Disney Gals- Spineless Damsels in Distress or Admirable Heroines With a Message?

Firstly, I must say this.  I LOVE Disney.  Lovelovelovelovelove.  I grew up surrounded by little but and I KNOW it influences my writing, and possibly even my behaviour.  I think all girls need to act a little princess-y from time to time, so it’s understandable that I get a little defensive when I hear someone referring to the new movie “Brave” and saying something like, “Oh, finally Disney has an independent hero who has healthy self-esteem and the ability to stand up for herself without needing a man.”

Whoa.  Now now, are we accusing the other gals of being little sissies dependant on big strong men to save them?  Hmmm.  What about Pocahontas?  I distinctly remember HER saving her man.  https://i1.wp.com/images2.fanpop.com/image/forum/64000/64712_1276624940393_full.jpg

Ooh, and what about Mulan?  She kicked BUTT.

And Megara?  She didn’t take crap from NO MAN.  (With the possible exception of the god of the underworld.)

These are all some seriously strong female roles, and I can list more.  But…

 

 

 

Not all the Disney chicks are like this.  Sleeping Beauty was the very definition of a helpless damsel in distress.https://i1.wp.com/fc02.deviantart.net/fs33/f/2008/300/5/6/Sleeping_Beauty_Tribute_by_nippy13.jpg

 

 

Cinderella NEVER stood up to anyone, she just took it.https://lauraestaceysofficialblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/cinderella_cleaning1.jpg?w=300

https://i0.wp.com/ilikeyummypie.webs.com/Snow-White-Pie.jpgSnow White, the first Disney princess needed rescue, and was also the “housewife” type, a figure many associate with some classic sexism.

Now what do I take from this?  I take that all Disney heroines, like all real women, are different.  Some women are soft sweetiepies who rely on other people when it gets to crunch time while others are a little more “rough around the edges” and resist help when offered.  And I think this is okay!

In literature, people lately seem to freak out whenever the “damsel in distress” character type appears.  Check this out.

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So, the conclusion you’re supposed to make from this is that Hermione is a better character.  No!  She’s a different character.  Bella never claimed to be anything other than what she was, and I know most girls find it much easier to put themselves in her place.  And, in her defence, in a scene that was either taken out or very unclear and under-emphasized in the movie (I can’t remember), Bella actually tried to cut herself to draw the vampires away.  Certainly an act of bravery and taking control.  But besides the point.  (If you’re wondering, I do prefer Hermione, but that’s because I understand her on a personal basis, which happens when you have a bunch of different female leads.)

If the maker of the poster had his way, all female characters would adhere to the same “type”: not too desirable, prepared for everything, and with “good” tastes.  Would we not miss the ditsy girls who stupidly run to the top of the building in a horror movie?

When I think back to the Disney girls, I think they all had something to teach us, the strong and the “male dependant.”

Firstly, even the strong ones needed help sometimes, and showed a softer side and that teaches girls that it’s okay to have weaknesses.  Pocahontas has a clear message of kindness across all peoples, and Mulan teaches self-sacrifice and not adhering to only what others want you to be, and Meg sums up that even big girls need help sometimes.

  The sweeter girls, I think, often had even better messages.  Sure, Aurora’s abilities were beauty and song, a fact feminists will jump all over, but look at her personality.  She was a princess who, without even knowing it, accepted the life of a commoner, complete with doing work and wearing boring clothes.  I think this says something about humility and the idea of equality, that no one is ever to good for anything.  And Cinderella was the humility incarnate, as well, she showed some serious positive thinking.  Despite having to do never-ending chores for her cruel family, she never let it get to her and stayed ever-happy.  And why did everyone like Snow White?  She was so kind to everyone that ANIMALS liked her, a trait shared by all the previously mentioned princesses.  Feminist, Disney-girl-haters love to point out that all the girls got where they got by being pretty, but I think the men fell in love with them more because they were kind and sweet in demeanour.

