Micro-Reviews

Remember the Titans

Not immensely substantial, but Denzel Washington! I came to the conclusion that it’s a good children’s movie in part because the racism and antiracism are right about at a white child’s level. The picture gives a glimpse of the possibilities of terror in being a Black family at the leading edge of integration, it doesn’t pretend that integration happened by magic, it doesn’t pretend that integration was a single event. It also shows that people subject to racism can carry other prejudice, in this case homophobia. A more sophisticated movie would spend a touch more time on how integration of a football team, with its command and control environment, could happen in a way that integrating other parts of white society could not; would indicate that the players continued to experience (or perpetuate, as the case might have been) racism away from the football team; and that there’s a difference between tackling (rdrr) racism in a confined and desirable environment and eliminating it in an environment where the perps have more social opportunity to abandon the contract.

Abominable

Cute animated picture about returning a young yeti to the Himalayas. It’s a co-production with a Chinese company, and there is implicit China propaganda about Tibet’s non-existence. As a simple representation of race and gender, it’s nice to have a movie where the lead is a Chinese girl and the two boys are the sidekicks. The gender balance is awkward, though, as the filmmakers gendered the yeti masculine as well, so there’s the main girl and then her three boy supporting characters. Guess the standard (Euro/American) ratio of 2 boys : 1 girl when a boy is the lead had to be expanded to get the boys in the theaters?

Brave

As a distant descendant of Caledonians (so distant I had to remind myself whether it was Caledonia or Hibernia), I was pleased to be able to give the child a film about that part of their culture. But since these micro-reviews aim to give you something new, I’ll mention more that the picture supports the common Euro/America ascription of malevolence to black things. There’s no reason they couldn’t have made the supernatural evil bear and/or the benign werebear brown. Which has its own potentially problematic resonances, but it would have been an easy step away from rather than a step toward furthering anti-Blackness. As far as White feminism goes, it’s nice to have a princess character who’s hellbent on saving herself, to the extent she needs saving. It’s telling that Ralph Breaks the Internet depicts her as unintelligible; there’s only so much room in that Disney flick for independent girls/women.

The Addams Family

Slightly more complicated relationship with Blackness, as the title family is — famously — drawn toward things typically depicted as black or associated with darkness. Black magic, black humor, etc. The movie wants too much to be semi-nostalgic, though, so it doesn’t take that another step and celebrate Blackness as well as blackness. In one of the crowd scenes with a large gathering of Addamses, there’s one African American face that I saw. Odd in an extended family of marginalized people that nobody else was from a racially/ethnically minoritized group, no? Raul Julia was Latinx, of course, but I think he’s supposed to be read as contingently White. The somewhat recent animated version basically redid this 1991 movie, and again missed the opportunity. The Charles Addams sense of humor in general hits me just right, so I’d love for someone to take the Addams Family premise a little farther and make a movie that reconsiders the family’s Whiteness and/or decenters it.

Despicable Me 2

Just no. Really bad Latin Lover/sleezy Mexican stereotype.

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