Dragon 2: DreamWorks Could Use Some Training in Racial Stereotyping

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Diversity in animation is often evident via the fanciful creatures that populate such stories. Big green ogres, cutesy blue smurfs, jocular bright-yellow minions. In How to Train Your Dragon 2 dragons are the diverse creatures of choice, ranging from the uber-spikey untrainable babies, to the salamander-like faithful Toothless, to the menacing mastadonesque alpha-dragon. The humans that […]

The Fault in Our Stars: Our Love Affair with Romance and Feminism

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Pain demands to be felt. So goes one of the wise lines from John Green’s bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars. The line is prominently featured in the movie of the same title—and rightfully so, given that this dictum on the necessity of feeling pain is a key reason the story is so compelling. […]

The Political Romance of Belle

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Before making the film Belle, screenwriter Misan Sagay  first saw the painting—an 18th-century portrait of Lady Elizabeth Murray with Dido Elizabeth Belle alongside her—and noticed a striking difference from other paintings of the era depicting black subjects. In this painting, the woman of color, Belle, is positioned somewhat as an equal, not bowed or stooping […]

Maleficent: Finally, Disney Gives us a Positive Witch/Mother

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Women’s stories have often been twisted, stolen, and locked away, often in iron-clad phallocentric cages. This has led to benevolent witches turning wicked, powerful woman being framed as bitches, midwives cast as baby-killers, queens/princesses truncated into damsels in distress and, perhaps most pervasively, the demonization/murder of mothers and motherhood. To hide this ironclad prison house […]

Lesbian Truths and Laughs

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The raw, risky, brilliant, inventive, comic genius Ingrid Jungermann is back with Season 2 of her hit web series F to 7th, a comedy about her descent (ascent?) into pre-middle age. Judgmental as ever, Jungermann—the writer/director/star—struggles to find herself in a world where changing views of sexuality and gender have left behind her sort of […]

Where Are All the Leading Ladies of Color?

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A few years ago, my date and I sat in a movie theater in Malibu, watching the opening of Couples Retreat. When the first black woman actor came on the screen, my date smacked his teeth in disgust. The woman was loud, obnoxious and senseless. Within the first 5 minutes of seeing her on the […]

What Women-Led Movies Can Do for Hollywood

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In 2012, women made up a larger share of moviegoers than men, and yet there’s a general consensus in Hollywood that women-focused films—which attract women to movie theaters—are bad for business. In fact, the myth is so pervasive that former Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov once declared that his company would stop making films with […]

Why Couldn’t “Divergent” Give Peace a Chance?

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Divergent isn’t perfect. And I am not referring to the film’s dystopian world, wherein society has been split into six “factions”—the smart (erudite), the peaceful (amity), the truthful (candor), the selfless (abnegation), the brave (dauntless) and the outcasts (the factionless). I am referring to the fact that it does not, as with most mainstream dystopian […]

Anita: Still Speaking Truth to Power

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Anita: Speaking Truth to Power, a beautiful new documentary by Academy Award-winning director Freida Lee Mock (Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision), is a history lesson for some audiences and a site of memory for others. Millennial girls and women who didn’t witness firsthand the spectacle of sex and race during the 1991 Senate Judiciary […]

The Fantasy of Mammy, the Truth of Patsey

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It was not lost on some that, 75 years after Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, the beautiful, poised and talented Lupita Nyong’o would become the sixth black woman to win that same Oscar—and for playing the same type of role, a slave. If we count Halle […]