Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reasons Riley Isn't Gay

I've seen it before and it's happening again now. With Pixar's Inside Out being released within a week of the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling, conspiracy theorists and couch critics will emerge from the shadows to pass their verdict on protagonist Riley's sexuality. Watch. It happened with Elsa.
Elsa and Riley aren't the first Disney/Pixar characters to be scrutinized in this way. Flamboyant llama emperor Kuzco, who has a girlfriend in the spin off TV series, is often criticized the same way.

Ursula is said to be inspired by drag queen Divine and Timon and Pumbaa have raised a few eyebrows because for more or less adopting Simba. Never mind that Ursula's romantic preferences are NEVER a plot point and meerkats and warthogs can't mate.When Internet hearsayers start calling out Riley as gay, here's some of the evidence they'll use.

She lives in San Francisco. Gasp! Straight people can't live in San Francisco!
She owns a shirt with stripes in more than one colors. Gasp! Straight people can't wear rainbows!

Two of her five emotions (Fear and Anger) are male. When we get a glimpse inside her mom's head, they're all female. Inside her dad's mind, everyone has mustaches. Gasp! Straight people who haven't hit puberty yet can't have an emotional council with members of both genders. Also this interview segment displayed on Pixar's wikia page means absolutely nothing.

Regarding how the genders of the emotions were chosen, the process was intuitive, according to (Pete) Docter; he felt Anger was more masculine, while Sadness was more feminine. Casting was also an influence, notably for Disgust with Mindy Kaling. The main characters were made female also to reflect their location inside a girl's mind. Regarding the emotions of Riley's parents, he said: "We skewed them all male and all female for a quick read, because you have to understand where we are, which is a little phony but hopefully people don't mind!"

She plays hockey. Gasp! Straight girls can't play sports for fun and exercise!

 Haven't heard that one before.

Some things to keep in mind before then:
1. Riley is eleven years old her sexuality is in no way a pertinent part of this story.
2. She has an imaginary boyfriend factory inside her brain.
3. She shows a connection with a boy at the end of the movie.
4. If Pixar did want to create a gay feature character, you can bet they'd advertise it, and they haven't.
5. Riley is eleven years old her sexuality is in no way a pertinent part of this story.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

You Can't Blame the Yankees

Sometime ago I was listening to the radio on the way to school as people called in to share their experiences with "hatred by association." One woman hated the Yankees. The team had never done anything to harm her. But her ex-boyfriend was a fan, and whenever she saw the logo, she thought of him. So she lumped the Yankees in with the memory of him and hated the whole package.
Nearly everyone who called in had the same story. A friend, a family member, a lover-someone important to them had betrayed them or left their lives, and they hater everything their memory clung to. 
That was the first time I ever heard someone bring up secondhand hate in my hearing. But the more I think about it, the more I see it.
A toddle is attacked by a pit bull. He grows into a man who hates pit bulls, cocker spaniels, Dalmatians, chihuahuas, and anything else with four legs and a dog collar.
A girl is bullied by a girl named Sheila. Twenty years later, her husband wants to name their first born daughter after Great Aunt Sheila, and she won't hear of it.
A white kid, age nine, is bullied by a Hispanic kid. He hates that kid and projects that hatred onto an entire race. If he grows up racist, it's not because he was bullied as a child, but because he chose to hold onto that hate.
A woman falls in love with a man. They're engaged only for him to break it off three days before the wedding. She turns her back in love for the rest of her life.
Sometimes it's less secondhand hate than secondhand fear or pain. But if you find yourself clinging to something that never hurt you, it's unnecessary. Pain isn't the only option.
My friend Hannah had a near drowning incident in third grade. It left her with mental and physical limitations. She used a wheelchair for part of elementary school, but now she's fine walking and standing for short periods. We were chatting about the coming summer in class one day when she told me she was looking forward to swimming.
"You're not afraid of water?" I asked.
"No. My mom is, but I'm fine."
She's the one who nearly drowned. But she has no memories of the accident, so even though she lives with the consequences every time she stands or walks, she hasn't chosen to hold onto secondhand fear.
At age ten I was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome. I disagreed with the diagnosis and didn't accept it until years after the symptoms had vanished. So when I told people I had Tourette's, it brought on guilt. Once, after checking me out for a doctor's appointment, my mom took me shopping. I got five shirts. I wore those shirts for the next three years. Each time I did, I remembered where I got it and why. 
But I didn't stop wearing those shirts just because.
We went to a Christmas party with other Tourette's kids. I got a Polly Pocket from the gift exchange. She cost her buyer less than five dollars, but every time I looked at her, she was a present I didn't deserve. I barely played with her. But if I didn't have her on display with my other dolls, I felt I was hiding my shame. So I kept her out in the open. 
Now she's shut away in a box under a pile of papers in my bottom dresser drawer. I come across her maybe once a year when I reorganize my drawer. And each time I'm guilty again. But you know what? There's no reason this little lump of plastic should be a guilt vessel. I didn't steal it. The guilt isn't about the doll, it's about the memories I've shut inside it. Secondhand guilt isn't worth holding onto either.
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You can't blame the Yankees for a breakup. If you breakup with the Yankees along with the boy, you're not protecting yourself. You're losing both your boyfriend and your favorite team. What else goes out with the bathwater? Your special song? The whole album? The singer? An entire music genre?  I read a post from a woman whose last three breakups occurred while Taylor Swift songs were playing. Now she gets nervous whenever her music comes on while she's in the car with her boyfriend. 
There is a place for hate.You can't let hate drive you, consume you. The same goes for fear, worry, anger, and guilt. Most negative emotions that take their toll on you are secondhand.
So why let them consume you?