Search

The New Heroines

A dialogue about teen and YA heroines in pop culture.

Category

movies

Jyn Erso

For those living behind a rock (who fits under rocks?), Jyn Erso is the protagonist of the most recent Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Her father, Galen Erso, is forced to be the head scientist behind the planet destroying Death Star, and she seeks to rescue him and then steal the plans for the Death Star. Along the way, she is joined by others in her quest. Cassian Andor, the Rebel operative, K-2SO, a reprogrammed Imperial enforcer droid, Chirrut Îmwe, a spiritual warrior, Baze Malbus, Chirrut’s companion with a big gun, and Bodhi Rook, an Imperial defector and pilot.

Lots of Jyn

Together, they form the team of Rogue One. This team is greater than the sum of its parts. The idea of humanism holds no sway here. Humanism is about how the individual is strong and has to fight for themself by themself in order to succeed. Rogue One goes against that idea by subscribing to the theory of posthumanism. Posthumanism came as a response to humanism, and says that, no, you don’t have to fight by your own ability. In fact, you don’t even need to fight it alone. Posthumanism generally encourages the use of outside aid to make up for human weaknesses.

Jyn starts off very distrustful of her companions, only going with them because her father is involved, but she slowly begins to trust them more. K-2SO is not given a gun due to the fact that he was once Imperial, and the reprogramming may not be as complete as they would like. However, when Jyn and Cassian go into the data archives to find the Death Star plans, Jyn gives K-2SO a gun so he can watch their backs.

Jyn Gun.png

K-2 then goes on to fight off hordes of Storm Troopers who are trying to stop Jyn and Cassian. Jyn relies on K-2 and her other companions to help her steal the plans. Had she tried to go it alone, she would have been unable to, and she likely would have ended up dead (or, dead sooner).

Another post- Jyn exemplifies is postcolonialism. Postcolonialism is about what happens after one culture has subjugated another. Its primary focus is on the idea of the adopt, adapt, and adept phases. In the adopt phase, the person or literature in question goes along with the society around them, trying to be universally accepted by the subjugating culture. In the adapt phase, they take on some aspects of the subjugated culture, but put it through the subjugating culture’s lens. In the final phase of adept, they remove themself from the subjugation and take on their original culture.

Jyn Saw.png

Jyn starts off in the rebel culture of her family. Then the Empire comes to take them away to work on the Death Star, but Jyn hides in a safe room. A friend of the family and rebel extremist, Saw Gerrera, comes to rescue her and train her. What you might think is that the subjugating culture is the Empire, but it’s actual just the extremist views that Saw Gerrera teaches her. She adopts that culture and acts as an extremist herself, rebelling even against the rebels to a degree. She adapts the mild rebel views when she is forced to work with them. She has to reign in her more violent tendencies in favor of the Rebel’s less explosive methods. She finally becomes adept when her father tells her to destroy the Death Star. She fully takes on the original culture of her family’s rebel ways. She works with the other Rebel forces to infiltrate the data archives and steal the plans for the Death Star, without being unnecessarily extreme.

Jyn Galen.png

Jyn Erso is significant as a new heroine for a few reasons. First of all, while she occasionally needs saving, it is only ever because the one saving her is currently in a better position to do so. At other times, she’s the one doing the saving. Most notably, she is the one to finally transmit the Death Star plans to the Rebel fleet, without which Episode IV would never be able to happen and the Rebels would have fallen.

Secondly, while she does have a romantic sub-plot, it doesn’t make her any weaker. In fact, it would be entirely possible for someone to not realize there was a romantic sub-plot until the end of the film. It is so subtle that it is not a matter of her getting the guy, or him getting the girl, but rather serves to enhance the emotions of the ending.

Jyn Erso is a strong addition to the realm of strong heroines and will hopefully serve as an example of strong heroes in general in the future.

Advertisements

Alice Kingsleigh

The 1951 Walt Disney film, Alice in Wonderland has been created based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice books. The film industry then produced a live-action movie, Alice in Wonderland in 2010 directed by Tim Burton. The adventurous fantasy then inspired another film,  Alice Through the Looking Glass in 2016  which was a sequel to the 2010 movie. The Walt Disney Pictures film, Alice In Wonderland, features film stars, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, and Mia Wasikowska. I found this movie the most intriguing and entertaining, therefore it is analyzed below!

Image result for alice falling down the rabbit hole tim burton

Alice Kingsleigh is a nineteen year-old English girl and daughter of Charles Kingsleigh, a wealthy man who planned shipping routes in the 19th century. She constantly tries to explain her very strange dreams to her dad, but he declares her as mad. Her dad sadly passes away, and she is taken by her widowed mother to a party. Little does she know she is attending her own engagement party and being forced into marrying a wealthy English nobleman, Hamish. She is distracted by an unusual looking rabbit in the garden, which she decides to follow. Alice quickly tumbles down a hole and falls to the “Underland,” where she finds herself in the center of the nightmares she had as a child. She immediately finds a drink that makes her shrink, and a cake that makes her grow. The “underland” is filled with talking animals, queens, knights, and other strange things she once dreamt of. Alice then realizes that she is there to restore the White Queen to her throne. She is chosen to slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon-like creature, which is kept by the Red Queen of Hearts who also terrorizes “Underland’s” inhabitants. Her journey to end the Red Queen’s reign of terror is adventurous and stressful, as she encounters multiple hurdles on her journey.

Image result for alice in wonderland 2010

Alice is a curious young girl who constantly questions everything around her. She does not understand the need to adhere to so many societal norms. Alice is displayed as a rebel, who attempts to break out of the everyday stereotypes of a woman in the Victorian Era. Alice is the main heroine of the story, who displays a lot of courage and independence throughout the movie.

The two theoretical frameworks in which I will analyze are feminist criticism and Marxist criticism.

“Feminist criticism examines the ways in which literature (and other cultural productions) reinforces or undermines the economic, political, social and psychological oppression of women” (Barry). Feminism views portray the reality of how gender roles are represented. Feminist criticism involves defining what it means to be a woman. Feminist principles are critiqued and analyzed based on the way literature portrays women in media.

Alice has a large imagination which causes her to explore life’s mysteries. Her curiosity and confidence strikes viewers as “breaking” the shell of a Victorian woman. In the Victorian Era, gender roles were based on the natural characteristics of the two sexes. Women were believed to be physically weaker than men. Alice alternatively displays bravery throughout her adventure, along with strength. In the movie, there are multiple creatures that tell Alice what and what not to do, but this does not stop Alice on her heroic journey. She is not afraid to speak her mind, no matter who she encounters.

Although she is an innocent young woman, Alice physically fights and slays the Jabberwocky, which is typically what a stereotypical male hero would do. This scene in the movie portrays Alice overcoming typical feminist critiques. She breaks the norms of femininity when sacrificing her life to slay the Jabberwocky. She realizes no one else can do this, and therefore takes it bestow herself to get the job done. Alice breaks the norms of typical feminine roles when she fights and kills the Jabberwocky. She sacrifices herself to save the world of the “Underland.”

