Diversity Aboveground: Strange Magic

May 16, 2015

Marianne and Dawn

Judging from its abysmal box office of less than thirteen million, most people didn’t see Strange Magic when it was released earlier this year. Perhaps it will have better luck on May 19th when the film will be released on physical and digital devices.

Why does Strange Magic matter?

First of all, the film revolves around two sisters, Marianne and Dawn. Yes, that sounds more trendy than anything but this is a story where neither sister has to be the bad guy and they’re not fighting over males. Do you know how rare it is for an animated film to pass the Bechdel Test? Only four of Pixar’s films manage to have two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than men. Dawn and Marianne even have short hair which a lot of girls could relate to more than long braids or ponytails. Even though Rapunzel’s hair was cut short at the end of Tangled and Mulan cut her hair in her own film, almost none of the merchandise reflects this.

Marianne is the oldest and first in line for the throne. Instead of moping forever about her failed engagement, she improves herself into more of a warrior. When Dawn is kidnapped, Marianne defies their father’s wishes to rescue her. Strange Magic is created by George Lucas who stated, “Star Wars was for 12 year old boys; I figured I’d make one for 12-year-old girls.” Yes, that’s kind of ignoring the fact that there are many twelve year old girls who love Star Wars but it will be the closest he gets to acknowledging that, besides Leia and Padme, those six movies are basically a sausage fest.

Partially based off A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Beauty and the Beast, Strange Magic is populated by fairies, elves, bugs, imps, mushrooms and more who can all talk and sing. There is also no judgment about interracial or interspecies relationships…unless you’ve fallen in love with a dung beetle but that is the main exception. Otherwise, people are judged by their actions more than their looks and it’s great to see such acceptance of love bringing together strange bedfellows. It feels more like what Lucas originally intended with his cantina scene in his first Star Wars film. Lucas even stated how, “A real relationship rests in a much deeper place…you fall in love with their mind and everything else more than just the way they look.”

Bog King and Marianne

Bog, who kidnaps Dawn, could be nothing more than a beast that we assume Marianne will end up with because that’s how the fairy tale goes, but he’s allowed to have multiple layers and a back-story that’s more tragic than the typical beast.

On a smaller screen, it will be harder to see Strange Magic‘s greatest asset: it’s simply breathtaking in its beauty as befitting a magical fairyland. The world is unlike any before it but it looks real enough that you should be able to find it outside your back door. Was that a butterfly or a fairy with beautiful butterfly wings? Everything was carefully drawn and colored down to the last little detail, including the framing of characters. However, the hilarious quips from the characters don’t need a wide screen to be enjoyed.

Oh, and there’s also singing but from musical veterans like Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Evan Rachel Wood and Elijah Kelley. There’s sure to be at least one classic song, like “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” or “Three Little Bird”, that’ll be stuck in your head for days afterwards.

The Majesty of a Moonrise


The Claw chooses an alien.

This is possibly how actual networks decide…

The television networks have chosen who shall go and who should stay.


Agent Carter:

As mentioned in last weeks column, Diversity Underground: Slut-Shaming, renewing Agent Carter just made sense especially since the second season would end just about a month or so before the release of Captain America: Civil War. Will we get an appearance of the Winter Soldier? More importantly, will the #DiversifyAgentCarter campaign work? Especially now that they’re in California?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:

When it first premiered, one of the biggest complaints against it was that it didn’t have any superheroes. Now, it has a handful and they’re almost all women.


This massive hit with a cast almost exclusively made up of minorities was renewed almost as soon as it premiered.

Jane's grandmother, Jane and Jane's mother

Jane the Virgin:

This series just gets better and better as it progresses. It manages to mix humor, drama and thrills into each other just like a proper telenovela. Plus, it has awesome female representation.

Shonda Rhimes:

All her series were renewed, even Grey’s Anatomy may outlast its welcome even longer than ER did.



The demon hunter, who also happened to be bisexual, wasn’t a good fit for Friday nights even with Grimm. The star of Arrow, Stephen Amell, has stated on Twitter that he would love to guest star if the CW picked it up but what if it followed Gotham on Monday nights for Fox? Especially with canceling The Following?


While ABC renewed Black-ish and Fresh off the Boat, they canceled the Hispanic sitcom created by and starring Cristela Alonzo.

Karen Gillan and John Cho


Yes, this was one of the first cancellations of the fall season but it still hurts. Karen Gillan and John Cho had awesome chemistry and the show fully explored what happened to the nerdy children when they become adults without falling back onto stereotypes.

Untitled Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Spin-Off

The dialogue in the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seemed to be setting up a secret team of enhanced people to deal with other enhanced people.

It sounds kind of like…Secret Avengers?

However, even if you have Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter be the leaders in place of Coulson, Hill and Fury like the current comic, that still leaves Daisy Johnson to replace Romanov and “unknown” to replace Jessica Drew?

Why not just wait until you can establish Jessica Drew and maybe Cobie Smulders might be interested in episodic television on a regular basis again?

ABC made the right call.


Which film did you wish more people had seen in the theatres? Which film do you force your friends to watch?

Next week will be Jem on screen and in print.


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