Monday, 26 October 2009
Fantastic Mr. Fox
I very much wanted to love this film and there was so much to love. The foxy foxes, George Clooney's voice, the far out animation, and all of the very thoughtful details, especially the train that every so often shoots through the scenery. But I didn't love this film, I couldn't love this film, because yet again, practically the one female who has any role at all, Mrs. Fox, is not only a passive, risk-adverse, naysayer, but the reason Mr. Fox has spent a lifetime living contrary to his wild animal nature. (Is she not a wiley fox, too?) Roald Dahl was certainly a misogynist but even he didn't blame Mrs. Fox for the animals' predicament. There is another female fox, a friend of the Fox's son Ash, whose only role is to humiliate the boy (who is teased because he wears a cape???), by shifting her affections to his cousin the super metrostud Kristofferson. When Mr. Fox is giving his evolutionary biology/men's movement speech towards the end of the film, asking each creature to tap into his wild inner nature, he identifies only the male members of each species--mole, badger, rabbit, squirrel, weasel etc., the females presumably irrelevant except as offspring reproducers and burrow cleaners. One might defend Anderson and say that he was remaining faithful to the original story, but he didn't remain exclusively faithful to the original story so he could have done any number of things to include a viable, active, female in his story. Why didn't he make the cousin a girl? How interesting would that have been? It astounds me that Wes Anderson didn't make even the slightest attempt to appeal to girls in his film. No girl seeing this film can directly identify with any character in it, and any boy seeing this film gets fed once again the message that girls are not protagonists and if they are their function is to thwart the male. It makes me sick and sad to see someone as talented as Wes Anderson fall into this age-old trap out of laziness or expediency. What's even more frightening is that no one seems to be paying attention, much less thinking seriously about how we represent the female in our stories any more at all.