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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

male gaze alert: ‘Toy Story 3’ short “Day and Night”

Anyone who’s seen Toy Story 3 knows that it opens — as Pixar films typically do — with a delightful animated short film. This one is called “Day and Night,” and it’s a personification of, unsurprisingly, “day” and “night” as vaguely human-shaped blobs moving about the natural world. Day, for instance, wakes up in the morning and takes a deep breath, and we see that as wind blowing through trees. It’s pretty earthy (no pun intended): As Day has a morning pee, we see and hear a rushing brook. The juxtapositions of nature and what we would consider human behavior is surprising and amusing and unexpected…

Until there comes a moment when Day gets all wound up at the sight of a girl in a bikini sunbathing (it being a bright sunny day and all: this is the kind of thing Day might expect to see). And then Night has to horn in on Day so Night can see the girl, too (because from Night’s perspective, the girl is gone, as she would be, since the sun is gone too). It took me aback and took me out of the film. I thought: “What?! Night and Day are male? What kind of sense does that make? How do Day and Night have gender?” And the maleness — and not just the maless but the horndogness — of Day and Night become a running joke through the rest of the short.
Now, I get it. I get that this is riff on the whole Tex Avery thing (as PaulW noted in the comments following my review of TS3), the bulging eyes and ayooga as some sort of parody of sexuality. But, you know: Tex Avery was working in the 1940s. Have our ideas about sexuality not moved on at all in more than half a century?

They haven’t, in fact. Why the personifications of Day and Night had to exhibit any kind of sexual response is a bit of a mystery to me, but if this is what the Pixar animators wanted to do, this was the only cartoon shorthand they had in their box of tricks. Day could have come across a cute buff guy sunning himself and gone crazy at the sight… except that couldn’t happen, because that would have been “gay,” because the default gaze in absolutely everything that we are fed in our culture is male. It would simply never occur to a viewer — or at least to the men who create the vast majority of our entertainment and other media products — to assume that the default gaze could be female. So while women are forced to watch a cartoon such as “Day and Night” and are expected to be able to accept an amorphous blob as male and sexually attracted to a cute woman — and so, by extension, that we the viewer, male or female, should understand the shorthand for “sexy” — male viewers are never asked to do the converse. Anything presented to an audience is assumed to be from a male perspective, so looking at an attractive man must be ”gay.” What else could it possibly be?

Think about what constitutes cartoon shorthand for “sexy”: it’s all about what men think is sexy in women. Curves. Boobs. Long legs. Long eyelashes. Long hair. That’s not shorthand for “what straight men find sexy in women” — it’s shorthand for “sexy,” full stop. In fact, I’m sure that if there had been any notion in the minds of the Pixar animators — be they male or female, gay or straight — that perhaps Day and Night could have been female, the amorphous blobs meant to represent them wouldn’t have been amorphous: they would have been hourglass shaped and had long eyelashes, at a minimum. The “male” amorphous blobs are truly amorphous, however: they don’t have cartoonishly exaggerated pecs, or beards, or giant penises, or any of the outward sexual characteristics of men. They don’t need to, because our culture trains us to see anything as, by default, male.

I’m not blaming the Pixar animators for working with what they had to work with. I still think “Day and Night” is a lovely little film. But I do think we need to point out these perceived notions — and how unjustifiable they really are — when we see them. It’s the first step toward moving away from them.



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  • LuisC

    …or maybe “Day” and “Night” are both female and are seemingly attracted by the cartoon lady. It easily goes both ways.

  • MaryAnn

    Yeah, except it doesn’t. Do you really believe the creators of “Day and Night” considered their characters to be lesbians?

  • Emrys

    I actually found this part of the short to be upsetting. Its the first time in a Pixar project that I’ve noticed just blatant sexism. Sexism which is totally avoidable in this context!

    The scene in question could have just as easily been played for “fun in the sun” by having a man and woman sunbathing, or by showing a family. As it is, the scene is nakedly objectifying a woman. As if to say “Who wouldn’t want to stare at a scantily clad woman in the sun?” well, lots of people actually.

    The reason the scene doesn’t imply that the two entities are female is because there’s no identifiers coding them as such. In fact quite a bit of their behavior is coded male, the violence, the evacuation (girls don’t poop), and their agency.

    Finally, I wouldn’t have been surprised if one of the entities had lusted for a woman and one had lusted for a man. It would have even added an subtext of sexual acceptance to the theme of the short. Even this opportunity was missed. Overall a disappointing and unnecessary flaw in an otherwise delightful (and delightfully, effectively 3D!) short.

  • LuisC

    One can assume so. When I saw the film last week, I took “Day” and “Night” to belong to no particular gender. They respond to things they more or feel attracted to: Vegas, dancing, a boxom gal sunbathing, beautiful weather, etc. That they don’t respond to a buff male figure in contrast to the woman is about as relevant as them not responding to a monastery in contrast the “entertainment capital of the world”.

