Understanding My Fave (and Least Fave) Characters

Being as huge an animation fan as I am, I’m starting to realize that the more I like the characters, the more I’m likely to love their respective media. Consequently, if I absolutely despise the main character or too many characters, I’m not going to like their series one bit.

I love Teen Titans and Avatar: The Last Airbender because of how fleshed-out and likable all the main characters are. I like The Legend of Korra because even though I have some problems with the show, I do really love Asami and Korra. I don’t have the most comprehensive knowledge of Overwatch but I really love the character of Symmetra because she’s a beautiful and powerful autistic woman (and really all the women of Overwatch are beautiful and powerful how can I not love it). Cybersix is an okay show itself but Cybersix herself is amazing. And I have a lot of fave Disney heroines either from nostalgia or from personal empowerment (Belle, Mulan, Pocahontas, Vanellope, Honey and Gogo, and even Aurora). But I hate Steven Universe now because I really dislike most of the main characters (ESPECIALLY Steven, who’s become a mouthpiece for the writers) and the characters I DID love have been regressing into tropes (Garnet is mostly just Ruby and Sapphire in a trench coat and Peridot is nothing but comic relief).

So when it comes to my absolute faves, Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph, it’s probably not a coincidence that Hiro Hamada and Ralph are actually my fave characters of all time.

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Why is that?

Because, as someone who is autistic, has struggled with mental illness, has a limited social network, and is only NOW really starting to figure out my place in the world, I relate to these characters so, so much. Not to mention they’re brilliantly well written too.

Not only is Hiro absolutely adorable, but he’s also a brilliantly well written teen boy character. It would have been very easy to just make him another whiny teenager, but he’s not. At the start of the movie he becomes enthusiastic at the idea of bettering his life, even if he needs some encouragement. When his brother dies he doesn’t become all brooding and angsty, he becomes seriously and realistically depressed. He has trouble letting people in at first, but his world brightens up when he makes close friends and becomes a superhero. He hits a road bump when confronting the villain, but he’s able to let out his grief in a peaceful manner, is comforted, and gets back on the right path. Eventually he’s able to rebuild his closest friend and start his road to a promising future. For me, that kind of parallels my own life: how I was in a horrible mental stage for almost two years before this movie came out, and how I started my path to recovery. Now, for the first time in 22 years, I no longer feel like killing myself, I have a wonderful friend, and I’m determined to get a job as a social service worker. (Have you figured out why this movie is my absolute fave yet?)

And Ralph, man, he’s just such a good hero. He goes through a LOT of character development (going from a lonely but still kind of selfish ‘bad guy’ to a true hero who’s willing to sacrifice himself for the only person who was ever nice to him) and is someone I wouldn’t mind actually being with. Like I know a lot of people find Tadashi Hamada attractive, and while he is, I don’t really know Tadashi well enough. But Ralph? Not only is he big and burly and very cuddly, but you know he’d never leave you behind and would do anything for you, and you’d have a lot of fun with him.

But I think there’s another major reason. Both characters have their flaws. Ralph, being a bad guy, doesn’t always do the right thing or have the best sense of morality (he takes obvious enjoyment out of interrogating Sour Bill for information). Hiro initially wanted to partake in dubious bot fighting and was at one point enraged enough to actually kill a man. But despite their mistakes, they’re fundamentally good people and actively make an effort to change. They TRY to be better people.

The same cannot be said for some of my absolute least fave characters, Anna from Frozen and Joy from Inside Out, movies that I cannot stand.

Joy is just…a bully. I’m sorry, but she is. She is obsessively controlling over Riley’s brain and making sure she only feels HER emotion, nothing else. But she always pushes the blame on Sadness. On their road trip Joy is consistently rude and condescending to her, and even at one point is willing to let Sadness DIE just because “Riley needs to be happy”. It’s only when Joy realizes that Sadness is useful that she goes back to get her, but even then, she never actually apologizes to her or acknowledges that she was wrong. That just constantly made me uncomfortable and made me feel the wrong way.

And Anna…ugh. Anna literally makes everything all about HER. She constantly disrespects her sister’s boundaries, even when she’s trying to ‘help’ her. But does Anna actually love Elsa? Of course not. When Elsa kicks her out of the ice palace Anna doesn’t even acknowledge her sister until she’s literally about to die. I know I’m supposed to feel sorry for Anna and find her sacrifice meaningful but, like, it’s your sister, of course you’re going to want to save her. That doesn’t mean you actually LOVE her. I understand I have a HEAVY bias against Anna because I identified with Elsa and was upset that she wasn’t the main hero, but…yeah I don’t like Anna.

