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Feb 05 2012

“I Am The Lorax. I Speak For The Gender Binary.”

On Thursday night I went out to see The Muppets with a few friends. It was actually really, really good! Funny, cute, and clearly a sincere, heartfelt love letter to The Muppet Show and simultaneously an homage to Muppet fandom. It was fun seeing it with a pretty big group of really cool people too, Muppet fans all. I had a nice time. I even got a little bit teary-eyed when they sang The Rainbow Connection, which I honestly consider one of the greatest songs of the 20th century.

The quality of the movie, though, was just barely able to make up for the unspeakable Eldritch horror that was the trailer for the upcoming CG-animated adaptation of The Lorax. Yes, dear readers, it looks every bit as bad as you fear, and then some.

For those who don’t want to put themselves through watching that thing, it’s basically a tragic cannibalization of one of the most beautiful, simple and important children’s stories ever written, turning it instead into a nightmarish display of everything wrong with Hollywood’s current approach to children’s entertainment: patronize the little fuckers, throw a bunch of snazzy snappy ultra-fast-paced lights and things on the screen, make some fart and anatomy jokes, throw in some random pop culture references, give the principal characters a lot of “attitude” as exemplified by the stupid DreamWorks one-eyebrow-raised face, and assume that your young audience are completely incapable of thought and aren’t worth teaching anything other than to want more Happy Meal toys.

But what especially angered and saddened me was the stinger at the end. A stinger is the last  bit at the very end of a trailer, after the title and release date have been shown, where you throw in one last joke, scary scream-and-a-knife shot, or ominous/tense/ironic action-movie line (“guess I shoulda taken those swimming lessons”, “When will it hit Earth? Two hours.”, “Now THAT’S how you use regular phrases!”). It’s nicely summed up as the “two bits” to the trailer’s “shave and a haircut”.

The stinger in this trailer? The Lorax, obnoxiously voiced by Danny DeVito (the very opposite in personality from the gentle wisdom The Lorax should represent) points at another character and asks incredulously “That’s a woman?!”

Yes, a beloved character from my childhood. One of the most noble, kind, just, wise and empathic characters in children’s literature, who always represented defending the defenseless, standing up for the vulnerable, and encouraging social awareness has here been re-imagined as a snarky, cruel, insensitive, cissexist, gender-policing asshole, who mocks variance in gender presentation, and tramples over the defenseless and vulnerable in the name of maintaining cisnormativity (and making the producers a few extra dollars selling Happy Meals).

I wonder how many trees died printing the scripts.

A piece of my heart definitely breaks knowing that these are the lessons we’re still teaching our children: that there are really specific ways a woman or a man is supposed to look (and be) and that variation from that is weird and bad and should be ridiculed and scorned. My heart especially breaks for any of the kids being taken to this movie who are themselves dealing with gender issues, and I’m horrified at the thought of the shame they’re going to take home with them. One more little piece of culture telling them to be ashamed of who they are, and suppress it so that they can fit into their assigned box and not have to worry about being made fun of. By the fucking Lorax.

The worst thing is that this isn’t anything new or surprising. It’s not like I dropped my popcorn, spilled my drink and gasped in scandalized shock. These kinds of jokes are incredibly ubiquitous. So ubiquitous that I barely even noticed them until I began transition. But after that, I saw them everywhere. I still remember how in the first month after I finally made up my mind that I was trans and I was going to transition, I saw six episodes of The Simpsons, and FOUR of them contained jokes at the expense of trans people. That’s two thirds of the episodes I saw that month. And these weren’t just jokes about gender variance, like the one in the Lorax, these were jokes about transsexuality and transgenderism. Using slurs like “tranny” and “shemale”, too.

But the ubiquity of this kind of humour makes these jokes more dangerous, not less. On their own, they’re mostly harmless; just another micro-aggression. But when they accumulate, and build upon one another into an inescapable leitmotif of cissexism, they create a climate where it’s really hard to be trans while maintaining a sense of confidence and self-acceptance… a world where everywhere you look you’re being subjected to who and what you are being ridiculed, mocked, dismissed, or treated as disgusting and horrifying, where you can’t go more than a couple hours or so before finding yet another reminder that you’re supposed to be ashamed of who you are. Another reminder that you don’t belong, or count, in your society. You’re a mistake. You’re an uncomfortable tragedy or incongruence that people want to ignore. You’re creepy, and make people squeemish, and most would rather you just didn’t exist (or at least stayed out of sight). And you’re a punchline at the end of a trailer for a bad comedy… right alongside the slapstick and fart jokes.