  So, if you’re a girl looking for a Disney role model, try picking the one that works best for you.  I like Belle because she’s smart, book-y, and was so kind and patient that she could turn and abusive and angry beast into a kind and mannerly gentleman.  (A bit controversial, that last bit, as many say it’s impossible and leads women to never abandon abusive relationships, but again, that’s a different topic.)

The point is, let’s try to avoid limiting the variety of our characters, okay guys?  Me, I’d love to see a princess who LOVED being a princess, couldn’t stand wearing anything but a pretty dress, and wouldn’t get her hands dirty for all the gold in the kingdom.  She’s FAR less pretentious.  But that’s just me.

  P.S. This time, let’s try to not bombard me with comments like you have been and just assume I’m right, kay?  OR you could tell me which princess YOU empathize with the most and why.

P.P.S. Sorry about the crappy formatting; it’s been present throughout many of my posts.  I’m having HUGE troubles getting the pictures to do what I want, and I’m starting to give up, so long as I get my message across.

Alas! Censorship Has Already Reared Its Ugly Head On This Blog!

So, you may have noticed a change to a previous post.  That one regarding novels, and whether people should be forced to read them.  I was approached by a nice lady who goes to my church who is very supportive of my writing “career”.  You may have noticed her comments.  Anyway, she wanted to show my blog to her students, as she is a teacher, and offered the idea that they could be the audience keeping up with my little series idea.  This excited me!  Cuz, come on, I’m not gonna fake it and play hard to get, I need readers, and the idea of having an audience… thrilling!  (By the way, HEY GUYS!  I appreciate you!)

However, she felt uncomfortable showing a bunch of kids at her Christian school that lovely image I included.  You know… the one with the boobs and the blood.  So… this brings up a one word debate.  Ready?  Censorship.

Now, honestly, if I had my way, I’d have kept the image.  Why?  It got my point across perfectly.  That was a BAD book.  Some serious sexual sadism going on.  The ultimate example of a book that your parents and teachers DON’T want you to read.  And I don’t either.  If I owned a library, I would not order that book, even it was requested.  Heck, if I had any authority at all, I might request that the book be taken out of a different library.  Essentially, I’d censure the reading of the book, but not the mentioning of it.  It’s all about. intent.  I did not post that picture to tantalize anybody, nay, I wanted to repulse them.  But anybody who reads that material enjoys it, and is most likely rather mentally disturbed, and I do not support that.  So, people should not enjoy it or even participate in it, but they certainly should be aware of it.  I refuse to shelter anyone; that can screw people up nearly as much as overexposure.  As well, the idea that I got rid of it because I was asked to.  She was very nice about it of course, logical, and she listened to my opinion, but she was fairly insistent that she couldn’t recommend it to her kids as-is.  So I changed it.  I need the audience, I do.  And I certainly don’t want to cut pieces of my audience off, alienate them, especially the Christian community, which I’m actually part of.  But what if that were to pervade to other aspects of my writing?  Do I want to be some people-pleasing, offending-nobody, walking on eggshells of political correctness “author”?  I certainly do not.  And my “non-easily offended” audience, (and yes, most Christians are in the “easily offended” group.  Can’t deny it) would certainly appreciate that I don’t.

So here I am.  Until I have a wider audience to support me, I guess I’ll have to adhere to the content standards of my few potential readers.

P.S.  This is one of those posts that works really well with comments.  Bonus points if your teacher directed you here.  🙂

Always A Runner-Up, Never A Winner

I’m sure some of you out there are waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with a single question on your collective minds.  “What the heck has Laura E. Stacey accomplished recently?”  Well, sit back, relax, and let me tell you.

