The Most Beautiful Steven Universe Episode

Steven Universe has been rather infamous for its many long hiatuses, but now it is back with a vengeance, kicking off a new season with the very powerful double feature, “Super Watermelon Island”/”Gem Drill”, with more episodes to come.

While the show has made some duds every now and then, it has also produced some of the most beautiful and/or powerful moments in television history, my personal faves being “Jailbreak”, “The Answer”, “Keeping it Together”, “On The Run” and “Chille Tide”. But I got to say “Gem Drill” is probably SU’s greatest episode to date (well, maybe next to “Jailbreak”).

SPOILERS AHEAD!

For starters, this is one of the most intense moments in animation I have ever seen. Throughout the whole thing there’s a constant, looming threat that the world could end at any moment, and Steven and Peridot may not be able to save it. The show is also complemented by some gorgeous (and frightening) imagery. I can’t find a lot of good images, but when the reach the Cluster, Steven keeps seeing flashes of the ghosts of the Gems who were shattered long ago:

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Steven gets more and more stressed throughout the ordeal, until his sense of reality is warped, the world around him begins to dissolve, and he falls into some sort of trance:

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Without willing it, he can now talk to the Cluster. It is established throughout the show that Steven has psychic abilities allowing him to communicate and astral project through his dreams, but I wonder if he was going to fuse with the Cluster (his gem wouldn’t stop glowing).Well, whatever happens, we get this really atmospheric and haunting look inside the Cluster’s fragile mind, and of how the shattered Gems that consist of it want to be free, but can’t.

It’s here that Steven actually talks to the Cluster, helps it, and encourages it to find companionship within itself in a safe bubble. In other words, he finds a peaceful, nonviolent, and even loving solution to the catastrophic problem.

What I love about this episode is that it would’ve been very easy to have Steven and the Crystal Gems merely drill into the Cluster and destroy it. But the show decides to reveal an alternative, unique solution to one of it’s biggest threats. It humanizes the Cluster, which is something that most people would not humanize or even sympathize with, giving it depth and making it sentient. You don’t really see that a lot in media.

I think it kind of connects to me because I kind of relate to it in my experiences as a neurodivergent. Peridot’s words of how the cluster gems are so broken that they’re beyond repair really hit home for me; in real life, it’s common to label a lot of severely disabled people as ‘vegetables’ that can’t experience life to the fullest and are often institutionalized and not given any autonomy. A lot of people look at them with pity and scorn. So it’s nice to see a show that takes a bunch of gems that are mentally and physically disabled and starts to see them more positively. The Cluster chooses to put itself in a bubble where it can reconnect with all its pieces and is ultimately seen as something almost beautiful. This gives me hope for the other bubbled cluster gems currently residing in the Temple.

I was utterly blown away when I saw this episode. I hope there will be more episodes of this magnitude later in the show. For now, “Gem Drill” is definitely one of the best episodes and one of my fave moments in modern animation.

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Iron Man, Hiro Hamada, and Untreated Mental Illness

Note: The Iron Man mentioned here is referring to the MCU version. Spoilers for Captain America Civil War!

So, when Big Hero 6 came out, a lot people noticed there were a lot of similarities between the main character, Hiro Hamada, and Tony Stark. They’re both genius brunettes savvy with technology and robotics who build special suits to go out and save the world and love to fly. Considering how BH6 is based off an obscure Marvel comic book, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was intentional. However, after re-watching the first Iron Man and watching CACW, I notice that there’s another parallel between the two–mainly, they’re both people dealing with grief, guilt, and mental illness, but whereas Hiro is getting the help he needs, Tony is not.

When Iron Man 3 came out, a lot of people were talking about how Tony Stark was clearly suffering from PTSD and/or Panic Disorder. Other people talked about the possibility of him having Narcissistic Personality Disorder as well. If you ask most people, they’ll say Tony’s problems started after the end of the first Avengers movie. But I think his problems actually started with the first Iron Man movie.

When Tony comes home from captivity, I couldn’t help but notice he continues to put himself in danger. He refuses to go to the hospital, tests his gear without wearing a helmet (even though he does get hurt), and partakes in a lot of risky behaviour in the name of atoning for his sins. But he also refuses to let people help him. He only get’s help when he is incapacitated. Throughout this movie and other MCU movies he also makes a lot of really brash and reckless decisions and at times can come across as a serious asshole.

