Karista’s Feminist Analysis of “Pocahontas”

I thought I would go ahead and continue Tyson’s discussion of how the “Disney Princess” movies fall under the category of being able to be discussed by a feminist critic. I do not really consider Pocahontas a Disney princess, but the movie falls in the same category as the others, like Cinderella, Snow White, etc. I thought the Pocahontas film showed even more characteristics of feminism than the traditional Disney princess movies.

I want to begin with discussing the degree of patriarchy in the film. First of all, Pocahontas is clearly oppressed because not only is she the “savage” (which I could relate to Postcolonial criticism, but staying on topic), but she is also seen as less educated and uncivilized to John Smith. She is also dressed in very revealing clothing compared to John Smith or any of the other colonizers. Not only is Pocahontas oppressed by the colonizers, but also her father and other men of her tribe. She is considered ignorant and naïve when she asks her father to listen to John Smith about not wanting to harm them. Do you really think that if Pocahontas had been a man that he would have been overlooked like that? Well, I think the outcome would have been different. Also, when Pocahontas’s father was worried for her safety she was not allowed to leave outside of their village unless another man was to accompany her.

In this film, gender roles of masculinity and femininity are very prevalent in the Indians and the colonizers. Women in the tribe, including Pocahontas, are supposed to collect corn, stay in the village, and remain quiet when men are speaking. Men on the other hand are allowed to give their opinions, hunt outside of the village, and have all the power. The chief of the tribe, Pocahontas’s father, is a man and Pocahontas’s mother is not even in the film at all. On the colonizer’s side there are only men, not women. Only men were allowed to discover the “new land”, women had to stay home to look after the children and hold down the house.

I was able to critique Pocahontas more with materialist feminism because I saw Pocahontas oppressed more physically and economically in the film, then I did psychoanalytically. Pocahontas wears very revealing clothing throughout the movie like I mentioned earlier. She is in a tube top that reveals her stomach, and wears a very short skirt that reveals all of her legs. It is not only Pocahontas, but all of the women in this movie are dressed provocatively. Whereas the men in the tribe do not have shirts on, but it shows their muscle line and makes them look more tough and hard. The men in the colonizers are fully clothed, but also have distinct muscle definition. Also, Pocahontas is told by her father that she will marry one of the warriors of the tribe whether she wants to or not because it would be the smart decision for her. This shows the power of a man being able to decide who a woman should marry and her not having a say on the matter. But, like I said earlier I found it difficult to critique this film with a psychoanalytical feminist view because Pocahontas does not fall into the oppression from the men in the movie. She keeps to her heart and stays bold. She constantly questions her father, whether it be about the marriage or the colonizers. Up until the very end of the movie when she throws herself over John Smith to save him she does not let her father’s dominance interfere with her heart. She is not programmed to act the way women were supposed to act at this time.

Reading Feminist criticism makes me view not only this film, but most of the Disney movies in a completely different way. I was really able to look past the ending of the movie and see how women were actually portrayed. They were oppressed by many men, and some of them fought this oppression while others did not. It was interesting to me to realize how these once small things to me are not so small anymore.

           

Universally Critical Theorism (Beaty and the Beat)

Honestly, if we think about the critical theories Lois Tyson defines in her book, critical theory today A User-Friendly Guide, then we can acknowledge the universality behind every text, film, art, and etc. because they are all human expressions of communication and can be interpreted with the critical approach of any defining theory. As we see in this video, Beauty and the Beat, a spoof on the Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast, there are moments in which we can apply any of the critical theories Tyson approaches in her book. The white-girl, referred to as a Bougie, insinuates a Marxist view of class difference between the Bourgeois and lower class. The many cross-dressing men and “camping” hairdresser insinuate a gay theory. The new critic can analyze the scene for what it is…in the text of Beauty and the Beast. The reader and response theorist can rip apart the interpretation of the video of a spoof of the original text of Beauty and the Beast and the Disney movie as well. The psychoanalyst can go on to interpret the psychological state, affected by society and childhood development, of the producer and the characters within this short spoof clip. Feminist can evaluate the characterization of women within the film in too many ways as well as Male gender specialist of the oppression of men in a stereotyped society. African American criticism is another approachable theory if not the main one to approach when critiquing this music video clip. However African American criticism can’t cover up the historical significance and cultural analysis of the video. And, I am sure you can deconstruct, reconstruct, and plainly structure an argument behind this video. Also, we cant forget the postcolonial argument behind this video…did you notice the one white chick and the displacement of the African American child? I would love to hear what we all think, so let it pour unto the dialogue of this post and amass into a lake of thoughts between dislike, like, and indifference. Peace Dawgs. Let the Bougie beget you! (Got God in your criticism-theology?)

Mason’s Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Analysis of film XXY

Gay Lesbian and Queer Theory

I am approaching the film XXY, produced by Lucia Puenzo, with a Gay, Lesbian and Queer Critical analysis.