  • Lady Tenar

    @ Luis-C–Wait, I don’t get it. Attractive women are akin to “the entertainment capital of the world” while attractive men are akin to a monastery? And that’s just an objective reality? Are you saying that women are just innately more attractive then men? Sorry but to me, as a straight woman, it’s the woman who’s more like the monastery and the man who’s more like the entertainment capital of the world.

    Unless, I’m really misunderstanding you, I think you just proved MAJ’s point beautifully.

  • the amorphous blobs meant to represent them wouldn’t have been amorphous: they would have been hourglass shaped and had long eyelashes, at a minimum. The “male” amorphous blobs are truly amorphous, however: they don’t have cartoonishly exaggerated pecs, or beards, or giant penises, or any of the outward sexual characteristics of men.

    Male pattern baldness, maybe?

    Eyebrows are definitely bushy/manly.

    But you are right about the short having a decidedly Male Gaze. It is – and this has been a major complaint about Pixar for the past few years about the lack of female lead characters – a short made mostly by guy artists who are going to create and write from a male perspective. Sorry. Maybe next time they’ll… well, what *would* constitute a positive non-stereotypical Female Gaze?

  • MaryAnn

    I think LuisC did prove my point — that anything, even an amphorous personification of the rotation of our planet — is assumed to be male unless specifically designated otherwise.

    But let us give LuisC the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s simply not aware of the dominance of the male gaze in our culture. LuisC, can you now appreciate why straight women might have a problem with beings who “belong to no particular gender,” as you said, naturally “respond”ing to “a boxom gal sunbathing” but not to a buff guy sunbathing? Can you see the assumptions in this?

  • MaryAnn

    Eyebrows are definitely bushy/manly.

    Are you suggesting that women cannot have bushy eyebrows? I would look like Breshnev if I didn’t pluck/wax my eyebrows… which I do because I have internalized the notion that large eyebrows are unfeminine. I hate myself for that — and I hate the time, inconvenience, and pain this this sort of grooming requires — but I do it anyway.

    And this is the insidiousness of many of our cultural preconceptions: they’re often hard to overcome even when you’re aware of them, and aware of how arbitrary they are. Men are subject to certain preconceptions too, and in an ideal world they wouldn’t be, but even now, there’s a much wider range of what men can show to the world and still be considered appropriately masculine than women can show and still be considered feminine.

    But that doesn’t mean that women cannot/do not have bushy eyebrows. :-> Of course it doesn’t.

    what *would* constitute a positive non-stereotypical Female Gaze?

    As I noted, why couldn’t Day ogle a handsome man?

    But that sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? And that’s because we’ve all internalized the male default.

  • LuisC

    Ha! Calm down ladies. What I meant was that bickering that a woman was shown in place of a man is about as important as bickering about “Day” and “Night” going ga-ga over Vegas rather than a monastery. You would think monks would be upset that a place of “sin” was being advertised as desirable. I mean, monkxism is pretty relevant in our culture. I’m on the monks’ side, of course :)

  • MaryAnn

    We’re perfectly calm, LuisC. And we’re not bickering.

    And you’re still not understanding that assuming that a bikini-clad woman is “desirable” is assuming a certain perspective that a huge portion of the audience will not share.

  • Dymphna

    Ah, “calm down ladies.” You have called me on my ignorance and I shall now condescend to you to try to cover it up. :)

    I am totes not being sexist you guys!

  • bree

    Uh, sorry, LuisC, did you just say, “Calm down, ladies”?

    Are you aware that telling women who are having a perfectly rational discussion to “CALM DOWN” is a tired, sexist cliche? Further, nobody is “bickering”, at worst they merely pointed out that you have proven MAJ’s point, which you have now in spades. Perhaps instead of insinuating that the comments here are hysterical, you should try to comprehend the point MAJ has made because clearly, you aren’t getting it.

  • LuisC

    Yowza! Not bickering, huh “bree”? Yeah…

    In any case, I do understand your point(s), ladies. I truly do. And I totally agree with Emrys. By showing a man and a woman sunbathing Pixar would’ve easily sidestepped this issue. Now, don’t even get me started on the whole notion that we all dream of sheep when getting some good ol’ shut-eye. Now there’s a cliche for ya! Why aren’t we rallying against that?

  • Emrys

    “Why aren’t we rallying against that?”

    Because it doesn’t marginalize 50% of the population?

  • bree

    Yowza! Not bickering, huh “bree”? Yeah…

    No, not bickering. Discussing. Comments critical of you does not constitute bickering. And over-reacting with the likes of ‘Yowza’, sarcasm and condescension does nothing to further your case.

  • LuisC

    No, not bickering. Discussing. Comments critical of you does not constitute bickering. And over-reacting with the likes of ‘Yowza’, sarcasm and condescension does nothing to further your case.