The second theoretical framework that applies to Alice in Wonderland is Marxism. Marxism is an economic and social system based upon the political and economic theories of Karl Marx. It is also described as, “a theory in which class struggle is a central element in the analysis of social change in Western societies” (Barry). Public ownership of production ways, distribution, and exchange mechanisms remains dominant in a Marxist society. In simpler terms, Marxism theorizes that human identity, conflict, social arrangements, and political orders are all based on the role of economics. Economics run a society, which is essentially capitalism. The rich succeed and the poor diminish. Capitalist societies value individuality, competitiveness, and materialism. Those who have the control or power are known as the bourgeoisie, and those who are below without a share of profit are called the proletariat.

Within Alice in Wonderland, social classes are heavily portrayed. The royals are shown as mad and not having a care about others or the ones below them. They have followers and servants who cater to their needs. Alice is arranged to marry a man, solely for his money. This is found to be typical for the Victorian Era. Alice really has no say in who she marries or when, until she escapes her vows and leaves the party. This causes her to rebel against her mother and future fiance’s parents. She is not afraid to speak her mind when she goes against the norms and tells Hamish that she is not ready to marry him. Alice goes against the theoretical “norms” of a high class young adult as she questions life and does not follow what seems to be a logical path.

Image result for hamish alice in wonderland

Education is a big part of Marx’s theory of societal norms. Alice is proud of the education she has received and thrives to constantly learn new things. She represents an aristocrat class citizen who is educated and has many privileges.

The animals that Alice meets in the “Underland” are considered to be part of the lower class. The two Queens are obviously high-class citizens. The Red Queen displays pity among others as she has everyone else do things for her. She is bossy and engulfed by materialistic items. The characters within different classes do not interact well with one another. One example from the story is when their is a croquet  game at the Red Queen’s  castle. She is rude and will often repeat, “Off with their head,” signaling to kill anyone who stands below her on Marx’s class system.

Image result for red queen of hearts alice in wonderland

The cultural significance of Tim Burton’s, Alice in Wonderland, is demonstrated during the Mad Hatter’s tea party that takes place during the movie. A formal tea party was a function that pertained to the higher classes in the Victorian Era. Social norms and cultural rules were highly important. Despite these rules, the tea party in the movie is chaotic and displays the opposite of that you would find in real life. Another aspect of the movie that portrays Marx’s theory involves the dormouse. He is a symbol of the proletariat who is abused by larger and more powerful animals. He is tiny and insignificant and never voices his opinions. This demonstrates the cultural significance of different classes during the Victorian Era.The Red Queen of Hearts symbolizes monarchy and requires everyone below her to do as she pleases. Alice claims that all citizens are included in the “pack of cards,” meaning that all citizens belong to the same deck of cards. The Red Queen abuses her power, although they all belong to the same group.

Image result for mad hatter tea party  tim burton

Although Alice is expected to be an “angel of the home,” she goes against societal norms of the Victorian Era and acts brave, active, and impatient. She rebels against her family and friends and proves others of what she is capable of!

Mastani – Fearlessly Taking What She Wants

I am a huge fan of Bollywood. Like, huge. It all started when I ran out of western musicals and had to turn my eye to different parts of the world. The very first Bollywood musical I ever watched was Bajirao Mastani. It takes place in the early 18th century in the Maratha Empire. The movie follows the life of real historical figure, Bajirao. I am warning you right now, this blog post is going to contain heavy spoilers.

Image result for bajirao mastani gif

Bajirao was named Peshwa (think Prime Minister) at the age of twenty, much to the joy of his wife, Kashibai. Over time, Bajirao gains a fearsome reputation as he has never lost a battle. Not only that, but most leaders of rival armies refuse to meet with for fear he will outwit them. Ten years after being named Peshwa, Bajirao is traveling home after another successful campaign. He is intercepted by a rogue soldier who bursts into his tent and attacks his gaurds.  In the resulting fight it is revealed that the soldier is actually Princess Mastani. She has come to demand aid for her kingdom, Bundelkhand, which is under attack. A skilled fighter, rider, and strategist, Mastani decided to come ask for Bajirao’s help herself, rather than sending any soldiers who could be used to defend Bundelkhand. Bajirao refuses. Mastani tells him that either he helps or he kills her because she did not intend to return to her people a failure. Finally he is convinced and the two fight together, saving her people and kingdom.

Image result for mastani and bajirao

On the battlefield and ensuing days of celebration, Mastani and Bajirao begin to fall in love. But Bajirao knows the two can never be together, and decides to return home to his people, his wife, and his family. Mastani is not deterred, however. She knows that she and Bajirao belong to one another, and so follows Bajirao to the Maratha Empire. There she convinces Bajirao to take her as his second wife. But there is one glaring problem. Mastani is a muslim in a Hindu land. She is constantly under threat due to her religion. Bajirao send assisins after her and her son, lock her away in her own home, and even demand that Bajirao either give up his title of Peshwa or Mastani. The two are never deterred however, and stay strong together. The story sadly ends with Bajirao dying of fever, and Mastani dying of heartbreak not long after.

Related image

Now, one question that I had once I finished Bajirao Mastani is whether it is a feminist movie or not. Anyone who knows me can tell you that feminism in our media is extremely important to me. I don’t stand for movies and tv shows that feel the need to bash on women or exclude them all together. After some consideration and time, I decided that yes, Bajirao Mastani is indeed a feminist movie. This might seem odd since the movie is all about a man with two wives and the conflict that arises between said wives. But that’s the truly magical thing about Bajirao Mastani.

Toril Moi discusses feminism and feminist books in her essay “Feminist, Female, and Feminine”. In it she says that “the very fact of being female does not necessarily guarantee a feminist approach” (120). So, we know that simply having women in your movie doesn’t make it a feminist movie. There has to be an intent. I would say that Bajirao Mastani has that intent. Let’s look as Mastani herself, as she is meant to be the focus of this blog post.

Mastani is a dancer.

Related image

She a singer.

Related image

She a warrior.

Image result for bajirao mastani gif

She is a woman deeply in love.

Image result for bajirao mastani gif

At no point in the movie is she pushed to the background or portrayed as some idiot girl chasing an older man. Mastani exudes confidence. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants. She is not afraid to chase Bajirao, because why would she be? She wants him and so will have him. Mastani faces extreme adversity because of this decision, but the movie shows her as fearless, not foolish.

A prime example of this is when she and Bajirao meet for the very first time.

There aren’t subtitles (sorry) but you can still tell what’s happening. Mastani just burst through Bajirao’s tent, attacked his men, beat his men and even drew a sword against the great Peshwa himself. That takes guts and determination. The two face off in a battle of wits, and eventually Bajirao gives in. He agrees to help Mastani’s people. Mastani is not afraid to take. In this way she stands apart from most female characters. Usually they beg and plead, using sex appeal to get what they want. But Mastani goes in and demands it. She is not afraid to show her skill and confidence. She is not afraid to challenge the men in her life, even ones as famous and fearsome as Bajirao.

But what about Kashibai? She is Bajirao’s first wife and his best friend of many years. She and Mastani surely get into at least one cat fight, right? They blame each other for the grief they deal with, right? They are constantly at each other’s throats, right? Well… no. Certainly Kashibai is resentful of Mastani. But for the most part they are very respectful to each other. They even end up singing together about how painful it is to love a man who can never fully belong to either of them. They never become best friends. But neither wants any sort of misfortune to come to the other.

