nakedsasquatch it’s ya man
Okay but seriously folks – as often as I joke about this movie stirs my loins and as weirdly popular as this text post got a while back, I wanna rap with you all about why the George of the Jungle remake is a pretty important piece of cinema.
It’s literally the only movie I can think of that is based completely around the unheard of “FEMALE gaze.” Granted, while I’m a huge movie buff I’ve not seen every movie ever made. But even so, even if there’s another example of the “female gaze” in cinema that has escaped me it’s still damn impressive that a kids movie from 1997 based on a Jay Ward cartoon from the 60’s managed to turn gender representation in media on it’s fucking ass!
Let me just say that while Leslie Mann is adorable and a talented actress, she does look a little less conventional and a little more plain compared to the bombshells that Hollywood likes to churn out. Leslie, in comparison, looks much more like a real women you’d meet on the street. She dresses pretty conservatively and plain throughout the film ; Wearing outfits that are more functional than fashionable for trekking through the jungle, pulling her hair back and so forth. Not that if she was dolled up and more scantily clad it would give her character any less integrity, but can we appreciate how RARE that is in the male dominated industry of film? Just think about all the roads a film about a woman in the jungle COULD have taken but didn’t – no scenes with her clothes strategically ripped or anything! You can say this is a kids movie, intended for children and that’s why the sensuality of the female lead is so downplayed but there are PLENTY of kids movies that handle women in a very objectifying and sexualized manner despite the target audience is pre-pubescent. Like, a disgusting amount. So I don’t think “it’s a kids movie” is why the film doesn’t take ANY, let alone EVERY, opportunity to showcase the main female character’s sex appeal…
…especially considering the sex appeal of the film rests squarely on the well defined shoulders of our male lead, George of the Jungle played by Brendan Fraser in the best god damn shape of his life!
*Homer Simpson Drooling Noises*
Whenever members of the reddit community try to compare the sexualization of women in fiction to the design of characters such as Batman and Superman, I always want to just sit them down and show them this movie. Because THIS is what the female sexual fantasy looks like, and Batman and Superman are male power-fantasies. Look at him – his big blue eyes, his soft hair, his lean, chiseled physique built for dexterity rather than power. He’s wild and free, but gentle. It’s like he fell right out of that steamy romance novel your mom tried to hide from you growing up.
Hell, the whole plot seems to be designed around how damn hot he is! First, for the majority of the film, he wears only a small strip of cloth to cover the dick balls and ass. Everything else is FAIR GAME to drool over for 40 minutes. Then, after he meets Ursula she takes him with her to San Francisco just so we can enjoy him in a well-tailored suit (as seen in the gif set), running around in an open and billowy shirt along side horses while Ursula and all of her friends literally crowd around and make sexual comments about him, and my personal favorite, ditch the loincloth entirely and have him walk around naked while covering his man-bits with various objects while one of Ursula’s very lucky friends oogles him and makes a joke along the lines of “So THAT’S why they call him the ‘KING of the Jungle’…”
And yes, it’s also a very cute and funny little movie. Out of all the movies based on Jay Ward cartoons, it was the most faithful to the fast-paced humor and wit of the original source material (yes even the new Peabody and Sherman movie which honestly I thought was too cutesy-poo.) But that’s not why this movie is popular with the gay community or why we all became women in 1997. It’s just really cool that there’s a film out there where the sensuality of the female form takes a back seat for the oiled up, chiseled, physique of Brendan Fraser (in his prime that is)
One thing to add: in the scene mentioned above where the ladies are watching him in the billowy shirt running with the horses, it pans back to about 50 feet away to two guys in suits at this party looking at the women and one of the guys says, “Man, what is it with women and horses?” So not only does this movie highlight the female gaze, but it blatantly points out that western male sensibilities don’t have a clue what actually appeals to women.
he’s non threatening
as mentioned above, he looks built for dexterity rather than power, but he’s still a 6+ foot tall extremely muscular man, and not once are you worried for Ursula when he’s with her
let’s take a look at his rival – Lyle is a cravat-wearing trust-fund kid (who, interestingly, is into Ursula’s fortune more than her, which kind of makes this a gender-swapped gold-digger thing too). He’s blonde and Ursula’s mom LOVES him. He’s more uncomfortable and less prepared to cope with the jungle than Ursula is, in his pastels and shiny shoes.
