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Is the “Representation” in Finding Dory Really Representation?

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I’m excited about Finding Dory. We love Pixar movies, and Ellen Degeneres’ performance as Dory was one of the highlights of Finding Nemo, so when I heard about this film, I got really excited. Already, I was pleased that there was a sequel focused on the popular female character in Finding Nemo (even if she is a fish), but now the talk about “representation” and “diversity” around this movie is starting to get weird.

We’ve heard about the possible lesbian couple that fans spotted in the trailer, hoping against hope that 1) it would be confirmed that they were a lesbian couple, and 2) that we’d perhaps see more of them than what was indicated in the trailer. Alas, the filmmakers are doing the standard non-committal “They can be whatever you want them to be” dance, so as not to offend with their attempts at inclusion.

Now, in an interview with USA Today, DeGeneres said something kind of out-of-left-field about the stingray character in the film:

“Actually, I’ll tell you a little secret, there’s a stingray that’s becoming sting-Rhonda. So there’s a trans sting in the movie.”

Now, aside from the fact that in watching the video it was unclear as to whether or not DeGeneres was making a joke when she said this, as it came on the heels of her being asked about the aforementioned lesbian couple…did she have to say “sting-Rhonda?” Like, really? Like, lets say that creating a transgender stingray character was honestly a way that Disney/Pixar was trying to be inclusive of the trans community. Did she need to be so flippant and joking about it? It’s part of what led me to believe that she might be joking. I guess we’ll have to wait for an official statement from Disney/Pixar.

The thing is, I’m sadly not surprised that DeGeneres could be flippant and joking about something like this, as she doesn’t seem to know what to make of trans people, and doesn’t seem to fully consider them part of the LGBTQIA community, at least not comfortably. Still, the way she gave this piece of information highlighted how ridiculous something like that would be. It’s bad enough that LGBTQIA people had to latch onto two seconds of a possibly lesbian couple in the Finding Dory trailer as “representation,” now trans people are supposed to get excited about a sting ray?

And, if we’re gonna get technical, Disney/Pixar has already had transsexual characters as protagonists in their films. After all, clownfish are transsexual and change sex depending on how many of either is alive in order to keep balance. So, yeah, if we’re counting fish, Nemo and their dad are transgender. History made?

Thing is, we shouldn’t be counting fish. We shouldn’t even be counting human background characters that appear in five seconds of a film trailer as “representation.” Representation means that the actual community that exists in the real world feels like they can see themselves on screen — their nuances, their wants and needs, people that are fully-developed.  Representation means being represented. Last time I checked, there weren’t very many transgender stingrays going to the movies.

(via Revelist)

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