I just saw Sing, an animated movie about, you know, aspiring musicians.
I am almost in tears with joy.
The plot is the usual about will the singers make it and will the impresario be able to keep his theater. (Spoiler: Happy ending.) The characters are all anthropomorphic animals.
But I was weepy with what I didn’t have to give up to enjoy this movie: My self respect.
You see, I am a woman. And in order to enjoy movies made past the Bette Davis/Katharine Hepburn era, I have to suspend my sense of self-worth.
You may have heard, in the theater, of the expression “suspend your disbelief.” In order to enjoy a lot of theater and movies, you have to suspend your disbelief, and believe that problems can be truly solved in an hour and a half, or that no one ever needs to go to the bathroom.
But, also. . . in order to enjoy The Princess Bride, I have to be ready to accept that in the entire country of Florin, no two women ever say anything of importance to each other. To enjoy any action film, I have to accept that the hero can be 25 years older than the heroine and ugly but they fall in love just the same.
All the Minions are male. Most of the Muppets are male, and those that are not are mostly blondes. Even Frozen, after you got past the sisters, the main characters were male and most of the dialogue was given to male characters even though the plot was about sisterhood. And their mom didn’t speak at all.
As a young woman, I barely existed. As an old woman, I don’t exist, except maybe as a murder victim or somebody’s mom.
In Sing, however, I EXIST. There’s a middle aged woman—OK, she is a pig—a mother of many, who goes to the audition after having had the problem of finding care for her children.
Not only does she get to sing, the movie highlights her skill as an engineer.
There is also a porcupine emo teenager, who dumps her boyfriend after he betrays her, and is amazing at playing guitar and writing songs. They make the story about HER, not about her reaction to the boyfriend.
And a young woman, an elephant, who has a beautiful voice but crippling stage fright.
Here’s the clincher: Not only do all of these characters get to perform, none of them has to undergo a makeover.
They stay plump for the whole movie.
And no one even mentions it.