Damsel in Distress: An Critical Look at Mickey Mouse cartoon “The Klondike Kid”

Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIFpT6iKcPU

  In the 1932 Mickey Mouse cartoon ‘The Klondike Kid”, Mickey Mouse was busy entertaining the folks in a tavern playing with the piano when he saw a tired and homeless Minnie Mouse collapsing from exhaustion. He was able to get her out of the cold, and they became close friends afterwards; he was giving her some soup when Big Pete showed up uninvited and took Minnie hostage & went off to his cabin. Mickey followed them with his dog Pluto bringing movement for the sled, which led to a wild fight which was later ended with Pluto making himself a huge snowball that knocked Pete’s cabin off the cliff and smashed the latter into logs, trapping Pete underneath.

For this, feminism is employed to look at certain points of the cartoon. The main concept here is the concept of the stereotypical damsel in distress. According to Urban Dictionary, a damsel in distress is a female stereotype of an unmarried woman who is need of help, any woman who needs help (usually virginal, beautiful, young, virtuous, and hopelessly passive, as well as being asexual).  In short, a damsel in distress is usually female who’s placed in enormous danger and has to wait for help (usually in the form of a man) to come along. This is mostly seen in fairy tales, and to some extent, some TV shows, films and cartoons. Many young girls, growing up with such tales in their childhood, would dream of a prince to come for them someday, only to be crushed years later. That depends on certain situations a girl has to face later in life.

Way back then, women were supposed to be passive and dependent on men. This yet again is an idea found in fairy tales. Joseph Campbell, in ‘The Power of Myth’, mentions about this stereotype in fairy tales, there were such stories with a young girl who doesn’t want to grow up, and at the times of crisis, she balks. Then she falls asleep until a prince comes in, having to go through many trials to reach her. However, during the Middle Ages and even some times after that, some of the women are anything but in distress. Some, like Joan of Arc, has the guts to go into war; one woman led her castle against a siege in her 60’s, another one went against a forced marriage and became a holy woman. Still, this stereotype of a dependent woman wouldn’t be more influential until the Victorian Age, with the Industrial Revolution ushering in. Woman then became mere ornaments of their husbands.

In this cartoon, as well as other early Disney cartoons in the old times, Minnie was portrayed as that damsel in distress, and Mickey that prince that have to save her from harm (or in this case, Big Pete). Here, she needed to be saved a lot. One was that she was out in the cold: hungry, tired and cold & she collapsed after reaching the tavern. Mickey has to get her out of there, hence fulfilling the concept, as well as him giving her soup. The second has her being kidnapped by Big Pete who tries to seduce her, yet failed because she refused to. So, she needs to be saved again, making Mickey to go after Pete with Pluto mushing forwards, only to be distracted by a rabbit, leaving Mickey to face Pete in order to save Minnie, whose skirt was hung on to a mounted deer head trophy. This shows the idea of the woman being needy & dependent on the man to get her out of any situation.

But as the years went by, some cartoons later showed Minnie as mature, smart and level-headed, sometimes annoyed by Mickey’s antics as well as those of others as evident in the cartoon show House of Mouse. However, in Mickey Mouse Works, there’s a segment called Mickey to the Rescue wherein Minnie is portrayed as the damsel in distress again with Pete always holding her hostage and Mickey rescuing her from the former’s clutches. Then again, who knows what would strike their mind instantly without any second thought?

Therefore, it is safe to say that people should be careful in what they are reading, listening or watching in terms of how it will affect one’s mind-set later in life.

 

Sources

Campbell, Joseph and Moyers, Bill. “The Hero’s Adventure.” Campbell, Joseph and Bill Moyers. The Power of Myth. New York City, New York, United States of America: Doubleday, 1988. 168.

The Disney Wiki. Minnie Mouse. n.d. 6 Spetember 2013 <http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Minnie_Mouse&gt;.

—. The Klondike Kid. n.d. 6 September 2013 <http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/The_Klondike_Kid&gt;.

The Klondike Kid. Dir. Wilfred Jackson. Perf. Walt Disney, Bill Blecther and Pinto Colvig. 1932.

Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary: damsel in distress. n.d. 6 September 2013 <http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=damsel%20in%20distress&defid=6128113&gt;.

