Navigating the Manic Pixie Dream Minefield

Hello fellas.

Look at your woman. Now look at this article, now back to your woman, now back to this article. Sadly, this article isn’t a woman, but it was written by one, and I’d to talk to you men, and ladies, about that most crafty of stock women, the infamous Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

I am speaking as one of the cynical converted. I had my phase in my mid-teens. Oh, most women do these days. It starts small, with an unrealistic obsession with The Smiths and anime, and ends with being so hyper and peppy and quirky and kitsch that, apparently, everyone in the universe can’t help but fall in love with your girlish charm.

NOPE NOPE NOPE

NOPE NOPE NOPE

For those not in the know, TV Tropes does a wonderful job of mythbusting this type of woman wide open, and but in a nutshell, I posit that you can define your average MPDG as thus:

“A cutesy, hyperactive and shallow woman, that doesn’t have any defining personality types apart from being “bubbly” or “quirky”, often infantile to the point of ridiculousness, who displays a general inability to handle adult situations or behave in non-childish manner.” – B. Smith, 2014.

It’s a sickening trope so overused in modern cinema, literature and TV that, chances are, she’s up there with the 19th century Fallen Woman or the film noir Femme Fatale – the Manic Pixie is the archetypal 2D woman of the 21st century. No longer are women simply muses, they’ve got to be “quirky” muses.  Think the myth of Pygmalion, except the statue has an unhealthy obsession with New Wave English bands, Spongebob Squarepants and dip dying her hair a crraaaaazzzyyy colour!

The MPDG – not only is she attractive, but she’s so quirky and cute and desirable! She loves whacky adventures! She probably can’t define irony! She LOVES exclamation marks! What’s more, her existence will stop you from your faux-depressive funk and encourage you to love life again! The only catch is that she’s a detrimental fantasy that will unequivocally ruin the wellbeing of the woman in question, the relationship you’re having with her, and generally your understanding as to how real, functional adult people work.

 

ALSO NOPE NOPE NOPE

ALSO NOPE NOPE NOPE

I’d argue that there are two branches to the stock MPDG character:

1)    Women who genuinely aspire to be manic pixie dream girls, or, in a twist of fate,

2)   Men who project the manic pixie dream girl image onto desirable women;

There’s a reason why most MPDGs are cooked up by male scriptwriters looking for a new ideal of woman: the fantasy that a single person holds the key to all personal and romantic salvation.  Your MPDG isn’t merely your love interest, she is the reason for your creative flair, your rediscovered happiness, your sense of purpose etc etc. Women might have their men in shining armour; but men have their manic pixie dream fairies, always giggling, always twirling, twirling.

But it’s that second type of MPDG – the projected MPDG – which might be the worst kind. Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I present you with the archetypal case of the “projected” MPDG – Summer Finn from 500 Days of Summer.

Oh hai, Zooey DeschaDreambait

Oh hai, Zooey DeschaDreambait

 

For those who haven’t seen the classic romcom, go do so. Because I think it might be the most effective debunking of projected MPDGs that has so far been displayed on screen. Throughout Tom’s narrative, we’re led to believe that Summer isn’t really a person. She is a perfect MPDG fantasy, quirky and cute and nothing else.

Only the twist is – and it took me multiple views of the film to realise this – that Summer is a real person. She makes stupid choices like the rest of us. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a solid education, strong views on ethics and morality and a subscription to TIME magazine. The problem is that both Tom, and the scriptwriters, never let us see that. We only see Summer as Tom wants to see her – all sepia tinted shots, super close ups, and lots and lots of innocent blue ribbon *cough* *SYMBOLISM* *cough*.

It's EVERYWHERE... Oh god, not the blue dress, NOT THE BLUE DRESS! BLLAAAAAAHHHHH! IT'S IN MY EYES, MY EYES, MY EEEEYYYEESSS!