Related image

I agree with Moi when she says that “it is just not possible to say that woman-centered writings have any necessary relationship to feminism” (120). In my opinion, Mastani fits the brief of a feminist female character. Yes, a good portion of the movie is dedicated to her chasing a man, but so what? She loves him. And in all other aspects she is a total badass.

Another lense to view Mastani through is the concept of otherness from postcolonialism. This one is interesting, because India eventually becomes a colony itself, but this move takes place pretty much right before that. However, we still see otherness in Bajirao Mastani.

The concept of the “Other” can be found in Peter Barry’s book Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. On page 186 he discusses how the colonizing group will often treat the culture of the colonized group as lesser than. The native language and religion are forced out in favor the invading language and religion. Any attachment to the old ways is frowned on, and often attacked with extreme prejudice.

Related image

This sort of behavior is easy to find in the way Mastani is treated. She is a Muslim woman in a Hindu land. The scene that best shows this is when Mastani is forced to fight off assassins who have come for her and her son, who is also Muslim.

The scene cuts between Mastami fighting and Bajirao at a Hindu ceremony. This perfectly shows that she is separate from him and his culture. Because she is Muslim she would not attend ceremonies with him. This means that she and her son are alone, vulnerable to attack. She nearly loses her life in the end, overwhelmed by the sheer number of attackers. The only thing that saves her is Kashibai telling Bajirao about the assassins, sending him to save his second wife. Mastami is almost killed for her religious beliefs. If that isn’t an example of other I don’t know what is.

Image result for mastani

 

In conclusion, Mastani is a total badass, feminist icon. Even though she is from a time period far in the past, Mastani is still a character that young girls could and should look up to. In a world here women are punished for going after what they want and encouraged to back down when things get hard, Mastani is a breath of fresh air. She looks at all those nay sayers, laughs in their faces and then skips off to fight along side her awesome husband. She is a force to be reckoned with and would never accept being second fiddle. Any man who faces her has an up hill battle as she is more than willing to use her skills with a sword, her wit, and her beauty to take what is hers.

Frozen’s Elsa

Four years ago Disney’s Frozen swept across the nation and created a worldwide phenomenon, everyone was watching it and raving about the new Disney princesses Anna and Elsa. But Frozen was unlike any other previous Disney movie in which presented a misogynist fairy tale. Usually, Disney princesses lack agency and character, and most of the time end up sacrificing parts of themselves for men, (for example, the loss of voice in The Little Mermaid), and even most commonly, needing a handsome man to come and save them, basically a victim. Sleeping beauty needed a man to save her from slumber, as did Snow White and Cinderella needed a man to get away from her evil stepmother. But not Elsa, Disney seems to have heeded some of these gendered critiques and proves Elsa to be the most relatable and complex princess thus far.

Frozen subverts these gendered ideals with it’s two main characters Elsa and Anna, to sisters who despite being physically fit/thin, beautiful, white and rich (the classic Disney profile of a princess) have a huge amount of agency and characteristics that past princesses have not had before. Anna embarks on the quest to find her sister after Elsa’s powers are revealed to the kingdom and she loses complete control, and unknowingly put a winter curse on the kingdom. But luckily, the kingdom is saved through the true love of the sisters (rather than a godly looking suitor) and then we are able to achieve our predictable happily ever after by the end of the movie.

Elsa and Anna

This is the first Disney film in which a princess makes an error that negatively affects everyone around her—Elsa freezes her kingdom, endangers the public and people of Arendelle and eventually fatally attacks her sister, which was accidental but does go to say that she has violent and uncontrollable tendencies with her powers. For a good chunk of the movie, Elsa continually makes huge mistakes with her actions that the audience is constantly aware of. Elsa shows herself as willing to murder to protect her heightened sense of self-preservation when confronted with others about her powers early on in the movie, but judging from the look of mortification on her face every time she loses control with her powers, she is clearly more prone to violence than she realizes. Then again later on, Elsa threatens Anna’s life along with her companions, when she creates her snow monster and appears to have no qualms about killing and/or harming people that have come to retrieve and help her. Even when she realizes the consequences of her actions, she still refuses to go back to Arendelle until Prince Hans forcibly brings her back in chains.

Elsa is an antagonist that must inadvertently provide obstacles the protagonist must overcome before the movie can end, but yet at the same time she’s a hero because she continually chooses to make the difficult choice to lock herself away, to protect the people she loves. Her redeeming quality is her unwavering desire to protect her loved ones even when it comes at the cost of her quality of life. This illustrates the complexity of real life situations and people, giving them dimension and a realistic quality, everyone has bad qualities and makes mistakes, Elsa is relatable to everyone in this way of an internal struggle.

The theoretical frameworks that I will be analyzing Frozen through is a feminist criticism and also through Peter Barry’s book Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory and his discussion on Sigmund Freud, and the idea of repression. Freud was a psychoanalyst who believed that humans have many thought processed occurring just below the level of consciousness, and that these subconscious thought have a significant impact on human developments and behavior. Freud defined repression as referring to the ego’s efforts to subconsciously keep anxious thoughts and impulses out of out awareness and keep them buried and hidden. By repressing certain thoughts or impulses, the Ego is attempting to avoid dealing with them.

Elsa is a perfect example of the idea of repression, and in a way because she has repressed her subconscious and her powers, she becomes traumatized and her psyche suffers because of it. Women are usually told to suppress emotions, and to present themselves in a certain way, and the repercussion of this stigma is illustrated in Elsa. Elsa is struggling with her own form of PTSD, haunted by the fact that she nearly killed her sister when she was younger and at Elsa’s coronation, her hands are shaking violently from anxiety. Elsa’s powers are beyond her control once she becomes agitated; her singing becomes more and more incoherent until it is nothing but a shout (“I can’t!”). By creating a Disney princess who happens to have an anxiety disorder is a progressive step towards creating characters that accurately represent our world, showing that princesses are not perfect and suffer from these problems that us normal and average people are struggling with. Elsa is not portrayed as selfish or “crazy,” but as someone who is doing the best she can in her situation. Not to mention she has been in this state of depression for years, ever since her father told her to “conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.”

This then leads into the feminist criticism when Elsa challenges her “good girl complex” a term designated to describe the pressure girls are under to be perfect in all areas. In her song, “Let It Go,” Elsa sings, “that perfect girl is gone.”

Elsa releases herself from the pressures of being a perfect daughter, sister, and princess in this song and allows herself the freedom to make mistakes and live how she chooses. At this point in time Elsa can be seen as a symbol of female empowerment, and challenges the typical stereotypical assumptions about being a girl, and defying society’s expectations and restrictions. This is when she lets her hair down and finally changes into a sexy, confident woman. Elsa struggles with accepting her immense powers, which have been stigmatized by her society as negative (sound familiar?). What Elsa feared most about herself was what made her different, but also very powerful, and unique. The characters’ own acceptance of Elsa’s powers reflects a growing self-acceptance of herself and gender formations in the U.S. currently. Elsa has freed herself from the chains and stereotypes of society and is defying them with grace and dignity. She’s an admirable character that people can actually care about and love, it’s no longer a fairy tale, but a real life situation. Elsa is presented as fallible, flawed, accessible, and relatable, which is crucial for thinking about how the figure of a princess can be a feminist role model for not only children but also the young adults of this time period.