Correct Story, Wrong Interpretation: Applying ‘Orientalism’ in the Ballad of Magellan

Wonder if they really learn that pre-Hispanic Filipinos don’t look like cavemen & only wore vests or sleeveless jackets & g-strings (men), and baros and sayas (Filipinas) back then…

Animaniacs featured the story of the first circumnavigation of the world, through the eyes of Ferdinand Magellan, in a form of a ballad. However, near the end of the song, the last segment depicted a bad image of pre-Hispanic Filipinos as stereotypical savages. For this application, the author will use some aspects of Edward Said‘s ‘Orientalism‘. While Said uses his personal life as the main basis for the essay, it is safe to say that it can be also applied to any country (even Asian nations).

As all is concerned, Spain used to rule over the Philippines for 333 years, ending with the Philippine Revolution, Philippine Independence, & the coming of the new enemy: The United States of America. Now prior to the formal colonization of the country in 1565, the Spanish have went through at least 4 to 5 explorations. Magellan started his voyage on August 10, 1519 in Spain. With him are five ships, only one returned after almost 3 years of sailing.

While it is unknown if the animators and writers of the Steven Spielberg-sponsored animated cartoon show had done their research, it’s undeniable that they unintentionally exoticied the Philippines’ pre-Hispanic times very horribly. Tragic, isn’t it? They looked like cavemen in cartoons these days (not counting the Flintstones and their spin-offs). Back then, Filipinos weren’t like this. Men then wore a collarless, sleeveless vest or jacket that reach down to the waist and a cloth-like g-string called the bahag. Women, on other hand, had sleeved jackets called baros and long skirts sayas, accompanied by a waist cloth called a tapis. The color and/ or pattern of the cloth around a man’s forehead (putong) and jacket indicate their status and/ or deed(s), e.g. a red putong states that this man killed someone in war. Also noteworthy is their penchant for accessories and jewelry. They were adorned with necklaces, bracelets, etc. Even the men wore these during the pre-colonial times in the Philippines.

Said mentions about the concept of the Other. East and West are made by the latter to separate one from other, like labels in a can. In this case, the people behind this segment has just done that, despite the fact the Filipinos back then are not savages: they were as highly-civilized, though not as prominent as China, India, Egypt, Greece or Rome in those days. And also very ironic due to the fact that the Philippines had been free from Spain after more than a century, with sudden interruptions from the US and Japan respectively. That could have tarnished the Philippines’ image as a country, and its history in jeopardy.

Now if only they had hired a historian specialized in Philippine History in the first place of how the pre-colonial Filipinos were like or how they look like, it didn’t have so horrible. Worse, however, is how Magellan died. The cartoon claimed he was speared to death; but according to one of the men who participated the Battle of Mactan, Antonio Pigafetta, it is more unfamily friendly than what the Warners have observed: He died in the hands of the country’s first hero against foreign intruders: Datu Lapu-Lapu of Mactan, though it was shown as a bothersome for him since he had a feud with another Chieftain at the time. This is from the excerpt of his account of the circumnavigation of the world on the Battle of Mactan:

“When morning came, forty-nine of us leaped into the water up to our thighs, and walked through water for more than two cross-bow flights before we could reach the shore. The boats could not approach nearer because of certain rocks in the water. The other eleven men remained behind to guard the boats. When we reached land, those men had formed in three divisions to the number of more than one thousand five hundred persons. When they saw us, they charged down upon us with exceeding loud cries, two divisions on our flanks and the other on our front.

When the captain saw that, he formed us into two divisions, and thus did we begin to fight. The musketeers and crossbow-men shot from a distance for about a half-hour, but uselessly; for the shots only passed through the shields which were made of thin wood and the arms [of the bearers]. The captain cried to them, “Cease firing cease firing!” but his order was not at all heeded. When the natives saw that we were shooting our muskets to no purpose, crying out they determined to stand firm, but they redoubled their shouts. When our muskets were discharged, the natives would never stand still, but leaped hither and thither, covering themselves with their shields. They shot so many arrows at us and hurled so many bamboo spears (some of them tipped with iron) at the captain-general, besides pointed stakes hardened with fire, stones, and mud, that we could scarcely defend ourselves.

