Monday, June 26, 2017

Further Thoughts on Beauty and the Beast 2017

Hello Everyone!

Today I thought I’d take a break from my more in depth writing for future posts to go back to my thoughts on 2017 Beauty and the Beast.

I know exactly how I feel about the film itself. I hate it. But I am unsure about my thoughts about the (bullshit) feminist/sjw changes made to it. In my heart I know I am a feminist, and I do believe feminism, actual feminism, still has a needed place in 2017. But more and more I am seeing feminism being reduced to nothing more than a female supremacy movement. If the better parts of the ideology are to survive, there must be a schism made from the bullshit perversions of what feminism is now, which is why I use the term “Alt Feminism” to describe my views. 

Feminism, true feminism, is something I feel can benefit both genders in different ways. What makes Beauty and the Beast all the more enraging is that for many young girls, the female heroines they see in media or in books are their first exposure to the core feminist ideals of women’s equality and female personhood. Belle, as she was in the 1991 movie, was the perfect feminist heroine for young girls in the nineties. I’ve never been a fan of the more condescending aspects of modern feminism, and I feel like those aspects became more popular in the nineties.

Belle on the other hand was subtle, and that’s why I would prefer her for my daughter as opposed to a character like She-Ra. She had a normalized, genuine, organic, naturally occurring sense of herself and her right to pursue whatever she wanted from life (which is a core belief of feminism) that was a part of her persona. Her story didn’t require extra plot machinations to demonstrate it. Such an idea probably didn’t even cross her creator’s minds. 

This is the reason I hated the remake so much. In attempting to add feminist aspects to the film that didn’t need to be there, Emma Watson ended up ruining a perfect story. A lot of her desires and changes can be summed up in this article and as you will read, many of her thoughts were at best irrelevant and at worst disingenuous and condescending to Belle’s character. And what is most hilarious (and somewhat enraging) is that where more openly feminist changes to the film could have been made that would have made sense made the changes weren’t made! The best example of this is the backstory regarding Belle’s mother. I won’t give any spoilers, but know the backstory wasn’t necessary in this remake of the film. 

However, if the writers felt the need to add to the story to emphasize Belle’s feminism, there was something the writers COULD have done with the mother’s backstory that not only would have been very feminist and genuine and could have tied together well with why Maurice was so secretive about what happened to Belle’s mother in the first place. It also would have been very historically accurate considering the time that Beauty and the Beast takes place in. 

But instead of writing in this idea, the writers shot themselves in the foot and totally fucked it up. Even with the extremely subtle implications (probably the only subtle thing in this fucking film) of similarities between the fates of Belle’s mother and Beasts’ mother, it just did not work and honestly could have been removed from the film completely and nothing would have been missed. Like THAT was what Maurice was trying to protect Belle from? Really??

Like I’ve said before, I probably could have accepted these things if they did not end up sacrificing many aspects of what made the film so great. I feel like this is most evident in Belle’s relationships with Gaston and the Beast, the latter being the biggest sacrifice made for Mss. Watson’s feminist agenda. Lack of chemistry between the actors aside, the Beast is written horribly; clearly having no interest in Belle or breaking the spell on him and his companions and is an all-around condescending and awful person. He accuses her father of theft, goes off on his servants when they give her a room in the castle and suggest she could help break the spell and even the scene where he “gives” the library to Belle doesn’t seem all the way genuine. 

Compare this to the 1991 film where it’s seen he clearly still has some humanity left in him (whereas the 2017 Beast seemed not to have much to begin with and the spell just did away with what was left) and cares for Belle in his own way but at first does not know how to show it. He clearly regrets when he loses his temper and frightens Belle, and has enough care for her to save her from the wolves. Ever after, his attempts to get closer to her, while clumsy at times, still come off at much more genuine than in the remake. Even though you know that the film is destined to have a happy ending, you can actually enjoy seeing these two people fall in love and believe in their love too. I believed in the love between Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as much as I believe in the love of an awkward couple’s video on PornHub. Belle just comes off as frigid and the Beast is a jerk for most of the film and only halfway melts into an overly fawning cuckhold.

