It’s time once again for the Bechdel Test, that ever-popular method of kind of sort of determining the feminist value of movies and other works of fiction. As I’ve said before, the Bechdel Test is actually better at identifying trends than it is at determining the quality or feminism of an individual film. So when I do the Bechdel Test, I like to apply it to groups of movies. Last time, the Disney princesses took the test. This time, it’s Pixar’s turn.
Why Pixar? Well, obviously I like animation. If I’m going to be spending some time scrutinizing a bunch of movies, it might as well be movies I’m interested in. Pixar also has a good-sized but still manageable catalog of films, enough to make for interesting analysis without taking me months to tackle. The Pixar films also make for a good comparison with the Disney Princess movies. They share many aspects beyond being animated, yet also differ in the kinds of stories they tell and the eras the movies come from. And finally, Pixar has been criticized in the past for making largely male-centric movies while relegating their female characters to secondary, though still strong, roles. While subjecting the Pixar movies to the Bechdel test may not support or refute this criticism, it could shed some light on the subject.
In case anyone has forgotten, the Bechdel Test consists of three rules. First, the movie in question must contain at least two female characters. Second, two female characters must have at least one conversation with each other. Third, at least one of these conversations must be about something other than a male character. The rules seem simple, but as I found out when applying the test to the Disney Princess movies, there’s a lot left to interpretation, such as what counts as a conversation, whether the mere mention of a male character disqualifies a conversation, whether the presence of a male character disqualifies a conversation, and so on. Since the Bechdel Test was originally written as the topic of a single page comic rather than a serious attempt to analyze film, there’ say lot of ambiguity.
So that’s the preliminaries out of the way. On to the films! Continue reading
Thanks to the movie franchise, most people can pick Marvel’s Thor out of a line-up.
But Thor isn’t the only hammer-wielder in the Marvel universe. I would argue he isn’t even the most interesting. In this lady’s opinion that honor goes to Beta Ray Bill! (With a close second to Throg- but that’s another post)
Yes, his name is a little goofy, but don’t let that stop you from learning more about Bill. Note: This write-up will contain spoilers for the comics listed.
Bill, bustin’ on Thor
While paper comics are my first love, since I was a wee Menace in the early ages of the internet I’ve also enjoyed the storytelling bounty that it provides. It’s hard not to when there’s such a wide variety of great tales and art out there, much of it provided for free. Certainly, that very benefit has its downside – often the best artists get jobs that allow them to create AND pay the bills, and that can mean that a story you’ve been invested in doesn’t get finished. But the risk is minimal, the rewards can be great, and you can find some really great tales that you might not see in the comic shop.
So without further ado:
Monster Pulse by Magnolia Porter
Update schedule: M/W/F
Plot: Okay, this is going to sound a little crazy. Monster Pulse is about a group of kids who get exposed to a top-secret chemical that’s been developed by a shadowy government agency. When the chemical comes into contact with a human body, it changes one of that person’s body parts into a monster that can act independently of that person (though they seem to be connected to and protective of them.) The kids team up to fight the shadowy agency and try to prevent any more folks from losing vital organs. I told you it was weird.
There are a lot of guides out there for adults who are planning to visit Disney World without children. As I have been planning my most recent trip down there, I have found these guides to be rather useless. The problem is that many of these guides operate under the following assumptions: a) I’m rich b) I like to golf and c) everyone in my party loves Disney. I know that is might be hard for us Disney-philes to understand, but it is very possible for a person to visit a Disney Park and not really be all that into Disney movies, characters, music, and whatever new thing The Mouse and his minions are providing for us to throw our money at.
100% Pure Unadulterated MAGIC!
As you read this post, I am (hopefully) down in Florida, literally rolling around is all the sugary sweet Disney goodness…because that’s the kind of girl I am. Along with me however, are The Boy, Tiny Doom, and her partner in matrimony, the Goog. Neither Tiny Doom nor The Goog hold a candle for the Disney Parks like The Boy and I do, so part of the challenge in planning this trip has been to find a decent balance. How do grown-ups with varying levels of interest in Disney enjoy a vacation together? Well, here is a list of what I have been focusing on.
A little knowledge, as they say, can be a dangerous thing. It’s particularly true in the case of movies based on real events. If you know absolutely nothing about the actual history the movie is based on, you can watch it without wasting a second of your moviegoing time worrying about what the film is getting wrong. If you know enough to write a thesis on the events in question, you can make a choice to pick apart what the film gets wrong, rejoice in what it gets right, or ponder the reasoning behind whatever changes have been made to the real story. But if you know just enough to realize that what you’re seeing probably isn’t 100% true, you’re left with far more questions than certainties. If you know that the movie got a few things wrong, is everything you’re not certain of total fiction?
This is the situation I found myself in while watching Saving Mr. Banks, Disney’s recent film about the making of Mary Poppins, specifically the pre-production stages that author P.L. Travers was involved in. I did enjoy the film, but I frequently found myself wondering about whether certain events depicted in the film actually happened that way. I may know more about the making of Mary Poppins than the average person, but I still don’t know everything there is to know about the behind the scenes dramas and the people involved. I was left with a lot of questions. Fortunately, this being the internet age, the answers weren’t very far away. So if anyone finds themselves in the same boat I was in, or just wants to learn a bit about what went on during the making of Mary Poppins, here’s what I’ve learned about what the new movie got right, got wrong, got partially right, and completely forgot about.