The cultural significance of Disney’s Frozen  is that it brings attention to stereotypical gendered ideals and the complexity of these issues in the lives of people, the challenges these problems bring and how it’s possible to overcome them and accept yourself. Elsa really rocked our society and was a huge game changer. She managed to get through some of the biggest problems the people of our society are struggling with right now. She’s an icon for people struggling with their sexuality, mental health issues, lack of self-confidence and, of course, acceptance into society. By intentionally making her so relatable to average people she redefines Disney princesses. No longer is a Disney princess this far-fetched ideal that is unattainable, and unrealistic, and an icon of perfection, but now we are looking at a normal person whose flawed and struggles with average problems but who merely has a cool title to go along with it. That’s the whole motive behind Frozen, to accept yourself as you are, and be independent and only rely on yourself to achieve your goals and solve your problems. No matter what issues your going through with your sexuality, mentally, or with yourself personally, everyone has gone through some part of the same thing and can relate, one of the many reasons as to why Frozen was so successful and continues to be a huge phenomenon in our current society.

Tragically Time-Travelling

 I’ll do it over, no matter how many times it takes. I’ll relive it over and over again. I will find a way out. The one path that will save you from this destiny of despair. Madoka, my one and my only friend. I don’t care, because if it’s for you, I’ll stay trapped in this endless maze… Forever.

Homura Akemi of the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica is trying to save her first friend (and love, to be honest) Madoka Kaname from becoming a Magical Girl and consequently dying/becoming a Witch. She attempts to stop Madoka from making a contract with a rabbit-esque familiar, named Kyubey, who makes said contracts in exchange for the granting of any one wish.

Magical Girls have jewels called Soul Gems, which are actually tied to their being itself. They must fight Witches, as Witches cause despair to infect other people in the area they inhabit. When a Witch is defeated, they leave behind “grief seeds”. Magical Girls use these grief seeds to cleanse their Soul Gems of their own despair, caused through fighting and just life in general. However, the insidious plot behind all of this is that all Magical Girls are fated to fall into despair and become witches, as the intense amount of emotions that Magical Girls go through during their transformation into Witches are actually harnessed as energy by the Incubators — which is what Kyubey and his species actually were all along.

When Madoka falls victim to the powerful witch Walpurgisnicht in the first timeline, Homura makes a contract with Kyubey with the wish to redo her first meeting with Madoka and be someone who could protect her. Homura had been quite meek and awkward back then — however, due to the trauma and challenges she endures, she becomes quite resilient, strong, and protective.

Despite the length of this, that’s actually somewhat of a concise version, so here’s a flowchart:

Timeline_Chart.png

…And an important scene from timeline 3:



However, that is just the anime series. There are more movies, but the most recent and important one is Rebellion. Basically, in rebellion, Homura becomes a “demon” in order to rewrite the entire universe, break off what is known as the Law of Cycles, punish Kyubey by channelling all the despair into him, eradicate the Magical Girl/Witch system, erase everyone’s memory, and have them live normally. Her main motivation in this is, as always, protecting Madoka. However, this is framed as a morally dubious action in the movie, as the Magical Girls now feel somewhat “out of place”, and Homura has to strip Madoka of her godly abilities (which were achieved when Madoka made a contract and wished to stop all Magical Girls from becoming Witches, which meant she sacrificed her own human existence). Sayaka, Madoka’s best friend, actually remembered the past timelines at first — until Homura erased her memory, saying she’d be an enemy to her when the time has to come.

In this way, she can be seen as a tragic heroine as she does experience a “fall from grace”, however, her actions (as far as we know until the next sequel) made the universe “normal”. Some people think she is a villain, some think she is a heroine, and that is what I think makes her so interesting. She is a dynamic anti-heroine who sacrifices everything for the one she loves.

Puella under a Posthumanist Lens: Transhumanism

Posthumanism is a philosophical framework that, at its core, revolves around the idea of concepts “beyond human”. There are seven different branches within posthumanism. The one most applicable to Puella Magi Madoka Magica is transhumanism, which is defined as “an ideology and movement which seeks to develop and make available technologies that eliminate aging and greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities, in order to achieve a ‘posthuman future’” (Bostrom). In simpler terms, cyborgs and superheroes and cool things like that.

Magical girls undoubtedly fall under the transhuman category. They can “transform themselves into different beings with abilities so greatly expanded from the natural condition as to merit the label of posthuman beings” (Bostrom). In fact, there is even a “transformation sequence”, which is a staple in multiple pieces of media in the “magical girl” genre.

Firstly, the relativity of the soul gem should be noted. The most important thing for a magical girl is her soul gem. The gem is posthumanist in that it, quite literally, is an extension of their human form, as well as a work of advanced technology. They cannot survive without it once the contract is made. If the gem moves too far from their body for too long, they will die.

Secondly, the force behind the creation of the gems and the magical girls themselves, Kyubey, plays a significant role as well. Kyubey is represented as rabbit-like creature, not a human. This makes it easier for the audience to believe that he does not have any emotions like he claims, and that he truly cannot empathise with human suffering. He can resurrect as another copy of himself, too, making him as unrelated to conventional humanity as he can be. This allows him to act as a symbol instead of a character throughout the series. He is a walking lesson: one cannot evolve without giving up something in return.

If humanity wishes to extend its capabilities beyond the natural realm, we will need to pay a cost. Homura’s own power ends up destroying her sense of values — all that matters in the end is Madoka, and nothing else. This has consequences for the rest of humanity, as she rewrites the entire universe. She calls herself evil, at the end, a demon who has messed with the powers of a god (Madoka). Madoka, throughout the series, is shown as incredibly forgiving, humane, and even weak at times. She is an embodiment of humanity, even when she becomes a god. Homura’s saving/ripping of Madoka from the Law of Cycles, a natural occurrence in their universe, is symbolic of Homura disrupting natural order and letting her abilities evolve beyond what she could mentally handle. She has become the ultimate power, but at what cost?

Feminism

It is often difficult to find a well-written series that portrays women as dynamic people, due to the majority of male directors that have no idea what they’re doing, institutionalized and systematic misogyny, and people forgetting that women are, uh, people. However, the entire main cast of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is female. All of the girls have complex emotions, realistic developments, and unique identities — especially Homura. Homura develops from a shy, glasses-wearing, braid-touting girl to a cold, tough, long-haired badass.

However, Homura isn’t just a feminist character because of her development. Homura hardly, if ever, interacts with men. She does not need a male character to support her. She does not need a “male figure” to model herself after. Her entire motive is centered on Madoka, a girl. Homura is not a character made for the purpose of catering to men or the male gaze.

Additionally, Homura is implied to be a lesbian. As a result, she goes directly against the purpose of the male gaze, which is to “reassure men of their sexual power and at the same moment deny any sexuality of women other than the male construction” (Berger, 1972: 64). She is a girl who loves a girl in a popular piece of media, and that on its own is feminist, because men are just not apart of her equation. They don’t matter here, and that is honestly so refreshing. Basically, Homura is a powerful morally-ambiguous lesbian, and that’s awesome.