It’s really frustrating because many feminists accuse the Disney Princess franchise of chauvinism and selling unrealistic romantic expectations to little girls but out of all the princesses pre-Mulan, Belle’s love with the Beast in my mind is the most realistic and the most genuine. In many ways it is similar to the romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Predjudice, one of the greatest fictional romances of all time. The remake on the other hand just came off as more of a weird feminist fantasy of the asshole turned over-accommodating beta male with no agency of his own outside of the love he has for his fabulously feminist pillow brat. 

Which brings me to Gaston; and Lefou to a lesser extent. Before I continue let me just say this: there was no reason to make Lefou openly gay. Anyone who didn’t already know he was gay just from watching the 1991 film is a fool. Contrary to popular feminst/sjw belief, sometimes subtle subtext is actually better than openly stating something and anyone with the ability to understand and swallow nuance could easily have easily seen the homoerotic undercurrents flowing between Gaston and Lefou without needing to state them. All Disney has accomplished by this change is getting a lot of anti-gay family groups mad at them, which is admittedly hilarious. Not that I give a single shit about their opinions, it’s just the principle of the matter. 

In any case, Gaston, next to Frollo, is my favorite Disney Villain. The reason being that also like Frollo, Gaston is a not an exaggerated evil person. Yes he is evil but what makes him a great villain (and all the more sinister) is that he is someone who could very well exist in real life. I’m sure every girl reading this has encountered a man similar to Gaston at some point in their lives. 

But, much to my horror, I actually kind of liked Gaston’s character in the 2017 remake. I owe that in part to the talent of Luke Evans, but still, Gaston was a lot more, I don’t know, human in this remake. I really liked the bromance between him and Lefou too. He seemed to genuinely care for Belle in his own way (a lot more than Beast did for a good portion of the film), and his thoughts about her and their world seemed to be bred not so much from ignorance or masculine indulgence but from the fact that he really didn’t know any other world outside of their village and war. He’s not a blatant asshole, just kind of a clumsy but slightly endearing boor; in some ways not at all unlike the character of Gilbert Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables book series. 

Mix that with Emma Watson's natural awkwardness and general frigid nature throughout the film, it's never actually explained why Belle does not like Gaston. I mean sure anyone who knows the original story knows why but since none of his more horrible traits are shown until much later into the film we can only be left with having an awkward and ironic sense of sympathy for the black haired brute. It’s only when things begin to really REALLY not go his way that his character (rather rapidly) juxtaposes into the sinister Gaston that we all know and love (hate? Lol).


Once again I am at risk of becoming hyperbolic if I am not already guilty of it. Honestly while I understand that Disney is remaking all of these classics more for the new generation of children to enjoy them rather than for raging nostalgic fangirls like myself, I just wish they would have left this one alone. Beauty and the Beast was such a beautiful, emotional film that honestly even if they didn’t attempt to push a feminist agenda and got another actress besides Emma Watson, it still would have paled in comparison with the original. Sometimes, rarely, you come upon a perfect film. Perfect characters, perfect story, perfect everything. That was what Beauty and the Beast was.

Yours Jasmine

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The White Princess Roundup

I have been struggling with the idea of writing this for almost two months now, almost to the point that I was glad when my computer broke in early May and I had a little more time to gather my thoughts on many things. The White Princess ended up being everything I thought it would be and in some ways worse. But what made it more significant to me is that it’s airing has coincided with a growing shift in my world view. Well not exactly, my world views has been making this shift for a very long time now but I am only now beginning to very slowly develop the confidence to be more open about them.


At its core, The White Princess was bad, very bad. The writing was bad, none of the characters were likable save for Maggie Pole and the whole plot was as far removed from historical accuracy as Baltimore is from Christchurch.

I wish I could just say that the series was shit and leave it at that but I can’t because of the two really important things. One is the fact that these were real people and their stories are being further and further tarnished by populist historical sentiments and writers who think juicing up history will make it more interesting. And two, and probably most important, the implications that The White Princess was somehow a feminist show and that the female characters, through their (frankly) fucked up actions are somehow empowered.

Before beginning to write this in earnest I came across thisawesome article that I feel sums up my feelings on the current state of populist women’s history perfect ally. There is a quote in the beginning of the film Braveheart that I really like: “History is often written by those who have hanged heroes”. And it is true. Too often the stories of women have been overlooked, ignored, and even rewritten at the behest of the agenda of those who do not want their truths known. Marie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn, Empress Dowager Cixi. These women continue to be much maligned in the study of history as well as in some media. Sometimes I also wonder how kindly or cruelly posterity will know Hillary Clinton.

