SEX IN THE COUNTRY: SHOCKER! Sony’s “Transylvania” Reinforces Gender Stereotypes

While I enjoyed settling into a cool movie theater with my kids this weekend, especially since it was almost 90 degrees outside, I left Hotel Transylvania feeling a little depressed. It’s not that I expect to be fulfilled at a kids’ movie – it’s just a break in the dark really – but some are better than others.

To be fair, this one was sorta funny and had some good jokes in the derivative Monsters, Inc setting wherein monsters are afraid of humans instead of vice-versa.  But there’s not an original detail in it – it’s all recycled Disney motifs. Moreover, if you’re expecting a cute romance; or any sort of female agency, you will be disappointed.  The film is really a bromance between the girl’s father and her future husband. The girl herself is merely chattel passed back and forth.  The two other female characters are hardly worth mentioning they are so caricatured: obnoxious Fran Drescher-voiced mother, and mild and obedient Mrs. Werewolf.

The sexism is all in the plot points: a girl is raised by her father because her mother dies when she’s little (Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty). The girl and the first boy she sees fall in love at first sight (Sleeping Beauty, Snow White), but father keeps them apart.  I bumped on that, because most eighteen year old girls don’t listen to their dads much. Nevertheless, he’s successful in scaring away the boy and convincing the girl it’s for the best.  (Playing Gepetto in their lives.)

But then the girl cries – all girls cry doncha know? – so the dad brings handsome back.  Then she’s happy. They plan to get married and see the world together – he’s a stoner-type nomad, like Sandler used to play in his 20s.

The girl’s happiness is completely dependent on the men in her life. Even when she expresses she wants to see the world, she scares easily at her father’s tricks. She doesn’t set off alone again, but instead waits for a man to do it with her.  Still, my biggest objection is that the father tells the daughter that you only fall in love once.  Afterwards, I felt obligated to tell my eight year old daughter, who is just starting to notice b-o-y-s,   that actually you will feel that “zing” many times.  And please don’t marry the first guy you meet!

Like most movies, it was written by and directed by middle-aged white guys.  Are they trying to be insensitive, or does it just come naturally?

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