotyping. A stereotype is the tendency to reduce people & cultures to one dimensional often slanderous visual cliches.

Firstly the scene opens with little Cupids acting as "servants" though I don't know if that term is appropriate. Cupid in Roman mythology made it his duty to match-make--therefore, I would think they actually enjoy doing the job. It is interesting to note that in Greek culture Cupid was known as Eros and though in principle they did the same job they do have variations which separate them. Firstly, Walt Disney wouldn't have used Eros because he isn't just the god of love, but also lust and eroticism. Cupid is far more innocent and romantic. This would be the reason why Cupid is often associated as a baby with wings, opposed to Eros who was a beautiful virile young man.

The Cupids help the girl centaurs get ready to meet the boys, pampering and prettifying them. Of course, there are no images of the boy centaurs getting ready. All they do is stomp around and assert their manliness (horsiness?). The 'getting ready' process is a sterotype and a value that society wish to imprint on women. It is a woman's responsibility to look attractive and dignified for men, whereas men don't receive the same pressure. In fact, in bloke towns (ie. lots of NZ places) men are discriminated against if they show too much attention to detail. The men horses strut around, unembelished and highly masculine with broad shoulders etc.

When the centuars meet, the women have a line up which is reminicent of a debutante ball or a brothel. When you look at both these events at a basic level there is a strong ideology where the men view the girls and chooses the one that appeals to them. The aim of these line-ups is to get everyone a mate for the night or to marry.

Something pretty obvious is how the centaurs hook-up. Blue with blue. Pink with pink. Yellow with yellow. To me the different coloured centaurs represent different races in the same species and by having them coordinatedly coupled they are implying that one cannot marry outside of their race. They've made a pretty package which is pretty unremarkable--it would be way cooler if a pink centaur got with a blue one so they could have lilac babies. While the centaurs frolick around, they assume man/woman roles. The girls act frilly and feminine, making sure to cuddle / pamper / and feed the male centaur. I have examples too: 1) All the girls strut with exaggerated feminine gestures in the line up. 2) Under a tree and also at the pond, the male centaur puts his arm around the girl, which can be seen as a. staking claim b. asserting his dominance over her. 3) One male centaur playfully chases his girl who acts hard to get, implying that men are supposed to be the assertive ones. 4) A couple are resting in a shadowed area and the woman uses her body as a pillow for the male and feeds him fruit--just like a good wife should.

The centaurs are the definition of beauty with flowing hair, slender nubile bodies and dainty features. No fat centaur in sight. Mind you, centaurs probably do more running around. My final thought on Fantasia is the implication that everyone needs to have a mate and get married when in reality they don't have to if they don't want to. Even the centaurs that didn't get together initially looked upset by the prospect of being alone and then became overjoyed when they located eachother.

I wish I were fairy queen.

Onto the next Disney movie. Its a goodie The Jungle Book.

The Panther speaks with a high-class British accent whereas the Bear is distinctly low-class with a beatnik air about him (beatnik is a person of the beat generation, doesn't fit into conventional society). Panther says a comment that is an insult to Bear "this is going to take brains not brawn".

The apes are a representation of the black society, the king is called King Louis, probably after Louis Armstrong. In the past the African people were seen as evolutionary undeveloped, in between the white man and apes. He calls Mogley Cousin, a reference to how humans are decedents of primates. Also, Mogley is referred to as Man-Cub.

What King Louis is after is fire. In history man separated itself from other animals by showing a higher mental capacity and developing their lives beyond food and procreation. Getting fire was the first sign of this change. King Louis no longer wants to be an ape because he sees man as superior.

The music is skat singing, a method of singing where sounds are improvised to make melodies and rhythm. It is a type of music mostly found within the black community. Ella Fitzgerald was a highly influential skat singer who contributed immensely to Jazz.


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