But you can see why I hate their specific type of character (cheerful quirky girl protagonist): they feel like the universe revolves around THEM. Hiro and Ralph have to realize that other people matter, too. They have actual character development and give a damn about others. Anna and Joy are ‘perfect’ and only care at the very last minute.

Anyway, this was slightly more personal than my other posts, but I felt like it was important to share.

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The Worst Movie Ever?

TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE

Hey, remember The Room? Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 magnum opus that went down in history as one of the most legendarily bad films ever made? Of course you do. The bigger question is, do you remember it fondly, or does it just inspire tedium?

Chances are, if you watch it by yourself, you’re probably just going to be constantly screaming at the TV over how idiotic the movie is. But if you watch it with others, it will likely become measurably more enjoyable because you can all laugh over the film’s sheer ineptitude.

Personally, I had a different reaction: I thought it was rather boring.

Granted, I probably would’ve had more fun if I had watched it with others, but personally, I found the film too stilted and murky for me to find any enjoyment in, even in a ‘so bad it’s good’ way.  It felt more like a really bad soap opera. Though I will admit the “YOU’RE TEARING ME APART, LISA!” and “I did naaawt” lines are gold.

But there was one moment that really did stick out to me. That scene in question is at the very ending, when Johnny, the main character, kills himself.

I’m not going to detail how he kills himself if you haven’t seen it, but the reason WHY he kills himself is beyond ridiculous and upsetting: he kills himself because his ‘future wife’ is cheating on him with his best friend, along with some minor inconveniences and jerks in his life.

Like…I know that it’s cheap melodrama in a bad movie. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel really irked, especially as someone who HAS been suicidal in the past.

Like, dude, your future wife cheated on you. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s not worth killing yourself over it. Lots of people get cheated on! It hurts at first, but you’ll move on! But no, you get upset for one night and you decide to end it all right there, without thinking things through.

Like…that’s unbelievably inappropriate.

Here’s the thing: suicide is a HUGE problem, and for some people, the slightest depiction of suicide (especially an onscreen one) can have a serious impact. They could be triggered into another attempt, or go into serious panic attacks and fall back into depression.

I’m not joking, this does happen. The show 13 Reasons Why got more people to look up ways to kill themselves. So, you can see why I’m more critical of how film and TV depict suicide, even in films as bad and inept as The Room.

The reason why it really bothers ME so much is because there have been many times when I wanted to kill myself over the smallest thing. I thought the world was going to end at any given misfortune. But you know what? I always pulled through, even if I needed help to do so. And now, along with medications and support, I’m doing so well. So naturally, when I see a bad film use an impulsive suicide as a cheap tragic ending, I get offended and annoyed.

So I guess I can say this is the Worst Movie Ever, but in the sense that it takes a very important subject matter so flippantly and trivially to elicit sympathy on top of being very shoddily made. I think that more than makes it qualified for its title.

Now that you’re here, if you’re suicidal or struggle with suicidal thoughts, here’s a website that lists hotlines available all over the world that you can access:

http://www.yourlifecounts.org/need-help/crisis-lines

Magic or Mental Illness? The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of my favourite films, and for good reason: it’s a dark, beautiful film on love, lust, heartbreak, justice and faith. But the use of Quasimodo’s gargoyle friends Victor, Hugo, and Laverne have drawn some criticisms for being contrived and out of place.

To an extent, I agree. There are a few instances where they just appear out of nowhere for no reason. When Esmeralda tells Quasimodo that he isn’t a monster we suddenly and jarringly cut to the gargoyles trying to listen in on them and crack a joke. But while some of their comedic scenes don’t work, they do serve a purpose. They represent the happy family Quasimodo never had. While I’m sure the archdeacon helped take care of Quasimodo at times, Frollo raised him under his controlling thumb. Ultimately, Laverne would represent motherly affection, Victor would represent fatherly advice and morals, and Hugo would be the supportive big brother. And they do play an active role in the third act in motivating Quasimodo and helping him fight.

The question I have, though, is this: are they meant to be real, or just a figment of Quasimodo’s imagination?

