I’m not feeling particularly eloquent at this moment but I want to bang this out before I forget or lose all interest.
I saw ParaNorman a couple days ago. I would have been content to merely gaze at Norman’s precious little plasticine, ruddy nose for 90 minutes, but the movie turned out to be surprisingly moving. The zombie-wrought mayhem in the middle was kind of a mess, but the third act, which riffed on the witch hunts of New England, was riveting and poignant.
There are certain rules to children’s movies older viewers come to expect. The plot will deal with the common concerns of children, including the desire to fit in and the fear of abandonment. Probably no one will die even when the characters are in peril, especially not the children. Furthermore, the characters are only allowed to speak in euphemisms around violence. They will not say “they murdered you,” they will substitute “they did something really bad to you.”
This is what happens around the harms visited on women on a daily basis, isn’t it? The movie addressed the unjust cruelty of punishing someone for being different and misunderstood, but obviously the film did not address the wider, extreme misogyny and intolerance which spurred and perpetuated the witch hunts. It’s estimated that 9 million people died persecuted for witchcraft, the vast majority of them women (see Andrea Dworkin’s “Woman-Hating,” page 90). But we never really hear about this do we? It’s always downplayed and minimized.