Friday, 31 August 2018

Non-binary representation in Peter Pan

So I reread Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie recently and I was surprised by this line towards the end which I never really noticed before:

"I thought all the fairies were dead," Mrs. Darling said.
"There are always a lot of young ones," explained Wendy, who was now quite an authority, "because you see when a new baby laughs for the first time a new fairy is born, and as there are always new babies there are always new fairies.  They live in nests on the tops of trees; and the mauve ones are boys and the white ones are girls, and the blue ones are just little sillies who are not sure what they are." 

The use of the term 'little sillies' means you can't really call this a positive representation, but in a book so entrenched in stereotypical gender roles, I was pretty surprised to find out there's a species with openly gender queer individuals.  It doesn't affect the story at all and it's only mentioned in hindsight, but since we know so little about fairies, it's pretty cool that this is apparently an important enough fact to make it into the story.  And I like to think that since each fairy is born because of a human child, maybe each fairy shares the same gender as the child, and therefore genderqueer, non-binary or agender children are canon in this universe.  I also like that the colour attributed to these three genders are not the stereotypical ones (although gender colour stereotypes have changed in the last hundred years or so anyway).  (I am going to ignore any horrible double entendre relating to the word 'fairy'.)


Now that I come to think about it, Peter Pan is clearly an (aromantic) asexual character.  But you never see him on lists of such things (I think I have seen Barrie on those speculative 'here is a list of historical people we randomly think might have been ace based on circumstantial evidence and guesswork').  I assume this is because Peter is a child and therefore his sexuality is irrelevant, having never gone through puberty.  Also with all the creepy Oedipal and worse subtext, you don't exactly want to align yourself with it, especially when, coming out as ace, people are often told that they are being childish or there's something mentally wrong with them.  But I think it is relevant, because many people know what their sexuality is when they are a child - you don't suddenly gain a new one once you develop physically - and of course he's not a child-child, he's been alive for many many years.  The main giveaway is that every female in the book is attracted to him and often in love with him and he is totally oblivious and completely romantically uninterested and is left confused by their frustration (been there, dude).  He plays at being a husband and father for a bit, but finds the whole game faintly disturbing, which is really the perfect metaphor for how many aroace people live their lives.

"Dear Peter," she said, "with such a large family, of course, I have now passed my best, but you don't want to change me, do you?"
"No, Wendy."
Certainly he did not want to change, but he looked at her uncomfortably; blinking, you know, like one not sure whether he was awake or asleep.
"Peter, what is it?"
"I was just thinking," he said, a little scared.  "It is only make-believe, isn't it, that I am their father?"
"Oh yes," Wendy said primly.
"You see," he continued apologetically, "it would make me seem so old to be their real father."
"But they are ours, Peter, yours and mine."
"But not really, Wendy?" he asked anxiously.
"Not if you don't wish it," she replied; and she distinctly heard his sigh of relief.  "Peter," she asked, trying to speak firmly, "what are your exact feelings for me?"
"Those of a devoted son, Wendy."
"I thought so," she said, and went and sat by herself at the extreme end of the room.
"You are so queer," he said, frankly puzzled, "and Tiger Lily is just the same.  There is something she wants to be to me, but she says it is not my mother."
"No, indeed, it is not," Wendy replied with frightful emphasis.  Now we know why she was prejudiced against the redskins.
"Then what is it?" 
"It isn't for a lady to tell."
"Oh, very well," Peter said, a little nettled.  "Perhaps Tinker Bell will tell me."
"Oh yes, Tinker Bell will tell you," Wendy retorted scornfully.  "She is an abandoned little creature."
Here Tink, who was in her boudoir, eavesdropping, squeaked out something impudent.
"She said she glories in being abandoned," Peter interpreted.
He had a sudden idea.  "Perhaps Tink wants to be my mother?"
"You silly ass!" cried Tinker Bell in a passion. 

So there you go.  I'll let you know the next time I come across some non cishet characters in a children's book.  Baum's usually pretty good for that.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Musical Monday #177

Ah Disney, every time you start to enjoy yourself, they manage to slip something racist in there.  This actually contains the same racist joke they used in Snow White (which came out 33 years previously), I guess they really liked it to use it again.  Only this one is even worse.  So that's regression instead of progression.

Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat from The Aristocats
Performed by Scatman Crothers, Phil Harris, Liz English and Robie Lester, among others
Written by Floyd Huddleston and Al Rinker

Also, for strays, these cats sure are fat.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Musical Monday #176

So this is the finale of South Pacific and therefore a total spoiler if you haven't seen it.

Some context so you can enjoy the scene better: she's happy because he isn't dead and he's happy because she isn't a racist any more.

Dites-moi (finale) from South Pacific
Performed by Mitzi Gaynor, Candace Lee, Warren Hsieh and Rossano Brazzi (acting) and Giorgio Tozzi (singing)
Written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II

Now is it just me, or is it painfully and detrimentally obvious that the guy's singing voice is dubbed?  I don't get why they did that so much in old movies.  Either hire an actor who can sing in the first place or if they can sing, obviously let them sing for themselves, and if for some reason you still have to dub them at least try to match the voice with the actor.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Musical Monday #175

This makes me feel emotions.

'Dancing for Dad' from Billy Elliot
Scene performed by Jamie Bell

Monday, 6 August 2018

Musical Monday #174

Such amazing animation here.

Strangely enough the animals don't look this good for the rest of the movie.  It's as if they put all their effort into the opening sequence and then remembered they were supposed to have made a whole movie.  Might explain why the plot sucks.  Jeez get to the comedy meerkat already.

Circle Of Life from The Lion King
Performed by Carmen Twillie and Lebo M
Written by Elton John and Tim Rice

Hooray!  Let's all bow to our new tyrant who will lead all his family to terrorize us and kill our children!  Hooray!  I sure hope no one else usurps his place as king, because that might somehow lead to a drought and a fire, because those are things that lions control, but don't worry, when the real king comes back magically there will be rain again.  Hooray!