Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thursentary: Annie (2014)

I don’t really consider myself a feminist. Not because I don’t believe in gender equality, because I do—it’s just that I don’t do anything about it.

I mean, if feminism was equivalent to a fast food chain, a feminist would be a fast food worker. But a fast food worker would only be considered a real worker if she was taking orders and fixing the food, taking money, mopping floors. If you just sat on a stool and watched while everybody else worked, you would not be a worker. You would be fired.

I sit on the stool in the feminist fast food chain. I read blog posts sometimes, I pay attention to the Bechdel test in movies I watch, and I tend to pay attention to the gender roles in the books I read (thanks, AP Lit!). But I do not do anything.

That being said, I do pay attention to feminist perspectives, and despite the fact that I had many problems with the new Annie movie (the “romance” went overboard), I found I really appreciated many other aspects of Annie.

via redbox.com
It passed the Bechdel test for one thing, which is not saying a lot, but it’s something I always note anyway.

Ms. Hannigan’s character got deeper. I didn’t like the changes at first, but in the end I kind of like that she wasn’t portrayed as an evil woman who hated children, but a broken woman who fell off the path and never found her way back again.

In the end it’s Ms. Hannigan whose choice saves Annie—and it’s mainly through the help of the other foster girls that Mr. Stacks is able to track her down.

But my favorite part—my FAVORITE PART—is “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here,” when Annie is introduced to her new home.



First of all, it’s an all-girl’s song that is not about guys or something stupid. This is the first time Annie’s really been in a privileged place and so it is about exploration, opportunity, and hope for the future.

This is also the first time Annie has really had maternal figures in her life—Ms. Hannigan “cared” for her, but she was also drunk and regarded her charges as a paycheck. Grace, Mr. Stacks’ assistant, and Mrs. Kovacevic, her social worker, are both there to support her as she learns everything about her new home. These women dance with her, they support her, they’re enthusiastic about her prospects, and they care. (Admittedly, Mrs. Kovacevic was really more interested in Mr. Stacks but she was there for Annie, too.)

Both the adult women are professionals, too. One works for the government, another for Stacks himself, but their own successes starkly contrast the pit where Miss Hannigan lives. They are decidedly not sitting around being mad and drunk about not being a rock star.

They’re messing around, having fun. Dancing, enjoying life.

At 2:42 in the video above, Annie isn’t even in the shot—Mrs. Kovacevic and Grace are simply dancing together and having fun. By themselves.

(May I also just say that Mrs. Kovacevic is just hilarious. She does an awesome one-handed cartwheel and my favorite line in the whole movie may very well be, “This sink is bigger than my whole country!”)

The big thing that I notice is simply that there is female bonding. There are women, and they are having fun and enjoying each other and Annie’s new life. There’s no guy drama. They’re not having petty fights. There’s a genuine relationship between the three, because they are genuinely invested in Annie’s life.

Which maybe seems silly, but while I don’t generally break into song when I’m excited, I have enjoyed the support and kindness of adult women in my life before. They’ve cared for me, encouraged me, and inspired me.

And that is a lot. I’ve felt mildly annoyed all year in my Lit class, because it is hard to relate to the gender roles present in those books. Because, no matter how important the characters, about 90% of the time the ladies are prostitutes and while that can be interesting the first time it is fortunately not something I personally struggle with.

We could talk more about that, but we won’t.

I’ll have to watch Annie again before I decide how I feel about it, but I’ll say this—good or bad I did enjoy it, and I thought it better suited the world today than a few of the other versions out there.

  *runs off dancing to “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here”*

Have you seen the new Annie? Did you like the changes, or not?


12 comments :

  1. Your analogy, though. I admit I raised my eyebrows at your "not a feminist" proclamation, but honestly, your analogy made me laugh too hard. Female bonding for the win!

    And yeah, school literature tends to make you back away slowly from the book, saying: "Not that I don't care, but that is squicky, and ... I don't actually feel you."

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    1. XD I don't know, I was kind of worried about posting this for that reason. It seems like I don't really have the right to talk about feminism if I'm not a feminist. But yes, that is my analogy and I did make it funny on purpose so people don't think I'm a male-supremacist or something. lol

      Yay female bonding! And, yeah... squicky is a good word for it. "Lovely to meet you all, goodbye, I'll find a different way to make money."