Tiana The Frog Princess

In 2009 the classic Disney film The Princess and the Frog was released in theaters. The main story line follows the protagonist Tiana, a young girl who has high hopes, but little success. She’s cast as a poor girl trying to work towards owning her own restaurant, despite her current position as a waitress where she saves as much money as possible on her meager salary. Her best friend Charlotte, a polar opposite to Tiana, is the richest girl in town who dreams of one day finding her prince charming to carry her away. By creating tension between the opposing classes- a working class and an upper class girl- Disney has laid the foundation for inequality among the two girls, and by extension the classes themselves.

One day a prince comes to the town and is tricked by a voodoo villain who wants Charlotte’s money all to himself. The villain turns the prince into a frog which happens to find Tiana. The hero’s journey begins for Tiana when she kisses the frog prince hoping to change the prince back to a human. The kiss not only doesn’t change the prince, but instead the curse of the kiss turns Tiana into a frog as well. She then journeys with the prince, both as frogs, to stop the evil voodoo man and return both of themselves to human state. The journey of Tiana as a heroine has many embedded symbols to be analyzed, but this essay will use feminist criticism and critical race studies to better understand this new heroine.

Beginning with feminist criticism, the viewer of the film is given the usual Disney introductory plot with a prince and princess, except this time there are several important differences. Many fairy tales set the female character to be the damsel in distress who the prince must then rescue. In this film, starting at the beginning of the heroine’s journey when Tiana first meets the frog prince, the roles of masculine and feminine have already been altered. The masculine prince is sent into distress and he requires the help of Tiana to save him. Disney frames Tiana as a atypical heroine who tackles not only the heroine’s journey, but has to conquer her class struggle that remains prevalent throughout the film. Disney creates Charlotte, Tiana’s best friend, as a contrast point to show the greater difference between a classic princess and a new redefined princess.

Tiana is designed to be a self reliant woman who earns everything in her life through hard work, representing key feminist ideals rooted in the principal that she is unwilling to accept charity from the prince, because she has always worked to support herself since she works for what she believes in. Disney then contrasts Tiana’s independence with the prince’s dependence on his parents. Tiana quickly learns that the prince has been broke ever since his parents cut him off and he has no intention of working to provide for himself. The entire roles of the feminine dependence and masculine independence have been switched. This movie came out in 2009 which was right when the women’s empowerment movement was gaining substantial traction among pro equality activist as well as the new era teenagers. It is unknown if Disney intentionally produced this movie to increase support for feminists, however, the main feministic ideals are deeply impeded in the movie’s plot and character structure.

Many young girls have been influenced with older media that has given them an inaccurate idea of their value in the world because of the previous portrayal of women in these types of movies. This movie stands out as the start of a major cultural change to teach young women that they don’t have to be the damsel and distress and they can have just as much power as any man. Tiana’s heroic journey happens to line up better with Campbell’s hero’s journey more than the heroine’s journey simply because Tiana demonstrates the attributes that are usually equated with more masculine characters. The push for these new modernized movies are increasingly significant because of the power it has  to shift our culture and impact our children’s views.

Critical race studies often look at the way in which race is depicted in different forms of media and how it is used to impact the viewers. From the most literal sense this movie stands out not just because of the reversed gender roles, but also because Tiana happens to be poor and black. Her family is depicted as loving and hardworking. This seems normal until the movie shows that her family was always struggling for money, they lived in a small house in a tight knit community where everyone shared because not many people could afford to sustain themselves alone. Her dad worked all the time to provide and was never able to pull them out of poverty or achieve his dreams.

Audre Lorde discusses the connection between age, race, class, and sex. Her opinion is that “much of western European history conditions us to see human differences in simplistic opposition to each other: dominant/subordinate, good/bad, up/down, superior/inferior. In a society where the good is defined in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, there must always be some group of people who, through systematized oppression, can be made to feel surplus, to occupy the place of dehumanized inferior. Within this society, that group is made up of Black and Third World people, working-class people, older people, and women” (Lorde 1). In essence what Audre Lorde is saying is that humans have a desire to oppose either good or bad to an attribute thus leaving one group of people to be the bad group. In this case the group that is looked down upon has turned into females, minorities, and lower class individuals. They are often judged as lesser in a Eurocentric society that has decided that those groups are to be the dehumanized inferior.

Tiana is a dark skinned lower class female which encompasses some of the largest stereotypes that are often used in the systematized oppression that Audre Lorde mentions. At the beginning of the movie there is a scene where Tiana and her family is making their usual dinner of gumbo. They are then joined by their neighbors in a mutual neighborhood dinner. This can be attributed to the type of neighborhood that Disney portrays which in this case is a large amount of small houses that are all close together and are only filled with racial minorities. It’s questionable whether this portray was intended to be an accurate depiction of the time or rather a hit on the cultural struggle of racial minorities.

Critical race theory is formulated around the concept that white supremacy is still intact and culture continuously suppresses the other races. Why would Disney choose to create an empowered female character, but then make her black and apply stereotypical racial judgments. Some people would argue that it is unethical to make Tiana’s family not only poor, but potentially poor because of their racial background. The opposing view suggests that during the time the movie took place and the location of black Americans in the social class structure was relatively low. In this case the movie did an honest justice by showing not only the struggles, but also the perseverance of black citizens. Children’s movies have a meaningful impact on children across the country. It is up to the current generation to instill their most important values into these movies in order to change the way our children think and future culture’s will think about current day issues. What does this mean on a larger scale? Has Disney actually changed the perspectives of viewers by showing a seemingly accurate description of the struggles for an entire class and race? Disney could’ve chosen to challenge stereotypes by depicting Tiana as a wealthy and successful offspring of her minority family. Instead by showing some of the real life realities for her culture they have taken a more serious attitude that tries to instill the ideas of class struggle, racial struggle, and gender struggle into one seemingly meaningless children’s film.

Citation:

Lorde, Audre, and Cheryl Clarke. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Berkeley: Crossing, 2007. Print.

Link:

Cady Heron – Modern Heroine

 

Born and raised by her parents on an expedition in Africa, Cady Heron in Mean Girls, a satire on high school culture, was born far from western culture. It was only at the age of fifteen, when her parents returned to America and enrolled her into high school. In an unknown world, she had a hard time adjusting to school life. Janis and Damian, whom are close friends, helped her out the first few days. They told her about the school layout, life, and social groups; especially warning her about the “Plastics” and their “Queen B”, Regina.

Cady Heron is brought into this culture when she is called by Regina to join her for lunch. Against Janis and Damian’s warning, she joins them and is brought into the culture of “Plastics.” This culture is composed of talking about people behind their back, complementing others on ugly pieces of clothing, and asking about how they look. As she only hangs out with them to gain information for Janis to try to sabotage Regina’s social status, she slowly begins to fade into this culture and becomes what she was trying to disrupt. She goes from a nice, innocent girl to an impolite schemer that destroys Regina’s reputation. She also manages to lose her friendship with Janis and Damian.

