Friday, July 24, 2015

The disappointment of Scarlett Overkill

At the end of our recent honeymoon, my husband took me to see the new Minions movie. I think he wasn't really all that excited about the prospect, but I dragged him to it because I really wanted to see Scarlett Overkill (the villianess that the Minions worked for before Gru). In the trailers, she just looked SO COOL and I couldn't wait to see her. After Lucy in Despicable Me 2, I was excited to see what DreamWorks would do to create another femal counter to Gru.

Oh DreamWorks. How you have disappointed me. Here is a list of all the things I didn't like (Some Movie spoilers to follow)

1. The princess Dream

Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock, an actress I tend to favor - a trait I inherited from my father) is the definition of a spoiled, selfish, and insipid little girl. As seen in the trailer, she "really-really-really wants Queen Elizabeth's crown". Which is all well and good - nothing wrong with wanting to steal a crown, even the world's best villian, James Moriarty, wants England's  crown. The question is, why does she want the crown? 

Scarlett wants it so that she can look like the princess that she drew at age 5. 

In fact, she has spent her entire life trying to be this princess. Her evil lair is a pink, purple and white castle, much like a five year old princess would want. She throws spoiled temper tantrums (because women who don't get what they want are angry!) and in general acts like an entitled brat - because that's how a baby princess would act. But that's not how a powerful woman would act. DreamWorks got it way way wrong.

2. The body image

As seen in the trailer, Scarlett adjusts her boobs mid-air while being the keynote speaker at Villain-Con. While this is a pretty common thing for women in strapless dresses to do, there is no reason to include it in a kids movie. Little kids will not understand, and animated boobs always stay perfectly in place. So why include it? To remind you that Scarlett is a woman, with all the curves in the right place.

There's another scene in the film where Scarlett is preparing to be crowned queen, and she is cinching herself into a corset. She declares "tighter!" until she can't breathe. This is something we freed women from AGES ago, long before queen Elizabeth the second started her reign. So why are we telling little girls that they should have boobs so big they need to adjust their strapless dresses, and waists so tiny and tight? Oh, "for comedy"? But you have two other movies that don't rely on portraying women this way that were funny and did just fine, so you should think again.

3. The Husband to build things

I have to start by saying that I found Herb the husband to be one of the best and most hilarious characters in the movie. He is incredibly supportive of his famous villain wife and is fairly cute and hilarious in other ways.

However, what annoyed me about Herb is that Scarlett doesn't build her own cool super villain tools. Herb builds them. As a female computer scientist and big advocate for girl engineers, I found the fact that Scarlett needed Herb to build her tools almost as annoying as that Barbie book "I can be a computer engineer" (look it up it you are confused by that reference). Thankfully, there are people like Debbie Sterling out there, putting toys like GoldieBlox on the shelves for little girls, but they have a long, LONG way to go with Mattel and DreamWorks both telling our little girls that a man has to build their tools and fix their computers.

The Minions movie overall is definitely meant for kids - after all, the plot focuses on three little yellow blobs that speak a combination of basic spanish, basic english, and gibberish - so maybe I'm over analyzing (I know my sister will say that I am).


But the portrayal of Scarlett was so, so far off the mark from Lucy (Gru's Wife), Margo, Edith, and Agnes (Gru's Daughters), that I felt like it was a different writer...oh wait, it was! (Brian Lynch wrote this film while Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio wrote the other two). Here's an idea - DreamWorks, next time you make a movie in this universe, bring back the old screenplay writers.

Sincerely, a disgruntled STEM female

"Real Life"

Recently, a good friend of mine from high school asked me "is real life everything you thought it would be?"

I found this question to be a little confusing, so I answered her by saying (among other things) "just because my life is relatively straight and static doesn't make it more real than yours".

To understand this exchange, you have to understand where this friend and I both are in our lives. I have recently graduated a master's degree program, have a 9-5 desk job (that I love, but it's a "standard" job), and a husband (of-three-weeks). A year from now, I will (most likely) be in the same job, in the same house - "static". My friend is currently living in France, taking whatever cool opportunities come her way, and has no idea where she will be a year from now.

But that doesn't make my post-college life "more real" than hers. There's this false perception among college students that "this isn't my real life, this is school". And yes, it is different to be a summer intern and to know that at the end of August, if your job is boring, you'll be leaving. But at the same time, your summer internship is a real taste of what your full-time career will probably look like - if you don't like it, then you should change your major, or something.

Besides my adventurous friend in France, I have other friends doing other non-traditional things - running their own photography buisnesses, teaching in Texas when we grew up in Maryland, and working for a Maryland state delegate. All of those jobs don't follow the "traditional" time table, but we're all still living real life. We've all been grown up and out of our parents houses for a while.

In all honesty, my life is changing and will change just as much as theirs. Real Life is happening to everyone - to my little sister, who I just realized is starting in our church middle school youth group in the fall, or my other sister who just turned "sweet sixteen", and maybe most importantly to yet another sister headed off to college in the fall. Growing up as a child was not fake life. You'll keep growing up, and growing up, and facing new things. Even my mom and dad are still "growing up" as they learn how to handle my Dad's ever more complicated cancer.

If you have the attitude that "this is not real life" and "I'm just waiting until X", then you will look back with regret on that time you "wasted" thinking that it didn't count. Like the lyrics to the Chris Rice song, "Tick Tock", you gotta learn to live today.

And for those of you who are still wondering - yes, my "real life", from 1992 when I was born up until now - has been just as fulfilling and interesting as I would have wanted it to be. :)