But he talks over Ursula, insists he knows what’s best for her, ignores her autonomy. In spite of the fact that Lyle Van de Groot is a rich, educated, social climber who cares deeply about his clothing and appearances he is a point-by-point checklist of unhealthy masculinity in a way that beefy, inarticulate, uneducated George could never be. Ursula is off on her own doing her own thing and Lyle hires two FUCKING POACHERS to track her down in the middle of the jungle while she’s working (or on vacation? It’s never made clear because he interrupts her before she can explain why she went on the expedition). Lyle ignores the local guides, claiming his experience with a bridge in Maui means the bridge they’re on is safe – which leads to a significant injury for one of the guides. He then tells Ursula the guides are conspiring against him, trying to make himself and his poachers seem safe and the Africans who make up the rest of their party seem dangerous.
Check that body language! A post above points out that we’re never worried about Ursula when she’s around George. That’s because Lyle talks to her like this. Look at his aggressive lean! Look at him literally looking down at her! She’s tilted away from him in the least threatening position possible and he’s so aggressive about whatever point he’s making. When he finds her after he pushed her toward a damned lion he kisses her and she pushes him away. Want a textbook example of gaslighting? Here you go: she says “don’t get all smoochy with me! I remember what happened with that lion” and he responds “What are you talking about? I was fighting that lion the whole time – you were just so terrified you don’t remember.” Then he shoots George! And then he kidnaps Ursula and attempts to force her into marriage!
Now look at how George and Ursula interact (slightly NSFW):
Even though he’s a big strong dude and he thinks he’s doing what’s okay he lets her set the tone for their interactions. He accepts that he’s out of his wheelhouse and even if he doesn’t understand it he does what she says is culturally appropriate. He learns from her! He listens to her! Compare Lyle leaning into Ursula above to this image of George and Ursula talking:
He’s listening to her, all of his attention is on on her, but he’s totally nonthreatening. His torso is turned toward her but he’s not invading her space, his hands are clasped, he’s smiling, and she’s the one leaning into him. Look at that smile she has, look how happy she is to be listened to. Her posture in both images is vulnerable but in this one with George she’s vulnerable because she has chosen to share with him instead of because she feels threatened.
When George rescues Ursula from Lyle at the end of the film it isn’t a typical damsel situation – George doesn’t have a knock-down-drag-out fight with Lyle, he swings into a tree and offers Ursula a hand so she can reach up and save herself (and before he does it he acknowledges how much it’s going to hurt and *whimpers* and looks human and scared). And you’ve gotta remember that George rescues everybody. It’s not just Ursula – he also rescues a parasailer and gets shot rescuing Shep and Ape. He just likes helping, dammit!
AND this movie offers a perfect counter to the “nice guy” thing – Ursula starts engaged to a jerk who her mom thinks is a “nice guy” the moves on to actual nice man George who isn’t *just* nice – he’s also patient, listens to her, has his own skills and talents, is okay with being goofy, has his own social circle and isn’t totally dependent on Ursula, and looks amazing. Ursula doesn’t go with George just because he’s a *nice* guy who rescued her from an asshole, Ursula goes with George because he’s an interesting, fun person who is supportive of her different way of being an interesting, fun person. AND he’s emotionally available. Google image search George of the jungle and see how many smiles you can find, see how many open looks of confusion there are, see how much sadness you can see in George’s face. Now look for images of Lyle. His two expressions are a smirk and cartoonish fear. I know this is a cartoonish kid’s movie, but it is SO powerful that the hero shares his emotions while the villain masks every emotion but fear. Lyle doesn’t want to open up, he doesn’t want to be vulnerable, he wants CONTROL. George wants to learn, to protect people he cares about, to explore new places, to laugh when he’s happy and to be sad when he’s sad, and that he does that while being a broad-shouldered, physically powerful dude who is NOT totally self-involved is just…
Like, look, I didn’t sign on to tumblr dot com for George of the Jungle discourse, but I’m just now realizing that this movie may have done the most for destroying my conception of stoic masculinity and gender roles as a child.
2nd reblog because this is even better.
This movie is an underrated treasure of pure joy.