    Neither does your position, in which you assume that balding, bloated, large-nosed, “amorphous blobs” stand for the male gender. You know, we’ve been fightin’ this stereotype for quite a while now. *shakes head* I guess we haven’t made that much progress as far as the media is concerned. Thank you and goodnight :)

  • Avery

    It’s not that balding, bloated, large-nosed “amorphous blobs” stand for the male gender, it’s that cartoonish abstractions are generally seen as being male by default. THAT’S the issue. The Iron Giant didn’t have to be referred to as “him” or “he”, but all of the human characters in the movie labeled “him” as such. Pixar’s own Luxo lamp is generally seen as a “father” lamp interacting with its “son” (I’ve heard parents explain it to their children as such as the cartoon plays, as a matter of fact). The video game character Kirby is a little pink blob which the whole world refers to as “he”; Mario’s pet dinosaur Yoshi is much the same story.

    Besides, having said cartoonish abstractions lust after half-naked sunbathing chicks AFTER peeing while standing, kind of cements the idea in the audience’s head that they’re supposed to be identifying with two male characters.

    The problem is that, to make a simple, abstract character recognizably female to an audience, you have to play up the “otherness” of the features. By adding a bow, perhaps. Or lipstick. Or eyelashes. Because female is not the norm, see, it is the deviation from the norm.

  • Nate

    The problem is that, to make a simple, abstract character recognizably female to an audience, you have to play up the “otherness” of the features. By adding a bow, perhaps. Or lipstick. Or eyelashes.

    Ironically, I thought Pixar did a great job averting this with their design of Eve from WALL-E. She’s basically an egg with eyes, yet it was clear from her first appearance that she had a femininity about her.

  • Avery

    EVE is definitely a step in the right direction stylistically. I’d go so far as saying that you could still have a compelling love story if you reversed WALL-E and EVE’s “genders” and pretended that the white egg shaped one was male and the boxy dirty one was female. But even in a movie as design sensitive as “WALL-E”, the humans still refer to EVE as a “her” and WALL-E as a “he” — not to mention all of the other robots, who are by default “he”s.

    OH, except for the PINK one that grooms people while dispensing idle gossip. Sigh.

  • Nate

    I’d go so far as saying that you could still have a compelling love story if you reversed WALL-E and EVE’s “genders” and pretended that the white egg shaped one was male and the boxy dirty one was female.

    I think it’s better the way it is because Eve’s also more powerful and agile than Wall-E, and her heroics in the second half would seem like standard “saving the damsel in distress” cliche if she were male.

  • Nate

    …not to mention I don’t think the audience would be as willing to forgive her trigger-happiness at the beginning, unfortunately

  • Avery

    Yeah, but with the genders reversed, you’d have the added benefit of making the “female” character the savior to humanity for once and the “male” character the one who is simply worried about the safety of “his” partner. The “female” could have been the one clawing her way to the end for a noble cause, battle bruised and weary. Yeah, she’d end up mangled and looking like hell (oh my God, IMAGINE!) but at least it would have been for the sake of a moral cause.

    EVE didn’t even save WALL-E, really, the holo-detector lifts up on its own, and then she flies over to him to pull him up the rest of the way once the ship stabilizes. And speaking of cliches, the woman screaming her lover’s name in a panicked passion as he lays dying…? Yeah, that is pretty fresh, haven’t ever seen THAT one before. ;-)

  • CB

    @LuisC

    In any case, I do understand your point(s), ladies. I truly do. And I totally agree with Emrys. By showing a man and a woman sunbathing Pixar would’ve easily sidestepped this issue.

    They couldn’t have just shown a man, one or both characters would have had to have been excited by him. And not “Yay, I like that kind of thing” exited. We’re talking “Boing! Stare! Drool! Lustful glare!” excited. Aroused.

    But that’d be pretty much like them getting excited by bad weather instead of good weather, or by a monastery instead of Vegas, wouldn’t it? It wasn’t an accident that you picked examples with built in “normal” preferences, like fireworks over asceticism, right?.

    That’s the problem when the male viewpoint is so strongly assumed to be the default that having the concepts of Night and Day getting hot and bothered by a bikini-clad woman seems like the obvious choice. To the point where the male gaze seems like the neutral gaze, and you’ll even argue that this is the case. Even if you don’t realize it.

    Neither does your position, in which you assume that balding, bloated, large-nosed, “amorphous blobs” stand for the male gender.

    Those aren’t the gender cues we’re talking about, but amusing making like you don’t know that. Almost as amusing as suggesting that they might be lesbians. Sure, and they might be space aliens with an involuntary tongue-dangling response. But that’d be unusual, wouldn’t it? There would probably have to be some extra clues to explain that. We couldn’t just expect the audience to take that for granted.

    But you’re so right, obviously it has nothing to do with gender. Hot female equals BOING is the neutral perspective.