It’s EVERYWHERE… Oh god, not the blue dress, NOT THE BLUE DRESS! BLLAAAAAAHHHHH! IT’S IN MY EYES, MY EYES, MY EEEEYYYEESSS!

Perhaps she has a really cool hobby or interesting anecdotes about her childhood. Perhaps she studied in a really prestigious college, perhaps she has radical political opinions, and perhaps her favourite style of cooking is something other than “baking”. We’ll never know. All Tom knows is he loves her “smile”. We only ever see the film through Tom’s perspective.  “Summer”, Tom’s ideal of true love, is a fantasy without any real voice in the movie. But Summer, the reality, is only ever depicted off screen. Her real desires and dreams don’t correlate with Tom’s fantasy childlike woman, so we are never allows see them.

Ultimately, the MPDG is defined by arbitrary choices, like a hello kitty backpack, a necklace, a hipster ironic kindle cover. Her view of the world isn’t a genuine wonder or excitement but a kind of hyperactive squeal, pointing out Smiths Vinyls and American chocolate and with equal measure ditz and quirk. What does she think about, besides her comic books and hair dye? Not much, apparently. You’ve got to ask yourselves – are these kind of relationships, these inevitably artificial relationships based on a legacy of male wish fulfillment, what you want for yourselves?

Now ladies and fellas, look at yourselves. Now look at this article, now back to yourselves, now back to this article. Are you, or are you dating, a MPDG? Are you and your relationships made of about as much empty sugar, hollow air and artificial pink flavourings as so much candy floss? If so, it might be time to give 500 Days of Summer a rewatch. I’m on a horse.

For more more detailed analysis of Zooey Deschanel, damaging stock characters or more successful parodies of the Old Spice Guy, you should follow VFM on Twitter or Facebook. Alternatively, you could try jumping on a trampoline and screaming very loudly while trying to inspire a man having an artistic crisis, but it’s not the recommended method of getting in touch. 

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Required Watching: “My Mad Fat Diary”

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If there was a television show that should be placed in the school curriculum, it’s Channel 4’s “My Mad Fat Diary.” I might be a twenty-one year old woman who’s trying to do adult-related things like pay bills and look for a full-time job, but I still find myself emotionally invested in this teen television series to the extent that I’m 4OD-ing the next episode. I can’t help it—I’m addicted—and not only because Nico Mirallegro plays the love interest.

We’re near the end of season two right now, but to those who haven’t watched the show, let me inform you of the basics. Meet Rae (played by the wonderful Sharon Rooney), a sixteen year old girl who has come out of a four month stay at a psychiatric hospital after an attempted suicide—a fact that she needs to keep concealed from her friend Chloe and her new group of mates. The synopsis might seem a little heavy, but it’s a show that explores everyday teen problems, and with the voice of reason, Kester (her councillor/AKA Professor Quirrel), these problems are (sometimes) solved. Oh, and did I mention that it’s set in 1996?

Yeah, it’s set in 1996, which means a great soundtrack and music metaphors (like you being the only Oasis fan in a world full of Blur worshippers–Oh, the pain!). Each show, I fall in love with a new song that I’ve either forgotten/never heard of (hey, I was pretty young in 1996). So, if the teen flick isn’t exactly your style, at least watch for all the nostalgic references, because I tell you—there are plenty!

tumblr_n2hipfrENT1ssd6yjo1_500

tumblr_n2hipfrENT1ssd6yjo2_500

One thing that will make you fall in love with MMFD is the humour. It’s a show filled to the brim with one-liners that come so fast it takes me a moment to think and laugh. Plus, Rae’s inner-monologues are the filthiest thoughts that you would never have imagined coming from a sixteen year old. And I love her for it. In series one, she wants to shag one male character until, and I quote, ‘there is nothing left but a pair of glasses and a wet patch.’