Under the trivia section of Victor, Hugo, and Laverne’s page on the Disney Wiki, it says:

  • In the DVD audio commentary Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale and Don Hahn suggest that it’s possible that the three gargoyles exist purely in Quasimodo’s mind and are in fact split off portions of his own personality created to deal with his loneliness. While this is only a possibility, it should be noted that the only other character in the first film to actually see a statue come to life is Frollo in the midst of his insanity. However, the true nature of these statues is open to interpretation, given Hugo’s endless flirtations with Djali. (X)

That brings up another point: Frollo seems to see things that aren’t there, either, at the end when he’s about to die (the aforementioned gargoyle coming to life) and during the “Hellfire” sequence.

Could Notre Dame be a living soul in this story? Or are Quasimodo and Frollo both suffering from mental illness?

On one hand, the gargoyles being magical creatures that only reveal themselves to Quasimodo seems the most likely. (It is a Disney film, after all). They are able to witness and react to things from a distance, always manage to show up wherever Quasimodo is, and are able to partake in the final battle. Perhaps they are the reason Quasimodo didn’t become as cruel as Frollo; they actually raised him with their love. But on the other hand, why only Quasimodo? Why not turn to life in front of Frollo and chase him out of the bell tower? Why not reveal themselves to Esmeralda, Quasimodo’s trusted friend?

And there’s also this crucial moment at the end of the “A Guy Like You” sequence. This is Quasimodo’s worldview right at the end of the song:

And this is what happens once he’s snapped back to reality:

So are the decorations also magical? Do the gargoyles have awesome powers (that they never seem to use outside this scene)? Or…was the whole scene in Quasimodo’s head? Does he, with his immense strength, carry the gargoyles around with him as his comfort objects? Is he actually doing all these things by himself but doesn’t realize it?

If the gargoyles are indeed all in Quasimodo’s head, it lends a very tragic, dark part of the story. Poor Quasimodo has been kept isolated for so long under the control of his domineering master, constantly reinforced with the message that he is hideous…and these gargoyles appear to tell him to follow his forbidden urges, that he will be loved.  Ultimately, this is how his mind would create a way to cope.

And then there’s Frollo, who also seems to have powerful visions. But he’s also a God-fearing man who spends at least twenty years thinking Romani people are evil, that he is righteous, that he has a ‘duty’, and his worldview is shattered when he becomes attracted to Esmeralda. It is common for people under strict Christian doctrine with mental health problems to suffer from blasphemous religious thoughts or inappropriate sexual thoughts, both of which Frollo have.

Let’s also remember that this movie is set in medieval times, rife with disease and danger and where many people suffered from ‘madness’, ‘insanity’, and ‘lunacy’. Without modern medicine, it is easy for these visions to go untreated and blame it on the work of the Devil.

Ultimately, both the “the gargoyles are real and Notre Dame is alive” and “the gargoyles are just very vivid figments of Quasimodo’s immersive imagination” both offer compelling cases. What do you think is the most likely?

I’m just glad that Quasimodo now has a proper support system in place and that his friends will slowly fill the gap left by his loneliness. You can read more about mental health in the middle ages HERE.

Did Tadashi Kill Himself?

Trigger warning: discussions of suicide

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For a lot of people, the saddest scene in Big Hero 6 is the death of Tadashi. After Callaghan sets the showcase building on fire to cover his tracks, Tadashi, with the knowledge that he’s still inside, goes to save him, saying “someone has to help”. Callaghan escapes with his life, but Tadashi does not, to the horror and dismay of Hiro.

The scene is undoubtedly sad and very well put together, but I have to admit, I’m bugged by the fact that Tadashi didn’t wait for the firefighters to arrive. Since Tadashi wasn’t a firefighter or a superhero with special powers or training, he should not have gone inside a burning building like that. Every time I watch this scene I go “you fool, you wait for the fire department to arrive!”

But lately I’ve been thinking: what if Tadashi had ulterior motives for going into that building? What if he was fully ready and prepared to die?

We all  know that Hiro and Callaghan are both going through grieving and depression, and what happens when you get help/let people in versus not getting help/using it as an excuse to hurt others. But what if Tadashi was also grieving and depressed?

Let’s take a look at Tadashi’s situation. He lost his parents at a young age, but unlike Hiro, who was only three, he would’ve been able to miss his parents. He would ultimately have to become both a brother AND a father to his little brother, who’s very smart but also very vulnerable. Imagine your own little brother constantly going out at night to partake in illegal activities with dangerous older men, and having to be there in time to save him (in the supplementary material it is confirmed it got so bad that Tadashi had to sew GPS tracking devices into Hiro’s clothes). That would absolutely take a toll on you. Knowing that you stressed out and disappointed your aunt and only caretaker doesn’t help at all. He is shown as being altruistic to a fault, and works so hard on Baymax (who he intends to help a lot of people, rather than help a lot of people on his own) that he neglects his own health.

