Friday, July 04, 2008

Friday Critter Blogging: Deconstructing Disney (by Suzie)

        Now that I’ve become a Chihuahuaphile, I can’t resist Disney’s “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” opening Oct. 3. I wish I could enjoy the little dancing dogs in peace, without seeing how the movie reinforces the patriarchy. But that’s the problem when you swallow the red pill; you can no longer watch fluff without deconstructing it.
         As Joss Whedon said: "People used to laugh that academics would study Disney movies. There’s nothing more important for academics to study, because they shape the minds of our children possibly more than any single thing."
         In the upcoming movie, a “spoiled” little white Chihuahua from Beverly Hills gets “lost in the mean streets of Mexico” and ends up guided by a bigger, darker, lustful Chihuahua. (I hope this isn’t “Swept Away” for Chihuahuas.) Guess which is male and which is female?
         Many people covet the smallest Chihuahuas. Because it’s often easier for bigger dogs to give birth, a lot of teeny-tiny males get bred to bigger females. (My “retired breeder” is one of these BBWs.) When you anthropomorphize dogs, however, I guess you have to stick to the conventions that say males must be bigger. At least Disney didn't make the female Chihuahua pink.
          On the Disney site, the synopsis tells the story of a female finding her footing, with the assistance of male dogs. But the trailer focuses on the male dog, with the female as accessory. Disney has to be careful not to lose too many boy viewers.
         Before the trailer came out, Disney started a viral video campaign featuring the male dog as revolutionary. He speaks of Chihuahuas as if all are male, and these males must reclaim their dignity after being carried in purses. They can no longer take orders from female dogs, either.
         Is Disney making fun of machismo? Riffing on the insecurity of men who fear being “feminized”? I wish everyone would see it that way. 
         You can catch the viral video (which really is funny) on Dog Art Today, where Moira McLaughlin discusses how artists have stolen from one another, in regard to dogs and revolutions. One of those artists, Kevin McCormick, says he has been calling on Chihuahuas to revolt for years.
         Mark Derr says small dogs are stigmatized as women’s pets. Bigger dogs are associated with men and work, such as herding sheep or finding prey for hunters. But a Chihuahua? It's just a companion, and being a companion has little value in our society.
        But hey, happy Fourth of July. Thank the goddess that I don't have a yappy dog that would bark every few minutes, when the fireworks go off.