But at the same time, we women have a responsibility to understand and acknowledge that in the past, for a woman to be strong and to have her own agency independent of a man was a difficult feat to pull off. Not impossible but difficult, and more often than not they did not or could not have it. Are we really any better than the men who try to silence these women through history if all we do is just undermine them in another way by disregarding their truths for the sake of some sort of feminist agenda? Many of my fellow Anne Boleyn fans talk a lot of shit about Jane Seymour for her meekness and submissive nature in comparison to Anne. I have no opinions on her bad or otherwise but I feel like it’s unfair to malign Jane for doing what, at the end of the day, kept her neck off of the block.

Dominated by men legally and judged by a backward and misogynistic church, society was harsh on women back then. Yes, there was strength in all of these women, but that strength had to be channeled to work for these women in the circumstances they faced. I’ve said it once and I will say it once more: history has no safe spaces. If you have an issue with the fact that many of these women were in one way or another victims of their times, then don’t study history. Go back to your safe space and return to the big girl classroom once you have earned your big girl panties.

You women are not empowered, you are just horrible.

Which brings me back to The White Princess. There was nothing empowering about it in the slightest and the very idea is not only asinine but dangerous. Nowhere else does this come off more clear than in the rape/incest subplot of episode one.

First off, how the damn hell is Lizzie being in a previous incestuous relationship with Richard III empowering to her? Not only would it be fucking stupid (because of the legal ramifications) but it also diminishes any potential sympathy I can have for her when Henry and his horrible mother constantly slut shame her. Also, why does it seem like the only way to empower a female character is through making her sexually aggressive? There are other ways to give a female character agency but I guess those would not be interesting or sexy for a premium cable television show. I won’t even get into how this also completely sacrifices her own real agency that she had in real life because, well I’ve already written a whole post about that.

And second, I want all those reading this to understand something: despite what some bullshit feminist writers would have you believe, what happened between Henry and Lizzie was RAPE! Plain and simple, it was not an empowering moment; no it was not a moment of reclaimed agency for Lizzie. IT WAS RAPE! The fact that she knew it was going to happen or made a few jabs at Henry does not take away the fact that it was still rape and she was clearly hurt and humiliated by the encounter. And do you want to know a little secret? The kind of rape displayed in The White Princess is actually a lot more common in real life than the more violent screaming rape seen in Outlander or Game of Thrones. Do you think the survivors of those attacks feel empowered? How far gone must feminism be if we must now equate a fucking rape scene as empowering or somehow feminist? FUCKING HOW?!

With that said, while Henry and Lizzie did eventually come to love each other as the show progressed, I frankly could not get that scene and his previous treating her like shit out of my head. And I really did want to believe in their love, but I just could not reconcile in my mind the idea that first Lizzie was in love with her uncle (who in real life may or may not have ordered the murder of her brothers) and then fell in love with her rapist. It made the episodes after that very jarring.

None of this was made any more bearable where the other characters were concerned. The only other characters that I managed to take a liking to in the show were Elizabeth Woodville and Maggie Pole, the latter in particular. For a show that made such a fuss about how empowering it was, Maggie was literally the only character that I saw that was empowered and naturally grew to have her own sense of agency. She begins the show as a frightened little girl very much at the mercy of the new king and always in the control of others. She becomes a child bride (though her husband is decent enough not to commit marital rape right off the bat), and struggles constantly with whether to be loyal to her brother and her house, or to her husband and to Lizzie. By the end of the show, broken by the injustices dealt to her brother, she has grown from being submissive and scared and comes into her own. Maggie’s sense of empowerment is the only one that comes off as natural and not the result of being cruel or manipulative like most of the other characters in this damn show.

Probably the person who received the most violent character assassination was Margret Beaufort. One of the few good things that has resulted from me watching The White Princess is that it has further piqued my interest in learning more about who Margret was truly and not the fanatical demon cunt shown in this show. Considering that my love for Anne Boleyn began with me reading a terrible populist pandering teen novel, I can’t be too upset at that. But it is quite frustrating to see that Margret’s legacy may very well be going down the same path that Anne Boleyn’s went for so long. Again, I guess her natural agency, her intelligence, her piety and charity, were not juicy enough for Philippa Gregory or Emma Frost. Clearly only through manipulative scheming, murder, and ordering her son to rape someone, can she be empowered.