The fact that Rae is an honest depiction of a teenager experiencing the ups-and-downs of adolescence is the reason why the show is must-watch television. Well, Rae’s anxieties and insecurities are more acute than your average teen, but watching her body hang-ups was something I understood. As a viewer, it brought back memories of my time at school and the shame I felt about my body image—I’m sure I’m not alone on this. The show bravely tackles the issues that young women face, such as the media and its pressure on its spectator to excel the “perfect” kind of beauty.  By exploring these topics, “My Mad Fat Diary” brings comfort to its young viewers; a message that says, ‘hey, it’s rough being a teen out there, but you’re not alone.’

Its multi-dimensional characterisation doesn’t just start and end with the protagonist, but I assure you if you haven’t already, go and find out for yourself, because we’re deep into the second series and the characters are still as strong as ever. My only wish was that “My Mad Fat Diary” was made earlier to replace the endless amount of American rich kids programmes such as “The OC” and “One Tree Hill,” because, finally, there’s a programme where I can actually relate to the main character. Well, I say “finally”, there was ITV’s “Girl’s in Love”, but even then the show skimmed over some of the more serious issues (but with phrases like ‘yuck sandwich’ it’ll always have a place in my heart).  So, Channel 4, I can only hope—no, I pray—that you commission series three, because if it doesn’t happen, as Rae would say, ‘it would make me wanna punch myself in my tit.’

Images via http://mymadfatdiarygifs.tumblr.com/

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Veronica Mars: The Bitch is Back

'A long time ago, we used to be friends...'

‘A long time ago, we used to be friends…’

It’s a perfectly good Saturday night and I could be anywhere (in any of my local old man pubs or studying at home) but I’m in a cinema in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of strangers watching the Veronica Mars movie. Veronica Mars, for those of you not up to date with your 2004 American teen noir, is a teenage detective living in the corrupt town of Neptune and played by Kristen Bell. She’s less Nancy Drew and more Nancy Screw-you (because you don’t mess with the Mars) and she’s back after nearly a decade of silence, thanks to the life-giving powers of Kickstarter.

I’m not sure how much there is in the film for casual viewers, but for fans of the show and noir, there is a lot to enjoy here. The film suffers from a slight lack of pacing, and probably one too many cameos and injokes (did James Franco need to be there? That is the question you ask yourself) but it delivers jumps, laughs and one liners to an engaging degree. So, to all involved in the film- well done! You didn’t waste all that Kickstarter money on a private yacht party. In fact, the lack of faux-gritty handheld camera shots attests to a significant part of the budget being spent on tripods, which I heartily commend.

But because I’m churlish and a general party pooper, I have three questions to ask of the movie.

***WARNING: Though I’ve tried to not give too much away, the following does contain some mild spoilers***

1. Is being true to the fans and being true to the story and characters the same thing?

Brooding, steamy glances are present and accounted for.

Brooding, steamy glances are present and accounted for.

While Kickstarter campaigns for films are not a new thing, Veronica Mars was certainly the most high profile, having broken several records with the campaign. Warner Brothers were not exactly bending over to finance a cancelled teen show from yesteryear, but the fandom came through. Sourpusses like me were concerned that because of this the film, in trying to please the fans who had paid for it, would become little more than Logan and Veronica fanfiction. Just some backstory here: Peeps hate Piz, Veronica’s boyfriend at the start of the movie, because he’s just so nice and loving and generally not getting accused of murder. Logan on the other hand is the series’ Heathcliff; he’s broody, he’s full of passion and wild love, and oh yeah, he’s psychotic, violent, and keeps winding up with a dead ex-girlfriend. What a catch!

However, despite my misgivings, the film actually did a decent job of treading the tightrope between wanting to deliver the best film possible to the fans who had paid for it, and pandering. It gave the fans (and let’s be honest, who else is going to be watching the film?) exactly what they wanted; with a side helping of doom, gloom and ‘things will probably go downhill from here’. It’s a pretty sweet ride, with undertones of tragedy. I concede that the fans knew what they were doing: Fans 1 : Sourpusses 0.