But the world isn’t all bad. And Hollywood doesn’t get everything wrong. Every once in awhile, when everything lines up just right, they do it right, and remind us instead what there is in this world worth hanging around and fighting for…

 

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  1. 1
    Emburii

    …I’ve seen one trailer, but I don’t know if it was the same one. I would like to think that, as someone who tries to stand up for equal rights, I would have noticed and been outraged by that line at the end. But, shamefully, I might have missed it.

    On one hand it could be claimed that the entire clip is a numbing experience for all the atrocities it visits on Dr. Seuss’s story, and that the cisgenderist comment blended into the awful. But it could also be part of that normative effect that is so very dangerous, that such jokes happen so often they don’t even stand out to those with cisgender privilege and become part of the background that even decent people unwittingly play into and even use against non-conforming others on some unconscious level.

    1. 1.1
      Jean

      Vote which is funnier? A lot of people are ANGRY that other people do not like the “Hit a woman…That’s a woman?” gag. #hitawoman #thatsawoman

  2. 2
    Praedico

    *Praedico has gained +1 Awareness!*

    That honestly wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest if you hadn’t pointed it out.
    Having never crossed, or attempted to cross, the boundaries of the gender binary, I guess I just don’t see the wall and the guards until someone who has crossed points them out. But now I know what another category of guards looks like, thanks for pointing them out. :)

    [/overdoneMetaphor]

  3. 3
    Emily

    I can’t think of any way to even be charitable with the end of the Lorax trailer. I don’t see how any added context could possibly help it.

    Fortunately, the Muppets are still amazing :)

  4. 4
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    I’m sorry, Dreamworks, but The Lorax was not an asshole!

    I take it that the Muppet flick was better than the advertising indicated.

    1. 4.1
      Baycrum

      Umm to the guy who said Dreamworks made this… NO THEY DID NOT MAKE THIS MOVIE!!! It was Universal!

  5. 5
    The Lorax

    I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees,
    The grass, and the waters, the birds and the bees.
    I speak for all those who themselves cannot speak,
    The timid, the quiet, the mellow and meek.

    Nature does not, as far as I know,
    Care one little tuppence ’bout how humans grow.
    But some humans do, and silly they be,
    For labeling others as “he”, “it”, or “she”.

    This movie, I see, was made by you folk
    I wish I could say it was all just a joke.
    I’m saddened to see my likeness portrayed
    By those silly humans with morals mislaid.

    I speak for the trees, now I speak for myself,
    This is not who I am! This is not my true self!
    I care for you all, not genders, but hearts!
    I love you for more than the sum of your parts!

    And now I must go, by pants or by dress
    I hope, like the Once-ler, you realize… Unless.

    1. 5.1
      Praedico

      You are the greatest person ever.

    2. 5.2
      F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

      You might find this mildly amusing.

      In high school, in a math class, for whatever reason I said, “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.”

      Dude says, “Quit quoting Shakespeare.”

    3. 5.3
      sjrosewater

      Well done!

    4. 5.4
      Natalie Reed

      You win this comment thread, hands down.

    5. 5.5
      Marshall

      I second Natalie’s declaration of your victory.

      All right everyone, pack it in, time to go home, all that warrants saying has been said…

  6. 6
    Christianne

    Cartoonist Tracy Butler (who is awesomesauce) calls “Dreamworks Brow” “Smarm Brow”. Her dissertation on cartoon expressions is one of the most wonderful things on the net.

    I had the displeasure of seeing that damned trailer a few weeks ago in front of Hugo, and it hit me the same way it hit you. I’m just glad that, like you, I had an awesome feature film to salve the wound. And is it just me, or has Hollywood been making a mission of digging up Theodore Geisel, hanging him from a tree, and beating him like a pinata? Philistines.

  7. 7
    Anders

    This is the problem with having English as a second language. Who – what is this creature that is being voiced by Danny Devito?

