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05/30/2007

Another day, another animated character pushing an 'agenda'

by Jeremy Hooper

 Headlines05 Images 0222-01You know who's foisting the "LGBT agenda" on kids now? Shrek, natch. And just like social conservatives did with the second outing of that green ogre's tale, they are now gunning for Shrek The Third, once again criticizing the inclusion of Doris The Ugly Stepsister (pic., voiced by Larry King), a character that they accuse of desensitizing children to the nature of transgender individuals.

This from the conservative blog, Illinois Review:

Shrek's not the problem. It's the awkward inclusion of a transvestite and the uselessness of the character himself (herself?) in the story that is troubling.

Right in the midst of a warm "traditional family" setting, the film writers place a man dressed as a woman in with Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White (the good gals). The crossdressing character simply doesn't make sense, except as a ploy to desensitize children and parents to transgenders.

Yea, that's it. We're just so sick of trying to gain protections for the T in our LGBT movement, that we've given up on the legislature and are instead militantly hijacking children's popcorn flicks. Must be it right? Because seriously, we can't imagine any other reason why the producers of a children's comedy would find it funny to give a character that they need to convey as "ugly" (as per the fairy tale) the voice of Larry King. Can you?

Moving on, Illinois Review's Fran Eaton goes on to say:

Homosexual activists now are careful to not only use the term "LGBTs" as a unit, they are more boldly now declaring lesbians-gays-bisexuals-transgenders as a unit pushing together as one for civil rights. Those confused about their sexual roles are pushing for equal rights to be free to publicly demonstrate their odd sexual behavior. For transgenders, appearing to be a different sex in public is their particular turn on. We need to understand that acceptance of this sexual behavior is just another step moving our world toward sexual chaos.

It's disturbing there's not more outcry about this sly tactic being used in a movie made for children. But I suppose after being reminded this week of Jerry Falwell's concern about the Teletubbies characters' sexual orientations and the post-heaven going ridicule and hatred those who dare to question LGBTs tactics are likely to endure in the mainstream media after their passing, some have shyed away from publicly tackling the topic. That's understandable.

But well-meaning parents who plan to take their kids to see a movie that grossed $122 million in the opening weekend should be aware . . . it's the subtlety of the movie makers' agenda to desensitize that could be more harmful to your children than encouraging them to eat sugary cereals in the morning.

Were you aware that gender identity was a sexual behavior and that "appearing to be a different sex in public is [a] particular turn on" for the transgender community? No, neither were we. That's likely because one's gender and one's sexual orientation/sex life are two very different things. But then again, considering this is from a social conservative, we should just be glad they are using the term "transgender." After all, it is the group that led last year's antipathy over the Doris character, the Traditional Values Coalition, who has carved out a cottage industry of deliberately disparaging that particular community with words like she-male.

Look, the whole idea of the Shrek movies is to riff on traditional fairy tales. As mentioned, the producers needed to include the "ugly stepsisters" [Doris being one and Mabel (voiced by Regis Philbin) being the other], and such presents a tricky situation for filmmakers not wanting to subscribe to traditional beauty norms (which is sort of the whole vibe of the movies). But giving a female character the patently gruff voice of Larry King reads in a kid's mind as funny. Hell, it reads in this adult's mind as funny! It has nothing to do with the gender, but rather that particular voice coming out of that body. It wouldn't be funny or read as "ugly" if it was Hugh Grant's voice -- it's the Larry King phrasing and intonement that carries the comedy:


(a sample of some Larry)

So while Ms. Eaton and other conservatives (Americans For Truth has picked up the Illinois Review piece) might think it is a fear of ridicule that has folks abstaining from attacks on this "agenda-pushing," it's far more likely that the fact that this is a NON-STORY is far more to blame for the silence! If anything, protest the fact that characters referred to as "ugly" are still necessary in children's literature. However, if such are going to be included, don't scream because it's things like attitude and gruff voice that the filmmakers use to convey the "ugliness"! And certainly don't jump to conclusions about what's going on underneath the clothes of the animated character (who is identified only as an "ugly woman" in all) on the basis of what's coming out of her mouth.

That all being said: Good for any children's filmmakers who would include a transgender character as part of the spectrum. "Doris" is just, by all credible accounts, not it.

Shrek: a strange setting to promote transgenderism [Illinois Review]

**Oh, and if you want to hear some thought from Doris herself, she has posted over on Shrek's official movie blog (where she reveals that she is sometimes assumed to be a man).

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Your thoughts

On top of the massive ignorance about everything queer and/or transgendered demonstrated by these right-wing nutjobs, this freakout also demonstrates that they don't realize that the Ugly Stepsisters in the film are a riff on the British panto tradition, in which the stepsisters in a production of Cinderella are always played by a couple of old men from the village -- usually prominent men like the vicar or town doctor. Because it's funny to see ugly men dressed as awkward women. I don't think exposure to these shows has caused massive gender confusion among British kiddies.

Posted by: JonboyDC | May 31, 2007 12:33:02 PM

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