By contrast, Hiro, who is suffering from bereavement and depression, has friends and a healthcare companion that will protect him, keep him safe, and will reach out to and help him whether he likes it or not. And when Hiro behaves likes a jerk, he realizes that he was wrong and apologizes for it, becoming a better person.

One of the major scenes that stuck with me was in CACW was when, after Iron Man finds out Bucky was responsible for the death of his parents, he lashes out and tries to kill him. In the aftermath, Bucky escapes and Tony is still unhappy. A similar scene happened in BH6 when Hiro found out who killed his brother, and also reacts brashly and tries to have the man killed…but then realizes that wasn’t the right thing to do, cries, apologizes, and resolves to find a nonviolent solution.

The scene that I found really upsetting was when Iron Man went for his first test flight. I didn’t watch it feeling relieved or excited or happy for Tony; I watched it and went “wow Tony is clearly mentally ill”. Because that first flight was extremely dangerous and I got the impression that Tony did it because he felt the need to be in control of something. Compare it to the first flight scene in BH6; it’s clear throughout the whole thing that the experience is making Hiro feel better, and that he feels freer, and isn’t in total danger. I got the opposite emotion watching Iron Man’s first flight.

Whenever I watch MCU movies involving Tony I see it as his gradual descent into depression and despair. It’s clear that he has a lot of unresolved issues and either no one is bothering to help him or he doesn’t bother to seek it out. And it’s clearly wearing on him, to the point where he has to build technology to remold the memories of a traumatic or sad event by himself instead of seeking a professional therapist. At this point I want Tony to get his own personal healthcare companion in order for him to get better!

It’s a very sad parallel, and I find it a little disturbing how untreated mental illnesses and grief are somehow required for mainstream superhero movies (this is one reason why I prefer BH6 and a lot of animated, family-friendly superhero shows to a lot of live action superhero stuff). It goes without saying, until the writers and directors of the MCU take Tony’s (and other character’s) mental health seriously and respectfully resolve their problems, I’m going to be more excited for BH6 related content than a lot of MCU stuff. At least with BH6 I know that my problems are valid and won’t be brushed aside in favour of drama.

The Seven Problematic Sins of the MCU

I love superheroes. A lot. I’m so utterly fascinated by a band of empowered beings coming together, befriending one another, and saving the world while exploring their characters. That said, I’ve beginning to notice that the superhero properties I gravitate the most towards to are either family-friendly (ie Big Hero 6, the Teen Titans animated show, Justice League Unlimited, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes) or R-rated (ie Deadpool, Watchmen). I’m probably not alone in this, but I’m getting kind of tired with PG-13 rated superhero films; I think they teeter-totter between being serious and complex (like an r-rated superhero property) while still being entertaining for youngsters (like a g-rated superhero property). So it’s probably easy to expect I have some problems with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Recently I just watched Captain America: Civil War hoping that I would enjoy it. I…did not. I apologize in advance to all the fans who did enjoy it, but for me, it encapsulated a lot of MCU’s problems. While it wasn’t HORRIBLE necessarily (it had some good action, funny moments, and the characters of Black Panther, Falcon, and War Machine were fantastic), there were still a lot of issues that prevented me from enjoying it. This movie, along with a lot of other MCU movies, have the following, err, sins (warning for spoilers!):

NUMBER ONE: Being WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY Too Long.

I’m sorry, but there is no reason why a superhero movie needs to be over 2 hours long. There’s a lot of scenes that could  be whittled down, but aren’t just to pad out time. I don’t think the film would suffer if a few fight scenes or talkie scenes were cut down or cut out entirely. CACW just went on way longer than it needed to go, to the point where I kept asking “okay so when’s the movie going to end? I feel like the movie can end now.”

NUMBER TWO: Expecting the Audience To Know Everything

The problem of making an interconnected universe is that the movies expect their audiences to have seen (and care) about ALL the films and related properties. This often results in dropping characters into a film that we’re supposed to know and care about but instead go “wait, who are you?”. Continuity tends to get screwed up a bit throughout the course of the movies due to different writers and directors, so for people who missed out, a lot of plot points can make heads swirl. People who go to see these films for action probably won’t mind, but those who want more substance will probably be lost.

