So, years ago now, Cassandra and I had one of our regular disputes over the trailer for a Pixar movie. (T99 wrote about it too.) Neither of us had seen the movie; both of us meant to do; but life is complicated, and I never got around to it. Not until this weekend, that is.

It turns out that we were all right, more or less. Cassandra nailed the basic plot (snot-nosed girl and overly controlling mother learn to respect and forgive each other through conflict). The portrayal of gender stereotypes was just as expected: the men were all oafs, loud and foolish, brash and ineffective. They somehow managed to repel invasions of Romans, English, and Vikings off screen, but it's not clear how since they were undisciplined, enthusiastically violent, but dangerous to nothing except the furniture. The Queen and the (warrior) Princess exercise all of the effective agency in the movie, determining everything that happens. (The only male figures who can accomplish anything turn out to be the triplet baby boys, who are another stereotype: 'boys will be boys' hellions who are constantly in mischief.)

This scene more or less captures the whole of the film:

The movie still manages to be charming in spite of having lived down to all of our expectations. There are some scenes that are downright funny. Too, the bold Highlanders may be oafish fools, but they are beloved by the women, and it is even possible to sense why at points. In an early scene, when the Queen is bossing the very young Princess about, the husband steps in and wins the girl a little space for her un-ladylike impulses. The Queen protests, "She is a lady!", and suddenly jumps and squeaks -- the husband, adults in the audience will realize, has just goosed her behind. The look on the Queen's face shows that she appreciates, to some degree, the reminder that he knows something about ladies.

There is another similar scene between the Queen and her husband later. Still, when she and the Princess get into a gigantic fight, he goes to the Queen and has her talk it through with him, listening to her patiently as she rants about what her daughter won't stop to hear her say.

So the stereotypes are just as expected, but it has its moments.


Joel Leggett said...

I took the kids to see this movie when it came out. My wife and I hated it, so did the boys. You can sum up the movie this way: Snot nosed, spoiled girl does something horrible to her mother so as to not have to do what she's told and eventually gets her way. This explains so much about Millennials.

douglas said...

Somehow I too have managed not to see this one. Son saw it and his reaction was a shrug. Daughter never seemed into it at all. At least the males, though shown fulfilling many stereotypes, were also gentlemen who halted fighting to make way for the lady. I suppose there's value in showing kids that one ought to do that no matter how oafish a boy you are, and the girls that you should expect no less from even oafs.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Disney has discovered that Spunky Gals are what the public will pay for. All their heroines are variations on this - you can even see it growing up in the early princesses.