    Thank you and goodnight :)

    I have to admit, that was some halfway decent trolling. Have a nice day.

  • Nate

    EVE didn’t even save WALL-E, really, the holo-detector lifts up on its own, and then she flies over to him to pull him up the rest of the way once the ship stabilizes.

    – She saved him from the security bots even though she was ticked off at him at the time.
    – She saves him from being sucked into space with the garbage.
    – Not to mention the reason she couldn’t save him from the holo-detector herself was because she was keeping a tram from crushing the humans.

    Also, Wall-E would still have been a pile of scrap if Eve hasn’t put him back together and given him that “spark of life”. I’d call that saving him.

    You do have a point about being the savior of humanity, but I’ve heard so many people compare Wall-E to a nerd or a weakling (Devin Faraci comes to mind) that I fear that message would be lost on a lot of people.

  • Avery

    Oh yeah. I forgot about those moments. I’m sorry, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched “WALL-E”, but I would indeed qualify those as heroic moments on EVE’s behalf.

    I still like the idea of psyching myself into considering the robots as the “opposite gender” every other viewing; it’s sort of fun, and the plot still manages to make a modicum of sense. “He” is just a trigger-happy workaholic jock who wants to get his job done and go home, and here comes this nerdy “girl” who obsessively pines over him and tries to get closer to him. He thinks she’s cute in a harmless sort of way, but is mostly unimpressed until he sees how fervently she cared for him while he was working and decides to give her a chance… It has an 80’s teen movie vibe that’s kind of endearing.

  • JoshB

    Neither does your position, in which you assume that balding, bloated, large-nosed, “amorphous blobs” stand for the male gender.

    The blobs don’t stand for the male gender because they are balding, bloated, large-nosed, or amorphous, but because they ogle a female character. Why does this require explaining?

    I mean, I can see how you might not grasp all the implications of their maleness, if you’ve never tried to look at it from a woman’s perspective. But to argue that they’re not meant to be seen as male? The hell? Do you need a flowchart, or maybe a Sesame Street song about the birds and the bees?

    Oh right, they could be lesbians. It’s so clear now.

    LuisC, if you think the ladies’ tone thus far has been uncalm, well, you need you a thicker skin, son. It’s annoying because now the ladies can’t give you the thrashing you deserve without you playing your candyass “Emotional, Irrational Women” trump card and scampering off.

  • Lady Tenar

    LuisC, if you think the ladies’ tone thus far has been uncalm, well, you need you a thicker skin, son. It’s annoying because now the ladies can’t give you the thrashing you deserve without you playing your candyass “Emotional, Irrational Women” trump card and scampering off.

    Thanks for sticking up for us Josh, but, trust me, we’re used to such behavior. *sigh*

  • LaSargenta

    My tangential statement: Lady is a four letter word. And I don’t like it. Woman or even broad, if you can’t bother asking my name and using it, is prefereable.

    Thanks.

  • JoshB

    @LaSargenta:

    I used lady because that’s the word he used. I was going for a reversal of his condescension. Maybe I should have put it in quotes.

    @Lady Tenar:

    Oh yes, I know you’re used to it. I’ve hung around here plenty long enough to know that.

    As for me sticking up for you, I only did so because the little wanker is cheating. Lord knows you all don’t need my help in a fair battle of wits.

  • Lady Tenar

    JOshB–lol my appreciation really was genuine. I wish more guys took the time to call out condescending meatheads. But I just need to express my weariness of having the same 5 conversation with them over and over again once in a while.

  • LuisC

    Wow, before today I had never before commented on a talkback discussion. I always wondered why people got their pants in a bunch over anonymous comments made over the internet. It’s pretty funny actually.

    I love how people tend to repeat themselves over and over again, like a confused child still trying to figure out why 2 plus 2 equals 5. Yes, my friends, I understand your argument. It’s incredibly simple, no matter how fallacious it is. JoshB writes that the amorphous blobs represent the male gender because they “ogle women”. It means that JoshB saw “Day and Night” and naturally assumed that the characters were male because they thought a female cartoon was attractive, meaning JoshB is a victim and active participant of the same cliche he/she condemns. Ogling women is not a trait strictly reserved to men. If you believe that, then JoshB I’m sorry to say but you’ve sipped the kool-aid. I ogle women, my girlfriend does it, my lesbian roommate does it, and all with the intention to savor the sight. Remember, there’s as much fault in the action as there is in the reaction. If one assumes that the actions of a genderless character, especially something as mind boggling as ogling a woman, speaks of why said character belongs to any particular gender, then that’s because of their own preconceived notions; the baggage they carry. Therefore the blame is on the spectator as much as it is with the creator’s original intentions.

    The same could be said of the people who complain that the deteriorating state of the Hollywood filmmaking system is the fault of greedy executives and marketing druids rather than in the rapidly changing tastes of the public. Hand in hand, my friends.

