"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Antifeminist Childhood: "Totally Minnie" Edition

When I was a kid, I had a taped-from-TV copy of the 1987 Disney special "Totally Minnie", in which the guy from Revenge of the Nerds is transformed from a geek into a hip, cool guy with the help of Minnie Mouse and Suzanne Somers. The show was obviously just an excuse to play a series of montages of love-related clips from Disney films and cartoons to jazzy 80s music, but I absolutely adored it. I watched it countless times, and I think I may have even owned the soundtrack on cassette. When I re-watched it on YouTube, I noticed some interesting things.

Enough things for a highlight reel and a play by play.

First, we have Minnie Mouse instructing Revenge of the Nerds guy not to be "nasty", followed by a three-minute montage of Minnie Mouse and other female Disney characters being chased, groped, tied up, locked up, and otherwise victimized:

And, in case you were wondering, the final clip of Minnie fighting back by no means makes up for the rest of it.

Then, we get a lesson in the importance of (heterosexual) dating, love, and romance:

Lessons learned:
1. Talking to girls about science is totally not romantic. Duh!
2. No doesn't always mean no. Girls may physically resist, yell "stop", or even run away, but everyone knows they're just playing coy (see Donald and Daisy at 1:41 and Mickey and Minnie immediately after).
3. The "Twitterpated" scene from Bambi = Male Gaze 101
4. Women hold great sexual power over men and can completely paralyze them with one kiss (or just by batting their eyelashes).

THEN, it's onto the segment about jealousy, where we get to see a catfight between Wendy and Tinkerbell, and Captain Hook informs us that "a jealous female can be tricked into anything". We also learn that, when women are angry, their yelling is high-pitched and completely unintelligible. (Poor Donald!)

The most progressive scene of all is when they depart completely from the show's purpose to feature a musical number in which a gay male singer is in love with a straight female mouse. (I should note that this part made my five-year-old self fall head over heels in love with Elton John.):

But when the fun is over, it's time to remind little girls to express themselves through fashion and that they can "buy the blues away" by shopping:

Best line in the song: Don't need money now. Charge it! Wrap it! Send it! Bag it! Shoppin'!

It seems we have Disney to thank for teaching my generation how to accumulate credit card debt.

But, mostly, thanks go to Disney for amassing such a huge legacy of animated sexist cliches and for making a TV special aimed at young girls to showcase them all in one place.


Kelly said...

1. Awesome post. How many of these videos do kids watch without their parents ever realizing what kind of influence they have? HELLO, SONG OF THE SOUTH.

2. Does this mean my feminist self can't rock my monogrammed mouse ears at Disney World guilt-free anymore?!

3. Although, in their defense, Disney is getting better about presenting feminist heroines like Ponyo.

Tracey said...

Well, I certainly don't think Disney's all bad. The funny thing is that when I re-watched this show, I still loved it. It's fun and catchy, and despite the problems in the clips, they made me nostalgic over all the movies and cartoons I watched growing up. I just wish some of the problems I pointed out didn't have to be there.

I am excited about Ponyo, but I'd have to say all the credit for that goes to Miyakaki and not Disney. He makes the films and they just get the English versions ready for release.

I'm planning on posting soon about an upcoming Pixar film that looks like it might have some promise, so maybe a little change is coming.

AnnQ said...

Good Post!

It's funny -- my parents thought I was over the top when I told them ten years ago I thought Disney promoted the fallacy of "waiting for a man to save a woman" through Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc....

plumpdumpling said...

I can't believe you put all this awesomeness in one post. Examiner would beat you for not doing a series where you link them all to each other to gain more hits.

Minnie was totally giggling while she said "no!" and "stop!". I'd keep hitting that ass, too.

Seeing Donald next to Walt totally weirded me out. Why was I under the impression he was human-sized?

Tracey said...

I suppose you just got so used to seeing Donald at Disney World you assumed he was giant?

Amanda said...

Oh, I was OBSESSED with that show. I have been looking for it in full everywhere, and can't find it.

Tracey said...

I was obsessed with it, too! I was so excited when it ended up on YouTube.

Anonymous said...

You fucking dipshit.

Say what you want about everything else, but don't you DARE tarnish the reputation of Bambi.

Bambi twitterpated scene... How? How is it male gaze 101? I'll tell you how it's not.

The girl animals SEE the boys and LOVE them. So, they flirt with them FIRST. They don't wait until a man touches them. They don't sit and wait.

If you really mean it, even if you haven't explained shit, I can see what you mean with Thumper and his doe. BUT it is meant to be vulgar and sexual. Thumper was a naughty mischievous bunny boy in childhood, so when he's a teenager, he would be interested in loose women. The yellow bunny is a whore who fluffs up her chest, and wears makeup. Is this Male Gaze? No, it's comical, because the rogue Thumper would suit having a rogue woman. It's also very over the top and sleazy how she flirts with him. Male Gaze means the audience is presumed to be adult, straight men, and pandered to thusly. Disney knew his audience was little girls and boys. (John K says he "pandered to mothers".) If any adult, straight man is aroused by a yellow cartoon rabbit batting her eyes, he needs help. It's meant to be a parody of loose girls. Male Gaze also means the sexy lady has nothing to do with the plot. Miss Bunny had everything to do with plot, she unravelled Thumper.

As with the other two, theirs does not look anything remotely resembling Male Gaze at all!

Flower's skunkette is a sweet, shy, kind girl. Just like him in character. Inverted colours. They are both coy and bashful, but she makes the first move.

And Faline was Bambi's childhood friend. (Well her mother tried to pimp her out to the Prince I guess. In the original novel, Faline is Bambi's cousin, they were friends since birth, and Thumper and Flower do not exist.) Like the other two, she makes the first move. The other girls don't have names and weren't shown before, because they are, essentially, the "love interests" of two joke-characters who serve nothing for plot really, and weren't in the book. They were just patter, to build up to Faline and Bambi meeting again. These people are real characters who really matter. Faline will be the Princess of the Forest. Faline was a bright energetic bouncy fawn, she scared Bambi who is more demure, and now she is bold and intelligent looking and mature. She laughs at silly Bambi getting tangled in cherry blossoms. They flirt together and bounce off. She is stronger than Bambi in personality. Bambi is rather passive, I don't think he'll make a good prince. Things just kind of happen to him and he smiles and cries. He is physically stronger than Faline, of course, that's just how his body is made. So she stands back when he and Ronno fight. (In the novel, she likes both of them. But after the fight, she says how cool the fight was and how manly Bambi was. Then they have sex, but you don't see it, but we are told "Bambi had just made merry to Faline all night".)

And before you talk shit about it being a male perspective, let me remind you this is Bambi's life, and the things which circle around and happen to Bambi. When he is a fawn, he is completely girlish. He even has a girl's name. (Yes, I know a lot of strippers and whores like Miss Bunny are called Bambi, that's why I'll name my cousin's daughter Faline instead. But I digress; it's actually Italian for "baby girl".) The other animals have to keep saying "Hello, little Prince!" to make the children understand.


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