NUMBER THREE: Bad Villains

A lot of people have pointed this out. With the exception of Loki, all the MCU villains have been dull and forgettable. I think the reason why Loki worked while the others didn’t is because he’s ALLOWED to be a complex villain. Being portrayed by the fantastic Tom Hiddleston makes him more expressive and interesting, and we actually see him go through a wide range of emotions, from angry to sad to even joyous. We know why he does what he does and even sympathize with him. But with the other villains, they just come across as either angsty or boring. I think another factor is design. Loki has a pretty cool design with vibrant green and gold and some awesome headgear. The other villains don’t really stand out in looks. Granted I don’t think Marvel was ever really that great with it’s villains (I think only Spider-Man had really great and memorable antagonists for a lot of people?) so this might be a harder problem to resolve.

NUMBER FOUR: Throwaway Politics

This was my biggest problem with CACW. At the beginning, we’re introduced to a really big deal: the Avengers need to be held accountable for what they do and need to be more responsible when they’re working. It’s actually a really brilliant idea: if someone wanted to keep tabs on you, would you comply, or fight against it, and why? Is there a way to compromise? It’s all really interesting…until it becomes abandoned in favour of making it all about Bucky Barnes, and how it’s all one begrudged person’s fault. Like I legit felt cheated when the movie shifted gears and dropped politics. Like…why would you introduce something important and then cast it aside later? The movies paint the government and the military as almost completely wrong and the superheroes as almost always in the right, leaving no real room for nuance.

NUMBER FIVE: Characters Not Getting The Help They Need

This one is pretty personal to me. Iron Man is clearly not mentally healthy. People have talked about him displaying signs of PTSD, panic disorder, and even Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but I think he has a lot more issues that started from the first movie. That first flight he does? To me, it feels less like a man trying to be free and more like a man desperately trying to be in control of something and taking extreme risks. It’s pretty clear that he’s not getting the mental health treatment he needs because, in CACW, he looks like he’s on the verge of tears throughout the whole thing, is wracked with guilt and grief, and decides to solve his problems violently. I notice that a lot of the characters don’t really bother to seek each other out and talk to one another; a lot of the time, they seem to deal with their problems and pain in private. The reason why this is a problem because it kind of enforces the idea that strong people (especially strong men) can’t cry and don’t help each other emotionally and the best thing to do is fight. Not really a positive message.

NUMBER SIX: Whitewashing, Lack of Diverse Leads and Disposable Foreign Bodies

Yeah this is a pretty major issue. Almost all the MCU films focus on white men, even white men we don’t care about (was anyone really asking for an Ant-Man movie? Does anyone want ANOTHER Spider Man movie so soon? why was he even in CACW if he was only in it for about 20 minutes?), while movies about women and MOC struggle to get off the ground. Black Panther is supposed to get his movie soon, but beyond that, there’s no real news on anyone else getting the proper movie treatment. The movies aren’t especially kind to the minor diverse characters. What really disturbed me in CACW is how they just casually show dead black bodies as a statement. It’s gross. And while the films have been getting better at showing some awesome black men, it still has a lack of other minority groups (especially women of colour). The worst offender is the upcoming Dr. Strange; not only did they whitewash the main character, they also whitewashed the Ancient One and changed the setting from Tibet to Nepal in order to appease the Chinese Government (which doesn’t like to acknowledge the horrors they committed against the Tibetans). MCU has a representation problem, and while it’s certainly not alone, it’s pretty major considering how marketable their movies have become. I just find it strange how the Star Wars movies introduce women and POC leads with no problem but Marvel movies have trouble doing the same even though both are owned by Disney. I just hope at some point Marvel takes a cue from Star Wars at some point.

NUMBER SEVEN: Failing Balancing Act

This plugs into the problem with PG-13 rated superhero movies. A lot of these movies try to remain family friendly but still contain a LOT of violence and some gritty themes. This sometimes ends up compromising a character’s personality and morals. Iron Man feels ashamed of causing the death of someone’s child…but then turns around and is willing to recruit someone else’s child to fight other adults in the name of entertaining the audience with Spider Man. Captain America is supposed to be altruistic but, since the movie can’t really focus on politics, it turns to him risking everything and breaking the law and even breaking off friendships in the name of Bucky Barnes to keep the plot from getting TOO political. A lot of the movies end up not knowing whether they want to be deep character studies or just movies where stuff blows up. Now keep in mind, this isn’t a problem that ONLY the MCU has; a lot of others have them too. But I think what makes it kind of worse for the MCU is that they repute themselves as being family friendly even though there are times when they don’t really want to be. I also can’t help but notice while people may not mind this tough balancing act at all at first, over time people begin to pick apart at it. I think this contributes to why we like MCU movies as a whole, but we don’t really LOVE them individually. We’ll gravitate towards one of them for a little bit and move on. And I think the fact that none of them really stand out as either a serious political drama with some action or a lighthearted fun flick (with maybe the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy and a few others) doesn’t help at all.