Like, this is a lot of pressure and stress for a college student. He may appear happy through most of the movie, but it’s possible he was hiding a private pain. There are people with depression and other mental illnesses who sometimes hide it through helping others or making people laugh.

So now we get to the infamous scene.

Look how distressed he is. In the fire is his beloved teacher, Callaghan, who was probably the closest thing he had to a father in such a long time. And now he’s in danger. Losing him would’ve been too much to bear. Tadashi takes a minute, looking to the building and back, before ultimately deciding to go in. He knew what he was doing. He was fully aware that he was going to die. But at that moment, he didn’t care. To him, Callaghan’s life mattered more than his own life, not thinking of leaving behind Hiro and Cass. If he would die if it meant Callaghan could live, so be it.

This may make Tadashi seem less sympathetic, but if you’re depressed, you don’t make rational decisions. If you see the opportunity to die, you’re probably going to take it without realizing it or against your better judgement. I think for Tadashi, after everything he’s been through, after losing his parents and constantly living in fear over losing Hiro and Cass, the fact that Callaghan was going to die in a fire pushed him over the edge.

I think it’s also important to remember Baymax’s role. Considering how committed he was to building that robot, it’s possible he may have (consciously or not) built him to be his ‘back up’. Like he thought, “If I die, Baymax can take care of Hiro and Cass and fulfill our intended purposes”. And ultimately, he would have been correct.

I think if Tadashi was depressed, he would have presented another side of mental illness: the hidden one. The one that is repressed and kept secret until it boils over to the surface and results in the worst outcome. That would add a very tragic, dark layer to the story, but it would make Hiro’s journey and recovery all that more poignant.

This is all just my theory/interpretation, so if this idea seriously upsets you, please do not take it to heart. And if you ever feel like you’re worthless or you’re better off dead/it wouldn’t matter if you died, please seek help. There’s always someone out there who cares and will help you.

‘Wreck-It Ralph’, ‘Big Hero 6’, and the Importance of Self Care

Mental illness is pretty prevalent among users of social media, so self care posts are often made and passed around in an effort to help people. They tend to be cutesy reminders to eat, wash, that they’re worthwhile, that strangers love them, etc.

At first, I thought these were wonderful. But when I found myself in my deepest, darkest depression, I didn’t find these helpful at all. And now that I’m in a better place mentally, I (and other members of my family, who also have their mental health problems) kind of find these self care posts a little patronizing and condescending.

And what bothers me the most is that there’s this major cognitive dissonance because for all the people who keep passing around saccharine self care posts, they don’t seem to do anything about it afterwards. They often make posts on how they’re so depressed all the time, that they want to die, that they’re awake all night and sleep all day, and such. There seems to be this pervasive attitude that once you’re on your own, you’re REALLY on your own. No meds or therapy unless you REALLY need it (because apparently all doctors are untrustworthy), not even support. There even seems to be a negative attitude towards seeking help and comfort from parents, which would make sense when parents are genuinely abusive, but social media tends to make all parents out to be The Worst. Basically, young people feel the need to be on their own and only seek help from their peers, who, while they can certainly offer some support, can’t entirely help you in the long run. Or they don’t seek help at all, and just wallow in their depression and share self-care posts in an attempt to feel better.

When I was in my darkest hour, things were pretty bad. I did feel better with talk therapy, but I could not for the life of me partake in cognitive behavioral therapy. I was too scared to take meds, and didn’t really want to do anything while I waited for different doctors appointments.

And then the intrusive thoughts came.

If you don’t know what exactly intrusive thoughts are, it’s like having nightmares during the day. Basically, whenever I tried to think about something I like, something gross or disturbing would barge itself into the thought and wouldn’t go away. That was when I knew I HAD to get help. I HAD to take action. And I did. Now, I’m medicated, I see a social worker every few weeks, I make efforts to drive and get out of the house, and I go to school, and I’m searching for work. None of that wouldn’t have happened if I had just accepted my lot in life.

And that’s what I feel is wrong. I feel like all these depressed people feel like they HAVE to be depressed or anxious or such. And that’s not true. If your mental illness prevents you from living life, you cannot just accept it. You NEED to go out and do something about it, even if it means getting help from your parents and doctors. There’s nothing wrong with that.