I am almost to the point with my disdain for this show that I am being hyperbolic. So, to wrap this up, I did not like this show at all. Maybe if these were not real people I could maybe like it a little more, but that is not the case. I have heard rumors that this show may be picked up for a second season. Considering how the books go from this point I don’t know how they will manage to do a season two without further assassinating these characters all the more. But either way, I do not plan to watch it even if it does occur. I am just so tired. Tired of history being butchered like this. Tired of these women being demonized and sacrificed for populist historical agenda. Tired of their truths being undermined for feminist agenda because some women can’t stomach the realities of what history truly was. And if this show is an indication of what history and feminism in the media has become, well, for someone like me who loves history, who at one point considered herself a true feminist, this is just frustrating and heartbreaking.

Elizabeth of York, Henry VII, on behalf of all those who love and devote themselves to the study of history, I am sorry.

Yours Jasmine

Feminist Folly ~ Beauty and the Buzzwords

Hello Everyone!

So, I know it’s been a while and for that I apologize. I’ve been going through an immense amount of personal and mental growth in the months since my last blog post, and I recently had a very shocking experience (I am safe, but it was a bit unnerving in the moment), that prompted me to not want to write for a while. I had planned for another post before this one; a review of The White Princess as well as an analysis of how this show is an example of the impending death of feminism in my opinion. But because that one is taking so much emotional energy out of me, I decided to write this one before finishing that one. Also, this post was long coming before I even saw The White Princess but as I will explain in my next post, when I have opinions that can be considered conflicting to the majority, I like to keep them quiet until I have them validated by someone I consider smarter than me. There is a reason for this but like I said I will explain it in my next post.


 Anyone who knows me knows I love Disney movies, especially the Disney Princess movies. I love all things Disney Princess, there is no doubt about it and if there is one thing that irritates me really quickly, it is criticism of the franchise. Let me rephrase that - stupid and non-constructive criticisms of it. I can understand where some criticisms of the Disney Princess franchise come from, but honestly most of it at the end of the day seems so disingenuous to me, and too often misses the point of things. Which brings me to 2017 Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, and one of my favorite animated movies of all time. One of the things that really makes the movie so wonderful to me is the character of Belle. I adored Belle growing up and still love her. I see so much of myself in Belle. She is such a lovely character. In many ways, she was my role model. So initially I was thrilled with the idea of a live action remake of Beauty and the Beast, because it would expose a whole new generation of little girls to this wonderful story and her wonderful character. And boy was I disappointed.

The film itself is extremely underwhelming, more or less a line for line remake of the 1991 film, but with a lot less emotion in my opinion. Some of the changes I liked – I liked the backstories they gave to the Beast and the Enchantress, but that’s about it. Most significantly, I was not buying Emma Watson as Belle. She just seemed so bland at times, and her singing was less than stellar to my ears. I could not see Belle, all I saw was Emma Watson cosplaying as Belle. I think another actress would have been better suited for the role, maybe Elle Fanning or even Emmy Rossum (maybe not her since she’s like 30 but her singing is beautiful!) AND THAT AWFUL CHEAP LOOKING YELLOW DRESS! After seeing the 2015 remake of Cinderella, and falling in love with her magnificent blue gown, I was really looking forward to what Disney would design for the new version of Belle, and on that front again I was disappointed. I feel like what I wore to prom was more ornate. I had other issues with the dress but I will get to THAT in a moment.

Honestly though, I am such a fan of Beauty and the Beast, I probably could have overlooked all of these things. There were things about 2015 Cinderella that I also did not like but probably could have overlooked too, and I almost did, were it not for one glaring thing that I cannot just ignore any longer: the need to somehow make the new Disney Princess remakes “feminist”. I saw some of this in the remake of Cinderella, but it seemed very obvious and blatant in Beauty and the Beast. Emma Watson really held nothing back in her opinion that Belle should be turned into a more “feminist friendly” character, but this all seemed to happen at the sacrifice of what made Belle such a remarkable character. (Now before I continue, let me confess that I do not like Emma Watson. I can’t hate her because I don’t know her, but I have a feeling I would if I did. She comes off as an entitled, spoiled brat and is in my mind a shining example of the hypocritical, oblivious, smug and often self-serving pretentiousness that has poisoned feminism in recent years.) 