Now keep in mind, this is mostly just my opinion. Feel free to disagree. But these are the reasons why I’m not super stoked for the MCU anymore. I’ll definitely go see the Black Panther movie, but beyond that, the MCU’s flaws are starting to really wear on me. I hope they start to change a bit so that I (and others) won’t rage quit the movies forever.

Big Hero 6 and the Deconstruction of Toxic Masculinity

“Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It is the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.” http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Toxic_masculinity

Big Hero 6 is my fave film of all time. I have no qualms saying that. And one of the many reasons why it is so dear to my heart is because of the way it portrays (and deconstructs) toxic masculinity.

When the film begins, Hiro is shown to be a conning bot fighter, enjoying destroying things and earning money through dubious means. He fights against Yama, who is very aggressive, mean, rude, and has no qualms on letting a fourteen year old get beaten up. Hiro is saved by Tadashi, who is seen as pure, noble, good, and more androgynous than masculine. Tadashi is seen as very important to Hiro’s life, and he’s gentle, kind, caring, friendly, and wants the best out of others, and isn’t aggressive or violent in any way. He is the one who leads Hiro away from bot fighting to the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, where he meets Honey Lemon and Gogo, two women excelling in traditionally male-dominated fields, and Wasabi and Fred. Wasabi breaks away from the stereotype of being the angry, aggressive, brute black man, and Fred, while a little aloof, is very sweet, encouraging others (despite their race and gender) to get into comics and wants to help out however we can.

It’s there that Hiro also is first acquainted with Baymax, who, despite being male coded, is the complete opposite of a traditional man. He is completely nonviolent, only fighting to defend others, puts other needs over himself, is taken seriously as a nurse, and is extremely loving. Hiro is impressed, but not totally taken in by the robot yet. He is more enthralled with Professor Callaghan, who further encourages him to come to the school.

Hiro eventually does get accepted, but tragedy strikes. Without Tadashi, Hiro’s wellbeing takes a turn for the worse. He doesn’t eat or get enough sunshine or leave his room, but most of all, he doesn’t seek help or allow his friends or his aunt (who’s a single woman and a successful business woman who still takes the time to reach out to Hiro and deal with her grief in her own way). It’s pretty common for men (both fictional men and real men) to not seek help when it’s needed and try to deal with it in their own way; Hiro was at first going to give up going to the school and go back to bot fighting. When Baymax reactivates, Hiro tries to push him away, but they’re brought together in pursuit of a microbot. After a long day of dangerous events, Hiro eventually lets Baymax close to him. They hug it out.

However, Hiro isn’t quite alright just yet. He decides to pursue revenge. He upgrades Baymax and almost takes out his healthcare chip to make him a complete fighter, but stops when he thinks that maybe this isn’t what Tadashi wanted. He becomes overconfident in Baymax’s abilities, thinking the robot can handle the villain on his own (he can’t) and at first refuses further help from his friends.

Later, after nearly dying, Hiro does let his friends in. He decides that they should all be superheroes. It’s when he tests out Baymax’s new armour that he really and truly lets Baymax in and realizes how much the robot can help him and how special he is.

When they confront the villain, Hiro is shocked to learn that it’s Professor Callaghan who is responsible for Tadashi’s death (going as far as to claim that Tadashi’s death was his own mistake) and nearly responsible for their own deaths. He decides to have Callaghan killed, but fails.

Enraged, Hiro leaves his friends behind, tries to have a stiff upper lip, and is ready to remove Baymax’s healthcare chip for good, but is stopped. After Baymax gently tells Hiro that this isn’t what Tadashi wanted, Hiro finally breaks down. That is when he is shown Tadashi again, and how he would not have wanted needless violence and revenge. Hiro internalizes this message, apologies, takes responsibility for his actions, and allows his friends back in his life, while also learning it is okay to cry.

