Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Why Did They Have to Airbrush the Light Fury in 'How to Train Your Dragon 3'?

Fun fact about me: I love the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. Like, a lot. I will happily re-watch any of the movies or the shows. It's well written, it's funny, and it puts girls on equal footing with boys - something that not a lot of shows do well, even when that's the intention. The franchise has been amazing about portraying girls and women as people (instead of a mystery for males to solve or a plot device for males to rescue). And about showing a relatively healthy love relationship between teenage protagonists, which is something you almost NEVER encounter in any media.

So obviously I was so excited to hear that there would be a How to Train Your Dragon 3... and then I saw the movie poster and read this interview with Dean DeBlois, who has written and directed each film. Now I'm a lot less excited to see the film and to show it to my kids.

Less defined, less powerful, less interesting? Check.

Here's the tl;dr version of why:

1. Female dragon = smooth, sparkly, submissive looking, with smaller claws and very little physical definition

Is that even a dragon? She looks like a bunny with that little pink nose.

2. This: "Toothless is a complete bumbling amateur when it comes to issues of courting," DeBlois says. "He isn't in touch with his primal instincts for these love matters." 

My first question is how many more movies do we need that portray a clueless male character pursuing a female with no skill whatsoever and then finally winning her over with his persistence (or with some stereotypical baseline gesture of feeling)? The quick answer is no more. We need zero more movies like that ever because they teach boys to keep trying forever even when the answer is no and they teach girls that, well, boys are clueless and finding one that is slightly less clueless is as good as it gets.

Here's my next question. Putting aside the fact that the Light Fury looks like a Night Fury that molted and is waiting for its scales to harden, why why why did DreamWorks feel the need to feminize the Light Fury to the Nth degree?

At least she doesn't have pretty eyelashes?

Let's just get this out of the way... Is there anything wrong with feminine characteristics in general? NO. But in the context of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, I'm going to say YES, there absolutely, positively is something wrong with airbrushing the female dragon. 

One of my favorite things about the franchise has been the fact that the female characters, whether they are dragons or people, are suited to their environment. It's a tough world they live in, so they're made of tough stuff. They're not the usually emotionally strong girls in a pretty package - they're just strong people, full stop. Particularly in the first film, Astrid is not your typical cartoon bombshell. And Ruffnut? Has the kind of facial definition you only see on male characters. 

As for the female dragons, they have all kinds of badass physical characteristics and were never rendered in a way that made them obviously female. Or obviously anything other than dragon - the series has actually been great about not gendering the dragons in the way we're used to seeing animated animals gendered.

Now you could argue that Toothless isn't sporting a lot of armor (until now he's been the most feminine of the dragons in terms of appearance) so why would the Light Fury, but Toothless has ridges and spikes and his claws are big and obvious. And he has definition.

What we've seen of the Light Fury so far? Super smooth skin. Pretty sparkles. Much smaller claws. A little bunny nose. Somewhat larger eyes. Does she even have scales? Did someone peel off Toothless' outer layer? Right now the sneak peek we've seen can be summed up as Glittering Marshmallow Dragon. Frankly, the Light Fury design is... boring, which is surprising considering how much thought has gone into the dragon design across the movies and series up until now.
It's also worth noting that it's counter to the basic biological rules in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. Unless I'm mis-remembering, not one dragon species in the movies or the shows has had a female version who was super sleek or overtly femme. They've just been dragons - sometimes they differ from the males in size or in certain details but they're still dragony.  They have spikes or ridges and scales and claws.

The Light Fury as depicted on the movie poster and in the handful of stills that have been released just seems like lazy design. Okay, you want a white dragon... with maybe a little sparkle? Fine, but at least give it DETAIL. Ridges. Scales. How about any dragony characteristics whatsoever? Right now, the Light Fury looks like Toothless as seen through a bad Snapchat filter. Who greenlighted that?

I can only hope that since the film's release is still a ways off, they're still making tweaks. My fingers are crossed that when March of 2019 rolls around, I am pleasantly surprised instead of hugely disappointed by the evolution of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. 

No, seriously... she's a bunny.

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