Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Monday, July 21, 2014

Frozen, Paranorman, Jumanji and Bullies AKA. Life Sucks But That Doesn't Mean You Have To Be an Asshole About It (Spoilers Abound)

Okay so upon supsequent viewing Frozen is actually getting better to me. Partially because I'm in the head space for it right now. Like I said I really really like Elsa and Frozen almost seems to be written as a guide book on how I and people like me should deal with certain hang ups.

So yeah that made me tear up a little. At its core its a movie about dealing with isolation and the fear of not being accepted as who you are.  I almost wish I had this thing 20 years ago. The closest I got as a kid was Jumanji.

Part of me doesn't want to talk about that movie as it would wind up being 1500 words of "I have daddy issues" and God knows I've done that enough but yeah it warrants a talking about. So the movie is about Alan a kid who gets the crap kicked out of him on a daily basis and goes to his dad for protection. And his dad, though well meaning gives him the worse advice he could and Alan goes along with it knowing exactly what's going to happen because the kids outside aren't the only bullies he has to deal with.

Yep the movie makes this explicit by having the big antagonist, at least the big human antagonist anyway be a caricature of everything Alan fears (which also happens to be a lot of my own hang ups) about his Dad, being even played by the same actor and his "victory" at the end of the movie is a great big ole metaphor for him gaining the guts to stand up to him.

I'm kind of jealous of kids today. In my day most of the media we had about how to deal with bullies was crap advice that had no real meaning. The sort of pandering touchy feely crap that would get your ass kicked. Yes you should stand up to bullies but not because standing up to them will magically make it stop and make them your friends but because not standing up to them and giving them the power to control your day or when things get really bad your life is no way to live.   All the same as an authority figure I do feel kind of guilty.

See as a substitute teacher I can't always act as the ref I would like to be, putting an end to the bulling that kind of messed me up as a kid. I don't have the benefit of knowing the class well enough to figure out who started an inciting incident if I don't actually catch it myself and in a class that mostly doesn't respect me anyway with kids who may or may not be doing things that are actually dangerous that demand my immediate attention often the best I can hope for is to try to do damage control as fairly as I can in the name of order. There is nothing in the universe that hates order more than a class of rowdy 1st graders.

I don't want to harp on it but it bears saying the hardest challenge of that job, at least for me, is figuring out how to divvy out attention to students who need it, deserve it, and demand it. And well sometimes that slider just can't pan out as well as I would like it to.

For instance sometimes there is a student who wants and is accepting help on an assignment but my attention gets grabbed from them by the student flicking crayons at everybody in the back row and I have to spend 10 minutes in a stupid circular argument with that guy because he's keeping everybody else from getting anything done and left unchecked will cause... well one of those inciting incidents I was talking about.

And I would be lying if I didn't say that as a member of the human species, I have my limits too. Sometimes a stupid kiddy fight is obviously a stupid kiddy fight and I just can't help but be annoyed that so much trouble is being caused by something as small as losing/borrowing/stealing a pencil. Once I had to negotiate giving away 5 of my own stock to stop a fight in its tracks.

Part of me would like to ban pencils for all the fights they've caused but then that would be bad. And for the record as a guy who was there I know that sometimes a fight about a pencil isn't really a fight about a pencil. All the same...

But back to the movies.

So Frozen hit me at juuust the right time, with just the right script, to give me an emotional gut punch but I feel the movie in one regard didn't have guts to follow through.

See both the marketing and the narrative itself plays with the idea of Elsa going evil. Basically saying screw all ya'll and becoming well the "Snow Queen" but in the movie itself Elsa never seems to go in that direction, not even a little. Sure she's frustrated and sometimes angry but she never seems to be wrong in that frustration and anger. Remember she didn't freeze Arendelle on purpose and is just as panicked as everybody else when she realizes the trouble she caused.

To put it another way Elsa never goes dark.  I'm going to be honest all the bullying and crap I went through has made me somewhat of a jaded cynical bastard. And there was a period of my life and mentality, which yes does on occasion come back when I'm pissed enough, where all of that stuff caused me to be apathetic and mildly amoral. Let's just say on my bad days I look and sound a like like Al Swearengen.

Most of my idealism or what idealism I have left is in effect me trying to fight my own demons and somehow wind up on the side  of the angels come the last battle.

But you know what movie did have the way to go full Nelson on that one. Where the villain is somebody who got screwed with too many times and for legitimate reasons now just wants to watch the world burn.

See the thing that solves the problem in Paranorman is that the protagonist is just enough like the villain and sees enough of himself in her to want to help her. I don't mean he wants to help her raze the town. Nope he wants to help her land on her feet. He knows what she's doing now isn't right but how she was treated before wasn't right either. There has to be a middle path and the movie finds it. Forgiveness. In the third act his brave brilliant decision is to try to talk to "The Witch" and get her to forgive the slights against her and move past it all, to get her to a place where she is no longer an enemy to all of humanity, is what provides the movie with it's best possible outcome.

While Paranorman is a good but not great movie the decision to basically make the big climatic action fight basically talking someone with legit beef out of a locked room took some balls. There are so many easier paths to story could have taken and for the first half, yeah that looked like that was the way it was going to go, but nope they took the hard one.

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