I entered the Martyn Godfrey Writing Award competition again.  And I won runner-up!  Again!  It’s almost suspicious…

Honestly, I didn’t expect to get any mention.  I mean, I won runner-up last year.  I was pretty sure they weren’t gonna pick the same person twice, lest they seem biased.  But, lo and behold, they did.  Maybe they forgot me.  As well, I wasn’t nearly as confident with my story this year as last year.  See, last year, they gave a theme, and I was proud as a peacock about how well I used it.  But this year… no theme.  Complete freedom to write what you like sounds like a blessing, but really, it’s an awful responsibility.  You’ve just got nothing to go off of when the only requirement is “funny”.  So, I’m trying for weeks to think of something, and just grasping at straws.  In the end, I decided upon a fairy tale parody I wrote in grade 7, “Sleeping Danger.”  Of course, I edited it to bring it up to standard, but it was still amateur, and only 600 and some words, a step above the bare minimum, and doesn’t that look bad.  But I guess they liked it!

Unfortunately, this year I don’t get to go to Wordsworth, no, such an honour is reserved for the real winners.  But, I do get a visit from an Albertan author who will speak at my school.  I’m sure my classmates will be thrilled to be dragged out of class and forced to sit on the floor for a few hours listening to someone they don’t know speak about a craft they most likely don’t care about.  But I’m looking forward to it!  I also get an award certificate at our schools next Awards Night.  Good to have some portfolio fodder, I suppose.  🙂

Ooh!  And I also got an interview from a local newspaper!  They really want to write about my almost award-winning!  I honestly wondered if that was the most interesting thing they had to write about, which would be rather sad.  I’m really not that big of a deal.  Hence the unpopularity of my blog.  But regardless, I was thrilled!  It’s so important for an author to build up “cred” which basically substitutes for an actual resume.  If you didn’t know, that’s actually the point of this blog.  I need to be KNOWN.  I may actually get the story published in another newspaper as well.  I feel like such a celebrity!

What May Be Up And Coming On This Blog. Maybe.

Hey guys; I know I haven’t written anything in a while, but, hey, it’s not like I have loyal followers!  Just you losers… people who know me and view my blog out of pity or because I told them to, and people who accidentally ended up here.  Anyway, I have an idea for actually making people care about me as a writer, and I want to see what you guys think.

Basically, it would be like a TV series, but with blog posts.  Yeah, I know I’m not even close to being the first one to think of it, but shut up.  I’d write little episodes, engaging my little characters in little plots, and hopefully people will check back to see the next episode.  Maybe people will be even… anxious for the next one!  Oh no, now I’ve jinxed it.  Regardless, it may be fun.

My only real idea so far is centred around one of my other interests… psychology!  I see that some of you seem sort of bored by the word.  Let’s put it this way… it’s a lot like a high school drama, but everybody is diagnosable crazy.  The story takes place in a cross between a research lab and a mental institution.  Some scientists decided they want to study mental disorders in a different environment, so they try to get a case for every mental illness and put them all together, to see how they interact, and to get them all in the same place for observation.  Yeah, it’s a little shaky, but maybe I’ll make it work.  The backbone of the story, of course, is the characters themselves, and their insecurities and relationships.  To name a few:

A “Barbie” girl who can’t stand being blonde, stupid, and mocked, and has developed some real self-esteem issues regarding it.

A man who thinks he’s a knight from the middle ages.

A “figment of the imagination” who refuses to believe that he’s no more than such.  (Multiple personality disorder.)

A man struck with Kuru, a disease caused by… cannibalism!  ( And yes, I know it’s not technically a mental disorder, but still.)

So, I just want to know if there’s any support out there for this, or even any requests for specific characters or disorders.  This would be the time.

Warning. The Following is Contraversial

I’m a writer.  There is nobody who values books, the word, the story, more that me.  So, take it seriously when I say that novels should be less emphasized when it comes to learning.

WHAT!?!?

What am I saying!?  Parents and teachers put such an emphasis on the importance of young people reading.  Ask a teenager how many times they’ve heard, “Get off that couch and get some exercise and fresh air!  Socialize!  Here, read a book!”   The logic is flawed to say the least.  You’re not physically moving, so a book reader could be as fat as your regular couch potato, and most people who read and nothing else end up way socially stunted.  It’s much easier to socialize through a TV.

How many times will you see this while wondering down the halls of a school?

