Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Cuckooguy »

I think part of the reason for the lack of female Pixar protagonists is the saturation of female protagonists in Disney movies in the 90s, and even the ones that were targeted towards boys had a female lead that is arguably more popular than the male main character (Jasmine from Aladdin, Meg from Hercules, Esmeralda from Hunchback), and even Treasure Planet, which is supposed to be a tale of a young man going on a journey, somehow felt "girly", especially when compared to Pixar's offerings (may have had to do with the main character's pretty boy look). If Disney was stereotypically targeted towards girls, boys would gravitate towards Pixar's different direction. Now I don't think this was a deliberate decision of, "Hey let's do boys' movies because Disney is stereotypically girly", but just how subconsciously things fell into place. I think one of the reasons movies made after Lion King didn't do so well was because Aladdin and Lion King were both movies both boys and girls could watch and not be embarrassed to talk about it with their friends and why their succeeding movies were viewed as girly, alienating the boys. Of course there were a lot of other reasons (quality of the script) but I won't delve into that.

When I heard the main character of Brave was female, I was a bit excited. When I heard she was a princess, that dampened my excitement (can't we have a female protagonist that isn't a princess?!), but I'm over that and am looking forward to the movie when it comes out.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Esrever »

I want to like Brave. I hope it's good! I don't really like how it looks, though. I'm not really a fan of the "it's a fantasy in the woods, so everything has to be grey, green and brown" school of cartoon colour design. (It bothered me in How to Train Your Dragon, too.) I also feel like the cartoony faces are kind of incongruous with the fairly photo-real detail of the clothing and environments. I just don't think it's coming together cohesively like their other films... it looks busy and drab and devoid of style.

Like, compare how awesome the colour and environment design and composition and everything else comes together in the posters:
Image

to the endless stream of blah that is this entire gallery of screenshots:
http://cinema.theiapolis.com/movie-2RLU/brave/gallery/

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Radrappy »

Brave is going to be interesting to see because it's had a really bumpy production. The trailers have been pretty awful so far too. I think one of them had voice over, a vocal song, and awkward text prompts ("in any age, family is king") all in one trailer! But hey what do I know, I thought Wall-e and Up were kind of crap.

As for the whole female protagonist thing, I don't give a hoot. It's either a well written character or it isn't. And as for why there hasn't been many female characters (or well written ones) is because 99% of the creative staff is male. Yup.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Delphine »

Well said, Pop.
Popcorn wrote:Pixar is, to my mind, for all its cutting-edge techno-genius, weirdly conservative. They tell old-fashioned, nostalgic, backward-looking stories about restoring the status quo.
I agree, actually. The Incredibles is particularly egregious. I would like to expand on my point but my crappy stolen connection won't load the reference I wish to refer to, so.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Radrappy »

Delphine wrote: I agree, actually. The Incredibles is particularly egregious.
Explain please, when you get a chance. If you're referring to women's roles, the film IS an ode to the classic nuclear model. But Mrs. Incredible is still an action hero regardless of the fact that she does in fact do the laundry. I don't honestly see anything offensive in here. Not every film is meant to be a social/political statement on gender roles. And not every film should be.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Esrever »

Pixar has a very singular voice. I think it stems from the extreme influence their creative "brain trust" has on each other's films and the work of other Pixar creatives. Any time you have a committee at the wheel -- even a small and hyper-talented committee -- you're going to see tried-and-true, conservative storytelling (that works, mind you!) favoured over more personal, potentially weird or eccentric directions.

Incredibles is interesting, though, because I feel like Brad Bird's films are the exception to that rule! I always assumed it was because he came from outside and had a lot of influence, but I feel like Incredibles and Ratatouille are similar only to one another and very unlike the rest of Pixar's work. The theme of exceptionalism -- of gifted people being repressed or misunderstood while untalented people elevate themselves through articles or bureaucracy -- is certainly not something I noticed in any of their other stuff, and Bird's films push it to an near-activist level. (It actually makes me a little uncomfortable, but I still like it because it makes the films feel more unique and personal.)

