Disney Princess Prejudice, FRANKENWEENIE Review, and Pop Culture Queries! October 15, 2012 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns
Pop culture and other perspectives with an artistic P.O.V. By Mike Pascale. All contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visual content ©2012 their respective owner(s).
A few of the head-scratching things I’ve noticed lately and needed to point out:
–Disney had a Native American, Asian, Indian and African-American princess before a Ginger one.
Yes, I know the Little Mermaid technically had red hair, but let’s be honest–it was RED, as in fire truck/blood/Superman’s-cape red. And she was half a fish, so there’s no way she was from Scottland or Ireland. (And technically, Disney still hasn’t had one, since BRAVE was a Pixar film and POCAHONTAS, ALADIN and MULAN were not.) Not sure what percentage of the US or world population is either of those, but I have to think Caucasian redheads aren’t the rarest. I know Walt was a brunette, but was there some odd agenda? Maybe some cute little red-haired girl once broke his heart. (No, wait, that was another franchise-building creative genius from the midwest.)
–There’s a lot of buzz about the new Ben Afleck film, ARGO. Entertainment Weekly had a big article and interview about how the CIA smuggled a bunch of people out of harm’s way by pretending to shoot a big budget sci-fi film. But they completely ignored the fact that one of the principle designers involved with that “fake” film was Jack Kirby, co-creator of THE AVENGERS (and most of Marvel’s Silver Age characters)! In addition to concepts for the film, he came up with concepts for an entire theme park.
The film was Lord of Light and was a real project that Kirby worked on before the CIA used it as part of their ruse. Why wouldn’t a so-called “major entertainment publication” ignore such a fascinating and important fact?
–Finally got to see FRANKENWEENIE. My wife and I both enjoyed it immensely. Not quite on par with the now-classic NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, but much more memorable and enjoyable than THE CORPSE BRIDE. There are so many cool little nods and winks to the monster/horror genre and pop culture in general that it’s worth seeing a second time. (Anyone born within a decade of Burton will probably appreciate them the most.)
The versatile voiceover work of Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara were highlights, as was hearing Martin Landau as a Vincent Price-looking, Dracula-sounding science teacher who perfectly (if tactlessly) verbalized what kind of parents have issues with science classes. The main drawback was no button after the credits—which isn’t saying much. Of course, I don’t want to spoil anything for you so I’ll hold off on detail. But it’s definitely rated “See It”! (I was unable to see it in 3D but I know from previews it was done beautifully.)
Back to the head-scratchers: Upon close inspection, every character I could see in the film had tiny “shading lines” around their eyeballs! You can only see them in large closeups, but on the big screen you’ll notice if you look. They’re not veins, but look more like ink lines a cartoonist would use to render a form. Considering the characters are all 3D models lit with real light, I wouldn’t think any shading was necessary. Was it for form or drama? Or perhaps to simulate veins? If you have a theory or any info, please comment below.
–Finally, I have two-for-one. Stores by me like Big Lots and Target have already put up Christmas displays–more than TWO WEEKS BEFORE HALLOWEEN. Good grief! It was bad enough when they did it two weeks before Thanksgiving. But Halloween? You know how bizarre it is to walk from a Halloween section straight into a Christmas one? From pumpkins to snowmen, from vampires to Virgin Marys, from Jack-O-Lanterns to Jesuses? Sorry, but there’s just something inherently wrong with that. What’s next, Santa barbecuing on Labor Day?
While we were at Target, my wife and I looked over the many licensed lighting packages and blow-up lawn characters available. Lots of Disney, Peanuts, WB and even Star Wars characters are available as Christmas lights and holiday inflatables. But my wife noticed one obvious omission: superheroes! We didn’t see any DC or Marvel hero Christmas lights or inflatables. Plenty of Halloween-related stuff of course, but not Christmas, at least not at the stores we visited. Not that I have any desire to hang psycho Batman and Joker lights from my roof or see a 10-foot Santa Hulk glaring at me from my neighbor’s lawn, but wouldn’t that be a perfect opportunity for additional licensing revenue? Especially since Marvel is part of Disney?
The concept of Christmas being a religious celebration vacated corporate America decades ago, so I can’t believe it’s for any kind of worry about being “inappropriate.” (Sure, Iron Man doesn’t exactly honor the Son of God’s birth, but does a giant talking rodent in pants?) I can only bet that next year we’ll see plenty, especially after the next round of hero flicks. Remember, you read it here first!
See you next week,
P.S.: What’s cooler than an original piece of art of your favorite Halloween (or even Christmas)-related character? Monsters are one of my specialties. Contact Craig and he’ll make all the arrangements for you!