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DEAL WITH YOUR PROBLEMS LIKE A MOUSE

Betty Boop before and after the production code

Betty Boop before and after the production code

I was watching some early Betty Boop with my kids this week.  This was before 1934 when the production code made her cover up her cleavage, lower her hems and lose both her garter and her wiggle.  She’s saucy, sexy and awesome.

After the code went into effect, she lost more than the garter – she got watered down and became a little (I hate to say it) bland.

Betty was a product of the Fleischer Studios, but they weren’t the only animation studio to have problems with the production code.  Disney’s biggest star – Mickey Mouse – did not pass the code’s strict moral standards; he drank, smoked, abused other animals and forced kisses from a reluctant Minnie – WHAT A CAD.

Where the Fleischers grumbled and robbed Ms. Boop of her spark, Disney used the opportunity to reinvent Mickey.  He became the happy-go-silly, optimistic innocent we know and love today.  He also jumped from being a star to being an icon.

Life is going to throw you some problems – sorry, but it’s true – you can grumble about them and give up or you can muster all your creativity and do a Disney, use new limitations to create a work of genius.  Turn your star into a legend.

Lettin’ Go with Daddy Crood

Saw the advanced screening of The Croods tonight.

NO SPOILERS – READ AWAY

I’ve got a few people I want to meet before I die.  Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco  are two of them.  Tonight I was going to meet them – OK me and a couple of hundred other people – at the Toronto preview of The Croods – I had my ticket, I had a baby sitter, I was ready to kick another item off my Bucket list.

Then it decided to snow in Chicago and they couldn’t fly out.  The weather disappointed, the film didn’t.

First a quick review – for you poor suckers who are going to have to wait ‘till March 22nd.  I have to be honest, it probably won’t push Shrek out of my #1 spot, but it might come very close.  Funny, warm, cool social satire, AMAZING environments, GREAT acting and a great story – go see it.

Now, on to the “animatingyourlife” take on it.  How’s this one going to help me grow?  Or is it?  Is it one of those pieces I look at and go “That was great…what’s for lunch” or is it going to stick with me for a while?

The Croods might just be getting under my skin a bit – sooooo, what’s it saying to me?

There are a lot of themes subtly and not so subtly woven into this one: loyalty, security vs. freedom, physical strength vs. intellectual strength, romance, but the thing that pulls me in is Dad.  Here’s a guy having a HARD time letting go of the past and the safety he knows.  Can’t blame him, it’s a rough world for this Caveman, but things are changing and he’s a bit slow on the uptake…Palaeolithic guys are like that sometimes.  He can’t move forward because he can’t let go.

I’ll be honest.  There’s comfort in the familiar – even when it doesn’t work anymore.  Papa Crood has is Stone Age baggage, I’ve got mine, and I have a hard time letting go…for me, it comes out in resentments, especially when I was right and they were wrong and they just didn’t appreciate me the way they should have and why couldn’t Sanders and DiMicco make it, it always snows on my parade.  Oh dear, that does sound pathetic.  I’m working on it; if a bunch of Neanderthals can change then so can this nerdy art addict.

I promised no spoilers, so I won’t tell you if Papa Crood makes the change or not – Don’t assume it all works out just because it’s DreamWorks, Sanders and DeMicco take it somewhere I did NOT think it would go, made me cry a bit, but just a bit ‘cause I’m tough…like a cave man.

Aside

Accepting My Inner Ogre – ridding the world of Ographobia

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Shrek?  Why yes, yes I did. – Check out my other posts on Shrek.

Making it Real with Shrek

Breakin’ Out With My Favourite Ogre

This morning I was talking to a student about Fiona and how she changes…her arc.

Here’s a princess with a VERY dark secret…SPOILER ALERT…SPOILER ALERT She’s an ogre by night – only true love’s first kiss can break the spell.  Her’s a princess with some serious shame – she hates something she is – something she has no control over.  She’s got some serious Ographobia going on…that’s a nasty thing when you are an Ogre.

Her arc – from shame to acceptance and on to celebration.  Go Fiona!  Pretty awesome stuff here – how does it happen?  I’m sooo glad you asked.  I’m going to tell you how she starts…

She MEETS AN OGRE.  She comes face to face with her biggest fear and she finds out – – – wait for it – – – he’s not the baby eating, virgin violating monster she’s been led to believe.  He’s a grumpy, curmudgeon, but he’s not a monster.  It takes a while, (about half the movie) to fully accept it, but being an Ogre just isn’t so bad…it can be kind of fun actually.