    1. 7.1
      Natalie Reed

      The Lorax. In the original Seuss story he’s a sort of forest spirit / protector who speaks for the trees, and tries to convince people to reign in their destructive greed.

      1. Anders

        How many Hit Dice? I suppose he’s of the Fey subtype?

        Also, what is your take on Monte Python? I suppose the Lumberjack song isn’t the most… sensitive way to deal with trans issues. And there’s Loretta in Life of Brian. And a lot of the humor in the series is derived from the boys dressing up in drag… but can you be a nerd and not love the Pythons?

        1. Natalie Reed

          I like some of what they do, and strongly dislike other stuff.

          Lumberjack song is also specifically teasing British Columbian trans women. O_o

        2. Stevarious

          The Lorax of Dr. Suess’ story is based on the Leshy, or Lesovik, of Slavic mythology – a male woodland spirit who protects wild animals and forests. He is most commonly portrayed as a mischievous but extremely powerful being who speaks in rhymes and riddles, as in The Wood Demon (1889), a comedy by Anton Chekhov, or the video game Quest For Glory IV (1993), Sierra.

          He is most certainly of the Fey type, varies widely in HD depending on the size and health of the forest he protects, and gains druid spells as a druid of the same level as his HD. (At least he did in MY campaign. I’ve never seen any published stats.)

          1. Anders

            There was a genius locii in one of the Monster Manuals. I believe he was CR 15 or something like that.

          2. stripey_cat

            That sounds alarmingly like Tom Bombadil.

          3. Stevarious

            Tom Bombadil was either a Maiar, something completely unique, or God. Tolkien deliberately left his true nature a mystery.

            But he DID say that Tom was modeled after some elements of Finnish folklore, as much of the Elvish folklore was. I’m no historian, I can’t even guess at how inter-related Finnish and Slavik folklore are. But it wouldn’t surprise me if they were – and there ARE some very strong parallels – powerful humanoid forest spirit, aggressively masculine but pacifistic, speaks in rhymes? Yeah, it COULD be a coincidence, but that would be quite a surprise.

      2. Anders

        So who voices the Lorax in Natalie’s rendition? If you want gravitas I suggest James Earl Jones or Christopher Lee. Those voices… maybe Jeremy Irons – he did a good job with Scar (and an abysmally bad job with Dungeons & Dragons).

        1. Sas

          I’m going to suggest Patrick Stewart. <3

        2. Ingdigo Jump

          In mine? Frank Oz

  8. 8
    Grimalkin

    I was more annoyed at the typical “wow, you’d hit one of those frail stupid girls?!” than the “That’s a WOMAN?” comment, but only slightly. Both of those ideas are ridiculous and need to die, but honestly I don’t expect that to happen by Disney’s hands. Definitely not them.

    Though really, this pales in comparison to the utter shittiness of the trailer at large. I’ve gotta say you summed up why I hate most animated movies nowadays quite nicely, though I’d have to add on how the actual plot is always pushed aside for romantic comedy elements. Seriously, it looks like they turned the plot into “So there’s this boy, and there’s this girl whom he wants to get into the pants of, and she likes trees so he goes and gets trees and OH, there’s also this Lorax who is SO EDGY.”

    Ick.

    1. 8.1
      Tualha

      Why not have the speaker express outrage that the Lorax would hit anyone in retaliation for a snide remark? Seems like they’re suggesting that calling him a giant furry peanut would be plenty of justification for hitting someone, as long as it’s not a woman.

    2. 8.2
      Spencer

      Both of those ideas are ridiculous and need to die, but honestly I don’t expect that to happen by Disney’s hands. Definitely not them.

      I’m not challenging the general thrust of your comment, but what does Disney have to do with this? This is a Dreamworks film.

  9. 9
    Dalillama

    Wow, that’s even worse that the trailers I saw when I went to the Tintin movie. (Which was dreadful, stay far away from it) I didn’t think that would be possible. Bad as they were, they weren’t actually offensive to anything but my intelligence, and also weren’t butchering any classics that I recall.

