October 5, 2007

English classes are ruining movies for me.

The title of this post says it all. I used to be able to enjoy movies. Especially Disney movies. But now, after my women's literature class explores issues of women's voicelessness and lack of agency in the 18th and 19th century, I find myself seeing it in movies that I really wish I didn't see it in. Like The Little Mermaid. She has to lose her voice in order to meet the guy and get him to fall in love with her - so, essentially, he falls for the demure, quiet woman who doesn't speak up (or, if you want to look at it from a more superficial standpoint, he just falls in love with her because she's pretty). Or even Phantom of the Opera. Come on, I love that musical! But when watching the scene where Christine and Raoul run to the roof of the opera house, and Christine voices her worries about the phantom, instead of being thrilled by the scene and the following song (All I Ask of You, which is a great song, by the way), I found myself getting annoyed at the fact that Raoul wouldn't let her talk or listen to her worries, assuming that she was making it all up. What the heck? I love these movies! I want to watch and enjoy, not watch and think about how the characters are being sexist.

I suppose, though, that's what my classes are trying to teach me, in a way... to not take what I see in the world at face value, and delve deeper. But I guess what I'm wondering is, how important is it to see these issues in everything? Is it only necessary to see these issues when they crop up in novels or news articles? Or is it harmful to take seemingly non-gendered or stereotypical movies at face value?

I would suppose, that if I can realize that these issues are there, but discard them for the enjoyment of the movie, I might be able to find a happy medium. Does realizing that movies like The Little Mermaid have sexist elements in them mean that I can't enjoy those movies? Does it mean I should reject them? I think maybe it means that I can still enjoy them but I shouldn't accept the implications it gives without question - but how much am I accepting those values implicitly? I don't feel as if my values have been skewed because I watched and accepted those movies in the past; I didn't grow up thinking that women had to be quiet or that their fears weren't pertinent...

How often is a critical view of the world necessary, and how often does it interfere with your enjoyment of the world without really getting you anywhere? Or is there such a thing?

Sorry, this entry is mostly questions, but I'm sorting these issues out in my mind.

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