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Green Gibbon! »

Do you accept that what you call a "holy war" might actually have a useful purpose?
So what's the useful purpose of nit-picking over movies because they don't further an agenda?

No, I do not accept that a "holy war" might have a useful purpose. It may have started from a good idea, but when it reaches the point of people looking for reasons to be offended - y'know, who's the one with the problem? I can't imagine anyone whose mind hasn't been dominated by a political doctrine (and when you apply a label to yourself, you've reached that point) would bother to look at something like the Pixar catalog and say "It's not perfect because it's not 'on-message'." How is complaining about the lack of female leads different from PETA activists complaining about the depiction of meat? Why would you choose to mention the lack of female leads and not the lack of black leads? That's something Ghibli has even less of. What if I say Pixar is better because they have, what, two black characters compared to Ghibli's none? Where are all the Muslim leads? How about some Jewish heroes? Where's the fucking midgets?

Do you see how ridiculous this gets?


I actually think Ghibli's best days are over, probably largely due to what Esrever said about adherence to a particular style. None of what they've done in the past decade has the spark of their 90's output. (Mind, I haven't seen Arrietty yet.) I'd hate to see the same thing happen to Pixar, even though we have long since arrived at a definite Pixar "style."

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Crowbar »

It's only ridiculous because you're putting words into people's mouths to make it sound ridiculous.

Nobody here is saying "Pixar's movies are terrible because they don't have female leads". They're saying "It's a shame that they reflect how commonplace it is for male characters to dominate rather than female characters in movies and storytelling in general."

The fact that you seem to find it difficult to understand why somebody would want to feel better represented in the media is disappointing, and the way that you're reacting against it is pretty standard. You're making the mad claim that people "enslave their minds to this kind of thinking", as if one has to be indoctrinated into wanting equal treatment. You use the tired "looking to be offended" argument, unaware that a woman, or a black person, or any marginalised person really doesn't have to go looking to see that they're marginalised. You say that people are "dominated by a political doctrine", completely missing the fact that indoctrination is what led marginalised people to accept their marginalisation in the first place, and otherwise decent priviliged people to let it happen.

Why do you talk about political ideology "compromising an otherwise great story" only in relation to it being a female/black/midget/whatever protagonist instead of a white man? The way you used that phrase implies that you can't imagine a story being ruined by having a white man as the protagonist instead of somebody else.

Everything about the way you're reacting to this just shows that you don't even understand that there's a problem in the first place. That itself is part of the problem.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Esrever »

It's just screwball because we are talking about 50% of the population. It takes a specific, reality-defying conscientious effort NOT to have female leads. And it is a conscientious decision... studios avoid greenlighting films with female leads because they think they won't sell.

Forcing studios to make films to represent every single token minority on earth and crippling creative freedom with the political burden would almost certainly be a bad thing. Fortunately that is an imaginary problem that doesn't exist. The problem that REALLY exists is the reverse: creatives are discouraged from making movies about women and minorities, even when they WANT to, because studios think everyone who isn't a white dude or Will Smith is "risky".

Disney makes good stuff, but they are as conservative as they come. I'm pretty confident the only reason recent movies like Brave or Princess and the Frog were greenlit was because they created new characters for the Disney Princess merchandise line. Ratatouille (a movie about rats cooking in France, marketing nightmare!) only happened because development started during the period of time that Pixar was independent of Disney. Since the acquisition, 50% of the films Pixar has started making have been sequels. And guys like Chris Sanders -- talented directors who are 90% Disney at heart but with just a hint of a unique or interesting personal viewpoint -- are leaving. It just doesn't seem like a great time to be a boat rocker over there.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Green Gibbon! »

The problem that REALLY exists is the reverse: creatives are discouraged from making movies about women and minorities, even when they WANT to, because studios think everyone who isn't a white dude or Will Smith is "risky".
But that's the exact same thing as my point - politics threatening creativity.