  10. 10
    ttch

    Your fellow Freethought blogger Stephanie Zvan pointed out a nice Muppet-related SF story you guys might like:

    Saturday Storytime: Tomorrow Is Waiting

  11. 11
    carlie

    And Universal Pictures just tweeted “That’s a WOMAN?” as a promo. Blech.

    1. 11.1
      Natalie Reed

      Please tell me you’re kidding. :(

      Putting it as the sting is bad enough, but actually leaning their marketing on this?!?

      It hurts me in my SOUL. And I don’t even believe in the soul!!!

      1. neptis

        I’m afraid carlie is right.

        http://twitter.com/#!/UniversalPics/status/166313676511510528

        1. carlie

          I did a couple of replies to that tweet, but I doubt there will be any response from the Universal Pics pr team.

  12. 12
    athorist

    Because ‘Light & Day’ isn’t the most overused song, ever.*

    Oh, wait. Turns out it is, and that was sarcasm. Who knew? “In April 2010, research conducted by PRS for Music revealed that the song was the most performed in UK Television advertising.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_%26_Day

    At least this version is creepy-disturbing, instead of just for nature-porn, which seems to be how it’s used most of the time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hxTwwhdMFw

    *and yes, clearly that isn’t the most objectionable thing about the trailer. But I never read the book, so all the other stuff went over my head.

  13. 13
    Jadehawk

    the whole movie sucks. the very premise here is nasty patriarchal gender-binary reinforcement. the girl wants to see the trees, so why the fuck is the boy the one who goes on the adventure?! it’s the same stupid shit as with UP.

  14. 14
    Stevarious

    the girl wants to see the trees, so why the fuck is the boy the one who goes on the adventure?

    Oh, damn, didn’t even see that.

    Those bastards.

  15. 15
    pHred

    Sigh – this depresses me so much. I loathed the abomonations that they made previously with Cat in the Hat etc. Especially since I have two kids and we read to them as often as we can, so Dr Seuss books are favorite around here (but the marathon Where the Wild Things Are something like twelve times in a row almost killed me.) I was really hoping that the Lorax would be something we could see – we loved the Muppets. The only bit of the trailer I had seen was the very end of the version that says “less hair” and shows a small bear getting the middle of its belly shaved. Weird, but giving no hint of how offensive the movie is going to be.

  16. 16
    Tualha

    Jeez, who is Dr. Seuss’s literary executir? Shame on hir for letting this happen.

  17. 17
    Tualha

    Snerk. Was reading the title again and my brain tossed this up:

    I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
    I am the Lorax, goo goo goo joob.

  18. 18
    Stevarious

    So my sister in law saw the movie and raved about it on Facebook.
    (My normally rather liberal sister in law.)
    I mentioned that from the promos it did not look great to me. When she asked why I sent her a link to this article.
    Instead of reading the article, she told me that she didn’t see any promos and that all that she knew was that she enjoyed the movie and left happy.
    I told her that with all due respect and honesty, I felt that she should check her privilege and read the article.

    I hope she changes her mind and reads this…

    1. 18.1
      Stevarious's sister-in-law

      I am here and I did read it. I actually spent most of last night reading through a bunch of links and articles which is why I did not get back to the facebook post.
      I did not read the comments until this morning though, when I was coming to the bottom to ask a question, which I will get to momentarily.
      I appreciate you saying that I am normally rather liberal- I do like to think that I am. And while there are many things that I know I am privileged about, I had not thought about this aspect of it. At all. So thanks.
      However, I really did like the movie. I liked that it gave me an avenue to talk to my child about how we need to be nicer to the environment and that anyone can change the world and make a difference. I like that (now that I have more information) I can have a discussion about that line.
      After reading this article (and countless others last night) and realizing how offensive that line was obviously it does change my mind about the movie. I can’t change the fact that I really did leave the movie feeling like anyone could change the world, and that was really what I like about it in the first place. It was very empowering for me, to be honest.
      The fact that it was a girl who wanted the tree and it was a boy who got the seed did not bother me simply because as I was watching it I was totally relating to the boy. In most of my relationships, I am the do-er, and that is what I saw the boy, he was the do-er, not because of his gender, but because he just was.
      And this comes to my question- I would like to recommend the movie to people still, however I would also like to direct them to this article and the serious issues the movie has so people could be aware of them before the movie and then have discussions with their children about it afterwards. My question (finally) is- Am I being naive in thinking that people would read the article and have a discussion with their kids after the movie about all the issues it brings up?

      1. hall-of-rage

        Hi Stevarious’ sister-in-law!

        I think the Dr. Seuss story of the Lorax is a good thing for people to take things away from. To rule out a movie for sexism would be to rule out nearly all movies; however, one can do a lot better than this. I think what works is to recommend movies like this but then point out an article like this one, or saying a few obvious things for critical thinking (like “why did the boy get the spotlight?”). I think the treatment of gender that I saw in the trailer is so mainstream for movies that for most people, it becomes invisible. Women take it for granted that we usually relate to the male characters, whereas men don’t relate to female characters; thus, males are made the protagonists most of the time. I’d be curious to know if a boy watching “Tangled” would relate to the protagonist princess in that, who is a strong character; for most, I expect not.

        However, I also saw a Lorax trailer before the Tintin movie (which is no worse than the books, so actually I loved it because I was already prepared for a movie focused on two white British guys with everyone else in caricature). When I saw it, I started noting all the sexist stuff in there. The Lorax is male instead of neutral. The protagonist is a boy. The female posesses mysterious knowledge and sets Tasks. The female is (as far as the trailer shows) primarily a love interest. The other women are middle-aged and scornful and superstitious, so we feel distant from them. The other men are villains out to stop the boy. And then the “that’s a woman” joke right at the end? Really, I don’t get how they think there’s an excuse for that! It’s like, every trope in itself is normal enough, but they were packed in so closely that it felt like an unusual onslaught. Glad it wasn’t just me.

  19. 19
    Picante

    I’m always sickened by the pop crap dished up for kids’ consumption for all the above reasons. Successful brands thrive on gender stereotypes, and it’s easy to find marketing studies and methods related to making certain the “two” targeted gender consumer catagories are aggressively reinforced every moment of people’s lives. Liberating people from gender stereotypes dilutes sales of girl/boy toys and their consequently lucrative adult analogs. Just another reason why capitalism needs to die.

  20. 20
    Lorax

    As this movie is about my namesake, I have to say I am very disappointed, not only in the “woman” line, but in the erasure of the neutrois gender of the Lorax. I look forward to seeing this movie (wish there was a way to do that without supporting the studio) before solidifying my own opinion on it.

    1. 20.1
      Angry_Cupcake_Swarm

      But the Lorax is clearly referred to as male in the books.

      “I saw something pop out of the stump
      of the tree I’d chopped down. It was sort of a *man*.
      Describe *him*?… That’s hard. I don’t know if I can.

      *He* was shortish. And oldish.
      And brownish. And mossy.
      And he spoke with a voice
      that was sharpish and bossy.
      “Mister!” *he* said with a sawdusty sneeze,
      “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.”
      - Lorax excerpt (emphases mine) from https://ecworlddynamics.wikispaces.com/Lorax+Text

      I’m still not sure how much weight we should give to a single line expressing surprise about somebody’s gender – couldn’t it also be seen an affirmative statement to the points made in this article that 1. gender shouldn’t matter 2. you can’t always tell who identifies with what gender by looking at them?

      The use of “never hit a woman” seems to be clearly a bigger target – why is hitting men ok, and why is hitting anyone an appropriate response to an insult?

      1. Natalie Reed

        It wasn’t simple naive surprise. It was clearly in a mocking, derisive tone. It’s also clearly structured to be a joke at the expense of gender non-normativity.

        1. Angry_Cupcake_Swarm

          Sure it is a joke – but depending on your perspective, it could either be seen as supporting or tearing down the gender binary. The perspective of offense may be easier to see when one is used to feeling society being against them, but that isn’t the only way of looking at a joke like this. Neither perspective is wrong, but gender-binary-affirmation isn’t the only option.

          Given the Lorax’s characterization of not caring about gender, this could even be looked at as a statement of “oh, that’s what the label woman applies to”.

          1. Natalie Reed

            No, really, I think it’s only in the abstract that this joke can be viewed in more than one way. When the actual tone and presentation, it’s very very clear what the joke is meant to convey, and there’s no room for the alternate interpretation you’re suggesting. It would require bending WAAAYYYY over backwards in a “death of the author” direction.

  21. 21
    DM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4EZULqhP2E&feature=relmfu Hope for children’s movies?

  22. 22
    Steak

    tl;dr version:
    people have nothing better to do but be angry at a movie
    smh

  23. 23
    Dirk

    You’re reading way to far into this.
    Its a joke, to make someone chuckle.
    If everything was correct we would have a boring movie re-done through-out the ages.
    Its a kids movie.
    Please stop over analyzing movies this deeply

    1. 23.1
      Natalie Reed

      Yeah, thinking is stupid and bad! Let’s not think about anything ever! Stupid thinking ruins everything! :P

      1. Dirk

        Or you could over exaggerate and make it sound like I want all of humanity to stop thinking but if you want to stop thinking, please…make my day. It’s a bloody kids movie…the story is given and there is no need to think deeper into it. Maybe if you took a film class and had to, but I’m pretty sure young kids DON’T have to write essays on deep physiological jabs in a childrens movie.

        1. Ace of Sevens

          The Lorax was originally supposed to get kids to think. This is a rather half-assed defense.

          1. Dirk

            Let me finish your sentence for you. “Get kids to think about the environment”.
            .
            .
            .
            And what did you say about half assed defense.
            (◡‿◡✿)
            (⊙‿⊙✿)

        2. Natalie Reed

          Of course there’s a need to think deeper than that. “Bloody kids movies” are a part of what builds and perpetuates the assumptions on which are culture is predicated, and teach children what is “bad” and what is “good”. A lot of the messages I received that taught me transgenderism is bad and icky and gross and wrong and sinful, and taught me to regard myself as such, and likewise that genders are binary and opposite and mutually exclusive and ne’er the twain shall meet, came from “bloody kids movies”, and other lessons I received in childhood. Kids don’t need to write essays, but I can, and I will, and your disregard seems based on nothing more than pure anti-intellectualism, and knee jerk “it’s JUST a movie!” response. We can put the word “just” in front of anything, you know. It doesn’t automatically make something not worth thinking and talking about. “It’s JUST a book!”, “it’s JUST gender!”, “it’s JUST a few little robocalls!”, “it’s JUST an election!”, “it’s JUST digging for a little extra oil!”, etc.

        3. Erin

          Dick…I guess some people have nothing to do but troll worthwhile, informed, positive websites & post gratuitous attacks on the primary topic of the site. Dick — Let’s obey your commandment & just enjoy the story & laugh at the jokes. OK. Here’s the Lorax story… A horny teenager wants a slender, soft-spoken, pretty girl to comply with his desire. He gets help from an angry, belligerent monster in his quest for a way to impress the love object. A large-framed woman verbally resists the monster’s demands. He threatens her. Someone says, You wouldn’t hit a woman!” The Lorax snarls, “THAT’S a woman?!” You’ve just watched this movie, (which is massively advertised & distributed with educational packs to the youngest new readers. Your kid asks you about this hotly promoted tagline. What do you say? #THATSAWOMAN #HITAWOMAN

    2. 23.2
      Lisa

      I find that joking or not they still have an affect of everyone, subconsciously. Jokes like that can still affect a child in the future and get them to think that transgender, androgynous, etc. are people that are meant to be laughed at. It could get a person to thinking that this isn’t something to be taken seriously and often taking things seriously can save a lot of trouble in the long run.

      1. Dirk

        Oh so i’m guessing they’ve done scientific tests on the joke in the movie effecting children as they grow up. Okay no problem. But if we are going by this logic I should have killed myself or questioned myself to death by all of these subconscious jabs at who I really am throughout my life. Like I said before, if everything was ‘corrected’ there would be no jokes, jokes would be driven to extinction. I see how the quote can be taken the wrong way but I didn’t know or frankly give a flying fig pudding until I read this. If an older person passed over it, kids shouldn’t have a problem keeping no meaning to it other than “it was a HARMLESS joke”

        1. Ace of Sevens

          This would have a lot more credibility if Natalie weren’t generally considered one of the funniest atheist bloggers. Picking on minorities isn’t the only kind of joke, you know.

          1. Dirk

            I’m really bored so i’ll reply,
            but in terms of retaliation..its very hard to do so when what it is you’re looking at is so confusing

        2. Natalie Reed

          Of course you didn’t notice the joke. You’re not the one targeted, and jokes at the expense of gender variance are ubiquitous. I hardly think if you’re not targeted, and didn’t notice, that you’re the one to decide whether or not it’s harmless.

          1. Dirk

            Just a small question. How do you know i’m not targeted? Are you assuming that I didn’t go through discrimination dealing with what gender I identify with. Just putting this out there I have gone through it and it sucks very hard. I guess I just don’t take small things personally. Thats my opinion, just putting out there. Thank you for replying though!(that wasn’t sarcastic..that was genuine)

    3. 23.3
      Ace of Sevens

      I don’t see how this being aimed at kids makes it any better.

  24. 24
    Rikoui

    Ok let’s get this shit storm started shall we? The lorax was originally meant to be a children’s and I emphasize CHILDREN’S book that was written in 1971 by a man whom hated the very notion of a child, the book was about the environment, you know that thing that most of you stopped caring about once the advent of home computers happened. As well the book, once again is from the 70′s, things have changed the message doesn’t apply the same anymore especially since it came from a decade where “give peace a chance” while a war was going on was the slogan of alot of citizens of the united states. Now that the history lesson is over lets get into ethics, Hollywood does indeed glamorize the slander and dislike of specific groups, gay and trans. people do tend to get the brunt of that stick, however let me explain something, Dr. Suess allowed his characters and plots to be up for interpretation, the pro-life movement in particular had a run in with him when robbing the line a person is a person no matter how small, as such with the creative licences being owned by dream works these days, they can do with it as they please. Now onto the main point of this, I do not think that the line at the end is a knock at trans. people, I think it is meant to be a simple joke that a child would be able to understand while focusing on the larger issue in the story and the main point of it, the deforestation problem. When looking at this objectively one must take into consideration that a child’s brain can only focus on a limited number of ideas unless gifted, in this sense I’d like to propose the thought that the joke is not meant to be harmful but instead meant to be a quick little quip that a child can understand while their main attention is still held by the issue at hand.

    1. 24.1
      Natalie Reed

      I’m approving this for now, but no shitstorms are to be intentionally started here. If people start kicking up argument for the sake of kicking up argument, I’m going to start moderating the hell out of this comment thread.

      This is a post and a thread meant to DISCUSS and THINK about the line in that movie, and similar jokes at the expense of gender variance, not to ridicule discussion and thought itself, regardless of whether or not you happen to think there are certain contexts where no one should ever ever question anything (like kid’s movies, apparently).

    2. 24.2
      Stevarious, Public Health Problem

      I’d like to propose the thought that the joke is not meant to be harmful

      Intent is not magic. It doesn’t matter if you intended to harm if you are, in fact, causing harm.

      When looking at this objectively one must take into consideration that a child’s brain can only focus on a limited number of ideas

      The joke is not simple. It relies on three assumptions – that women are supposed to appear a certain way, that it’s appropriate and funny to react with shock and horror when this standard is not followed, and that it’s somehow okay to hit men when it’s not okay to hit women. These are not simple concepts that just appear in a child’s mind – children have to be trained to think like this and jokes like this are part of that training, whether the person telling the joke realizes it or not.

      written…by a man whom hated the very notion of a child

      One hell of a citation needed.

      you know that thing that most of you stopped caring about once the advent of home computers happened

      Please stop the deliberate trolling and attempts to derail.

      1. Dirk

        I think we are forgetting the main audience viewing this movie. CHILDREN. Children between the ages 4 or 5 to 12. We are treating kids like university graduates here. The first time i heard of the word “gay” was when I learned about my uncles at age 13. Even then I still didn’t understand the actual concept. Do you think children between 4 and 12 are going to have ALL of the definitions of gender orientation/preference and looked at the movie and listened to that ONE QUOTE and thought to themselves. “Hmm i think i’ll treat trans people like crap from now on because this movie says so in a super deep subconscious level”
        I have personally never heard a kid of age 9 saying that.

