Kennedy McCann Week 10 Boys Don’t Cry

Aaron’s article about Boys Don’t Cry explores how films tend to make a spectacle of transvestism, but I would like to take that further to encompass all queerness. Cooper notes in her article that media depicts “characters who transgress boundaries as comic, weak, or as evil,” (46). Since I have not seen BDC, I want to discuss these last two concepts in terms of Disney films. In my paper that I am working on for submission, one of the sources I cite points out that Disney films tend to cast the prejudices of the film’s day as animated characters. This is similar to what both Aaron and Cooper discuss of queerness as spectacle in film–since Disney films are campy and geared toward entertaining children through catchy music and colors–and the media manipulating queerness to be something feared or laughed at. I make the equation of queerness as villainous in my The Little Mermaid essay, but I would like to take that once step further in analyzing a certain musical number in another Disney film. The musical number “I’ve Got a Dream” in 2010 Tangled is fun and vibrant, but also incredibly surprising. The set up for the number is when Rapunzel and Flynn enter a tavern and are faced with grimacing, barbaric hooligans bearing swords and physical deformities.  Rapunzel is automatically frightened and when trying to rescue Flynn from the savage men, she expresses her feminine dreams and asks if the men themselves have ever had a dream. All the men are agape at the small female’s boldness, and the largest man menacingly approaches her with an ax only to then break out into song–“but despite my evil look, and my temper, and my hook I’ve always yearned to be a concert pianist…although I do like breaking femurs, you can count me with the dreamers, like everybody else I’ve got a dream.” All of the men start singing about their, more often than not, feminine dreams of being florists, interior designers, cupcake bakers, and even collecting ceramic unicorns. This surprising gender bending of the initially fearsome barbarians into softhearted dreamers through a campy and classic hollywood type group musical number constructs their queerness through spectacle in order to be unopposedly consumed by children, perhaps even encouraging both little boys and little girls to have their own radical dreams. This number also stands to cast these queer bar rats as comical because of their extremely masculine appearance in juxtaposition with their effeminate dreams. This is Disney’s way of taking an already untrustworthy group — bar rats with knives — and playing upon the expectations of the audience to immediately cast them as villains based on their exterior and then flipping that to make them agents to the protagonists based on their mutual aspirations. Reflecting the prejudices of the year in which the film was released, the move toward gay pride (which has always been on the agenda for Disney) in the public eye meant that you could not trust anyone to be straight no matter who they were. Hence, the initially untrustworthy men become even more untrustworthy because they challenge preconceived notions of masculinity by embracing their queerness, in a vibrant and jumpy song, no less.

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