2. Can a film ever really capture all of the magic of a good TV series?

Veronica Mars: the only franchise where a woman lurking in a corner with a camera makes me feel nostalgic.

Veronica Mars: the only franchise where a woman lurking in a corner with a camera makes me feel nostalgic.

Making a film of a TV series is not a task for the faint hearted. In one medium you will have had seasons and years of character development and storylines, with time to build it all up convincingly, while in the other medium you are necessarily condensing it all into something easy to digest in under two hours. I was worried that Veronica’s contradictory, flawed and oh so badass character was going to get shrinkwrapped into little more than a caricature- but she survived largely intact. If there was one thing they had to jettison to streamline the story it was all of her random acts of kindness. Casual viewers will probably be left more afraid than enamoured with Veronica, but you can’t help but for feel for the girl when Madison Sinclair is a Mega Bitch at the reunion.

The film couldn’t provide all of the complexities and characterisation of the TV series (there is just not enough time to do that), however, it did top the TV series in one very important facet- with the removal of the white knight figure. Veronica’s one tough cookie, but eventually (and almost always in the series finale) she’ll end up alone with a psychopath and needing rescuing from either Logan or her dad, and it hasn’t always sat right with me. Guess who rescues Veronica from her inevitable brush with a psychopath in the movie? Veronica. Boom. Sisters be doing it for themselves!

3. How much Veronica is too much Veronica?

Will we be seeing all these lovely peeps together again soon?

Will we be seeing all these lovely peeps together again soon?

So- is this the end of the line for Veronica or is a Kickstarter campaign for a sequel hovering in the wings? The story was left deliberately open ended to allow for such an event. Do we need another film? Did we need this one? One of the reasons I wouldn’t want a sequel is because every Veronica vehicle tends to end in the calm before the shitstorm- the girl can solve crimes, but only by booking herself and her friends and family first class tickets on a trainwreck. Veronica spent so much of the series trying to get out of her hellhole of a town and getting over her feelings for Logan- if she goes back to it all it is just not going to end well. I love the character so much that I’m not sure I can sit and watch her torture herself over endless sequels.

Who am I kidding? Of course I can. Like any addict, if there’s Meth going, I want some. Whether it should be on offer is another question.

In conclusion, its not often that Veronica Mars makes me less cynical, but this film did a good job of, if not silencing my inner critic, at least stuffing my inner fan with so many marshmallows that it was a worthwhile trip back to Neptune. Now, where’s the Meth at?

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The Lego Movie: Not Just Another Brick in the Wall of CGI Films

The Lego Movie, I confess, kinda snuck up on me.

I’d been mildly interested in it for a while, as the film marks the first cinematic appearance of Wonder Woman, like ever. Seriously. Don’t think too much about how the inaugural appearance on the big screen of the most famous and arguably the most beloved female superhero is a cameo in a film about bricks.

Still a better Wonder Woman incarnation than Man of Steel 2.

Still a better Wonder Woman incarnation than Man of Steel 2.

 

The film didn’t sound particularly promising on paper, but I decided to give it go. It was Valentine’s Day after all, and nothing says ‘I love you’ like Lego.

The Lego Movie centres on main character Emmett, a fairly ordinary little dude, just another smiley face in the contented crowd of the City. However, a chance encounter with Wild Style, a Master Builder (those who can manipulate Lego without the instructions), leads Emmett to a bizarre looking piece of equipment which is all that stands between the evil Lord Business and World Domination. But is Emmett the Special, the one Brick to lead us all, or is he just as ordinary as he seems on the surface?

The Lego Movie has a lot of stuff going for it- it’s comprised of not just good, but great ideas, that slot together to create a series of interesting worlds and scenarios. On the surface, it has some of the most innovative CGI of recent years. By embracing the limitations of Lego, the animators have created challenges that were not only fun for them to solve, but are also fun for us, as an audience, to watch their solutions. The sea set piece is amazing, and a lot of the goofy creations the Master Builders create are marvellous to look at.

