Could You Shave a Little off those Flippers?

Since I have no kids and don’t watch much TV, I’ve done a pretty good job of completely ignoring the existence of the movie Surf’s Up so far — but Sabotabby’s observation about Lani, the lady penguin star, forced me to acknowledge it.

First, check out a picture of an actual Gentoo penguin:


Now, check out Lani:


The fucking penguin has an hourglass figure, including tiny penguin boobies. And scrawny flippers. And a long neck. And — this is my very, very favorite part — visible collarbones! ‘Cause the important thing is that the animated penguin be able to pull off a trapeze dress without looking fat.

Sabotabby nails it:

But we all know that we can’t have plump, pear-shaped female characters of any species on a large screen—it might give women and girls the undesirable idea that they can take up physical space. So we have the strangely deformed result: a sexy animated penguin with boobs. Small boobs—it’s a children’s film after all—but still boobs on something that isn’t a mammal. (Note that the, er, male penguin characters in the movie actually do look like penguins.)

Emphasis mine.



Filed under 09_kate_harding

28 responses to “Could You Shave a Little off those Flippers?

  1. Is it weird that this is the second time I’ve read about Penguin boobs this week? The producers of the US version of “Creature Comforts” noted how weird it was to do a scene where a Penguin had breasts. They did it for a quick joke about breast implants, though. Not as the love interest in an animated movie. The design on Lani is bizarre to the extreme. You expect animals to be athropromphized to some degree, but that just doesn’t look like a Penguin anymore and given that the men in the film DO, Lani will be very visually out of place. But I guess any Furries with a thing for sexy Penguins will be thrilled.

  2. Melissa McEwan

    ‘Cause the important thing is that the animated penguin be able to pull off a trapeze dress without looking fat.


    You know, the creepiest thing about this to me is that pengins look that way for a reason, and that reason is survival. And, yeah, I know it’s a fucking cartoon, but I just hate how anthropomorphizing a female animal nearly always means changing her body in a way that would make her dead.

  3. Hey, look, at least the breasts are small…my god, IT’S A CARTOON! Should we give Marge Simpson a haircut?????

  4. Melissa McEwan

    Should we give Marge Simpson a haircut?????

    Missing the Point Award.

  5. Marge Simpson’s haircut makes me feel bad about my inability to grow a six-foot-high, blue tower of hair. Matt Groening is perpetuating ridiculous body-image stereotypes, and it’s got to stop.

    Seriously, actor212, what?

  6. Well, there was Lilo, who was short and pudgy. And her sister Nani actually had, y’know, thighs. And hips. And breasts smaller than her head. (For crushes on nonexistent women, she’s way better than Jessica Rabbit.) But yes, they’re anomalies. The Disney princesses all share the same body, just texture-mapped with different colors so the viewer can tell them apart.

    I keep having this argument with people in the context of video games: men get portrayed in all kinds of different body shapes, and women nearly always get portrayed as skinny, (usually) pale, pretty, sexually available. “Oh noes we can’t have fat women in World of Warcraft people wouldn’t play them and it would be too much work.” I wrote a piece on the women in the Final Fantasy franchise games, and had a commenter tell me that the so-revealing costumes of recent Final Fantasy women was real-life girls’ fault for dressing all slutty.

    It’s probably a good thing you can’t actually stab someone in the face over the internet.

    City of Heroes did a better job with variable body types. But even there, you couldn’t play a really fat woman. (Oddly, you could play a man with an enormous belly.) I fell in love with the character generator while I was doing a free trial of City of Heroes and played with it much more than I played the game. One character was a gravity manipulator, and I wanted her to be really fat, her gravity powers being related to her body mass. But I couldn’t get it to go beyond stocky. Then there’s the Giant bodytype that is male only. Women cannot be giants.

    As sexist and objectifying as God of War II was, I really liked the characters of Gaia, the titan of earth, Euryale, a fat gorgon, and Athena, who wore a chiton and armor that wouldn’t have been out of place on a male warrior. The naked women in the bathhouse in Rhodes were appallingly bad and not the least bit attractive.

    (And apparently I’m one of like three people who find the corpses hanging from the trees in Tirisfal Glades creepifying and too reminiscent of lynching victims. Everybody else just sees them as part of the creepifying atmosphere. But racism in games is a completely different rant.)

  7. Lani doesn’t really look like a penguin at all, except for the color scheme.

  8. beatgrl

    another penguin movie??

  9. car

    On the Wii, you can make your Mii as round as you want to on a sliding scale. I kind of like that. Then again, my younger son, when making an imaginary friend girl mii, took the slider from the “average” setting and thinned her up a bit. Sigh. I blame Ariel and her teensy waist, and don’t get me started on her big barely-shelled boobs. (He watches that movie a lot) The Lilo movie was the ONLY ONE to deviate from the Barbie body norm.

    That penguin gives me the creeps.

  10. t87

    Speaking of which, have you noticed that all of the people depicted in the Shakesville logo are thin?

    Some are scary thin. Check out the woman who is 5th from the right, the one wearing the clunky high heels and talking to the person in the wheelchair. Is that Calista Flockhart?

    And then there is the guy (?) doing the cartwheel over to the side – he’s got the body of a high-hurdle running meth addict.

  11. Melangell

    The movie Happy Feet gave its girl penguins boobs, waists, and pink lipstick. I always thought of it as gender policing; as it, “well, make the penguins look like women, because we don’t want anyone to think that relationships can be between two people who look the same. No gay penguins here.”

    Thanks for giving me a new perspective on it. I’m really glad you are posting here now. Yay for fat acceptance!

