Feminist writer Stella Duffy expressed surprise at the response after she criticized “Toy Story 4” for excluding toys of color and being otherwise problematic in an interview over the weekend.
Speaking on BBC 4 Radio’s “SundayReview,” Duffy complained that the Disney movie, which opened last week, features “no leads that are black characters.”
“Yes, there are black actors,” Duffy acknowledged. But of the characters, she said: “they are yellow and they are green and they are plush! How can they possibly think that it’s alright now?’
“Seriously, it’s 2019!” she exclaimed.
Duffy, who is a London-based LGBT activist, also deemed the movie “disablist,” which is apparently a near-synonym for “abelist,” or discrimination against disabled people broadly defined. She did not elaborate, but some woke commentators have agonized over whether certain “Toy Story 4” characters are sufficiently accepting of their flaws.
Even a celebrated feminist plot line in the movie was offensive to Duffy. It was not enough that Bo Beep – a previously demure hoop-skirted doll inspired by the “Little Bo Peep” nursery rhyme – broke out as a pantsuit-wearing ninja, she said. The character still ended up with the male star of the beloved franchise, Woody, a cowboy doll voiced by Tom Hanks.
“Okay, let’s talk about the white feminism on display here,” she told the “SundayReview” hosts. “Oh look! Bo Peep’s a feminist. No she’s not! She’s still going to fall in love, she’s still going to have the happily ever after, that’s not feminism! It’s a woman who kicks off her skirt to reveal bloomers. Had a couple of thoughts… and does some high wire acts.”
“Toy Story 4” so racist, etc.
In a tweet Monday, Duffy shared that the BBC interview had earned her a “first-ever reviewing hate email.” However, if she was hoping for sympathy, she was disappointed. Her post was quickly “ratio’d,” receiving 76 likes versus 184 replies – almost all of them critical.
“It’s a film. Get over yourself, love,” suggested one user in a well-liked reply.
It’s a film. Get over yourself love.
— Lisa Shaw (@LMShawshank78) June 24, 2019
A Mexican-American mom commented that Duffy was the one being racist by “forcing children to note the colors of these animals, potatoes, and extraterrestrials.”
“Plus, quick heads up, you’re white,” she noted.
Duffy responded by listing a variety of other ways she is supposedly familiar with injustice, including her marriage to an Indian Jewish woman.
Yep. Also gay, working class (UK version not USA), living with a health condition (fallout of some cancers) and married to an Indian-Jew. So I have some personal interest in wider representation in arts. For adults and for kids.
— Stella Duffy (@stellduffy) June 25, 2019
Regarding Duffy’s issues with Bo Peep, another Twitter user asked: “Are you saying its anti-feminist to fall in love?”
No, the writer said, she simply opposes the “obvious” and “heteronormative” trajectory of the doll’s romance.
no, rather that they're touting it as a feminist film but the minute Woody appears in her sights, her story trajectory is obvious – and the formation of the (heteronormative) couple is assured.
— Stella Duffy (@stellduffy) June 24, 2019
At one point, Duffy expressed surprise that “so many complete strangers” were insulting her, calling it “exhausting.”
oh, me too, it's exhausting on my timeline with so many complete strangers coming to tell me what they thought of a review (which they haven't heard so don't know what was praised & what wasn't). the faux outrage I'm dealing with for disliking some parts of a film is amazing.
— Stella Duffy (@stellduffy) June 25, 2019
Hollywood so woke
Long a liberal stronghold, Hollywood has lately been driven to ever-greater wokeness, thanks in part to a variety of hashtags targeting the industry, from #OscarsSoWhite to #MeToo to #TimesUp to #4PercentChallenge.
Studios have moved toward identity-based hiring in the name of inclusion and representation. Filmmakers and actors who have tried to portray subjects or characters from supposedly marginalized groups to which they do not belong have become targets of online campaigns, which have in some cases succeeded.
Activists on the left have hailed the forward march of culture, noting that it can be lucrative, too. See the box office success of last year’s “Black Panther” and 2017’s “Wonder Woman.”
However, conservative critics have warned that freedoms of expression and thought are being sacrificed on the altar of social justice. In a rant on his podcast in January, “American Psycho” writer Bret Easton Ellis tore into his industry’s progressive posturing.
“Representation is so important to them. And with a huge fatuous inclusivity and diversity push,” he said. “What the most flattering pose might be in the moment — as if inclusivity and diversity have anything to do with awarding a movie’s merits.”
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