The Lego Movie: silly fun, but fun all the same.

The Lego Movie: silly fun, but fun all the same.

 

In terms of storytelling, the film has not just one, but two very intriguing worlds which are deeply twisted, but oh so watchable. There are a number of points (and one quite early on) where the storytelling dips and the film becomes a little boring, but it’s definitely one to stick with- there is a love triangle that is so engaging and fresh that it puts Twilight and The Hunger Games to shame. I don’t think we’re going to see Team Emmett t-shirts any time soon, but the romance aspect of the film adds a lot of comedy and is definitely one of its highlights.

Emotionally, the film also works- it’s hard to watch a film about toys without the ghost of Toy Story hanging over the proceedings, but The Lego Movie really adds something to the idea that adults, teenagers and children will be able to take something away from.

This is a zippy, zany film with annoyingly catchy music, a decent female lead (in fact, it seems to thrive off developing characters which are normally one dimensional, like the love interest and the villain), a big heart, and the stupidest (but most fun) sound effects ever committed to film. It’s like being stuck in a child’s head for an hour and forty minutes, but yes, unfortunately it does sometimes feel very much like you’re trapped.

The Lego Movie is often delightful, and the makers should be very proud of what they’ve achieved with it, but it does feel like watching someone else play the most awesome game of Lego ever, and it never quite manages to engage you entirely as an audience- there is something slightly passive about the whole experience. There’s only so much you can take before you want to get in on the action- and I guess Lego’s hoping that desire will lead you straight to their stores. Touché, Lego. Touché.

 

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The Lord of the Lies: House of Lies Returns

If you’re wondering why I’ve locked my doors, drawn my curtains and settled myself down in a bunker filled with food, it’s because House of Lies is back (I never said my motive would be reasonable).

House of Lies is back and shipping Marty and Jeannie more than ever. Seriously, how cute would their in-show babies be?

House of Lies is back and shipping Marty and Jeannie more than ever. Seriously, how cute would their in-show babies be?

Now in its third season, the series centres around the antics of Marty Kaan (played by Don Cheadle), unscrupulous management consultant doubling as Hugh Heffner, and his ‘pod’, consisting of hot shot Jeannie (Kristen Bell), clueless Doug (Josh Lawson), and wannabe sleaze Clyde (Ben Schwartz), who go about conning horrible rich people out of horrible amounts of money, and then proceed to go on a bender until their next flight out.

Of course, a show doesn’t get to three seasons without a ‘will they won’t they’, and with House of Lies it is all about Team Jeannie and Marty- to the extent that when Marty spurred Jeannie at the end of season 2 and they didn’t get together it ruined my day.

But its a new season now, and it seems like season 3 is going to be the best yet- so far we’ve had none of the frantic cramming of season 1 episodes, and none of the bland filler of season 2. The episodes are pacing themselves with confidence and the season is setting itself up to be a cracker.

I could pretend that my love of House of Lies has something to do with its dark humour, great characterisation and vicious look at corporation politics.

Marty and his pod work hard, and they're gonna play hard, dammit!

Marty and his pod work hard, and they’re gonna play hard, dammit!

But I don’t.

And I don’t enjoy it for its supposed realism either.

The reason I love House of Lies is because, somewhere in its sexy and yet slightly trashy portrayal of boardroom and bedroom antics, it seems to have lost whatever grip on reality it may have had and created a world that is supposed to contemporary and luxurious, but that actually teeters on dystopian. This is a show that has gone beyond entertainment, shot past mild escapism, and currently orbits around me in the stratosphere of pure fantasy. House of Lies is often as grounded in reality as Game of Thrones and I love it for it.