  12. Jay in Oregon

    Hey, look, at least the breasts are small…my god, IT’S A CARTOON!

    –actor212, bravely demonstrating exactly why these things need to be discussed.

  13. Kate Harding

    Great point about the “no gay penguins!” aspect, Melangell. Take your pick, I guess.

  14. I love (real) penguins deeply, so I’ve stayed the hell away from all the Disney crap coming out lately. But I had to click on the “more” link here, in spite of myself. Five minutes later, I’m picking myself up off the floor after a laughing fit.

    It’s doubly ironic because the name “penguin” derives from pinguis in Latin, which means … fat.

  15. magickitty

    Same with friggin’ Happy Feet. Busty female penguins. (That’s just the least of its problems, though. Blech. I let my son watch it a couple of times, then conveniently “lost” the dvd.)

  16. holly

    This is a topic that makes me so annoyed. Movies like Monster, Inc have male characters that aren’t even vaguely humanoid but the female characters have to have those feminine markers like long eyelashes or breasts or something.

    The movie studios are doing a good job at training up little members of the sex class. In the last few years, the only female characters to be found in children’s movies are love interests or other supporting roles.

    Seriously, when was the last animated movie that had a female protagonist?

  17. puellasolis

    Eesh, her flippers are fracking ridiculous.

    The Disney princesses all share the same body…

    Pretty much, yeah. But I remember seeing Hercules and thinking, “great FSM, that Meg character has a disgustingly small waist.” She seemed to be more egregiously skinnified than most others.

    At least Nala in The Lion King wasn’t too overdone. She actually looked like, you know, a big cat.

  18. If you go WAY back to the original Transformers cartoons, the handful of female Transformers were always rendered in this weird anime sexy robot style that bore absolutely no relation to the male Transformers. Complete with breasts, insanely thin waists, rounded edges all around, and a pink paint job.

  19. Degen

    Allow me a moment of shame that this is the issue on which I feel I have enough to contribute to delurk; and for the momentary threadjacking.

    Moira, I share your rant about body types in video games; I’m always upset when my male characters are required to have terrifying musculature and I was deeply upset when they manned up the Blood Elves. But I have on numerous occasions noticed the hanged corpses in Tirisfal and always thought the lynching metaphor was intentional, but not on racial grounds (though I’d gladly accept the argument that you can’t separate lynching from racism); I always thought they’d been killed for one plague-related reason or another by religious fanatics. I’ve never done a count, but I thought they seemed to increase in frequency as you went up the road toward Scarlet Monastery.

  20. Brian

    Anastasia had a female protagonist, and she wasn’t even super hot. Then again, that movie wasn’t very recent.

  21. barbara_on_19th

    If you want to find out something really creepy about the Disney character Megara (love interest in Hercules), look up the history of Megara. Although there is a mythic Megara-female person, generally the name refers to an island which got caught between the Spartans and the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War. In classical lit, you throw Megara into a text when you want to imply “raped & looted”. Read Aristophanes Acharnians about the Megaran farmer who has to sell his daughters into prostitution for food. Of course since it is Aristophanes, it is very very funny/sarcastic political humor ala Daily Show. The farmer dresses the girls up as little piglets to sell at market, a visual pun on “piglet” which in Attic Greek was slang for “shaved hooker hoochie”. Then watch the movie and criiiinnnnnnggge.

  22. Melissa McEwan

    Speaking of which, have you noticed that all of the people depicted in the Shakesville logo are thin?

    It’s not for lack of trying on my part to find decent imagery of fat people to use. There were absolutely none in the sources I used for most of the included images; I turned to looking for photos of just regular old fat people which I could turn into silhouettes, but it was not easy to find full body shots of fatties, even famous fat women and men.

    The woman in the wheelchair, however, was fat, and the guy playing the guitar was bigger, too–irrespective of how their silhouettes may appear in the final version.

  23. t87

    I nominate that that pic of Hurley you put up a while ago. Just scan him into a silhouette.

    Or you could just paint a few pounds onto one of the silhouettes using photoshop. Notice that the Calista Flockhart shaped gal at the table doesn’t have anything on the table in front of her – not even a cuppa joe. That’s not an accident, but I suspect she is sneaking glances at the bowl of porridge (or whatever) is in front of the person in the wheelchair.

  24. Anne

    Anastasia had a female protagonist, and she wasn’t even super hot. Then again, that movie wasn’t very recent.

    Yeah, I liked that about that movie, too! Interestingly, it wasn’t a Disney movie. I actually thought she was way prettier than any of the Disney princesses, but it was weird how at the beginning of the movie she had kind of short hair, and then when she becomes a princess or whatever, *pooof* suddenly she had these really long locks — I think the audience is supposed to assume that she kept most of her hair tucked under her hat, but seriously….

    For people looking for good children’s movies, one of my friends who refuses to let her daughter watch Disney movies really likes Hayao Miyazaki’s movies (Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away). She’s kind of miffed that Disney has picked them up for distribution, though, because she’s afraid that when her daughter sees that logo at the beginning of the movie she’ll get the idea that Disney is a good company.

  25. For a really bad example, see Princess Mononoke (another Miyazaki). “Well, it’s animated and it has the word ‘Princess’ in the title. We’ll pitch it to six year old girls.” Princess Mononoke, BTW, earned its PG-13 rating and in some places, it was pushing an R. The opening sequence gave me nightmares.

  26. Pingback: Crocodile Caucus » Saturday Tidbits

  27. Pingback: Daily Round-Up at Shakesville

  28. Pingback: ComicMix.Com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s