One of the best way to combat prejudice is to actually meet the people we judge – the people we make assumptions about.  When we do, we’re going to find out that some of them will TOTALLY confirm our preconceived ideas, but most of them will not.  Any group regardless of how we try to pigeon hole them – race, sex, sexuality, language, culture, hair colour, financial status, clothing, ogreness – will have its share of good and evil, caring and selfish, givers and takers.  It is always the same.  Fiona learns to accept herself by meeting an Ogre – the very thing she hates and fears the most – when she does, she finds that he’s not that horrible – – – and neither is she.

Something else occurred to me this morning.  Fiona’s arc isn’t just about shame, it’s also about arrogance and pretention.  She thinks (and acts) like she’s just a wee bit better than the rest of us…OK maybe a LOT better than the rest of us.  Over the course of the film she realizes that those two extremes are both false, she is neither more monstrous, nor superior to anyone else.  She’s just a woman/ogre…when she discovers and accepts this she is finally happy, loved and content.

The times in my life when I was most pretentious and most arrogant (I know, I know you can’t imagine me being arrogant of pretentious, but yes my friends, I’ve been there, done that and picked up a T-Shirt that was WAY better than yours) have all coinsided with my most insecure, and shameful times, times when I struggled the most with self esteem and self acceptance.  What do you say we all just accept ourselves – warts, green skin and all – and at the same time accept that our strengths and our weaknesses don’t make us better or worse than anyone around us – they make us human – or Ogre as the case may be.

Finding my Incredible’s Super Power

She’d completely messed up and it had almost killed her family.  I’m talking about Violet from The Incredibles.  Syndrome fires rockets at the plane they’re all in and Violet can’t get her strengths in line…she’s had years of ignoring them…and using them to hide.

The metaphors in this film are brilliant; Violet, doesn’t want to be seen and doesn’t want anyone to get close to her can literally go invisible and put an impenetrable force field around herself.  Dash might be the most hyperactive kid in animation history – and he can move at lightning speed, and as for Jack Jack, well babies can be anything, unlimited potential…and he does.  In both Violet and Dash’s case their superpowers are also their greatest liability, Violet hides from everyone and Dash is always in trouble. The thing that both holds them back, makes them special is ultimately is the very thing that makes them great, but only when they choose to use their gifts well.

We ALL have super power – an area of genius – something we do better than the people around us.  This doesn’t make us better than they are; it doesn’t make us superior; it makes us human.  When our strengths work together with the strengths of those around us we become truly superhuman – and super humans.

When Dash and Violet accept their own strengths and the strengths of each other, they form an unstoppable combination.  Seriously, just check out the hamster ball they create…it’s brilliant.

I have to admit I’ve spent a HUGE part of my life going between wishing I had the strengths of the people around me and being so full of my own magnificence that I can’t work with anyone else.  Both of these has held me back.  I have strengths, so do you.  Let’s see what we can accomplish when we acknowledge both ourselves and those around us…we can be unstoppable too.

For a bit more on The Incredibles check out my previous postThe Incredibles Incredible Romance (one of my most popular thanks to a link from  elflamingo2 on Reddit  )

Strong Weakness – Lessons from Mulan

Happy Anniversary – www.animatingyourlife.com started a month ago today.  When I started posting, I hoped to get a couple of hundred hits…this afternoon, I topped 1,000 views and am now at 1,043 with visits from 25 countries…I’m floored and overwhelmed.  Thanks for all the comments and views, I’ve been smiling all day, it’s nice to surpass a goal.

Soooo enough of that nonsense, what shall I post about today?  I was thinking about Mulan today, I love the scene where she needs to climb a huge pole with two large weights.  The pole would be difficult enough without the weights, with them, it seems impossible.  Then she gets creative – – – and uses the weights as the tool to climb.  The metaphor is pretty clear to me, but I love it anyway.  We’ve all got problems, everyone has something they’ve been criticized, knocked down or judged about.  Can we turn the problems into our solutions?  Can we find our strengths in our weaknesses?

Let me use an example that’s very close to home…ME!  Yes, I know, how totally full of myself, but I’m what I’ve got so I’m going to use it…him…me.  I was that kid who was always in trouble for talking in class.  Now I speak for a living…and LOVE it.  I’m interested in WAY too many things, I used to call this a lack of focus, now I call it eclectic and multi-faceted.  So far, my eclectic little blog seems to be gathering some steam.