    Next please.

  • Isobel

    Interesting re: the lamp, Avery. I had always assumed the little lamp was a little boy (weird to personify a lamp, anyway) but I had always thought of the larger lamp as little lamp’s mother, not father. Probably even more stereotypical of me – anyone in child care must be female!

  • Lady Tenar

    I always wondered why people got their pants in a bunch over anonymous comments made over the internet. It’s pretty funny actually.

    Almost as funny as people who leave those anonymous comments and then return time and time again to respond to the criticisms of people who are every bit as anonymous to them as they are to us but then insist that it’s everybody else who’s getting their pants in a bunch.

    JoshB writes that the amorphous blobs represent the male gender because they “ogle women”. It means that JoshB saw “Day and Night” and naturally assumed that the characters were male because they thought a female cartoon was attractive, meaning JoshB is a victim and active participant of the same cliche he/she condemns.

    Are you seriously so intellectually dishonest that you’d try to turn JoshB’s (and everyone else’s) calling out of your obliviousness to your own assumptions around on him and accuse him of being heteronormative? Interesting trick but unfortunately it’s bullshit. The idea that most people who ogle women in a way that specifically demonstrates sexual desire are heterosexual men is not a “cliche”, it’s a fact. And the idea that it is heterosexual men, not lesbian or bisexual women, who are culturally dominant and produce most of the media and entertainment in this society is not a cliche, it is a fact.

    Straight women check it out other women, yes, but it is not motivated by sexual desire. If you lived in a culture that constantly sent you the message that the most important thing about you as a man was your appearance, and your ability to compete favorably with other men for the attention of women to your appearance, you’d be checking out men. But not for the same reason a straight woman checks out men. And unless your girlfriend is bisexual (and “makes out with other women to get attention from guys” doesn’t count, in fact, it just further demonstrates my point) she’s not checking out women for the same reason you are. The characters in this short aren’t just looking at a woman, they are aroused by her.

    So if you feel like trying to make a case for the possibility that a major film studio made a short film depicting anthropomorphic manifestations of night and day as lesbians getting turned on by the sight of an attractive woman to appear before an animated family film about talking toys in a country that doesn’t even allow gay people to marry, feel free. But the burden of proof is on you.

  • Victor Plenty

    Well said, Lady Tenar.

    LuisC, as for what you said, the most int–(yawn) … excuse me.

    The most interesting thing–(yaaawn) wow! sorry. Let me try this again.

    The part that’s interesting about what you said has to be– zzzzzzzzz (thud).

    Huh. I guess there weren’t any interesting parts in what you said. Obvious troll is not only obvious, but also boring.

    Next please.

  • Emrys

    Louise raises an interesting point regarding the baggage of the audience. This is a film short for children.

    For the sake of argument we’re going to use the terms boys and girls and we’re going to assume they have no baggage regarding feminism, “male gaze” or whatever. Because they are children.

    These children are old enough to interpret the visuals on screen, we know this because they are at the movie to begin with. The sunbathing woman is clearly identifiable as a female human being. We’re not going to make any assumptions about Day and Night, we’ll call them perfectly gender neutral (even though they’re not, you should already be able to see why).

    Just from this simple scenario, I think the scene is actually pretty damaging! Regardless of how the audience interprets the entities Girls are still Objects. Motionless passive recipients of ogling, or (in the next shot) infantile ball bouncing zoo animals (a group of women/girls? is shown around a pool tossing a beach ball).

    Its classic, textbook Male Gaze, and it has nothing to do with preconceptions.

  • CB

    @LuisC

    Ogling women is not a trait strictly reserved to men. If you believe that, then JoshB I’m sorry to say but you’ve sipped the kool-aid. I ogle women, my girlfriend does it, my lesbian roommate does it, and all with the intention to savor the sight.

    I must say I’m impressed!

    Most men would be threatened when their bisexual girlfriends openly lust after and try to pursue another woman. Fantasies of threesomes aside, when your partner swings both ways that means both sides are potential competition. It’s pretty cool that you’re not the jealous type, though I’m worried you are being a little naive if she’s drooling after other people so blatantly while in a supposedly monogamous relationship. Don’t get hurt, man.

    I mean, that would be if what you said was even remotely true.

    Reality is that you know the difference between enjoying looking at a beautiful person, and tongue-hanging out sexual lust (and more), and you know it was lust on the screen. That’s why you started off with the lesbians idea. At least that was somewhat connected to reality.

    Now you’ve really upped the ante from the character’s actions not implying anything about sex, to the idea that boing-tongue-drool-leer-lemme-at-her might not even indicate anything about sexual preference. To great comedic effect! Don’t get me wrong; it’s funny. But I think you’ve gotten all you can out of it.

