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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Button Eyes

Her midnight blue hair and dramatic facial expressions resemble a childlike, careless attitude most can relate to. Coraline began as an award-winning children’s book by Neil Selick. Recently, Henry Selick who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach adapted the children’s book into a screenplay and directed, Coraline.
Like most children Coraline wonders what life would be like if her parents did not work, but instead were more carefree. When Coraline crawls past a secret door to another world similar to her own - but the way she would want life to be - she learns to appreciate her real life.
Much of the movie battles with reality and disillusion. The disillusion of Coraline’s other family is differentiated by buttons. Buttons cover their real eyes, forcing characters in the other world to see what they want to see, filtering a fantasy world. Coraline quickly adapts to this mentality brushing off things she finds odd, allowing herself to believe this world of pleasure is possible.
This movie largely fits into stereotypes that continually play into children’s movies. One stereotype is the second mom. At first she is like a dream mother but she gradually morphs an evil old woman. She physically changes from a young healthy looking mom to a wrinkly, ridged featured woman, perpetuating the stereotype of the mean old woman in movies. This is similar to many characters in children’s movies including Ursula, Cinderella’s step mom, the evil Queen in Snow White, Cruella de Vil, and Maleficent, the evil queen in Sleeping Beauty.
The representation of other races is minimal and obviously negative when actually present. Through most of the movie, the black cat is presented in dark scenes closely correlated with the evil, button eyed family. The cat is played by an African American, Keith David, who through most of the movie does not have a voice. Viewers do not find out until the end that the cat is a good guy, but even then his character’s presence is minimal. There are not many portrayals of African Americans in children’s films and this is the main problem. One portrayal is in The Jungle Book, where the monkey is clearly an African American voice. These representations of African Americans in the bodies of animals present a limited view.
On the other hand, Coraline does show a certain feminine power through Coraline’s dad’s passive demeanor. At one point he even becomes much like a puppet being controlled and manipulated by his wife. The second mom is always the first person Coraline sees when she enters the other world, showing her control over the household. It comes across that Coraline becomes birthed into the other world as she travels through a similarly resembling vaginal canal throwing her into a world control power by her evil woman. Coraline’s friend Wybie loses his voice through part of the movie showing Coraline and her evil mom’s power. Wybie also comes across from the beginning as extremely vulnerable explaining this names is really, Why Born. While, Coraline harshly and confidently defends her name.
Coraline and viewers learn together that the things we want most in life aren’t always how they seem and that the life we have been given is worth appreciating.

Krystle Aldana


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