When Regina finds out that Cady has been sabotaging her for the last couple of months, she puts her self in a book, which insults all the girls in their school, to make it look like Cady made the book. After showing this to the principle, she then photocopies all the pages and tosses the pages around the school, causing all the girls in the school to go into an animalistic riot. This causes a giant assembly to form where Janis, still upset with Cady, reveals the entirety of the plan to Regina about ruining her life like she did hers. This cause Regina to storm outside while Cady tries to apologize. However while Regina is calling Cady out about her not being innocent, a bus hits her. This leaves Regina hospitalized and Cady accused of pushing Regina into the bus, which she did not. With everything around her going badly, she takes responsibility for the book, started by Regina, and takes the punishment. This does not redeem her, but her moment at the dance did.

At Spring Fling, a dance by the school, Cady is brought there, after she makes up with her math teacher, and is about to accept the consequences for leaving while being grounded, for her parents are there looking for her. Then she is crowned the Queen of Spring Fling. She then proceeds to give a speech (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_mldpjy1mg) about how everyone is competing and stressing out about a plastic crown. She then breaks the crown and tosses the pieces into the audience. This redeems her and makes everyone more accepting of each other and almost eliminating the hate of the socialization of the high school. Cady is a valid heroine in this sense because she does go into unknown territory to defeat an evil, and returns her reward to the people.

To further analyze Cady, the parallels between Feminist Criticism and the film should be noticed. Feminist Criticism is the literary analysis of female portrayal in literature. This is not a spinoff of feminism, but a more analytical view of women in stories. Socialisation (as written in Barry’s Beginning Theory) in female literature is concentrated on the role models for males and females. This is shown in Mean Girls through the scenes when other students are thinking about Regina in the beginning. Everybody involved talked positively about her. Therefore she sets the trend for the women attending the high school by being “flawless” and the one person everyone wants to be. She even punches someone and the girl said, “It was awesome.” Thus showing how Regina can do whatever she wants, because every girl wants to be like her and the stereotypical socialsation of women. This inspires Cady’s goal to balance the social structure through out the movie. Keep in mind that’s inside the movie, not outside. Outside the movie would still show socialisation because Cady still falls into the “appearance stereotype” part of it. Hollywood pitches an “ideal image” when casting for any movie role. This unfortunately means a generalized image for teenage girls. Though the movie has some girls that break this image, it mainly focuses on the people that make this image. Showing a possible problem that only pretty people can do what she did. In conclusion, the socialisation of feminist criticism applies heavily is critical to understand for the context of this movie.

Another important concept to understand for this movie is Postcolonialism. Postcolonialism is another literary analysis based on the social interactions of civilizations after they were established. This is relevant to Cady because she is living in a culture different than the one she grew up in. So she is living through the Postcolonial concepts known as Adopt, Adapt, and Adept. Adopt is the phase where the rules of society are taught to the main character. This is shown in the scene when Janis and Damian tell her about the school, because they are literally telling her how the school works. Adapt is the phase when the character is adjusting to these rules or way of living in the society. This is demonstrated when Cady is slowly turning into a “Plastic” after hanging out with Regina and her posse, because she is adjusting to the group stereotype after hanging around them for a while. Then there is Adept where the character is able to identify themselves within the society. Cady symbolizes this phase when she breaks the crown of the Spring Fling and goes to make amends with Janis and Damian, because those are the people she identifies most with and enjoys. Hereby showing the significance of postcolonialism in American High School culture.

Why is this significant? Mean Girls maybe a satire, but most of us can see the relevance of the movie everywhere. From High school to college, the social trends made fun of can be seen in everyday interactions. Several people whom went to high school have related the movie in someway to their experience in school. Sure not all high schools are like that, but there still are some “Plastics” and social groups that people can identify. This makes Cady significant is the fact that she starts out figuring out where she belongs in the society, which is a common story that everybody has. Then she becomes this whole other entity that everybody hates while going through this process. Then when she has the crown, the grand prize, she realizes that it wasn’t worth all this drama and breaks the crown. Her breaking of the crown symbolizes an equalization of these groups, and that everybody is the queen in their own way. Relating back to the feminist and postcolonialism, through becoming Adept in the society of High School, she realizes the monstrous socialisation and tries to break everyone free of it. In summary her heroism is shown in her actions, guilt and attempts to make up for her actions. All those make her a realistic heroine that people can relate to.

Lorraine Warren: Cleansing Her Demons

Banishing demons from the lives of others is no job for the emotionally weak, especially for Lorraine Warren. Lorraine is a paranormal investigator, clairvoyant, medium, and most importantly, a savior with a chosen purpose to help those in need. To do what she lives for, she must be strong, dependable, and a hero to herself and all. In The Conjuring 2, she begins her journey to help, protect, and cleanse the Hodgson family living in Enfield, London from, quite literally, their demons.

In this blog post, theoretical frameworks and cultural references will be explored through the scenes of The Conjuring 2. By analyzing the supernatural aspects of the movie through the lense of psychoanalysis, we as an audience can better understand the ways in which Lorraine handles her psychic abilities and her experiences mentally. Additionally, how she treats and analyzes the family’s that she helps. Through the lense of posthumanism, we are able to understand the very basic and raw nature of a biological human being. Beyond this, how we think and the entities that exist in a state beyond being human.

In 1974, Amityville, New York, a man by the name of Robert DeFeo Jr. murdered all members of his family while they slept. This case remains to be known as “The Devil Made Me Do It” trial. Two years later, Lorraine and her husband, Ed Warren, visited that same house in attempts to help the new family, the Lutz’s, who were experiencing paranormal phenomenon. During so, a seance is held, in which Lorraine relived the DeFeo murders being committed as the word “kill” is echoed, experienced a demonic figure strangle her, and witnessed Ed be impaled and killed. In the aftermath, the Warren’s chose to take a break from anything and everything paranormal.

image03

“Ed, this is as close to hell as I ever wanna get.”

the-conjuring-2-review-3

One year later, in 1977, the Hodgson family of England, began to experience their own strange happenings, capable of being rightfully compared to those of Amityville. The events began innocently. Children’s toys would turn on by themselves, objects would move, the house would rumble, and voices and deep screams could be heard by the youngest members of the family. Then, the damage began. One of the sisters, Janet, began to sleepwalk during the night. Day after day she would be awoken by falling to the ground, feet from her bed. The events escalated so bad that she tied herself to the bottom of the frame in the hopes that this would end her wandering about the house. It only angered the cause.

Convinced that her children had gone mad and were “taking turns scaring the wits out of each other”, the mother of the three kids lost it. Seconds after, the room imploded. Furniture went flying and there were no more second thoughts. The family fled that night. Friends were reached and the police were called. They received no immediate help from the cops and were left to fend for themselves.

During a vision in her home, Lorraine challenges the original demon that strangled her in the seance at the Amityville home. While being teased, she remains strong and does not run. As a medium, she has learned to stay and listen, despite the terror she may feel within. Eventually, she is pushed past her breaking point, and turns to face the masculine figure which is depicted in a dark and disturbing nun’s outfit. She screams a question. He screams back.

image01.png

“Who are you!?”

“Tell me who you are!”