“But books are so good for learning!” the parents and teachers cry.  Hmmmm.  These are books.

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https://i1.wp.com/www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/blogs/smitten/0111_happiness_dead_until_dark_sm.jpg

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  • I’m pretty sure these would be just teeming with educational goodness.  Meanwhile, your teenager could have been watching the science channel.
  • Now, watch it.  I’m not saying TV is better than books, I’m saying that, when you tally up all the good and bad, they’re probably about equal.  Same with any other medium actually.  Video games, TV, movies; they all vary in their educational content as much as books.  And here’s why: the first purpose of all those mediums, books included, is ENTERTAINMENT.  No joke.  Novels are a form of entertainment.
  • I’m sure most authors would want to beat their heads against the wall, were they to encounter what is common in schools nowadays.  Kids forced to read novels, suffering all the way through it.  Stories weren’t written to make people suffer!  Most writers will tell yah if you’re bored after the first few chapters, put the book down!  Don’t keep reading it in a daze and write an essay on it afterward!  Forcing kids with no interest in novels to read novels just creates kids who hate novels.  Sure, novels have messages and themes and morals, but these are things that shouldn’t be shoved down your throat anyways.  That’s why they are garbed in an entertaining form, stories.  Oh, and again, all those other mediums have the same thing.
  • (There are a few exceptions though.  Novels that have a moral as the first goal, and entertainment as the second.  1984 is probably the best example.)
  • The only way novels offer more learning than any other medium is through their words.  A hardcore reader cannot help but booster their vocabulary through reading, which makes them sound a lot smarter, because they can convey their meanings better.  And that is a legitimate form of intelligence.  People should have better vocabularies.  But forcing people to read novels designed to be entertaining isn’t the way to go about it.
  • Maybe, just maybe, we could allow people to choose whatever “entertainment medium with a learning side effect” they wanted, and we could amp up the vocabulary in that medium.  Or maybe we could just let people learn whatever they want to.  Because, after all, there’s a lot we can learn from visual mediums that are hard to convey through a novel.
  • Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a thought-provoking movie, or that a television show has never stimulated your imagination.  And, if they haven’t, you’re probably not the type to think that way.  And there’s no amount of novels we can push your face into to turn you into that thinker.

Paper Verses Screen

Many authors/writers, even readers, seem to be harbouring a concern about these newfangled e-books.  They speak as if these ghastly gadgets will cause a decline in readers, and an overall lack of interest in books.  To which I say, “Seriously?”

I’m young, quite young, a teenager, and just barely one at that.  And I am sick and tired (admittedly I tend to use “old people phrases”) of anybody older than 3o demonizing new technology, and to boot, the young people who use it.  “Don’t sit too close to the television; you’ll go blind/cross-eyed.”  We’ve all heard this stuff and it usually turned out to be an unfounded myth.  There’s more stuff now too.  “Cell phones cause cancer.”  I doubt it.  “They’ve” done studies.  There’s no real evidence that cellular phones cause health defects.  “Video games cause teen violence.”  Teens cause teen violence.  If you have such a loose connection to reality that a violent video game can make you murder, then you’re diognosably psychotic already.  If you have such a lax conscience that a bit of blood on a screen can desensitize you, you’re halfway down the road to sociopathic already.  But I digress.

My point is, even in the medieval times, people were afraid of new technology.  I think it has to do with a nostalgic factor.  The new will replace the old, and the users anticipate missing the old.  Young people have the advantage of not having enough experience with the old to miss it.  I personally know some writers who refuse to use a computer to record their work, preferring instead to handwrite it!  I wouldn’t handwrite a grocery list if I could avoid it.

And here it goes with e-books.  And, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, I’m in full support of them.  I mean, why not?  Why would an author care about the actual, physical pages?  Aren’t the words, those marvelous, magical, mystical words that form the plot, the characters, the actual story more important?  And they don’t change!  A person reading on a Kindel is going to understand the story the same way as someone flipping pages.  As well, all those marvelous other things that novels have are maintained.  Cover design, synopsis/teaser, foreword, acknowledgements, everything!

