Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Moana and Fat Shaming

Since my last piece about Moana I read this article accusing it of fat-shaming Polynesians by making Maui a great big dude. (Link includes cool video with Isoa Kavakimotu explaining that strongmen aren’t built like bodybuilders because the latter are more about the aesthetics, and to him, the Maui character looks more like a guy who could pull islands out of the ocean than a guy who poses while dressed in half a yard of spandex, or Kevin Sorbo.

Maui's not wearing any spandex

Kevin looks like he needs a nap
My unscientific measuring method indicates the Maui character is a little under three fists wide.  I started looking for pictures of Dwayne Johnson to derive his width in fists, and the first picture I found had some puppies obscuring his fists. Since I like puppies, I decided to go with this picture anyway, and stop trying to measure things on my computer monitor by comparing them to my pinky joints. 
Awwww puppies
I note that the original fat-shaming post, which compared poor Maui to a hippo-pig, has been taken down. And meanwhile, I’m a little perplexed about the exact nature of the shamefulness, other than it was alleged to harm impressionable children in some indetermined fashion. (Whenever I hear that particular claim, giant neon orange letters spelling out “LOOK OUT, MANIPULATIVE ARGUMENT AHEAD” start flashing through my brain, but that’s probably just me.)

I don’t think Disney is guilty of racist hippopiggery, or fat shaming, but I’m not here to be one of those jerks that goes around telling people with hurt feelings that their feelings aren’t really hurt. And that feeling hurts: “Oh hell yeah, one of my people just got a part in something big and fantastic and important and … as it turns out, they’re playing the part of the fool.” 

So as some cold, wet comfort to the people who wanted a more beefcakey and glowering hero, there's always Jason Momoa as Aquaman. 
Well ahoy there
(And the Marvel stuff will be on the opposite side of the theme park from Adventureland, where the Moana stuff will be, right next to Enchanted Tiki Room and all that delectable Dole Whip, so the Moana and Momoa fans never need to encounter each other, because it looks an aesthetics kind of fight and those can get scary.)

I’m guilty of making my own character of extremely distant and diluted Polynesian ancestry slightly chubby as the story begins, although he loses most of it by the time they get past the pliosaur fight and the trigger-happy cops. I wanted to show he lives a life of excitement and leisure, sailing around dangerous waters with his own personal chef. He’ll probably gain at least some of it back by the end of the trilogy.

But you know, one of the awesome things about books is that you can have characters that are so unusual looking they could never work in Hollywood -- you can't really pull that off with movies. Movies employ actors, who are facially and bodily neutral as part of their job. Animated movies have a little more leeway, but ultimately that's why I prefer books. Although I'll admit that occasionally it's nice to look at pictures, to help alleviate eyestrain from reading.

I’m guilty of another thing which I actually want to apologize for. “Hawaiian” is an English word and as such needs no ‘okina, unlike Hawai'i. I have readjusted my autocorrect accordingly. 


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