People don’t act like this! I sometimes sniff as Marty and his ex-wife Monica (an amazing Dawn Olivieri) have yet another tryst in yet another random setting, but I get the same enjoyment from watching these bastards scam each other as I do watching elves fight dragons. Sure, the show’s characters are horrendously nasty at times, but then, so is Sauron! Even the scenes of the consultants travelling through customs with their itty-bitty suitcases begin to take on the same epic connotations of Finn and Jake setting out on a quest with a sword made of demon’s blood. House of Lies makes me want to buy a suit and go out and consult people in the same way Labyrinth made me wish David Bowie would steal my sister so I could sing with goblins. It’s never gonna happen, but it’d be nice if it did.

One Management Consultant to rule them all...

One Management Consultant to rule them all…

As hippies once read The Lord of the Rings with wide eyed amazement and changed their names to that of their favourite hobbit, so am I shocked, awed and undeniably entertained by the antics of Marty and his associates. Move over Game of Thrones, I’ve found my fantasy of choice!

Is it the best show on the box? Nope, but it’s a lot of fun.

Anyway, I’m off to change my name to Olivia Jeannie Van der Hooven.

Only joking, that would be a shit name.

 

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9 Things I Learned From Masters of Sex

Hardly conventional Christmas fare, but I love it.

Hardly conventional Christmas fare, but I love it.

Well, the first series of Masters of Sex has come to a close this week, leaving me mournful and sullen. What on earth will I do this Christmas without weekly updates from William Masters and Virginia Johnson, my favourite sex researchers? But this show wasn’t just about boobs and butts. There was a lot of important information that I learned throughout the series- and here it all is. Warning: contains mild spoilers.

1. Masters is a douche.
Seriously, I know they’ve spiced things up to make the series more interesting, but the way the character is written, it feels like the main reason Masters went into gynaecology is because he likes hanging out with other twats. This is a man who lets his wife think that she’s infertile, when the reason she isn’t up the duff is because he’s shooting blanks. What a douche.

michaelsheen

2. Douches can be beautiful.
But then Masters helps that black lady have a baby, and the prostitute who thinks she’s dying of a brain tumour, and he is one of the nicest, kindest, most awesome human beings ever. And then the douchery comes back! What is this?? Damn you three dimensional characterisation!

3. Hospital canteens in the 50’s have the best food ever.
The real porn in this series is the food these docs are tucking into! In one scene Hoss complains that all he had to look forward to was a Welsh Rarebit for lunch from the canteen? ALL? These people eat like Gods!

4. Freud, you card!
Oh Freud, keeping women down with penis envy and labelling female masturabation as immature! What are we going to do with you? Let’s play this at him obnoxiously!

5. The tits to wang ratio on this show is ridickulous.
I understand that in a show about sex, nudity is necessary for the storytelling yadda yadda yadda but almost every major female character (in fact, make that most women with more than six lines) has had a nude scene so far in this show, and not a single bloke has had his dick out. Eventually it’s going to stop feeling necessary and important to the storytelling, and going to cross into leery.

lizziechaplain

6. Barry Bostwick is still a fox.
Nearly forty years after Bostwick played Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, he’s back as an elderly lothario who still has plenty of sugar to go around. Frank-n-furter would be so proud *sniff*.

Oh, Brad!!

Oh, Brad!!

7. 1950’s Housewives must have been bored out of their perfectly coiffured skulls.
Master’s wife Libby does nothing but plan parties, shop and watch the fifties equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing. It’s a miracle she hasn’t gone batshit crazy and burnt all of Master’s research, before splashing naked in a fountain and yelling ‘I’m a Kraken from the sea!!’ Masters won’t even let her wank for his amusement. THE WOMAN NEEDS A HOBBY, MAN!!!

All I want for Christmas is a sense of purpose!

All I want for Christmas is a sense of purpose!

8. The return of the good feminist versus bad feminist.
What is with today’s media? I know not every feminist can be good, but it feels like it is impossible for television and film to have a strong, feminist, beautiful woman with a sense of a family without then also adding a frigid alternative. Lillian DePaul has a lot of characterisation, and you can love her crusty soul, but yeesh! So she doesn’t wear makeup or want a man. She’s a gynaecologist with cancer in the 50’s. She has NO TIME for your shit. Not every feminist can be a sexy, friendly lass with a love of family- do you know how hard it is to do all of that?

