First off, happy belated Friday. Unfortunately this past Friday I did not have internet access (at the hotel where I was on vacation), hence my late Monday post. My apologies.
Now, like many of my friends and family, I was super excited to see Despicable Me 2, after falling in love with the first one. Of course, sequels are rarely as good as their predecessors, so I wasn’t expecting anything nearly as good as the first Despicable Me, but the previews looked cute, and I was certainly shocked by what I saw when I went to see this movie in theaters.
Cultural appropriation all over the place (Chiquita Banana girl, really? What’s next? Sambo? Aunt Jemima? WTF?), implicit racism and microagressions, and worst of all (I say worst of all because it was the most obvious and violent) promotion of violence against women. Really blatant promotion of violence against women. In a CHILDREN’S MOVIE! A Dreamworks children’s movie at that (I would expect this kind of foolishness from Disney, but Dreamworks, ouch). I am not easily offended or angered, but this movie was just so problematic in the most glaring ways. In the first part of the movie, Gru, the main antagonist goes on a date with a woman who is an implied “slut”, positioned as a hysterical, crazy woman. The date goes bad and the solution that the movie offers is to shoot the woman with a tranquilizer dart (in other words, drug her), tie her passed-out body to the top of a car, and passively beat the crap out of her as Gru and his sidekick transport this passed out woman to her home. This scene, primarily the passive violence (i.e. throwing her down stairs, tying her to the top of a car, etc) was really disturbing and uncomfortable, but was positioned as humor and received nothing more than laughter from the general audience. This was the most frustrating to me because of how violent it was and the way it was being presented as humorous.
As if the glaring promotion of violence against women wasn’t bad enough, the stereotypical representation of Mexican culture was enough to make my stomach lurch. The chicken dance? I mean, come on, is it really necessary to play the Chicken Dance every time the Mexican antagonist comes on screen? It’s not like it’s our freaking national anthem! That is all I will say in regards to the cultural appropriation/micro-aggressions within this movie, because honestly there are too many to wrap my head around without becoming infuriated.
My advice to fans of the original Despicable Me: Don’t waste your money on Despicable Me 2, it is a disappointment, and is quite infuriating if you give a damn about feminism, racial/cultural politics, and cinema productions in general.