    @Emrys

    For the sake of argument we’re going to use the terms boys and girls and we’re going to assume they have no baggage regarding feminism, “male gaze” or whatever. Because they are children.

    No conscious baggage, but they’d have to be very young not to have gotten the message someone here is pretending to miss. Even kindergärtners understand the difference between liking someone and liking someone. The Toy Story movies expects them to get flirting, which is a lot more subtle than going “*boing* Ayooooooga!” like a wolf in a bugs bunny cartoon.

    But yeah, for the sake of argument, your point still stands.

  • Froborr

    I can think of *one* case of a female cartoon character who does the whole “awooo” tongue-hanging-out thing at attractive males: Dot Warner in Animaniacs. (Credit where credit is due: I was talking about this post with my fiancee, and she is the one who came up with Dot.)

    But yeah, it bugged me. In an otherwise great short, it was an obnoxious bit of bleh. I mean, why would Day and Night even HAVE sex drives? It’s kind of horrible if you think about it — born with a drive they can never, ever fulfill.

    It’s especially disappointing, since the whole (pounded home with a sledgehammer) moral of the thing was supposed to be tolerance and enjoying our differences. But apparently women don’t count for that.

  • JoshB

    Ogling women is not a trait strictly reserved to men. If you believe that, then JoshB I’m sorry to say but you’ve sipped the kool-aid. I ogle women, my girlfriend does it, my lesbian roommate does it, and all with the intention to savor the sight.

    No LuisC. No Kool-Aid. The lesbian possibility occurred to me, and was then dismissed (regrettably) as being so vanishingly unlikely as to not merit further consideration. Others on this thread have explained why that is, and anyway it’s so intuitively obvious that that they shouldn’t have had to. You’re grasping at straws.

    I always wondered why people got their pants in a bunch over anonymous comments made over the internet. It’s pretty funny actually.

    See, it’s called “having a conversation.” People express different opinions and are entertained and enlightened by the discourse. Your contributions may not be enlightening, but they are entertaining in a limited fashion, much like a circus clown.

  • Chris

    This is a fascinating thread (aside from obnoxious trolls). As a guy, it has honestly never occured to me that the default gender for many things, if not most, is male. I don’t understand why anyone would argue this point, because it seems undeniably true. I’ve always loathed “female” markers in cartoons. Especially a little bow on the head, or ridiculous eye lashes. But I realize now that it’s insanely hard to break that assumption. Others have mentioned EVE from Wall-E, but that’s one of the few (maybe Nala from the Lion King; at least IMHO, you can tell she’s a female as a cub; obviously as an adult there’s the lack of mane).

    A question for MaryAnn and any other females. Is this universally true for you as well? Do you assume a default male characteristic?

  • amanohyo

    I don’t mean to pile on LuisC (well maybe I do a little), but I just wanted to add that one of the blobs (Day?) “pees” standing up via waterfall, so I’m pretty sure that one’s not a lesbian.

    See, that would have been the genius of having the other blob want to ogle a male sunbather. The audience would have to rethink its assumptions about the gender of the blob. There might initially have been some public outcry about the “homosexual blob,” and Pixar could’ve just responded, “that blob is female, duh,” or “They’re blobs, they have no gender.” (Or in a more rational world, “yeah you’re right that second blob is gay, and guess what, the first blob is a lesbian who pees standing up, what’s your point?”)

    The final scene where they embrace and switch perspectives would be stronger as well if it was implied that one of the blobs was female. There aren’t enough depictions of male and female friendships in movies (intergender friendship seems to usually be viewed as something negative that is settled for from women who are deemed unfuckable or out of one’s league).

  • Pollas

    You’re thinking too much.

  • Victor Plenty

    Yes, Pollas. Never think! Consume! Absorb all messages from the mass media, and never question them. Why waste our time on discussion and analysis? Those tasks are reserved for the highly paid professionals in the science of marketing. Run out right now and transfer some more of your income to them! They need a new yacht. Last year’s yacht seems less shiny every day.

  • LuisC

    Good Lord, what started out as a simple comment has now been taken WAY out of hand. Seriously.

    I’m sorry but resorting to anonymous name-calling over the interwebs does nothing to support your argument. And neither does flowery, embellished prose pass for serious criticism. Try again.

    Of course, my apologies if I offended some with my previous comments but that was never my intention.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to ogle women with my bisexual girlfriend :)

  • Left_Wing_Fox

    Avery: Yeah, gender-swapping the lead robots in Wall-E is interesting, partly because it almost turns the movie into Disney’s take on ‘The Little Mermaid”. It’s just missing the faustian bargain.

    Pixar makes such great films, it’s a crying shame that so far only two of them pass the Bechdel test (two women in a film have a conversation with each other about something other than a man); A Bug’s Life and The Incredibles.

  • Emrys

    @LuisC what makes me sad is that instead of providing a valuable contrasting opinion, disagreeing open mind, or even a devils advocate you felt the need to troll the thread.

