Reel Change Elsewhere: A Feminist Little Mermaid, A Spanish Harlem Renaissance, and the Limits of Misanthropy

I just wanted to share with you a few of my pieces that have been published elsewhere in the last few weeks. I hope you’ll read and, if you feel so compelled, share on social media.

For The Atlantic, I applauded Sofia Coppolla’s decision to direct a live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Here is a snippet:

Despite this subtext, we shouldn’t expect Coppola to make this story into an overtly feminist work; that’s not her style. But indeed, the very metaphor inherent in the mermaid’s form—and her choice at the story’s end—marks a close connection to Coppola’s work. The notion of a mermaid becoming human —of that fish tail turning into legs—is metaphor for a girl’s transition to adulthood. She can’t lose her virginity until she has legs; Andersen, remember, describes the process of becoming a human woman as “if a sword were passing through you” and stating that “the blood must flow.” But the mermaid ultimately chooses death without ever consummating her relationship with the prince or even becoming a woman at all. In other words, she is a typical Coppola protagonist: another virgin suicide.

I published my first piece at RogerEbert.com on the need for Hollywood to start hiring more Latino filmmakers and director:

But why should we stop there? Diversity is not just a black and white issue. Other races and ethnicities are still relegated to the background, both in cinema and in the American landscape as a whole. Alfonso Cuarón’s win for directing “Gravity” made him the first Latino honored in that category. Hearing him slip into Spanish during his acceptance speech must have been gratifying for aspiring Mexican-American filmmakers, but it should not obscure the fact that when it comes to the people and events depicted on the screen (as opposed to those behind the camera like Cuarón), Hollywood is actually regressing on Latino issues. Why not wish for a Spanish Harlem Renaissance as well?

And today, I am back in The Atlantic, pondering the limits of misanthropy in Noah and True Detective:

[I]t’s the rare film that leaves the viewer with a truly hopeless feeling about mankind. Pop culture, after all, basically aims to reinforce the status quo. Perhaps David Fincher’s Se7en or Aronofsky’s own Requiem for a Dream come to mind, but neither of those films aimed for widespread appeal. They took us on a one-way journey into the depths of misanthropy, but Noah and True Detective only offer a quick tour, promising to bring us back alive.

As always, thanks for reading.

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