Lovely non – sexual/ non – romantic relationships in film

These days are a bit tense. I often talk about pretty tense stuff here. Now I want to lighten the mood a bit by going back to the ‘Lovely Non – Sexual/ Non/Romantic Relationships in Film’ series that I started last year.

‘The Lion King’, ‘The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride’ and  ‘Timon and Pumbaa’ were all moviesI grew up watching. I had ‘The Lion King’ one and two on video (that’s going back a bit!). I’ve seen ‘Timon and Pumbaa’ but never owned them, they were borrrowed.

 

Anyway, enough background about me. I always loved Timon and Pumbaa, especially Timon because meerkats are so cute! I loved the song ‘Hakuna Matata’.

Simba: What’s a motto?

Timon: Nothing. What’s the matter with you?

(Laughs)

 

Ah, memories.

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Privilege and the LGBT

So, according to Mamamia, actress Cate Blanchett admitted to having a number of same – sex relationships off – screen in an interview for Variety magazine. Actresses like Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore have also admitted to same – sex experience.

According to imdb, she’s been married to Andrew Upton since 1997. Is it just me, or is it become fashionable for celebrities to admit that they had same – sex sexual experience, even if it was in adolescence, which is generally accepted as quite common anyway? Is it becoming a “fashion” if you will?

Yes, yes, some people do experience fluidity in their sexuality. Some people are not 100% straight or 100% gay, get it, get it. But does the overkill of media exposure of this sort end up over trivialising what many LGBT+ people go through? Does it give an impression that gay, lesbian, bisexual and even homoromantic and bi – romantic asexuals (and pan romantic and pansexuals I might add), can just “snap out” of their attractions? Do these people, who are already in privileged positions, actually (unintentially) somewhat trivialise what some LGBT+ actually go through in regards to discrimination, stigma, violence and mental illness that they often face?

 

Here’s the thing: one argument that, particularly the gay and lesbian community have made over the past 30 years is that they can’t choose, nor change, who their attracted to. Scientifically, there is still questions surrounding the exact cause of one’s sexual orientation. And now, bisexual people are trying to get across that, yes, they are attracted to both men and women, not it’s not a fad or phase, and no it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to sleep around, etcetera, etcetera.

 

Here’s one thing I’ll say about being asexual, and I’m guessing it’s similar for most LGB people: I’m not asexual because it’s hip or makes a statement. I’m asexual because I simply don’t feel physical attraction to anyone regardless of gender. I cannot just suddenly “turn” my attractions on, any more than a gay person can “turn” their innate atractions off. It is an innate part of who I am. Now, if Blanchett is or was attracted to women at some point, or she was experimenting, whatever, then that’s what it was. Fine. But can the media stop fetishising the LGBT+ community and make it sound like it’s just something cool and hip? Because it’s not. Like I said, it’s a part of who a person is.

What I’d Want and Don’t Want If Asexual Characters Were Included In Popular Fiction

Ok, I’m convinced, yes, it would be great if asexual characters were included in popular fiction (books, movies, TV shows, video games, etc). BUT (and yes, it is a big but), if asexual characters are to be included in story lines, I want a fair, non – stereotypical representation of asexuality ( I suppose if it’s a satire thing or an important part of the plot, then OK). If we’re going to have representation in pop culture, I want it to add to visibility, not further alienate asexual people from society. Here’s a few ideas on what I personally think should be considered when asexual people are included in fictional narratives:

  • As mentioned above, limit stereotypes unless necessary
  • That writers don’t create asexual characters in a way hat further enforces discriminative attitudes. I’ve read many blog posts about bisexuals about this. Bisexual characters often jump from one gender to another, only to further enforce the negative attitudes
  • Characters shouldn’t be asexual one minute, then not the next: I get that sexuality can be fluid or not so clear – cut for people, but there a ARE people who are asexual and have always been and probably always will be. Asexuality is an orientation, not a phase
  • I want asexual characters to be portrayed as fully human, with feelings, thoughts, strengths weaknesses and the same complexity as anyone else
  • I want to see the many dimensions of the character, not just their asexuality focus on their asexuality (see point above)
  • i want the complexity of different relationships of asexual characters, (family, friends, partners, etc), to be shown.

Not an exhaustive, and stuff that you’ve probably read before, but this is what I think.

To other asexual people in particular, what would you like to see in fictional asexual characters?

Disney Films and Stereotypes

I grew up with books and videos of the Walt Disney fairy tales.  I loved them, especially ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’. My cousin used to have a huge colleection of Disney videos (as did I). She had ‘Cinderella’ and  ‘Snow White’ before me, which I think I was slightly jealous about until I got one too (as kids of I guess).

I just saw a cartoon strip on Facebook, essentially condemning popular Disney movies for essentially being sexist and portraying women as either helpless or basically only good for her sexuality. No suchdebatewas around when I was growing up,not that I was aware of anyway. However,while studying EarlyChildhood Education,I can see that there is a lot more awareness and a move away from gender stereotypes. Teachers are encouraged to treat children as individuals and not personal prejudices, including gender prejudices.

Should Disney be condemned for portraying women and men the way he did? I think it should be pointed out that in his time (1930’s), if he portrayed relationships any differently to what he did, he would’ve been crucified. He would’ve been expected to make cartoons  that  were heteronormative and that portrayed traditional gender roles.

However, in the ’90’s and early 2000’s  over thirty years after Walt Disney’s death, traditional and patriarchal story lines did start to become less common. Pocahontas was a strong independent woman. Yes, she did fall in love with Englishman, John Smith, but it was her who chose to be in the relationship, despite cultural taboo. Mulan, a tale set in ancient China, obviously violates gender norms. Mulan becomes androgynous to take her sick father’s place fighting the Hun invaders. Her father even growled at Mulan:

I know my place. It’s time you learnt yours.

I think a part of what he was talking about Mulan’s role as a Chinese woman. Toy Story 2 portrays platonic relationships between Jessi the cowgirl doll, Buzz Lightyear and Woody. From the moment that Woody is ‘toy napped’, Jessi is very outspoken. Even in times when she does have doubt, she ends up making her ow decisions, even to the dismay of the Prospector.

 

I don’t know where Disney movies will be in the future. I hope that they continue to delight children worldwide like they delighted me. I hope they bring wonder and a sense of idealism to children. They should also be enjoyed by everyone  of all ages and cultures.

Did you grow up with Disney films? Do you like them? Why or why  not?