“What do you want!?”

image05.png

Throughout the movie, Lorraine is continuously revisited by this unknown demon. The entity’s message was clear. As long as Lorraine took possessed items attaching demons to homes and cleansed the paranormal from other’s lives, she would be haunted. Of all the things she loved near and dear, impaling her husband was the demon’s favorite thing. Yet, that didn’t stop her in quite the way the entity wanted.

The activity in the Hodgson house increased to a dangerous level. Through an attempt by the media to interview the family, Janet is possessed. It is then quickly learned that one of the spirits haunting them was an old man named Bill Wilkins, who lived and died in their home. He favored the old leather chair that still sits in their living room from when he was alive. He also wanted it back.

Enter the Warrens.

Skeptical yet eager to help the family, Ed and Lorraine travel to London. All The While, Lorraine is in fear that her vision of her husband dying will come true during the investigation. Thus, they come to a middle point and agreed not to get too involved.

During their stay, they brought hope, happiness, and safety to the family. Especially Lorraine, who connected with Janet on an emotional level.

Then, the most important scene of the movie rolls.

One night, a video is recorded of Janet purposely wrecking her kitchen behind closed doors while the family cowered in horror in the living room, believing she was having a demonic episode. The Warrens are shown this footage, and the case is quickly closed as a hoax by the daughter.

As they boarded the train for home, Lorraine came to a realization. The old man spirit is a pawn of the demon haunting Lorraine. He used this and a crooked man character as cover from her psychic abilities in order to weaken the daughter and family so he could fully take possession. By the demon’s most powerful threat now being out of the house, the final break to the family’s will can be made.

In a panic, the Warrens returned. Lightning strikes the tree outside the Hodgson’s house, leaving a pointed spear. Oddly, resembled in her visions of Ed.

Although Lorraine is struck with the intense fear of her husband falling on this wooden spike, she continued. She surpassed her personal fear and pursued the resolution of the family’s fear instead. Eventually, she followed Ed to the top floor of the house. There, Ed is hanging halfway out a room window, grasping Janet in mid-air, mere minutes away from death. The demon in the corner.

Lorraine knew she didn’t have time to panic. Raking her memories, she realized she knew the demon’s name all along. She had written it into her bible during the vision in which she asked for it. Valak.

In a powerful scene, Lorraine confronted Valak by stating that the demon’s name gives her dominion over it. Without hesitation, burning with anger, and riddled with knowledge, she addressed the demon and condemned it back into Hell. She then quickly rescued her husband as he was seconds from tumbling over the edge. She tended to both him and Janet immediately, the safety of the cleanse not yet in effect until the family and the couple were reunited outside.

The Warrens reflected outside. Lorraine looked her husband in the eyes and stated, “You saved her.” He replied by saying, “No, you saved us.” She is humble enough to not give herself credit, yet accept when it is called for. He believed in her, and she was fueled by love and compassion.

image04

“You said one person could change everything? But, I’ve got two.”

The Hodgson family then approach them, thanking them for coming back to help. Validating the effect the Warrens had on the outcome. To confirm their sympathy, Ed turns over his cross necklace to Janet. It kept him safe when he needed it, it would now continue to keep her safe.

Lorraine saved herself, her husband, and the Hodgson family. The strength of her inner power led her to success. Therefore, she deserves this credit and recognition for her bravery. Without the Warrens and in the state that the family was in, there is no doubt that someone would have been dead by that next morning.

Psychoanalysis

The term psychoanalysis can be used thoroughly throughout the movie of The Conjuring 2. Lorraine goes on a powerful journey, one of which leaves a strong emotional toll on her family and soul. The spiritual world, represented in this film, connects her to both the physical and intangible parts of her conscious and unconscious mind. By releasing herself and diving deeper into her unconscious, she gains knowledge impossible of receiving without it.

Throughout her multiple seances, this is how she is able to gain leverage over mourning spirits and restless demons. However, this is met with a cost, as it leaves herself vulnerable. Lorraine’s mind is open for attack, but her physical body is not. When she returns back to her conscious, the roles switch. Her body is now the most at risk, while her mind can be protected with her newfound knowledge and numerous other psychic abilities.

In the most important aspect of the movie, this is where she manages to learn the demon’s name, Valak, in order to take power over it and cast it off to Hell. Instead of using this method to analyze and treat a psychological disorder, the term better refers to the process in which our modern day horror hero is able to analyze and cleanse families in danger and in need of the Warren’s help.

Posthumanism

The term posthumanism can be found with multiple definitions, but is often referred to the concept of human’s be able to live in a world beyond what we know. As biological creatures, we have physical and mental limitations that keep us all within a range. On the most basic of levels, this orchestrates how we think, our emotions, experiences and abilities, and ultimately, how and when we die. Most humans have a combination of the very raw human traits. But, what about psychic or supernatural powers? Clairvoyance, telepathy, telekinesis? What does it mean to experience these, and does it make you any less, or any more of a human being?

Arguably, having these abilities enhances the life of a human. To be put to good, to nothing, or to the bad is up to the host. In this case, Lorraine uses her multitude of unworldly powers for the good of her conscience and for the families and individuals looking for help. Without her powers, she would  just merely be another person in a time of need. They cannot be helped without these posthumanist powers. Ultimately, they rely on it for the weight between life and death.

img.jpg

Cultural Significance

The Conjuring 2 does not just list the life of another family, haunted by the paranormal, for the pure sake of audience entertainment. The movie is made with thought, care, and an overlapping story from the rest of the series. The character, Lorraine Warren, introduces an important idea that correlates with this. As a modern day heroine, she portrays the real life version. She is not fabricated by Hollywood, she represents a living, breathing, human being who has experienced the stories being told on screen. Lorraine does not work alone, because no real hero can, but she is independent. She is powerful, strong, and thus, an embodiment of a new heroine.

Anna: Frozen

Frozen takes place in the kingdom of Arendelle. Anna and Elsa are both princesses in the kingdom, and Elsa possesses special powers that allow her to manipulate ice and freeze objects. The girls were best friends when they were young children, but one day when they were playing Elsa accidentally hit Anna in the head with her magic, almost killing her. Anna was taken to a group of trolls, and the leader claimed he could heal her, but would have to wipe her memory of Elsa’s powers. After this event, their parents separate the sisters and close off the gates of the kingdom so as to keep Elsa’s powers a secret from the outside world. From this point on Elsa stays in her room, afraid that she will be unable to control her powers and might hurt someone again should she come out. During this time their parents are killed in a storm while they are out at sea. This leaves the girls truly alone.

Image result for elsa and anna as kids

Three years later it is Elsa’s coronation day to become the new Queen of Arendelle. Anna is excited because they are finally opening up the gates of the kingdom. Several important people from around the area come to the kingdom, including Prince Hans of the Southern Isles and the Duke of Weselton. Anna meets Hans on the docks and they instantly form a connection. After the ceremony, Anna asks Elsa for her permission to marry Hans. This upsets Elsa, making her unleash her powers in front of the whole kingdom. Terrified that she will be seen as a monster by her people, Elsa runs out of the kingdom and into the mountains to seclude herself. This event triggers an eternal winter to come over the kingdom.

