Saturday, February 19, 2011

Intention vs. Implication

Last week we looked at Disney's Mulan and started to use the tools of media literacy to analyze the song "I'll Make a Man out of You." You raised great points in that discussion about gender, power, language, etc.

One of the issues that really stuck with me was the point Diana was making about "intention." In response to the room of critique, she asked something like, "Is it possible (I am paraphrasing here) that the creators of this text really wanted to give the message that girls can do anything? Could it be that they wanted to make a film to empower girls?"

Many have suggested that Mulan has the most empowering messages for girls produced by Disney. And paired against the princess stories of the past few decades, there is no doubt that this story is different as the images I include here attest. These look like feminist intentions at some level.

But here is the question.... what is the difference between INTENTION and IMPLICATION?

While the intentions may have been pure, what is the "secret education" (to borrow from Christensen) that this text offers? What does it mean that the
Diana's point is particularly important. There may have been a big meeting where the Disney team decided to make a story for girls that didn't require heels you can't run in, a dress you can't get dirty in, coifed hair and a sparkly tiara. But what does it mean that only way to be strong and powerful is to literally hide your girlhood and become a boy? What are the hidden implications of the story? Is the message of strength and power undone by the romance in the end? (The final outcome always reveals the most powerful and lasting messages of the film, so what does Mulan leave us with in the end?)

Just some food for thought... comments, critique, counterpoints, accolades, or rotten tomatoes welcome.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't seen the movie, but the two excerpts we watched in class highlight the progress women have made in our society - and why this is a problem.

    The past 100 years has seen ENORMOUS progress for women insofar as they are allowed to be increasingly more masculine: express opinions, be political, work outside the home, be athletic, wear pants.

    But misogyny persists: men are not allowed to be feminine because women are inferior to men and feminine qualities are inferior to masculine qualities.

    Mulan celebrates this accomplishment of women becoming masculinized - which is fine. But Mulan also degrades women - pervasively - with the buffoons and fools inhabiting feminine qualities that accomplish a misogynist agenda: they are inferior because they are feminine. Mulan herself is inferior until she "mans up."

    Masculinity is the winner in this movie.