This became more and more clear in the weeks and months leading up to the release of Beauty and the Beast. It seemed like Emma had issue with every aspect of the role, from her dress to her demeanor. But there was one thing that Emma Watson seemed to overlook in her pretentious and self-righteous quest to make a more “feminist” Disney Princess. Do you want to know what that thing is? 


And this is where I get angry and somewhat fan-girly, so forgive me. But seriously this is another huge issue I have with modern feminism. My mother once said that “one must have the right tools to get the job done”. It seems like there is a complete lack of understanding (or even contempt) by modern feminist for the power of being subtle. Belle didn’t need to be some kind of cocky misandrist who held her ovaries up in triumph against the patriarchy to have her own sense of dignity and agency that, to someone who actually understands the power of being subtle, translated into being a feminist character in her own right without having to state it for all to hear.

 Belle did not, in Miss Watson’s own words “fall into the clichรฉ of the subservient princess”. Not in the slightest. Belle had her own mind, spoke for herself and stayed true to her heart. Though a dreamer with some hints of romantic sensibilities, Belle’s main interest was books, and through books exploring and learning about the bigger world outside her tiny little village. The villagers thought her odd for the very traits that were feminist in her and in contrast to the blond bimbos who fawned over Gaston’s hyper-masculine swaggering, Belle saw him for the “positively primeval” loser he was, and instead wished for someone who understood her and loved her for who she truly was. And contrary to the number one complaint that many feminists (including Miss Watson) have about the original, Belle did NOT have Stockholm Syndrome. She was more than ready to haul ass out of the castle after the Beast showed a more vicious side, but her compassion for the Beast began from the fact that he saved her from certain death at the paws of wolves. Even then she did not begin to come around to him until after he stopped being such a moody asshole. In my mind, Belle truly was at the time of her release the most feminist of the Disney Princess; a true feminist, not this bullshit perversion of feminism that we see today.

I think I’ve made it quite clear how much I despise what feminism has become. It has gotten to the point that me and my similarly-minded friends have begun to use the “Alt Feminism” because actual, well-meaning feminism has been so thoroughly poisoned by people like Emma Watson, Lena Dunham and the like that for it to survive it must completely separate from what feminism is now and start anew. And over the last few months my anger at feminism has only grown but in many ways Beauty and the Beast was my breaking point. Growing up in Baltimore (which can at times seem as small as a 19th century provincial French village despite being a city) around a lot of people who thought I was weird for the things I liked and not having many friends, Belle was the type of young woman I wanted to become. Belle was the outcast and in some ways so was the Beast, and they found solace and love and happiness with each other. Belle didn’t have to change to get her prince, quite the other way around – who she was changed him and made him want to be the best person he could be, and that is how it should be.

 This is what made Belle stand out and what made her so beautiful and inspiring to me. To have her character get hijacked so shamelessly and unnecessarily for some kind of feminist agenda is just galling to me. It makes me want to throw up and cry. And just like with the backlash and controversies that revolved around 2016 all-female lead remake of Ghostbusters, I fear that Beauty and the Beast will inevitably go down as a pawn in the asinine game of gender politics. I can only hope that the legacy of the 1991 film will overpower this agenda.

I have heard that the next live action princess movie Disney is planning for is Mulan. That could be quite interesting but I must now tread carefully in my excitement of it. Now I doubt anyone from Disney will read this but I have to say it: the Disney Princess franchise is not inherently a feminist franchise. Yes some of the characters like Tiana, Belle and Mulan have feminist traits. But they are incidental. They are first and foremost great and empowering characters in their own right. And you know what? That’s okay. I don’t like the idea of changing an original story around in order to suit some sort of political agenda, especially when it already did in it’s own unique (i.e. subtle) way.

What I hope for the live action remake of Mulan is this: that they find a new and exciting ways to bring the story of this compelling maiden to the life without needing to sacrifice her own natural agency and put in it’s place artificial pandering at the behest of new articles for Buzzfeed about how Mulan is now oh so feminist when she already was.

And please, please PLEEEEAAASSE cast Fan Bingbing in the role of Mulan!

Yours Jasmine