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  2. The Feminism Fast Food Chain.....great anology, Heather. I'm smiling just thinking about it.....What would they serve? :)

    In my school, the books have mainly male protagonists. And I'm not saying this is a bad thing ("calm down, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl etc"), but surely a female protag once in a while wouldn't go amiss? The way females are portrayed in the majority of these books are submissive, obedient doormats that obey whatever the male says. I personally hate damsels-in-distress (Yay for Frozen!) and that is why I look up to writers like Suzanne Collins, Kat Ellis and Scott Westerfield, who have written strong, independant, fiesty female characters that can hold their own and make the reader really root for them. (Katniss, Skylar, Tally, Darcy etc)

    But that doesn't change the fact that I do not like Annie 2014. Sorry.

    Have you seen the original Annie, with the ginger girl and 'Daddy Warbucks'?

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    1. XD I'm sure they would just serve sass and justice and equality, or something. I don't really know, it was a metaphorical stool I sit on.

      Well, I think it depends. Because I've found that the books you mentioned do have strong female secondary characters, and that sort of thing. There are also a good group of books for kids in that preteen age that do have female protagonists. I think the thing is, though, that most books with female main characters tend to be marketed to female readers, which is why they don't become as popular. I wouldn't say that the girls in HP, PJO, or AF are submissive at all, and I think characters like Hermione, Annabeth, Clarisse, Juliet, Holly, and so many more are just the kinds of girls we should be reading about. It's just that there aren't reciprocal roles that are marketed to boys in the same way.

      I know, I know. Frozen is up the wazoo with the damsel-in-distress trope. XD But, still, you're right, there are books that have become popular despite a female main character (I know THG and Uglies best), but there are many more, like The Lunar Chronicles, Scarlet, The Ever-Expanding Universe Trilogy with awesome female protagonists that might be good for boys to read, too. :)

      Well, it's all right. We all have different opinions. :)

      I've seen both of the Annies from before. I personally liked the 90's version better than the one from the 60's (Carol Burnett is funny, but I just wasn't a super big fan) but that is just me. :)

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  3. I've haven't seen the new Annie, and I don't even think I've seen any version of Annie, but it sounds like a great movie. I love it when movies portray women supporting each other and being genuine friendship. This movies seems like it takes the Bechdel Test to the next extreme, which is always a good thing.

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    1. There are three: one from the 60's, one from the 90's, and then this one. I'd personally recommend the 90's or 2014 version, but that is just my own opinion. I hope you enjoy it if you do see it. :) Seeing movies with awesome girl characters is definitely one of the greatest things to enjoy, and yes. It is nice when the Bechdel Test isn't even relevant in movies anymore. :)

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  4. This is fantastic! I love that analogy, what would they serve? XD

    I personally loved Annie and I love "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here", it just was a great movie! Now I have it stuck in my head. *dances with you*

    ~Noor
    www.alittlebitofsunshineblog.com

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    1. XD Yeah, I have no idea.

      It was enjoyable, no? And certainly not the kind of song it's a bother to get stuck in your head. :D

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  5. I'm really excited about seeing the new Annie! I haven't seen it yet, but I hope to watch it soon. Hadn't heard the song you linked to, but I LOVED it. So fun and catchy!
    ~Sarah Faulkner

    Inklined

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    1. I hope you enjoy it when you get the chance to watch it! It's an easy song to get into, for sure! :)

      Thanks for reading, Sarah!

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  6. Ah, I still think you qualify as a feminist. XD It's about your thoughts as well as actions, right?! I mean, you wrote this post so that's DOING something. I'm definitely a feminist, hehe.

    AH I'M SO SAD THE VIDEO DOESN'T WORK FOR ME. I so want to see this! And I've only just recently heard of the Bechadel test (omg however you spell it) and it's totally intriguing. Most of my favourite movies fail. *sigh*

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    1. Ehhhh... I'm not convinced just yet. XD Actions are a greater measure for me than words and this was one blog post.

      AH OH NO DID YOU TRY LOOKING IT UP ON YOUTUBE AT ALL? Because it's worth listening to. The Bechdel Test interested me, although it also makes me sad because so many movies fail. Star Wars. Lord of the Rings.

      And, I feel like some movies are working their way up to including just one random conversation between women so that they pass, and that also bugs me. (I'm so picky, it's silly.)

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