And I daresay that e-books might cause an increase in young readers.  Seriously.  It takes less effort to go out and buy books when you can just download from an infinite selection, for one thing.  For another, and this is a serious concern for some people, nobody can tell what your reading.  Men, you can read all the Harlequins you want and your wife never has to know.  And, possibly the most important, if you buy e-books on some piece of technology that’s not exclusive to reading (like an i-pad), chances are good that you’ll have it on you even if you don’t intend to read anything.  Then, if you find a moment, bang, you read a chapter, when you otherwise might not have had a book on you.  Who carries novels around, really?

But, there still will be the nostalgics, the ones who’ll miss the fresh scent of paper, the slightly intoxicating scent of ink.  Hey, for us writers and readers, that’s a sort of comfort, the way an athlete might relax at the scent of sweat.  Well, more than you would anyway.  And, yes, I might miss those things.  But, it’s not like Imma through out my old collections.  An e-reader might help me fill in the gaps too.

So, authors, it’s not like you have to prepare for an increasingly difficult market.  As long as there are writers, there will be readers.  If you write it, they will read.  They will cry and laugh just the same.  My dad tells me that there are a few jobs that will always exist, despite the evolution of new technology.  And, I’m pretty sure “storyteller” is one of them.  (If not, I’ll settle with compulsive liar.)   

Poetry Pausing

Okay, this is my blog, so I’m gonna whine a little.

In Language Arts class, our teacher had us memorize a poem.  Not a big deal, in fact, it was then that I realized that I am pretty dang good at memorizing poetry.  (I have a linguistic mind, so words=no problem.  However, I just barely know my phone number and house number, and my friends know to remind me of anything calender-related.)

One of my little tricks is to say it aloud as you are reading it, that way you are engaging your auditory memory; if you say something wrong when you aren’t actually looking at it, it will clang, maybe not with your memory, but your ears.  This is especially important for me, an auditory learner.

So I’m sitting there, reading The Path Not Taken out loud, and the teacher has a problem with the way I’m doing it.  See, I’m pausing at the end of every line.  He believes that poetry should sound natural, just like it is being spoken.  So he hates it when I say, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood (pause) and sorry I could not travel both…” because you would never actually pause there if you were simply talking.

I completely disagree.  It’s a stanza, not a paragraph, and should not be read like one, where you pause only at the periods and commas.  I asked my teacher why then, did the poet move to another line, and he responded, “So it looks like a poem.”  Right.

And I’m not pulling my pausing thing out of the blue either.  I know I was told by a teacher, somewhere, sometime, in elementary school, probably the first time we’ve ever done poetry, that one always pauses at the end of each line.  And I like that too, I think it sounds better; it really brings out the rhyme scheme.  True, it doesn’t sound natural, but natural isn’t the goal of poetry really, that’s the goal of prose.

My teacher did defend his argument though.  He showed me a video of a professional reciting the poem, and he didn’t pause at the end of each line.  And the only thing I could respond with was, “Well, he’s wrong.”  professionals can share the same incorrect information as us average Joes.  The funny thing is, later, he was showing us a movie about another poem we had to work with, (Invictus, which I liked much better,) and in one scene, the actor recited the poem, and he truly did pause at the end of every line, save for one.  So there.

My teacher did have one good point though.  He showed my a poem that you really wouldn’t pause at the end of every line.  It was one of those poems where the lines are very short, under five words, and tend to sound a little random.  Firstly, I don’t especially like those kinds of poems anyway; t00 easy to write and no fun to read.  Secondly, my personal opinions aside, I don’t even feel those poems are meant to be read aloud, only to  be viewed.  Pausing or no pausing, it did sound awkward, though I suppose it looked fine.  This is because it is poetry, not a paragraph, and is under no obligation to sound like natural speaking. 

So, how do you feel?  Am I totally off base?

P.S. My favourite poet is Louis Carrol.