The Protagonist’s Diet

Dear Millicent,

With the recent news that Disney has decided to close down the princess factory due to the fact that girls just weren’t a big enough audience, and even repackaged Rapunzel into Tangled, complete with male protagonist and Bourne-style fight scenes to lighten the stench of icky girldom, I am have been doing some thinking about my diet.

If little girls, aka half the population of children, are just too small of a stake to make films for, then why service the other half at all?  Ah yes, that old chestnut about how boys resist building themselves into female narratives, but girls, out of sheer survival (I’m talking cozy survival here, like multiplex-entertain-me survival), quickly patch themselves in to male narratives with little flinching. Meaning, if I have twins, a boy and a girl, there is no way as a parent I could take them both to The Princess and the Frog, but I could def have a grand family day at Toy Story.

And of course this extends to our grown up selves. I’ve never heard a man willingly relate to Meg Ryan, thought lots of women have taken on the journeys of George Clooney as the thinking person’s everyman.

In this past month, I have given up coffee, booze, refined sugar, white flour, red meat, eggplant, tomato, dairy, and white potatoes. Also raw onion, grapes, and all spicy meals.I have done this great reduction under my acupunturist’s orders, in an effort to be less of a bitch (she says my liver is inflamed).  I miss everything, but not enough to really go out and get it.  I also wake up more easily, and have better breath.

What if our  movie diets changed in a similar, and equally radical manner? If girls and women aren’t enough of a market share because they willingly do what their male counterparts won’t, what happens if we stop doing it? What if we stop going to see movies that have only a leading male protagonist?  We don’t go see them with our kids, our families, on dates, or on rainy afternoons.  We don’t take our brilliant nieces or nephews to see Untangled.

I find this idea grim. I love movies and TV, and would hate to lose such a large pleasure. Hearing somebody proclaim they can’t go see a movie because of it’s lack of female protagonists would be as irritating as hearing me order food at a restaurant now (hold the dairy, tomato, and oh, is there white flour used in the bun?) But, if, like booze and red meat, you got to kick it to win it, then maybe it’s worth the hiatus?

I’m not sure I can go on this movie diet alone. It could only work if it was a huge boycott. So huge that it could end quickly, and we could feast again. This time happily gorging on the awesomeness of entertainment that admits we are a fucking large piece of the puzzle.

We are what we eat, after all. And I’d love to be a real protagonist someday.

Yours,

CF

3 Responses to The Protagonist’s Diet

  1. bungars says:

    Thank you for insightful breaking-down of this topic! Though the blog-post title led me towards a different expectation and –surprise!– a different thought: on the subject of dieting, how bad is it that Disney will no longer be the responsible party for telling little girls what they should value? Is it possible that Disney princesses did more harm than good, telling little girls that if you’re going to get anything out of life at all, you have to be perhaps dangerously thin, and prettier than all your friends/enemies? Could it be that little girls identifying with little boys could be better for them? As in, at least their identifying with a character who can climb a tree… Very interested to hear your thoughts on this!

    • Carla Fran says:

      Thanks for your thoughts here! I’m interested, what kind of protagonist diet was expected?
      I’m with you–I think the end of the princess factory is a blessing, but it’s the reasoning behind it that freaks me out. Making shitty products for little girls sucks, but to quit making any product for them because they aren’t valuable as customers is crazeball. If the only option is to be a princess or to be a boy, then even if we are identifying with boys in climbing trees, it still backs up the idea that boys have the innate right to climb the tree, and the girls are encroaching and enjoying a fantasy instead of a reality in doing so. And boys are getting the backup message that their world and its privileges are still separate from the girl’s world.
      But maybe this will take some heat off of an uber-feminine/sexualized girlhood. Maybe sales in princess heels for toddlers will go down? What’s interesting to is that apparently Disney went anti princess because after age 6 or so, girls shun princessdom for “cool” characters. So princessdom is apparently losing its edge. My worry is that “cool” correlates to “male.”

  2. bungars says:

    I suppose I was expecting a diet of protagonists on diets! (though yours sounds like it has more to do with healthfulness than self-negation!!) I am so vindicated by this post for the terrible boredom I have always suffered trying to force myself to watch/ boys’ movies. I always thought this meant I was shallow, but now I see it means I somehow refused to accept that climbing trees was a goal or in any way cool!
    Yes! If only we could get the message across that the cool character is Ursula! Is Bernadette Peters! Is Moll Flanders (the only female character to escape the dyad marriage-or-death for some 200 years)!

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