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June 1994


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Tom Byers <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 19 Jun 1994 00:44:22 EDT
text/plain (33 lines)
Department of English, University of Louisville
Phone: (502)852-6770 or (502)852-6801. Fax: (502)852-4182.
Of course it is entirely appropriate to judge a movie by today's standards
when you're talking about introducing it to today's audience--especially of
children. And of course the fact that three-year-olds do spend a lot of time
analyzing gender roles is precisely why their parents might want to be
somewhat sensitive to what images they're consuming. I say this not as one who
has kept a daughter--mine is now 5--from the incredibly sexist Disney films.
But I do say it as one who has grave concerns about how to counteract the
stereotyping that little girls get all the time, from the time--there are
significant studies on this--when they're pre-verbal infants. But the major
point that I want to make here is that when texts from the past are consumed
in the present, there's every reason to "judg[e] . . . them by today's
standards." Indeed, there's a very real sense in which that's all we CAN judge
by--even our attempts to understand texts with historical sympathy are
productsof one of today's standards. I wouldn't keep my little girl from SNOW
WHITE--and I prefer the old Disney stuff, even w/ its sexism and racism, to
Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers. But the issues posed by the original poster
on this stuff are serious. I would like to recommend two films for when the
3-year-old girl is may be 2 years older: PIPPI LONGSTOCKING and THE JOURNEY OF
NATTY GANN. Finally, a significant difference between SNOW WHITE and its ilk
on the one hand, and other movies in which the good are powerless on the
other. In the former, the girls inevitably have to be saved by someone else,
and inevitably in the context of heterosexual romance whose happy outcome is
assured on the wedding day. In the latter, the powerless assume control over
their own lives through their strength of character and action--as in the two
films I've suggested.
bitnet tbbyer01@ulkyvm; internet [log in to unmask]
Thomas B. Byers
Department of English/University of Louisville
Louisville KY 40292