I don't quite understand what this "status quo" is that's not being challenged or why it should be. Y'know, if the creators of the Incredibles wanted to tell a story about a black family and then marketing said no because it wouldn't sell, that would be a tremendous problem, but is that what happened? Is that what happened with any of Pixar's films up to now? If anyone can prove that, I'll concede, but all I see is people waving their fingers at storytellers for not telling a story the way they think it should be told according to politically charged ideals. Why should they be forced or expected to write stories with characters of a particular gender, race, or creed?

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Tsuyoshi-kun »

Green Gibbon! wrote:I'd hate to see the same thing happen to Pixar
Cars 2.

I'm with Eserver on the look of Brave and its unpleasant colors. It almost looks like a Dreamworks Animation film.

The posters look nice, though. Here's the Japanese poster of Brave: http://cinema.theiapolis.com/movie-2RLU ... 76170.html

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Crowbar »

Green Gibbon! wrote:
The problem that REALLY exists is the reverse: creatives are discouraged from making movies about women and minorities, even when they WANT to, because studios think everyone who isn't a white dude or Will Smith is "risky".
But that's the exact same thing as my point - politics threatening creativity.

I don't quite understand what this "status quo" is that's not being challenged or why it should be. Y'know, if the creators of the Incredibles wanted to tell a story about a black family and then marketing said no because it wouldn't sell, that would be a tremendous problem, but is that what happened? Is that what happened with any of Pixar's films up to now? If anyone can prove that, I'll concede, but all I see is people waving their fingers at storytellers for not telling a story the way they think it should be told according to politically charged ideals. Why should they be forced or expected to write stories with characters of a particular gender, race, or creed?
They don't have to have had an idea with black characters be denied by higher-ups for there to be a problem, nor is it specifically a problem that they didn't make that movie either way. No single film is a problem. The problem is that far more films have been made about white families than black families, and The Incredibles is just another example. Read what people are saying! Nobody said "The Incredibles should have been about a black family instead of a white one". What has been said is more to the effect of "The Incredibles is a well-made film but it reflects this problem that exists in society as a whole" (granted Delphine hasn't had the chance to elaborate her opinion on this particular film, but this reflects the general view that I've seen expressed in this thread)

The status quo is that white, straight, cisgendered (i.e. identifying as male) men are privileged over everyone else, and white, straight, cisgendered male characters are seen as the "norm" in fiction (there are other groups that are privileged/marginalised than these, but I'm trying to be concise). Any piece of media focusing on some other group is special because of it, and whenever somebody points out these things we get reactions like yours.

You talk about storytellers being forced to tell a story in a way that certain people think it should be told "according to politically charged ideals", apparently thinking that this is only a problem when it's coming from marginalised people. Your language also implies that you think a film can only be "politically charged" when it's about blacks and women. In fact it is literally impossible for a piece of fiction that contains characters to not either be a reflection or an expression of some political ideology. The decades of white/male/straight etc. dominated cinema and other fiction is just as politically charged as would be a movie about a black family of superheroes. Just because it's only passively so doesn't change that.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Crowbar »

I should additionally clarify what I meant about Pixar being expected to make films about anything other than white males. Certainly, they shouldn't: because they're mostly white men themselves. And this is another aspect of the problem: it's mostly white males in the position to makes these mainstream films. Why is that? It doesn't have to be active racism for it to demonstrate a real issue.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Green Gibbon! »

You're actually doing a terrific job of demonstrating exactly what I'm talking about - being so wrapped up your political worldview that it's tinting your perception of everything else including the movies you watch. The Incredibles is not a reflection of anything except what you choose to see in it. You're obviously convinced that white males are at the pinnacle of society (my paycheck would seem to indicate otherwise), but regardless of whether that is true or not - what should it have to do with good movies?