Spot the bad feminist. Hint: the bad feminist is the one you don't want to shag.

Spot the bad feminist. Hint: the bad feminist is the one you don’t want to shag.

9. Never, ever, EVER, EVER type Masters of Sex into image search for pictures to accompany your article. DO NOT DO IT.
I think this one is fairly self-explanatory.

mastersofsexcast

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Frozen: Snow Queens with Attitude!

Tangled, Brave, and now Frozen– no, it’s not just a trend of adjective titled films, but big animated productions from Disney and Pixar which have made a conscious effort to have strong female protagonists. Disney and Pixar are arguably the most dominant forces on the animation market, and since The Princess and the Frog we’ve had a host of ‘princesses’ who are not just your average royalty, Boo-Boo.

'Don't believe everything you read in fairytales, Boo-Boo! Some women are pretty strong... and some can even read!'

‘Don’t believe everything you read in fairytales, Boo-Boo! Some women are pretty strong… and some can even read!’

In a year where I considered myself spoiled with female buddy movie The Heat, in came Frozen, the pinnacle of western animation’s feminist journey so far. Tiana was ambitious, Merida’s story revolved around her relationship with her mother instead of her relationship with boyz, and Rapunzel was so much feistier than the Auroras and Cinderellas of yesteryear. But watching Frozen, I felt more affinity with Anna and Elsa than I’d had with any Disney princess. That’s not to say their fore-runners haven’t had kick-ass qualities that I wanted and wished to have- but here were two women who felt like women, and most importantly they shared traits that were less ethereal and more realistic. Sorry Eilonwy, but Anna, with her incredible social awkwardness, is so my Disney Princess.

Sorry Eilonwy, but NO ONE cares about Black Cauldron. Apart from me, obvs.

Sorry Eilonwy, but NO ONE cares about Black Cauldron. Apart from me, obvs.

The songs are great, the jokes are cracking, the animation was sumptuous (and the ladies were obligatorily pretty, Lino DiSalvo) and I didn’t want the film to end. For the first time since my childhood, a Disney twist was actually surprising. The film transported me back to my own childhood. For you see, readers, I have a sister, and Frozen showcased a complicated, positive sisterhood tale that rang true. It was heart warming, and then it was heart melting, and by the end of the film I was a gushy puddle, as was my friend who grew up with no sisters.

 
What I really found interesting (and I promise you this is not a spoiler) was the opening of the film, where Elsa’s power is established, and, after a HEARTBREAKING ACCIDENT, we see her lock herself away in a room. The idea of Anna wandering around and growing up in a castle with an unknown and largely forgotten sister hidden away, reminded me strongly of Jane Eyre.

 
However, unlike Mrs. Rochester, Elsa is mostly a positive metaphor for female sexuality (her power is her sexuality, if you will follow me down the garden path of feminist theory). Yeah, Elsa is a party pooper, but because of the rich characterisation, you know she isn’t the bad guy (girl). In fact, she also seemed to be giving new insight into older Disney villainesses like Maleficent. Rather like Polly Teale’s stage adaptation of Jane Eyre, the separation of the innocent, virginal Anna from the mature, loose haired and slit skirted Elsa, only causes trouble and bother.

Jane Eyre and Mrs. Rochester in Teale's adaptation.

Jane Eyre and Mrs. Rochester in Teale’s adaptation.

This film isn’t just breaking new ground in animation with its more realistic female protagonists and feminist themes, but it also feels like an age since I saw two strong positive female characters in any film full stop. Yeah, The Heat and Frozen are both great sisterhood movies, but since we doin’ so well with the girls on film, let’s not be contented with two a year. Let’s get bigger and better. Let’s keep this thing going!

Sisters are doing it for themselves!

Sisters are doing it for themselves!

Or snowing, if you will.

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