Thursday, December 20, 2007

Genre stretching - post (I) - Enchanted

Last weekend we took our kids to see Enchanted, the latest Disney film, which claims to take Disney films to a whole new level with the ending that it creates. For those of you who don't know, the story of Enchanted follows a cartoon Disney princess (Giselle) who is transported into present-day New York, courtesy of the wicked stepmother, and the adventures she undertakes whilst attempting to get back to 'Disney cartoonland Andulasia'. Of course, there is nothing really new about mixing cartoon style disney with more conventional film presentation (remember Pete and the Dragon? And later on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?). But Enchanted tranforms the cartoon figures into human actresses (and vice versa at the end), and (spoiler ahead) switches the 'human' and 'disney' characters in the end. But I have to confess that the feminist in me was somewhat disappointed in all of this. Probably for the same reason that I was never that into my daughter playing with Barbie dolls. There is some attempt to break with genre and have the disney princess take on the evil stepmother, saving her NY hero so that he fell into her arms in the climactic rescue scene. But there was a whole lot more that endorsed disney stereotypes in idealised, and (from my perspective) in sadly non-ironic terms. Was this film transliterate in its genre mixing? Well, maybe a little. But it definitely made me think that novelty soon disappears when we move across modes of representation. Was that genre mixing creative? Well, maybe in some ways, but also firmly supportive of the existing conventions of representing femininity.



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