I'm probably being completely naive in wishing that animation or hell anything can be wholly divorced from politics. But it sure would be awesome if a good movie could just be a good movie.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Crisis »

It's not that Studio Ghibli ticked more political checkboxes than Pixar. They just explored a broader range of issues with a more diverse cast. I think that's more interesting to watch.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Delphine »

Oh, my non-expanded upon comment on The Incredibles was referring to how it handled exceptionalism. I don't have time to expand on it at the moment but I'll get to it later.

ETA: The link I wanted to refer to isn't actually what I thought it was, so I'm going to have to go by memory here. My problem with the Incredibles is that it took an incredibly intelligent, creative, inventive person and made him the villain versus a group of people who did nothing to earn their talents, they were simply born with them. Syndrome's main falling was that he was unable to get over childhood anger and let it turn him into a bitter, hateful person; but on the surface the movie is saying that his main failing is that he's not a superhero. That he wasn't born with some innate gift. That building himself up into something special wasn't worthy enough.

Not a lesson I would want any potential nieces/nephews of mine to learn.
Green Gibbon! wrote:I'm probably being completely naive in wishing that animation or hell anything can be wholly divorced from politics.
To a hilarious degree. It's easy for a straight white man to ignore the fact that he is overrepresented in media. The rest of us kind of have to deal with that, whether we want to or not.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Majestic Joey »

Delphine wrote:ETA: The link I wanted to refer to isn't actually what I thought it was, so I'm going to have to go by memory here. My problem with the Incredibles is that it took an incredibly intelligent, creative, inventive person and made him the villain versus a group of people who did nothing to earn their talents, they were simply born with them. Syndrome's main falling was that he was unable to get over childhood anger and let it turn him into a bitter, hateful person; but on the surface the movie is saying that his main failing is that he's not a superhero. That he wasn't born with some innate gift. That building himself up into something special wasn't worthy enough.
Damn, I never thought of it that way. That's super depressing.

As much as everybody talks up these studios like dreamworks, pixar and whatever, they all seem like the same kind of story because the people who make this movie know what sells. These studios spend months to years refining characters to perfection to make them more appealing to a wider audience. At the end of the day I think it really comes down to money and what sells. For every genius movie like UP, we get five or so crappy movies like, Happy Feet 1 and 2, Cars 1 and 2, Kung Fu panda 1 and 2, and Madagascar 1,2 and 3 (dreamworks really gots to stop making so many sequels to crap).

For me, I like graphic novels or books made by one or two people because it is more personal and the characters look a lot less perfect and manufactured.

That being said, Redline was the most predictable animated movie I ever saw and it was still the best animated movie I saw in years, so I guess presentation has a lot to do with it.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Popcorn »

I feel I ought to clarify my previous point about finding Pixar too conservative. I don't simply mean it's conservative politically, which it is. It's mainly that I find Pixar conservative creatively. For all their wit and class, I find the stories very, erm, "normal". Give me forest spirits any day.

Anyway...
Where are all the Muslim leads? How about some Jewish heroes? Where's the fucking midgets?

Do you see how ridiculous this gets?
I don't see what's so ridiculous about any of those things. It's not like you said "where are the fucking dog-shaped furniture heroes?"

As I and others have said before (which you seem to have ignored), no one is pointing at Die Hard and saying "this movie sucks because the protagonist is not a black, disabled lesbian". Instead we are identifying the overwhelming hegemony that is obvious in our media and wondering if this indicates opportunity for invention. The status quo - white, male, heterosexual protagonists - is such an overwhelmingly dominant cliche that anything that deviates from that is automatically interesting (though not, of course, automatically good). This, by the way, has nothing to do with (horror!) ideology. It is a question of originality.

Yes, you are naive, and wrong, in imagining that it is possible to separate narrative from politics or (horror!) ideology. Knowingly or not, the media we create reflects our values and informs society's value in general. Viewers of "Will and Grace" become more tolerant of homosexuality. You might infer from this that the media has a moral duty to produce media that enforces values we consider important and challenges values we consider harmful. Or you might not. Especially if you flee screaming from any sort of moral or political value - as if identifying with an ideology (horror!) corrupts us from some truer, baser state of apolitical innocence.