For those of you who have trouble finding an epiphany as a motivator, I suggest re-watching Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6 and really pay attention to them.

Ralph is lonely, depressed, is stuck in a shitty job with bosses and co-workers who don’t appreciate him, has a crummy living situation, and has trouble with food and hygiene. You know what he did? He sought to change it. He knew he couldn’t accept this anymore. So he went out to change his life. And while he couldn’t fully change it, he now has a support system in place, he reaches out to people, and has made amends with his job and has a better living situation. He’s taking things ‘one game at a time’.

Hiro is depressed after the death of his brother and doesn’t eat, is tired a lot, and doesn’t want to leave his room or go to school. A healthcare robot and four wonderful (older) friends reach out to him and give him all the love and support he needs. By letting them in and realizing his own mistakes and the importance of actively doing things to help others, Hiro makes a wonderful recovery, even if he still misses his brother.

The important thing about both movies is that both characters are valid and loved and are getting the help they need. But they got that help by either seeking it out or accepting it when it was offered, both of which are things people in real life can learn from.

Mental illness is a lifelong battle, but it doesn’t have to define you or hold you down. And when you watch these movies again, take in how the characters get better and see how you can apply that. Because things will get better, but they won’t get better unless you TRY.

Junkrat and Roadhog are Mentally Ill

One of my fave things about Overwatch is that it shows how, no matter who you are, you are capable of being powerful and awesome and worthy of being a playable character. It’s one of the many reasons why this game is such a huge hit.

Two of the game’s most popular characters are Junkrat and Roadhog (especially Junkrat). As you can see, Junkrat is an amputee and Roadhog is very heavyset, yet that doesn’t stop them from being fun to play as. While they were originally created as grimy, dangerous criminals, they often come across more as lovable rascals.

While fandom debates which character interpretation is more accurate, I think people forget something very crucial about both characters: they’re both mentally ill.

We all know that Junkrat is a little, well, mad, and very obsessed with explosives (and can forget rather important things and not be totally alarmed when he remembers it), but why is he like it? From his official character bio:

The attack on the Australian omnium’s fusion core forever altered the landscape of the Outback. After the detonation, the area was transformed into a harsh, irradiated wasteland, littered with debris and the twisted fragments of the ruined facility, and unlivable to most.

But there were some who survived. Calling themselves the Junkers, they scavenged the husk of the omnium and formed a lawless, cutthroat society in its shadow. Junkrat was one of them, eking out a living reclaiming metal and components from the ruins. Like many others, he was affected by the lingering radiation. This touch of madness made him ideal for handling dangerous explosives, a love which he turned into an obsession.

I feel like people forget this important detail. Junkrat is suffering from brain damage because of radiation.

As for Roadhog, he was at least partially responsible for this happening. He literally “watched as his home became an apocalyptic wasteland, and he was forever changed”. Now he barely speaks, always wears a mask, and has essentially abandoned his old self to become his new identity. The implication here is that he is suffering from immense guilt and trauma, which suffered a devastating blow to his mental health and sanity.

So when we discuss whether these characters, it isn’t a matter of “they’re evil, dangerous criminals who just happen to be charming” or “they’re lovable goons who just happen to be able to kick your ass”, they’re literally sick, can’t make the best decisions, and need help.

I find it a little odd how fandom goes on and on about the need for mentally ill characters, when we have two characters who are blatantly mentally ill, no one talks about it. They appreciate them, sure, but they don’t acknowledge the fact that they’re not mentally well. Maybe they needed to have anxiety and depression?

Now I’m not saying they’re the ONLY characters who are mentally ill. I mean Reinhardt suffers from delusions (he’s described as being a Don Quixote type and quite literally imagined dragons in the form of his opponents), possibly from old age and from having fought in the war for so long, Widowmaker is literally brainwashed, Genji suffered (and possibly still does) from body image issues, Ana has PTSD, and it’s possible that the reason why Tracer is so hyper all the time is because she’s suppressing her own depression after having nearly died. (Symmetra is autistic, but that is not a mental illness, and I think most fans are aware of that and remember that when talking about her.) They all deserve to have their mental problems acknowledged, and I’m kind of shocked that’s not the case.

I’m very happy these characters are popular at any rate. I’m especially happy that Junkrat and Roadhog are mentally ill/disabled characters who are allowed to be likable and fun (and not just dangerous and evil). At the same time, when we discuss these characters, we need to remember that their brains are not wired the same way as most people, which explains why they are what they are, and how that can or should be resolved.