A few weeks ago I asked a room full of animation students if they could relate to this – finding strengths in the areas where we used to be in trouble.  Almost every one of them had been in trouble, at least once, for drawing in class…now they were pursuing art full time.

Where are your strengths?  What’s the thing you’ve been called out on, gotten in trouble for?  Get creative, and be honest, hidden inside your “weakness” may be your great genius.

PS I’m up another 14 views to 1,057.  Thanks. . . I think I need to set higher goals.

PPS Special thanks to elflamingo2 on Redit – who posted a link and sent me a HUGE pile of new friends.

Flexible Strength-More lessons from The Incredibles

After my last post about the Incredibles’ incredible romance, http://animatingyourlife.com/2013/02/05/the-incredibles-incredible-romance/

I can’t stop thinking about the mix of strength and flexibility that Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl struggle with and eventually attain.  I’ve realized that this is an area I need to work on.  I’m on Elastigirl’s side on this one.  I’ve always prided myself on my ability to adapt, to change, to stretch and be flexible, yesterday I realized that I have done this at the expense of inner strength.  I think about the number of times I’ve buckled and caved to pressures to be what I wasn’t or do what I knew wasn’t true to who and what I am.  The results have never been good, not for me and not for the people I was bending for.  We can only be effective or helpful when we’re being true to who we are, our principles, what we know to be true.

A couple of posts ago I wrote about an impending conflict and how Finding Nemo helped me face that conflict with integrity,

http://animatingyourlife.com/2013/01/30/finding-trust-while-finding-nemo/

I realize today, that it was also a huge movement for me in terms of finding and claiming my own inner strength.  I didn’t twist myself out of shape to avoid the truth.  When I do that (and I have for a great deal of my life) I’m lying.  I know that’s harsh, but it’s true.  Living an authentic life is about finding our strength and our flexibility, as long as we’re stubbornly maintaining one or the other, we are not complete people.

I am very flexible and I adapt well, that’s a strength and I’m not belittling or dismissing it, it has served me well and will continue to do so.  I will work to be stronger, to be strong and flexible, they are not mutually exclusive, if Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl can do it, so can I.

Keep it real.

Rob Corbett

PS did I mention that Brad Bird is a genius?

The Incredible’s Incredible Romance

Brad Bird is a Genius (He’s on my short list of people to meet before I die – or he does).  He directed two of my all time favorite films The Iron Giant and The Incredibles.

Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl (AKA Bob and Helen Parr) are one of the great screen romances of all time.  Two people who love each other and spend an entire film trying to sort out how to make it work.

The first time we see them together they’re flirting, competing (I had a student yesterday say they were trying to Dominate each other – LOVED IT!) and on their way to get married.  It’s an AWESOME scene.

There’s a moment in the scene that goes by so quickly most people miss it.  Elastigirl does this amazing stretch up over his head and back through his legs as she says “I think you need to be more flexible.” As their faces pass in profile* they form perfect puzzle pieces of each other.  His huge chin fills the space her softer chin leaves, her upturned nose fits perfectly into the space under his downward nose, even his brow ridge fits into her hairline. Did I mention that Brad Bird is a genius?

They don’t belong together because they’re the same, but because they are so different, seriously, if they both had those huge chins, they would never be able to kiss…ok they could because her lips would stretch, but you get my point.

Soooo why are they drawn to each other?  If you asked them, he’s say something like “Have you seen her, she’s Elastigirl, think about it.” She’d say something like “He’s Mr. Incredible, he’s the best.” These answers would be true and honest, but they don’t go deep enough.  On some subconscious level (see by post on projections http://animatingyourlife.com/2013/01/19/jung-and-freud-in-love ) they both know that they are incomplete, that they need to learn and grow.  He’s the strongest man in the world, but he can’t bend, he can’t adapt, he has no flexibility.  She’s the most flexible woman in the world, but she lacks strength – they tell her she can’t be a super hero any more and she picks up her broom and becomes what they tell her she has to be.  She needs strength.

Over the course of the film she learns to maintain her personal integrity – to be whom and what she is.  He learns to adapt and be flexible.  They both fight this growth and it almost destroys them, when they accept it, they become . . . Incredible (did you see how I did that – clever ain’t I?)

Once again, we are attracted to the people, situations, and art that our subconscious mind knows will teach us something.

More about the balance between strength and flexibility in my next blog.Strong Weakness – Lessons From Mulan

*on my DVD it’s at 5:25 – check it out.

Check out some more of my thoughts on this awesome movie here Finding my Incredilbes SuperPower

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