The following sections contain spoilers for the film Saving Mr. Banks. Read at your own risk.
Of all the Ladies I might watch the most current TV. A dubious distinction, but TV is a great knitting companion, especially on those long tedious scarf projects I always seem to get involved with (but that’s probably another post-or not). I’ve been pretty vocal about not watching The Walking Dead anymore, so what am I watching these days? Apparently, Bromances! So here are three shows featuring guys who solve mysteries, stop crime, and challenge each other to survive.
It seems that over the years I’ve gained a bit of a reputation. I’d like to say that it’s totally undeserved, or at the very least that it’s greatly exaggerated, but the pure fact of the matter is that the rumors are true. I’m every bit as bad as they say…if I recommend a book to you, it’s probably gonna make you cry.
Lest you be too shocked, let me explain that I read plenty of other kinds of books. I’m a huge fan of comedic fantasy, I like the odd mystery, and I’m a sucker for food writing and popular science. And certainly, I know folks who like these things too, and I pass them along accordingly, typically with great success and smiles all around. But the books that really get around, the ones that seem to be universally acclaimed and enjoyed? They’re almost always crying books.
Lest we be confused by terms, let me explain here the kind of crying I mean. We’re not talking about a slight lump in the throat, nor a single tear that might roll softly down your cheek at a touching moment. We’re talking about an ugly cry, the sort of sobbing that’s embarrassing and inappropriate in public. The fantastic Forever YA blog has coined a term for these sorts of stories – DNRIP: Do Not Read In Public. For a frame of reference without having to read an entire novel, here’s a story from The Moth (you listen to The Moth, right? Remind me to do a post on all of the podcasts you should be listening to soon) that gives a pretty good example of what I mean. Go listen to it, but don’t make the same mistake that I did and do so on the MBTA. You’ve been warned.
Because waiting until April is going to be REALLY hard…
For a lady who spends a lot of time talking and writing about comics, there are times when I am shocked by how little I seem to know about them. Out of the four ladies, I think it is safe to say that I discovered comics the latest. So while I am always reading and exploring new comics, I have found that I’ve still got a lot of catching up to do. Part of this catching up involves me going back and seeking out the “classics” – the ones you MUST read, the ones that made such an impression that they changed the character or the genre itself.
I know I’m not the only one with an interest in such things. The comic book sales each time a new Marvel or DC film comes out is proof enough of that. So while I educate myself on why there are two Human Torches and and which Captain Marvel says “Shazam!”, I thought it might be helpful to share what I’m reading and how accessible it might be to those of us whose main source of comic book universe info comes from movies and cartoons. The plan is a simple one: read the books and then share a lot of the who and what you need to know so you aren’t spending too much time looking up things on various wikis rather than enjoying the story. Think of it as our own comic book Cliffs Notes – a little something to help you out so when the big reveal comes at the end, you get it…mostly.
It’s no secret that I’m a Disney fan, but that doesn’t mean that I love everything they do. The Black Cauldron still leaves me cold, most of their TV programming holds no interest for me, and the proposed Avatar land at the Animal Kingdom theme park strikes me as an extremely shortsighted move. So while a new animated Disney film is cause for excitement around my house, there’s never a guarantee that I’m going to love it. While I was cautiously optimistic for Frozen – Disney’s latest computer animated feature - I still had my concerns. The character designs felt a little too familiar, the teaser trailer didn’t wow me, and my hopes for a “girl rescues boy” story were dashed when I learned that Disney had scrapped the original “Snow Queen” storyline. There were still enough positive points in what I was seeing to get me excited, but the concerns remained.
Luckily, I needn’t have worried. Frozen is an excellent movie, among the best that Disney has produced in many years. Like The Princess and the Frog and Tangled, it follows in the footsteps of the classic Disney animated fairy tales in all of the best ways. But unlike the other two films, it does so while forging its own path and giving the old formula some truly fresh material.
When Cartoon Sara, The Red Menace, and Smalerie started sharing their origin stories I began filing the proper paperwork with a certain shadowy government agency. Well, the approval has finally come though, so at the start of this new year, it’s time for my not-so-secret origin.
Much like The Red Menace, I found my way to comics in my early to mid teens. While my friends would skateboard, I would wander into Newbury Comics (yeah, they used to sell more comics) and pick up some books. Yes it was mostly 90’s X-Men, yes I had a crush on Gambit, yes I was obsessed with what it would be like to live in the X-mansion.
1st Appearance of Gambit. Yes, I have this. How can a girl resist all the magenta?!?
Stereotypical, sure, but as opposed to what the “fake geek girl” set would have you believe, these books were a gateway into what would become a defining interest. Now I read lots of stuff and interestingly, no X-Men titles. Though I am a little obsessed with what it would be like the live in the Avengers mansion or work for S.H.I.E.L.D. Do you think the mansion has a pool?