    Maybe you would like to “try again?” your point seems to have been lost and you don’t seem to be listening to anyone.

  • Nate

    Pixar makes such great films, it’s a crying shame that so far only two of them pass the Bechdel test (two women in a film have a conversation with each other about something other than a man); A Bug’s Life and The Incredibles.

    I’m not sure, but I think Toy Story 3 does too. There are a lot of female characters in the movie and Andy’s mom talks to the daycare supervisor about the toys.

  • MaryAnn

    A question for MaryAnn and any other females. Is this universally true for you as well? Do you assume a default male characteristic?

    Unfortunately, our culture teaches us to assult the default is male, and that male is “neutral” and female “other.” Our culture teaches *everyone* that. So even sometimes when you don’t automatically think about gender at all — as I was not with “Day and Night” at first — it gets forced on your, as it does with this short. I started off watching this short with no assumptions about the blobs being gendered at all, and then I was forced to reconsider the short in light of the fact that, when the story got to a certain point, it became clear that the makers of the film had been thinking about gender all along.

  • Lady Tenar

    And neither does flowery, embellished prose pass for serious criticism.

    Oh sorry, did we use some words that are too big for you? Poor you. Oh well. It doesn’t make our arguments less sound, which I’m guessing you know since you didn’t even attempt to actually rebut them.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to ogle women with my bisexual girlfriend :)

    If you happen to have an an actual bisexual girlfriend–because, again, women who make out with women in bars to get attention don’t count–then fine, good for you. But that still doesn’t make women like her the dominant cultural force in our society.

  • Knightgee

    It would simply never occur to a viewer — or at least to the men who create the vast majority of our entertainment and other media products — to assume that the default gaze could be female.

    It also never occurs to them that the default gaze might not be heteronormative.

  • Left_Wing_Fox

    Nate: Honestly, I forgot to consider it because I haven’t seen it yet. =( Just started a new job, and my last one is nearly a month behind on payment, so I am very broke at the moment.

    Looks like you’re right though: The Bechdel test list gives it a pass. http://bechdeltest.com/view/961/toy_story_3/

  • CB

    @Lady Tenar

    If you happen to have an an actual bisexual girlfriend

    Don’t be ridiculous. She only became so when it was pointed out that she’d have to be for her gaze to comparable to that of Night, and she only sprang into existence when he needed a way to suggest that oggling women wasn’t necessarily about sexual preference.

    The “girlfriend” is a troll’s rhetorical device, just like pretending not to understand that we’re talking about having the default viewpoint be one sexually attracted to females, while simultaneously arguing that this viewpoint is in fact the “normal” one.

  • Lady Tenar

    CB–You’re quite possibly right but the point still stands. It doesn’t matter if the bi girlfriend exists or not.

  • The Day

    Although the cartoon was very creative and refreshingly different, the Pixar Director Teddy Newton certainly helped push a sexual-experimentalist agenda and it is disturbing that so few people have spoken up about this. Whether you are going to allow your kids to be gay or not is not the argument here: the concern we should have is WHY we patronize organizations like Pixar and trust them to indoctrinate our Youth with social messages of any kind. The MORAL to my story? I hope that childrens stories maintain a positive moral and don’t become filthy with the immorals that Hollywood tries to sneak in.

  • Teddy Newton Gone Wild

    an animated family film about talking toys in a country that doesn’t even allow gay people to marry.

    Last time we checked, America allows people to be gay, correct? Gay people cannot marry because marriage is (by definition) the union of a man and woman, but gay people can still be gay and participate in ALL the things that constitute a gay lifestyle. So why are people complaining?

    Maybe the gay community should just make a sublimated cartoon about sexual experimentation and indoctrinate millions of kids with it as they sit attentively in their theater seats to watch Toy Story Part 3!

  • JoshB

    ???

    Bwuh?

    Also: Huh?

    You know what, nevermind.

  • amanohyo

    Alright, The Day/Teddy Newton Gone Wild, I’ll bite. Which of the projects that Teddy Newton worked on pushes a sexual-experimentalist agenda? Two Stupid Dogs? Dexter’s Lab? The Iron Giant? It certainly isn’t this short, which is painfully status quo when it comes to gender.

    As for gay marriage, I hope at the very least you would agree that the definition of marriage is somewhat fluid (as fluid as the moral dictates of organized religions). I’m pretty sure at one time marriage was defined as the union of a light-skinned Catholic man and a light-skinned Catholic woman.

    Look around now! I am an atheist who married someone of a completely different race. We have no children and may possibly never have any. And yet the government considers us to be married, and we receive all the financial and social benefits of being married. Does that upset you as well? People just two hundred years ago would be horrified by my so-called marriage.

  • @the Day:

    Whether you are going to allow your kids to be gay or not is not the argument here: the concern we should have is WHY we patronize organizations like Pixar and trust them to indoctrinate our Youth with social messages of any kind.