This is really important because it’s common to tell boys that, to be ‘men’, they can’t cry, they have to deal with their problems on their own, and acting aggressively is encouraged. Hiro learns that none of that is true. He learns that he needs to use his abilities for good, not to enact revenge, but to protect and help others, the way his brother would’ve wanted. He learns to properly express himself when he’s sad, to let others comfort him, and to let others in his life. He also learns to deal with his enemies in a nonviolent way, and even goes as far as to help others who are complete strangers to him (but are related to the enemy) because it’s the right thing to do (but not by himself).

This is further contrasted with Professor Callaghan, another man dealing with grief, but unlike Hiro, completely refuses to get help for it or let out his anger and sadness (though he displays anger more than sadness; we never see him really cry or look upset, just bitter) in a healthy way. He hurts others, destroys property, and spreads terror in the name of avenging his daughter (who he either genuinely loved or only cared about how much she meant to him)…only to realize that it was all wrong, when his daughter turns out to be alive (he could have used the portal and the microbots to retrieve her first; he just assumed she was dead and the best course of action was to kill Krei), and is sent to jail. He seems to realize the gravity of this situation. If he had not acted so recklessly and aggressively, none of the damage he caused would have happened, and now he has to pay for it.

This movie is very important for many reasons, but this is one of them. It takes what it means to be a traditional manly, macho man and the tropes on how real men seek revenge and don’t cry and totally deconstructs it. (The fact that Hiro is a young boy of colour and Callaghan is an older white man adds a lot of dimension to it as well.) If you are someone who takes care of boys, I strongly recommend you show this movie to them. It could probably give them some much needed help in how to healthily deal with their emotions and relationships with others.

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Your Fave is Autistic Part 4: Vanellope Von Schweetz and Wreck-It Ralph

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Wreck-It Ralph is one of my all-time favourite movies. It is extremely well-written, beautifully animated, has great and memorable characters and relationships, a fantastic villain, a compelling story, and lots of heart. It is, in my opinion, the greatest Disney film in a long time, as well as it’s most progressive (I’ll talk about why in another post). But one of the reasons why I love this movie so much is because the two main characters, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope Von Schweetz, resonate with me very deeply and personally. I see myself a lot in Vanellope, and I felt so much for Ralph. These are both characters who go through a lot of discrimination and hardship, and I think a good chunk of it is because I see them being coded to be autistic.

Now, it’s pretty obvious that Vanellope is coded to be disabled in at least one way due to being a glitch. Her actually glitching can be seen as a metaphor for a lot of disabilities and disorders (for me personally, I see it as stimming/flapping). Her story arc involves her being bullied, ostracized, and seen as a burden at best, dangerous at worst. She is seen as a ‘mistake’ that wasn’t supposed to exist. She is often told that certain bad things done to her are ‘for her own good’. Sounds pretty similar to ableist rhetoric, doesn’t it?

It goes without saying that a lot of people with disabilities and mental disorders IMMEDIATELY picked up how Vanellope was almost certainly disabled herself. I think it’s possible that she’s meant to represent (and empower) people of ALL different disabilities, though it’s entirely likely to read her as autistic in addition to having a physical disability (she is fascinated with racing and go karts, loving making her own karts, is very sharp and doesn’t pull punches, and is seen chewing and fiddling with the strings of her sweater). Her role as being a representation/metaphor has been hotly debated (though I personally think she is actually disabled, since she’s seen keeping her glitching even after she’s no longer a ‘glitch’), and while people could argue she’s less meant to represent autism as much as people with physical disabilities, I can say that Ralph is definitely coded to be autistic.

Despite having lived with giant hands for 30 years, he still has a lot of trouble with motor skills. He is very expressive and gets frustrated and emotional very easily, sometimes leading to overreacting and minor meltdowns. He has a lot of trouble with personal hygiene, resulting in spiky hair and bad breath, and he doesn’t have very good social or empathy skills (though he gets better with the latter by the end of the movie). He is fixated on getting a medal to get a better life (realizing that companionship and taking things slowly is better) and is extremely loyal to the people he loves. He has trouble wearing shoes (to the point where he goes barefoot at his friends’s wedding), isn’t very good at lying, and gets completely overwhelmed with the sensory nightmare that is Hero’s Duty. But what I find most interesting is how he is treated, and it goes a bit beyond him just being a bad guy.

You see, he is the only known bad guy that gets routinely stopped by the surge protector. ‘Special’ treatment? He is shown to be poor and stuck in a bad job position (a common problem for many autistic people). But most of all, he is told and realizes he can’t change who he is, and has to learn to come to grips with it, as long as he is accepted, has friends who understand and love him for who he is, and gets the help he needs.