Seeing that, the captain-general sent some men to burn their houses in order to terrify them. When they saw their houses burning, they were roused to greater fury. Two of our men were killed near the houses, while we burned twenty or thirty houses. So many of them charged down upon us that they shot the captain through the right leg with a poisoned arrow. On that account, he ordered us to retire slowly, but the men took to fight, except six or eight of us who remained with the captain.

The natives shot only at our legs, for the latter were bare; and so many were the spears and stones that they hurled at us, that we could offer no resistance. The mortars in the boats could not aid us as they were too far away.

So we continued to retire for more than a good crossbow flight from the shore always fighting up to our knees in the water. The natives continued to pursue us, and picking up the same spear four or six times, hurled it at us again and again. Recognizing the captain, so many turned upon him that they knocked his helmet off his head twice, but he always stood firmly like a good knight, together with some others. Thus did we fight for more than one hour, refusing to retire farther. An Indian hurled a bamboo spear into the captain’s face, but the latter immediately killed him with his lance, which he left in the Indian’s body. Then, trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear. When the natives saw that, they all hurled themselves upon him. One of them wounded him on the left leg with a large cutlass, which resembles a scimitar, only being larger. That caused the captain to fall face downward, when immediately they rushed upon him with iron and bamboo spears and with their cutlasses, until they killed our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide. When they wounded him, he turned back many times to see whether we were all in the boats. Thereupon, beholding him dead, we, wounded, retreated, as best we could, to the boats, which were already pulling off.”

Too bad, for the lack of full research that was done. If only they knew better then…

Here is the cartoon of mention: Animaniacs – The Ballad of Magellan

Sources:

Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York City, New York, United States of America: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001.
http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/magellan.htm

http://hist1upoufinalproject.blogspot.com/

Twisted Tales: Applying Hermeneutics & Rashomon in Once Upon an Ed

Ed, Edd n Eddy

It sounds so ironic that an Ed, Edd n Eddy episode can teach one a lot on Hermeneutics…   (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode ‘Once Upon an Ed’, the title named trio got trapped in a wall of an acquaintance’s room, and they told very different stories of how did they got stuck in the first place: Eddy’s tale has him as a very popular fellow who runs a Jawbreaker bank & his pals work there with the neighborhood kids nearly worshiping him like a god; Edd’s is more sensible and in the real world as well, with the trio running a ‘bank’ & Ed and Eddy scaring their first customer, while Ed’s is the most fictional (with their worst nightmare the Kanker Sisters turning into giantesses from eating radioactive-dosed mashed potatoes and chasing after them) and yet explains how did they got stuck there in the first place. Sounds familiar?
This is a case of the Rashomon effect: named after the Japanese film Rashomon which was discussed a few Literary Theory entries ago. This will also involve with the use & application of Hermeneutics & the film in applying concepts there.

Remember Stanley Fish & Wolfgang Iser. Their concepts will explain how these interpretation can go in this previous entry: Rashomon Analysis with Fish & Iser. Now to the basic parts: According to them, there are different interpretations people gained from looking at certain literary work (or in this case, a cartoon TV show). They also talked about interpretative communities as integral in analyzing any work of art. Fish also note that one will get different interpretations from reading different works, while many will have the same look at reading at the same work.

Kurosawa‘s Rashomon is the finest example of Hermeneutics: the witnesses & the people have different views of the incident (rape & murder) with them being the ‘innocent one’ & the others guilty, yet all of these (as well as the viewers’ own interpretations) are neither right or wrong. It’s possible that any can be correct, regardless of how one explains in so many ways.  Surprisingly, that episode is an ode to the film itself.

Let’s have these unlikely teachers’ tales being the examples.  All of them have different looks of how they got stuck into the wall. All of these can be correct, but these stories are not right, nor are they right. Fish is also right that the readers play an important role in making meaning to a text, instead of the author. In this analogy, the Eds are the Readers, regardless of their education per se; the hole incident is the text; their strange stories are THEIR interpretation.  Yet, these are open-ended and anyone can guess what happened or happens next after these are told.

Needless to say, Once Upon an Ed is a critical application of how does the reader look at anything can affect how the audience should see the work or event as what it should be see or told. As the first lines in Rashomon once explain, ‘I don’t understand…’

Sources:

* Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York City, New York, United States of America: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001.

* Rashomon. Dir. Akira Kurosawa. Perf. Toshiro Mifune, et al. 1950. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashomon