An online space for queer, questioning, lesbian, bi, trans and everything else in between women at Yale

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Alice Distorted in the Looking Glass

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to see Tim Burton's reimagining of Alice in Wonderland, but the feature on the film in the Arts and Leisure section of The New York Times has made me dubious. According to the article, the team behind the film spent a lot of time trying to remake Alice to be a proper model for today's women.

“I do feel it’s really important to depict strong-willed, empowered women,” [Linda Woolverton, the film’s screenwriter] added, “because women and girls need role models, which is what art and characters are. Girls who are empowered have an opportunity to make their own choices, difficult choices, and set out on their own road.”

...Thus the river of tears that a confused Alice cries in Carroll’s original text upon arrival in Wonderland has been written out of the story. “I couldn’t have her break down like that,” Ms. Woolverton said. Similarly, a drawing by John Tenniel, the illustrator who worked with Carroll, showing a boy fighting the dragonlike Jabberwock, as it was first called, was transformed into an image depicting Alice in action.

I'm not compelled by an idea of female heroism that precludes fear or any form of negative emotion. Far better to be capable both of crying a river of tears and slaying a dragon. Burton's Alice, like too many female leaders, is expected to expunge any form of weakness to truly be a model for us all. I thought we had already agreed that 'Boys Don't Cry' was a terrible slogan to push onto men. Why are we trying to shove women into the same twisted mold?

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