Some people have pointed out that, if this movie was seen as a metaphor for class struggle, it kind of delivers a bad message about not being able to move out of your position and have to accept it. But if you read it as someone with autism, and where both he and everyone else realizes that’s who he is and he can’t change or cure it, and they give him the proper accommodations and he is able to take his struggles ‘one game at a time’, it becomes an infinitely more positive message. It also ties in with Vanellope’s story of being empowered and accepted, glitches and all.

It’s easy to see why this movie matters so much to me, and I hope it will continue to matter to a lot of people for a long time.

In Defense of Hades

Whether you love or hate Disney’s Hercules, I think you can agree that Hades is awesome. He’s hilarious, his voice acting (courtesy of James Wood) is fantastic, and he is an effective antagonist. But is he really pure evil?

 

Disney is well-known for making villains who relish being evil and don’t have any visible redeeming qualities or clear motives as to WHY they’re evil. This isn’t entirely the case for Hades.

When we first see Hades, the Olympians are shown to immediately dislike him, though it’s never entirely clear WHY they don’t like him. Did he try to take over Mount Olympus before? Did he do something horrible? It’s never revealed, and judging by how Zeus is at first eager that Hades has shown up, that’s probably not the case. Hades isn’t a nice person, but it’s odd how only Zeus seems to be fond of him (probably because they’re brothers).

Zeus: “How are things in the Underworld?”

Hades: “…a little dark, a little gloomy, and always…full of dead people”.

Doesn’t sound like an ideal place to call home. And then, when Zeus encourages Hades to join the celebration, Hades replies, “But unlike you gods, lounging about up here, I regrettably have a full time gig that you by the way so charitably bestowed on me, Zeus. So, I can’t.”

It’s a little hypocritical for Zeus to be pointed out that HE assigned Hades a bad job position and then makes it look like HADES is in the wrong for ‘working himself to death’.

Within the first ten minutes or so of the movie, it becomes well-established WHY Hades is the way he is. He’s not JUST an asshole; he’s bitter from so many years (likely hundreds or even thousands) of being assigned to a job he hates, away from all the glory and fun, and being disliked on principle. So his callousness towards his own kin and bad temper and general asshole-ry suddenly makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t EXCUSE his bad deeds, but they become a lot more understandable when you realize he’s doing it out of frustration than just pleasure.

But why was he given such a job anyway? I have a theory.

You see, throughout the movie, Hades is shown to be EXTREMELY powerful; he can conjure up anything he wants, controls and assembles monsters, frees the Titans, can teleport himself and others, has immense control of fire and smoke, and probably has a lot of other tricks up his sleeves. All Zeus is shown to do is rule others and control lightning bolts. So if he’s less powerful, how does he make sure HE gets all the power? By putting his rival in his place. By cosigning Hades to the Underworld, Zeus can secure his regime. And it’s not like Zeus sees Hades as a potential tyrant that he has to control; again, he was perfectly fine letting Hades come to his son’s first birthday.

I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that Hades is so damn likable in the movie and that, in the original myths, Hades wasn’t all that bad and ZEUS was the cause of most strife.

So yeah. I think the movie is less about some angry asshole wanting all the power just because; it’s about an angry asshole wanting all the power because of being mistreated for so long. He’s made to contrast Hercules, who has also been shunned but grew up to be good and pure despite all odds.

Am I saying that Hades is totally innocent? No. He made the choice to try to have an infant killed and put lots of people in danger just to get to Hercules. (Though I find it interesting that never once does Hades try to kill Hercules himself; even when Hercules is weakened, there’s nothing stopping Hades from just strangling him on the spot, but he never does…make what you will of that.) But I AM saying that all this could have been avoided if Hades was given a companion (beyond his bumbling minions and a woman who was coerced into being his servant). Someone who could genuinely help him out with his work so he had more freedom to move about and do things. Maybe someone to help liven up his living space. Someone who would appreciate him for who he is, but not take his shit. Someone who can rule the Underworld beside him. Someone like…Persephone, his wife from the original myths? Anything is possible…

Which Disney Character Should Be LGBT?

WARNING: VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY HARSH FROZEN CRITICISM BELOW!

For a long time, people have been begging Disney to have a canonically LGBT/queer character (that wasn’t a sidekick or the villain) in one of their animated films. Considering how Disney is known for hiring LGB (not sure about the T) people for voice work and other behind-the-scenes work, it’s only fair that they should represent one on-screen as well.