The film, XXY, is about a young adolescent child, Alex, who has a rare chromosomal anomaly known as Klinefelter’s syndrome, resulting in the sex gene XXY and displaying genitalia of both a man and a woman (I will identify Alex as he). In the film Alex decides to stop taking hormone medication in order to live a natural life. In response, Alex’s parents call forth a plastic surgeon to conclude Alex’s decision to be a girl or boy. The doctor, Ramiro, arrives with his wife, Erika, and his son, Alvaro. However Alex is reluctant to choose between being male or female, and while there is uncertainty in the role Alex will take in society, Alex is certain about the sexual curiosity between (him) and Alvaro. However the romance of Alvaro and Alex ends when Alex asks Alvaro if he wants to see Alex’s anatomy.

In the film, XXY, a constraint on viewing gender and sexuality is reinforced when Alex’s family tries to establish an identity for (him): either male or female. Alex challenges his family by introducing a universalizing view of gender/sexuality when (he) says, “I want to be me.” The statement “I want to be me” is significant because it suggests the argument of social constructionism over biological essentialism: “to be me” implies an awareness of self and distinction in society over biological constraints such as sex. Alex continually defies the norms of gender and sexuality, but (his) refusal to accept society becomes diffused by his actions.

Alex’s character conforms to the sociological shackles of heterosexism even if (he) tries to break them, because no matter how raging (his) masculinity, Alex always displays physical characteristics of a female, from face to toes and clothes on. In a situation where Alex is steaming with masculinity, (he) breaks a boy’s nose, however the action is only in reaction to an inquiry of (his) sexuality, and the implication follows that Alex is female through the form of a pass/suggestion to heterosexual unionization, known as partnership between a male and female, or a relationship between a boy and girl: girlfriend and boyfriend.

Another situation where heterosexism is reinforced is when Alex becomes captured by the town’s fisherman’s boys. The gentlemen callers in question, rapists, or attempted rapists force Alex to the ground and strip (him) of (his) clothing, where they then inspect (him) and toss (him) away, like a mutated catch unworthy of indulgence. This situation is somewhat ironic because the boys refuse to commit sexual transgression with Alex because (he) has a penis, even though rape is another form of sexual transgression, but the point here is to reinforce heterosexism and disqualify anything that isn’t explicitly heterosexual.

Even in the one scene where homoeroticism is displayed we see heterosexism in play as an undertone to counterfeit our experience. Alex and Alvaro are messing around in a barn then, suddenly, Alex flips Alvaro over and penetrates him. In the scene we get a pretty graphic view of what is happening. We see a rough sex scene where Alvaro is in a state pleasure, pain, and confusion. The action of homosexuality would be refreshing if it was not in conjunction with what we perceive as rape or molestation. We have definitely achieved homoeroticism, but at what cause. We have been exposed to a hyper sexual transgression of behavior which is more of a turn off than an exciting eroticized fantasy. This moment enforces that the only civilized way of sexual interaction is between heterosexual couples or normal sexual intercourse. We are also invalidated in accepting the homoerotic situation because Alex’s female coded character. In conclusion, while there are many moments in the film where Alex strikes back at the social norms, (he) is still constrained and manipulated by (his) female character and validation in heterosexually over abnormality.

To Forgive and Gloze Over

In “What We Read”, Richter introduces us to the term “glozed over” through Barbara Herrnstein Smith:

… features that would, in a noncanonical work, be found alienating – for example, technically crude, philosophically naive, or narrowly topical – will be glozed over or backgrounded.

 

As Richter continues to elaborate, this means that when a work is found to be of literary significance despite a strand of racism, sexism, or other prejudice woven throughout, those who are in place to judge the work can also find the room to forgive the author’s transgressions due to the ultimately redeeming qualities of the whole. (125) Doing so protects the work from entering a “trajectory of extinction.” (Quote attributed to Smith via Richter, 125)

Tom Buchanan is a Very Important (White) Person.

What drives the academic, critic, or any individual reading canonical works, to forgive or gloze over such uncomfortable passages? In The Great Gatsby, Tom Buchanan stands out as a bigot in more ways than one. When we are first introduced to Daisy’s husband, he goes on a tirade inspired by a book he had recently read (located on p. 12 of the class edition):

The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be- will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved…

 

You don’t say!

The book Tom’s so passionate about is real: The Rising Tide of Color Against White-World Supremacy was published by Lothrop Stoddard in 1920. Most of us are familiar with the fear-based “science” of the time that sought to prove the superiority of whites. If we understand, then, the context the book is placed in, are racist remarks such as Tom’s easier to explain away? Is it just as easy for any of the minorities targeted in the book, as it is for whites, to appreciate the more obvious themes and concede the overall “literary value” of the book?

When do we stop making excuses for works that would be, if published in our time, considered grossly inappropriate and culturally insensitive?