        Or and just a brain teaser here.
        What do you all think the Lorax should have said instead. He has to say something and it has to be funny to the audience of children.
        What are your suggestions

        1. Natalie Reed

          Kids don’t need to analyze a joke or have a grad school education in gender theory to understand the message of “not looking like a ‘proper’ woman is bad and icky and gets made fun of!” Children begin internalizing messages about gender, and the “rules” surrounding it, pretty much as soon as they learn to speak. As I described in my “Why I Love My Little Pony” post, I vividly remember the lessons I learned when I was 4 and my dad got upset when he saw me watching My Little Pony, or the time I was 6 at a birthday party and a boy was given a My Little Pony as a joke present by his brother and all the children laughed at and mocked him for it. I knew I wasn’t “allowed” in the pink aisle a long, long, LONG time before I ever knew enough to question why.

          Children can also be aware that their own gender isn’t quite “right” very early in life.

          Children aren’t idiots. Their brains are picking up and processing implicit cultural messages 24/7. They’re actually a lot better at it than grown-ups are. They don’t have the baggage, and don’t yet accept it all as a given.

          1. Dirk

            Speaking of My little pony
            My little pony is worse than the Lorax then,
            Where are the males in there
            It s a female run land,
            It’s sexist,
            Why are the females in charge and the males only work outside or as guards etc.
            I leave you with that.
            I am gone
            I can only stand Extreme Femi/trans-nazis for so long before they get worse than hardcore religious people.
            Abscond

          2. Natalie Reed

            Holy fuck. Compare the “matriarchy” structure of MLP to pretty much EVERY SHOW EVER, and THEIR distributions of power along lines of sex, and then come back and tell me it’s “sexist”. You’re offended because a show just HAPPENS to have female principal characters instead of male ones, and a ruler character who HAPPENS to be female instead of male?

            Yeah, you’re much more foolish than I originally anticipated. Please do go away.

          3. Stevarious

            Oh, and here I thought I was talking to a person. Turns out it was a turd the whole time.

            Go flush yourself.

          4. Ace of Sevens

            I don’t think you’ve ever actually seen My Little Pony. It concentrates on female characters, but there are man ponies. Since it’s aimed at girls, this is hardly surprising. Shows aimed at boys may have a few female characters, but mainly concentrate on the females.

        2. Stevarious

          I think we are forgetting the main audience viewing this movie. CHILDREN. Children between the ages 4 or 5 to 12.

          No, I rather think that this is one of the things that make this so egregious. The earlier these mental patterns are learned, the harder they are to unlearn.

          We are treating kids like university graduates here.

          No, we are treating them like impressionable children who are a lot more perceptive then you give them credit for.

          The first time i heard of the word “gay” was when I learned about my uncles at age 13. Even then I still didn’t understand the actual concept.

          And the connotations given to these words when you hear them when you are young colors how you are going to feel about it when you learn what the word means. A child who doesn’t know what ‘gay’ means will still pick up that gay means ‘something bad’ if they only hear the word in a negative context.

          Do you think children between 4 and 12 are going to have ALL of the definitions of gender orientation/preference and looked at the movie and listened to that ONE QUOTE and thought to themselves. “Hmm i think i’ll treat trans people like crap from now on because this movie says so in a super deep subconscious level”
          I have personally never heard a kid of age 9 saying that.

          Paging Doctor Dunning-Kruger…
          The influences we receive as a child determine how we act and think as an adult. If you are really this ignorant of child psychology and developeent you should probably learn more about it before you argue about it on the internet.

          What do you all think the Lorax should have said instead. He has to say something and it has to be funny to the audience of children.

          I can’t imagine making the Lorax violent in any way. That’s completely counter to the source material and completely undermines the message introduced by the book.
          That said, it’s not my job to come up with good jokes. It’s the studio’s job to come up with jokes that don’t marginalize minorities – assuming, of course, that they want to make movies that don’t cause harm. If they don’t care about whether they cause harm with their movies, then why should you or I or anyone support them?

  25. 25
    Lmfao

    I just laughed my whole way through this.

  1. 26
    » While The Lorax Gently Weeps Extraordinary Insignificance

    [...] then I read Natalie Reed’s take on the trailer and started to realize the depths of the problem. Here was a character, supposedly representing [...]

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