For awhile, people wanted an original LGBT character, but now it seems that people want a pre-established character to be so.

Recently, people have been tweeting at Disney to make Elsa from Frozen LGBT (preferably a lesbian) in the sequel, with the hashtag #giveelsaagirlfriend.

And to be honest, I don’t think that hashtag is going to work.

See, the thing about Frozen is that it’s the epitome of safe. I’m sorry, but it is. The plot is simplistic, the dialogue is childish, it doesn’t delve deep into serious themes (like how Big Hero 6 dealt with the death of a loved one and how to cope with it, or how Zootopia dealt with societal prejudice, or how Tangled dealt with abusive relationships, to name just a few), the characterization isn’t that complex; even the animation and design looks really flat compared to other Disney films that came out recently. It’s not really ‘feminist’ because, for a movie about two sisters, Anna and Elsa aren’t happy together for most of the film, it has a muddled message on ‘not needing a man’ (when Anna hooks up with a boy who had to save her life a lot throughout the movie), and Elsa being single isn’t that revolutionary when we just had Merida the year before and Honey Lemon and Gogo the year after. It’s a safe, marketable movie meant to sell merch and make people happy. You notice how literally EVERYONE seems to relate to Elsa? It’s because she’s an empty shell; she has such scant characterization beyond being depressed and anxious and has things happen TO her (not making any real decisions by herself, beyond staying away from Anna because she feels that she’s too dangerous); and her powers as a metaphor is so vague it can be seen as a multitude of things, from mental illness to disability, to, yes, being q*eer. (The fact that she’s white and skinny and pretty helps a lot.)

So really, do you think Disney is going to risk losing money out of one of their biggest franchises by making Elsa a lesbian or otherwise q*eer? Probably not. Frozen is successful because it is basic; they can’t be TOO progressive with it. Elsa is simply too marketable for Disney to take risks with her. They’re taking advantage of the fact that she’s so relatable.

Besides which, I really, really hate how, if a woman is single in a Disney film, she HAS to be q*eer. Men can be single and no one will raise an eyebrow, but the minute a woman expresses how she doesn’t want to get married, suddenly she must not be straight. I have no problem with people headcanoning the heroines as having a different sexuality, but I don’t like how society as a whole sees single Disney women this way.

So, okay, maybe Disney should make one of their characters q*eer anyway. After all, shows like Steven Universe have been proven to be popular despite (or perhaps because) of their LGBT representation, Disney shouldn’t have to worry too much about backlash. But still, I think they’re going to do it with a character they’re allowed to take risks with. And who might such a character be?

This guy:

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/disney/images/d/da/Wreck_it_Ralph_pose_transparent.png/revision/latest?cb=20151202214156

Yes, Ralph.

Why do I say this? Well, for starters Wreck-It Ralph was a successful Disney movie that is (eventually) going to have a sequel, but hasn’t been marketed to death like Frozen has. So Disney is allowed to take a few risks with this character.

Secondly, Wreck-It Ralph, unlike Frozen, is VERY progressive and much more layered. I plan to do a separate post on it, but basically, Ralph is a man consigned to the role of a ‘bad guy’, and while he isn’t necessarily ‘pure’, and is a little rough around the edges, he still has a good heart, and would do anything for his friends (even die for them). He is an outcast, and it’s well established that people actually dislike him for who he is, and they have to overlook their prejudices and accept him. He rejects riches and living the good life, he’s fine having some recognition and friends. And, despite being big and burly, he’s actually very caring and sweet, not falling into a macho man stereotype. (Seriously, watch the movie. The differences between it and Frozen are like night and day.)  So not only is he a well written and unconventional character, why wouldn’t he be q*eer? It could certainly tie in with his narrative of a man taking life who had to deal with stigma and had to take life one game at a time very well.

I think Disney is allowed to be riskier with this movie, and Ralph is a fantastic, well-developed character that can pull it off. Granted I’m not sure if it WILL happen (and I think ultimately Disney should just make an original LGBT character), but I think WIR would be better for representation than Frozen.

I guess ultimately, we’ll have to see what will happen. Maybe Elsa WILL be revealed to be LGBT in the sequel and they’ll write her sexuality in effectively, who knows? But for now, I’m keeping my expectations really low, and I still think Ralph would be a better choice at any rate. But that’s just how I feel at any rate.