But if we return to the aesthetic argument, the comically misogynist trailer for Hitman Absolution to me an ugly, stupid, uninteresting piece of work because it has values I deem ugly and stupid. It is nothing to do with "offence" - opponents of leftist politics love to throw this word around, as if feminists (or whatever) are blind with tears of fury. Instead, it is everything to do with good taste. I am not going to burn Hitman Absolution or stop anyone from making it. I am just going to say the trailer looks shit.
I actually think Ghibli's best days are over, probably largely due to what Esrever said about adherence to a particular style. None of what they've done in the past decade has the spark of their 90's output. (Mind, I haven't seen Arrietty yet.)
Arriety is nice enough, but it isn't a return to form.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Popcorn »

Green Gibbon! wrote:
Why should they be forced or expected to write stories with characters of a particular gender, race, or creed?
This is the weirdest part of your non-argument.

Putting aside the charged word 'forced' (no one is suggesting we actually legislate any of this), it doesn't seem unreasonable to ask things of the media we consume. We are free to express our preferences, to praise and condemn according to our tastes and values. Is this crippling creativity?

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Radrappy »

Popcorn wrote:
Arriety is nice enough, but it isn't a return to form.
yeah, it's hard to put my finger on it but the film wasn't . . . great. It felt like they just had nothing to say. And my god that soundtrack. Hisaishi was sorely missed.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by G.Silver »

Delphine wrote: but on the surface the movie is saying that his main failing is that he's not a superhero. That he wasn't born with some innate gift. That building himself up into something special wasn't worthy enough.
Well, that was how HE viewed it, but I think most viewers (maybe not real little kids, but they'll get it later) are smart enough to see that he wasn't wrong, that he was mistreated at the start of the film, and that his real problem is that this has made him completely unhinged. I think this is one of the best things about the film, Syndrome is a really believable villain, and his end goal of improving mankind (after the part where he murders the supers, endangers innocent lives, and feeds his ego) of really noble. His failing, like you say, was his own inability to recognize that he was already great, the best revenge is to live well, etc.

The creepy part is that at the end of the film everything goes back to normal and no one appears to have learned anything, except that supers get to go out in the open again and all the problems with litigation at the start of the film are resolved for no reason other than that, gosh, those super heroes sure are great, aren't they?

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Popcorn »

Up has exactly the same plot as The Incredibles, too, even opening with the archived news footage.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Green Gibbon! »

as if identifying with an ideology (horror!) corrupts us from some truer, baser state of apolitical innocence.
"Apolitical innocence" is not the terminology I'd use, but it does color your thinking and in extreme cases - and the longer you affiliate with a cause, the more extreme your devotion to it naturally becomes - closes it. Only a feminist, for example, would look at the trailer to Hitman Absolution and call it misogynistic (how?), otherwise missing or detracting from the main problem that it is completely stupid. Can't it also be considered racist? Why would you choose one evil to single out over another unless your mind was already bent to a particular way of thinking?

You might infer from this that the media has a moral duty to produce media that enforces values we consider important and challenges values we consider harmful.
The suggestion that it does or should is what disturbs me - and that is what I'm interpreting from most of these comments - especially considering that there's no one unified "we" and no one "value" that is more important than another.

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Radrappy »

Guys what are we even arguing for, russel was totally asian. And it wasn't a story point! Isn't that some indication that we've. . .arrived?

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Re: Dinsey's Wreck-It Ralph: A love-letter to videogames

Post by Tsuyoshi-kun »

Majestic Joey wrote:crappy movies - Kung Fu panda 1 and 2
Both Kung-Fu Pandas are superior to several Pixar films. Never cared for Madagascar, but at least the sequels were made for a (very loose) reason, unlike Cars 2.
Majestic Joey wrote:That being said, Redline was the most predictable animated movie I ever saw and it was still the best animated movie I saw in years, so I guess presentation has a lot to do with it.
I totally agree on this, though. Redline was amazing.

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