    “allow.” really? REALLY? here at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, we still have those who think being gay is a choice? honestly, the species is just hopeless. hopeless.

  • It also never occurs to them that the default gaze might not be heteronormative.

    Or for that matter, that it might not be Anglonormative. Or if you prefer, Euronormative.

  • leontineg

    if Luis C has a girlfriend *or* a lesbian roommate, I’ll eat my hat.

    I took my kid to see the movie, and I’m with Emrys that the male gaze isn’t the only thing wrong with the short. I was way more bothered by the cliche depiction of the women as a bunch of brainless bimbos with no individuality or inner life and nothing to do but squeak and look pretty. And I was squicked out by the main characters lurking unseen and ogling those women. The pervy peeping tom quality of it would be disturbing even if they *were* gay girls or aliens. But come on, we know they’re not.

    Can I also say that I was unthrilled by the toys’ reaction to Ken’s “girly” handwriting? And not so delighted either by Barbie’s sudden burst of poli sci jargon at the end. omg, it’s so funny and surprising when hot girls say things that sound smart!

    Grr.

  • Lois

    Hey I’d like to add that even the idea of the cartoon ignoring its sexism is ironic given the movie it precedes.
    The theme should be that there’s no need to fear what is different, and that people can identify with each other and get along. Unfortunately, this idea wasn’t manifested in Toy Story, which had only white characters. The only reference to anything that was not white was Buzz Lightyear’s spanish setting, which was a big joke.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Look around now! I am an atheist who married someone of a completely different race. We have no children and may possibly never have any. And yet the government considers us to be married, and we receive all the financial and social benefits of being married. Does that upset you as well? People just two hundred years ago would be horrified by my so-called marriage.

    This is the argument I use when talking to a separate-but-equal/”civil union”/”why do they have to CALL it marriage that’s OUR word?!” type of anti-gay.

    I’m an atheist who married another atheist in my kitchen. The church had nothing to do with anything, yet we are still considered “married” because we have opposing parts? Bizarre.

    Last time we checked, America allows people to be gay, correct? Gay people cannot marry because marriage is (by definition) the union of a man and woman, but gay people can still be gay and participate in ALL the things that constitute a gay lifestyle. So why are people complaining?

    This comment reeks of disgusting privelege. Easy for you to say this, your rights aren’t being trampled. And before you argue that marriage isn’t a “right”, you’d change your tune if it was YOUR religion/race/orientation that was suddenly forbidden from being married.

    As for the ones who use “choice” arguments, these people are idiots. No one ever calls being straight a choice.

  • Mack

    Last night I went to see Toy Story 3 and of course I saw Day and Night just before the feature film. At first, I was so delighted by this new, creative, fun, and beautiful short film….that is…until the beach beach scene. I just sat there with my jaw dropped realizing that I am supposed to accept these blob creatures as men (until the beach scene I hadn’t even assigned a sex to these “guys”) and I also have to accept that a woman would never be acceptable as a blob (even in a cartoon!!!), so I have to yet again observe the female character as a ridiculously high-beauty-standardardized sex object. Now, if that wasn’t bad enough, “Day” when seeing how excited “Night” was upon viewing this sex object decides to correct his drooling friend and his juvenile excitement and redirects him to a pool overflowing with these females. Ha! Silly “Night”! One incredibly fit, balloon-boobed, young, slender, hot female isn’t enough. Men (and even blobs) deserve to have multiple hot sex objects to satisfy them. The fact that this body type is the only one acceptable for women in media is disgusting. The fact that even when a woman has these features she is still not enough because she is only one woman…is MORTIFYING!!! This is a theme that is constantly nurtured by the media for men. Can’t men (and women!) see how terrible of a message this is? Point and laugh at the woman trying day and night to be everything the media tells her to be HAHAHAHA! Even if she triumphs….she can never be TWO WOMEN!!!! MUAH HAHAHA. Let me just say, I have this body type! I am blonde, blue-eyed, 5’10”, 21 years old, breasted, naturally tan, very slender with wide hip bones, nice teeth, and big lips. So, okay, my image gets validated in the media all the time, INCLUDING IN THIS PIXAR SHORT FILM! Wow….lucky me….NOT!!!!! We women are all in this together and if we don’t help each other and speak out, we’re all doomed. “Hot” girls are not exempt!!! Women of all kinds are beautiful and there is immeasurable beauty in just ONE of us. We need to stop training our youth to think otherwise! Pixar should be ashamed of their lack of visibility on this glaring issue. Absolutely pitiful. Though the short had great innovative animation ideas and tried to have a heart-warming message, their objectification of women was anything but creative and far…so very far….from heart-warming.

    FAIL.

  • Rich

    What the hell? Get a life or alternatively, go live under a rock. LOSERS.

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