Image result for elsa frozen coronation

Anna believes she can talk to her sister and convince her to revert Arendelle back to what it was before. She sets out into the mountains to do so. This is Anna’s call to adventure. Along the way she comes to a small shack where she meets an ice seller named Kristoff and his reindeer, Sven. Anna buys supplies for Kristoff because he couldn’t afford them, and he agrees to help her find Elsa. Along the way they meet a snowman named Olaf who accompanies them on their journey. After being attacked by wolves and nearly falling off a cliff, they make it to Elsa’s ice castle. Anna tries to convince Elsa to come home, but Elsa refuses because she is still afraid that she can’t control her powers. She gets angry and releases a blast of ice that hits Anna in the heart.

Image result for frozen elsa hits anna in the heart

On their way back down the mountain, Anna’s hair starts to turn white. Kristoff notices this and says he knows who can help her. They go visit the same trolls that Anna visited when she was young, but the leader says he can’t heal her this time because she was struck in the heart. He tells them that only an act of true love can thaw a broken heart. Meanwhile, Hans and his people set off into the mountains to find Elsa. They find her and bring her back to the kingdom, where she is chained up and imprisoned. Hans asks her to undo the winter, but she says she can’t. She asks him to convince her people that she isn’t a threat, and he tells her he will do his best.

Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf leave the trolls and head back to Arendelle so that Anna can kiss Hans and be saved. Kristoff leaves Anna back at the kingdom where she finds Hans and tells him they need to kiss. Hans tells her that he doesn’t actually love her and just wanted to marry her so he could have a tie to the throne. He locks her in her room and leaves her there to die. After leaving Anna, he tells the people that she passed away. He is then made the official ruler of Arendelle, and charges Elsa with treason.

Image result for frozen anna kiss hans

Olaf comes to the rescue and opens the door to Anna’s room. Anna says she doesn’t know what love is, but Olaf tells her that Kristoff’s selfless act of bringing her to Hans means he loves her. She then sees Kristoff riding towards the kingdom and leaves the room to find him.

Hans goes back to Elsa, but she has escaped the prison. The winter also begins to intensify. Elsa gets caught in the storm and Hans finds her. He convinces her that she killed Anna, and she breaks down. Anna sees Kristoff coming towards her, but she also sees Elsa weeping on the ground. Hans is about to kill Elsa when Anna jumps in front of her and turns to solid ice. Hans ends up hitting Anna instead, breaking his sword. Elsa bursts into tears at the sight of her sister turning to ice, and she wraps her arms around her. This is the act of love that Anna needed, and she begins to thaw out. They realize that love can unfreeze the kingdom, and slowly the ice starts to disappear.

Hans is locked up and sent back to the Southern Isles, and Elsa writes that Arendelle will no longer do business with Weselton. Anna buys Kristoff a new sled, and he finally gets to kiss her. Elsa creates an ice rink in the middle of the kingdom and makes Anna a pair of ice skates. They begin skating around and having fun like they used to when they were young.

Image result for frozen ice skating

Anna is a dynamic heroine that goes through a lot in her journey. The theoretical frameworks in which I will be analyzing her will be feminist criticism and Marxism.

A part of feminist criticism has to do with what it means to be feminine. In most cases, femininity refers to the stereotypes surrounding what it means to be a women. It is a group of standards that society has deemed women do or should possess. some examples of this could include being timid, polite, delicate, and mild-mannered, just to name a few.

In the beginning of the story, Anna actually possesses several of the traditionally feminine characteristics. One example of this would be when she meets Hans on the docks for the first time. She is completely struck by his beauty, and becomes timid and shy in his presence. This relates to the classic ‘girl falls for dreamy boy’ theme that occurs in several chick flick movies. However, she begins to lose her timid nature as the story continues. She saves Kristoff from the wolves on their way to Elsa’s castle, and fearlessly confronts her sister when everyone else was afraid to. In this way, she possesses several qualities that traditional female characters may not, such as courage and great strength.

The one event in the story that I would say solidifies Anna as a heroine who breaks the norms of femininity would be when she sacrifices herself to save her sister. Many a time you will see heroes sacrificing themselves in order to save their world or someone they love. Anna is given the choice to run to Kristoff or save her sister, and she makes the ultimate choice to save her sister, which in turn saves her kingdom and her people. Self sacrifice encompasses many of the qualities that go hand in hand with being a hero, and by doing this, Anna therefore takes on these qualities as well. Although she may start out as your run of the mill female character, she ends up being a heroine who truly breaks the norms of what it means to be female and feminine.

Image result for frozen anna sacrifice

Marxism also relates to Anna’s journey in a few ways. The main point of Marxism that I will be referring to is the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. In the Marxist framework, the bourgeoisie are the rich capitalists that take control of the proletarians, or the poor. They will often milk them for all they are worth, extracting as much use from them as they possibly can without giving much in return. Marx believed this relationship would lead to the proletarians uprising, which would set the framework for modern day Communism.

In the beginning of her journey, Anna could be seen as the proletariat and Hans as the bourgeoisie. Hans had a lot to gain from marrying Anna, while Anna ultimately had very little to gain in the end. He intended to use her to take control of her kingdom. I can imagine that if his plan had been a success, Arendelle could have very much likely resembled that of the proletariat and bourgeoisie relationship, where Hans would have been in control of the people of Arendelle and could have used them however he wanted.

Another example of this would be how the Duke of Weselton wanted to use Arendelle in order to benefit from its resources. He wanted to form a good relationship with Anna and Elsa so that he could profit off of their kingdom in the long run. While this doesn’t directly relate to Anna, it is still worth noting.

It is easy to see that Marxism can be related to not just Anna’s journey, but almost every hero/heroine’s journey in some way. There always appears to be that one antagonist that wants to take advantage of a group of people or nation for their own personal gain.

Image result for frozen duke

In terms of cultural significance, this movie has a ton of it. I remember when it came out back in 2013. I didn’t see it when it was first released, but no matter where I went I could hear someone singing the signature tune of the movie. “Let it go” was an extremely popular song of that time, with young children and old folks alike singing along. The music in the film is overall great, but how does the story itself relate to our culture?

I think one of the main reasons as to why this film was so popular is that most people could relate to Elsa in some way. Throughout the movie you could see that she struggled a great deal internally, and although she was a princess she was flawed. She made real mistakes that had real consequences on her home and the ones she loved. Most people can relate to this because everyone makes mistakes. It is easy to feel Elsa’s pain because most of us have probably gone through similar times of pain and suffering.

In addition to that, Frozen is able to appeal to a wide audience due to being so different from the normal Disney princess movies. It features strong female characters and a plot that focuses more on camaraderie than anything. The relationships between friends plays a key role in any culture, and really this whole movie is about two sisters rebuilding their relationship and becoming friends again. Everyone has friends that they can’t imagine their lives without. My friends mean the world to me, and I could sense that Elsa meant the world to Anna. I’ll say right now that I never cry during movies, but I actually found myself tearing up at several points in this one. It has such a way of appealing to our emotions because we all have friends that are important to us. I was imagining if my best friends randomly grew apart from me and how sad I would feel.

The emphasis on friendship as well as being able to relate to the characters are what makes this film so significant, and I guarantee that it will be remembered as one of the greatest Disney films of our time.

Image result for frozen anna and elsa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