Finding Dory Review (or, how Talking Fish Made Me Cry)

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING FOR THE ENTIRE THING! Also, harsh criticisms against Pixar’s 2015 offerings.

I made it no secret that I hated Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur. So, that’s why I didn’t buy into the hype for Finding Dory. I was sure it was going to be disappointing. Still, I got a chance to go to a private screening for it, so I did. And man, I am so glad that I did. Finding Dory–as well as its short, Piper–achieved what Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur could not.

The Good Dinosaur is supposed to be about facing your fears. It tries to convey that message,  but mostly comes across as “how many times can we hurt and traumatize this poor little dinosaur?” and made the film unpleasant as a result. Piper, on the other hand, has a good message on facing your fears and finding something beautiful and new out of it, and executes it in a way that is charming and gets its point across without being overly sadistic. There’s also the fact that the character design and the set pieces actually work together (rather than making the backgrounds hyper realistic and making the characters look like plastic toys), which results in making the short much more enjoyable. So I was pretty blown away with that. Plus the short was absolutely adorable too. Then it was time for the full length movie to play.

And oh god, was I in for a ride.

While it’s not QUITE as thrilling or awe-inspiring as the first movie (and I don’t think the animation has anything necessarily NEW to offer, with the exception of Hank the amputee octopus) Finding Dory is still a really intense adventure, with lots of emotion. You really get invested in Dory’s quest to find her parents, and the characters she meets resonate with you pretty strongly as well. What I loved most was just how loving and caring Dory’s parents are, how much they support her and do everything they can to make sure Dory can succeed (take note, parents of neurodivergent and disabled children: THIS is how you raise them). Therefore, when Dory gets reunited with them, it is very rewarding. And it made me cry.

I also loved the climax so much. It was filled with all the spontaneity and creativity and randomness and sheer “screw the rules let’s have an octopus hijack a truck and drive it into the ocean and people will love it” found in classic Pixar and managed to really draw you in.

The whole world is just so vivid and full of life. It actually makes you want to go to the Marine Life Institute. This was so relieving because I find the set pieces of Inside Out so bland and dispassionate (Imagination Land is just a bunch of fries and clouds and cards and imaginary boyfriends. Really?) so to see them put more effort into making the set piece here stand out was refreshing.

But the main reason why Finding Dory is so much better than Inside Out is because of how it handles mental illness.

In Inside Out, Riley is barely in the movie and doesn’t demonstrate a whole lot of autonomy or even personality (besides “I want to go back to Minnesota”) and most of the movie focuses on Joy (who can burn in Hell for all I care) and Sadness (who is genuinely sweet) going on an adventure to get back to Headquarters. Throughout the whole thing, Sadness (who can be seen as a metaphor for a depressed person) is given the short end of the stick (at one point Joy is willing to leave Sadness to die) but never once stands up for herself or says “I don’t need to take this. I am important”. And Joy only becomes nicer to Sadness when she realizes she serves a purpose (not because, you know, all people, especially those who are sad all the time, deserve respect), and doesn’t apologize to her at all. Yikes. And at the end, after Riley vents to her parents, we skip over a year to see her all happy and adjusted, no lingering problems. THIS is the film we’re praising as a beacon of mental health representation? Gross. I don’t accept that.

Finding Dory, on the other hand, actually empowers our mentally ill protagonist and makes her a three-dimensional character. You see her actually struggle with her disability but on her own (without TOO much help) she realizes that while she can’t do EVERYTHING, that doesn’t mean she can’t do ANYTHING. She is able to find her parents, to use her resources to help her, and help save other fish. And when other characters are mean to her, she doesn’t just sit there and take it. She actually calls them out on it! We get to see her be happy, confused, despaired, and overjoyed. I’m so glad that they were able to expand Dory’s character.

Now does the film have problems? Well, yeah. The characters are a little snippy at each other (though they do get sweeter as the film progresses), Bailey the beluga’s echolocation problem gets solved almost immediately for the sake of the plot (and it doesn’t make sense for him to end up in the coral reef, since belugas live in the arctic) and Gerald (the sea lion that is clearly coded to be intellectually disabled) is treated very meanly. I’m not sure why they felt the need to make this character a punchline. I’m just glad he (sort of) gets revenge on his bullies later on, but still. I want a short where Gerald is shown in a better light.

Overall, though? Finding Dory is fantastic, and it certainly deserves the hype it gets.