I watched Madagascar 3 with my daughter this week and as is my tendency, kept my eyes open for things to analyze. What struck me was the sufferings of the antagonist, Chantel DuBois, the animal control deputy chasing the animals across various continents. Not only is she presented as assuming the posture of a dog (thus being a female dog) as she sniffs the ground to track the animals, but she also is the only prominent single female character. Every other female character is (often literally) cuddly, fuzzy and paired with a male companion. The single, professional woman in a position of authority suffers much humiliation and violent treatment winding up crated up and shipped off to Madagascar. I doubt that this message is what the filmmakers intended; they likely were aiming for a modern Inspector Clouseau figure, but still the figure is troubling. On another level, I wonder why this figure bothers me where a male figure suffering a similar fate would not. I believe it is because of the history of violence against women, and the bias against strong, single women in realm the political and economic realm.
I know I over analyze film–that’s why my family does not let me go along on outings to the local cinema and I only offer commentary after the DVD makes it home– but I cannot help it. I will, however, stop before I author a screed on the presentation of Africa and the concept of “Afro-” culture in the film.”