CSotD: Annoying ideas


(Pat Bagley)


(Jim Morin)

We’ll start today with two cartoons l like because they get it.

There are all sorts of “America is the Greatest” and “Girls Rule, Boys Drool” cartoons making the rounds, several of them demanding equal pay, though pay isn’t based on win/loss records but on revenue.

Well, the women are bringing in the revenue, but, as I noted yesterday and as Bagley and Morin note today, it’s not some great cosmic sexist conspiracy. Men were watching those games, too, and arguing over them on-line.

It’s FIFA and probably some Americans at the top who are maintaining this element of serfdom, and, if you’re going to lecture our culture about how unfair it is, don’t make it a boys/girls thing but focus on the piggies at the top of the pile.

(And I particularly like Morin’s because he left out the term for how goalkeepers send the ball out to their teammates. FIFA, after all, doesn’t do “Distribution.”)

As the father of male soccer players, I often argued with the Sports Department about unequal coverage. Football was not only on the section front, while soccer scores were briefs inside, but there were special preview sections of the football season each fall.

Which they said were because there was more public interest in football, which I said was because soccer games were played Tuesday and Thursday afternoon behind the school while football was Friday night under the lights with a band and cheerleaders.

And girls’ teams had to reach the State finals before they got out of the inside of the sports section.

Meanwhile, Bill Hinds eventually had to give up on Cleats because, while half the kids in America, and their parents, were deeply involved in youth soccer, the sportswriters at the local paper knew that nobody likes soccer.


But when that ref failed to call a push in the box this Sunday, and then, moments later, made a payback call on a “foul” that didn’t involve any physical contact, it sure rang a bell.

Anyway, my overall take is that, while the pay thing is important and must be resolved, if you want the men’s team to be as competitive as the women’s team, there’s a lot to wade through here so that soccer isn’t just seen as a “girls’ sport.”


Perhaps you shouldn’t read this

Clay Jones has a well-argued diatribe about the pushback over a black Ariel in the remake of “The Little Mermaid.”

However, as much as I want to agree, I have three problems with the thing.


The first is simply that I hate Disney Princess movies, which I feel puts me in the position of the mother in this 2003 Rhymes With Orange.

I hate the whole Princess thing and I hate that little girls love them so much, even though I know that a good number of them outgrow it.

The other thing I hate about this controversy is that, by being opposed to the particular choice, I find myself in the stinking muck of a pigsty with some really stupid, ugly people.

Their simpleminded pushback is bigotry, while I’m more like the fellow who wept over the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home” not because he was from Kentucky but because he was a musician.

I’m a writer and I think well-drawn characters matter.

Which is to say that my objection — the third one, the one I’m okay with — is that it’s not just a random story about a generic mermaid. It’s not even a random Danish story about a generic mermaid.

It’s a story so strongly identified with Copenhagen that they’ve got a statue of her out in the harbor. Any vaguely literate person hearing “The Little Mermaid” immediately thinks of Denmark.

Now, I don’t insist that every adaptation of “War and Peace” cast Russian actors, even though I’m not simpleminded enough to think that Swedes and Italians and Poles are culturally interchangeable.

But I’ve been screamed at by Greeks — quite literally, with threats of boycotts — for presenting certain myths as “Roman.”

And I don’t know what would have happened if the new live-action “Mulan” had cast a Korean or Japanese actress in the lead role rather than Yifei Liu.

It wouldn’t have been the same thing as having Marlon Brando ching-chong his way through “Teahouse of the August Moon,” but I know those finer lines exist and I believe they should be respected.


Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of literary integrity.  I was appalled that Disney’s Pooh wasn’t English — it destroys three-quarters of the wit, and I loved this 2003 Lio — while what Disney did to the quintessentially British story of Robin Hood made me wonder if my boys were old enough to just sit there while I waited in the lobby

But literary disasters can be dismissed more easily than ethnic insults, even well-intentioned ones.

Native people hated “Pocahontas” for much of the same reason they hated “Dances With Wolves,” because it was white folks not just writing the stories and culturally appropriating their lives but then getting it wrong.

At least “Song of the South” told real African-American folk stories between the Happy Slave sections.

Only “Smoke Signals” got native culture right, and that’s because they wrote and produced it.

And, by the way, if you want to re-do “Cinderella” and make it diverse, rather than bugger up the French version (which isn’t all that ethnic anyway), write a screenplay of the Micmac story, “The Rough-Faced Girl.” (which is, and is better for it.)

But do it the way they did “Coco,” with input from within the culture.

Look, there are all sorts of stories in which culture and race are irrelevant. But there are others which are strongly, inseparably identified with particular nations or ethnicities.

And if you think race is just about changing someone’s skin color or hair texture, well, Jeremy Taylor has an alternative concept I much prefer, in a song he wrote when songs like this could get you thrown into a South African jail:


6 thoughts on “CSotD: Annoying ideas

  1. “Any vaguely literate person hearing “The Little Mermaid” immediately thinks of Denmark.”

    I would be willing to bet large sums of money that this is not true

  2. Tuesday/Thursday games is one possibility, but maybe there was more public interest in football because football was on the front of the sports section.

  3. I’d take that bet, Steven, if I get to define “literate.” A vaguely literate person would associate War and Peace with Russia, Madame Bovary with France, Tom Sawyer with the United States and the Little Mermaid with Denmark.

    And Tara, that’s the fight I had, and what killed “Cleats.” I wish it were the only time the tail wagged the dog.

    For instance, repeated postings about the death of editorial cartooning …

  4. Steven, I never have but that’s probably due to my ignorance on The Little Mermaid. I never read it. The first thing I’ve always thought of with The Little Mermaid was the scandal of an artist hiding penises in the cover art.

  5. I did not, and still do not , care that much for soccer, But “Cleats” was a great strip because it was about real kids acting like real kids – not weird, smart-ass , or mean. (at least not all the time).

  6. Long-time anti-fan of Disney the Pooh here. There’s no more telling example of them killing the original humor than the scene where Eeyore comes floating down the stream and Rabbit asks him what he’s doing. In the original, it’s a masterpiece of self-pitying sarcasm, delivered by Eeyore. In the Disneycration, the dialog is divided up between characters and becomes a bunch of stupid questions and answers. Why even bother?

Comments are closed.