In the movie ‘Antz’, we encountered blatant examples of prejudice based on three societal classifications: race, class, and gender. This movie appeared to be completely unintentional in the portrayal of the stereotypes, yet it is the completely benign nature of their usage which is of interest. Did Dreamworks SKG draw up the plot and characters around these stereotypes to draw the audience closer and encourage acceptance, or are these characteristics so deeply ingrained that they appeared haphazardly? Likely, we will never know, but the appearance of this phenomena is cause for interest.
The movie showed instances of gender stereotyping most strongly. Starting with the women characters, there is a laundry list of notable instances, but I will only name a few. We can start with Azteca, Z’s friend and fellow “worker”. While Z is a typical male who is competitive and wants to move up in the world, Azteca maintains a somewhat “typical” female response. Instead of encouraging him, she tells Z to just smile, and happily accept his place, even if it is an awful life where he is to literally digging ditches his whole life. This example simply highlight the stereotype that women can, in effect, be “yes men”, the phrase further illustrating the perception of weakness in females. Another time when this theme appeared was when the Queen was talking to her daughter, who was, in an old-school sort of way, betrothed to a man not of her choosing, the general.
While the daughter complained, the Queen simply urged her to be complacent, and accept her fate, because it is “the best thing for everyone”. Another instance, and one which I found particularly hilarious, was the woman wasp(no coincidence there, of course). When Z and the princess were in trouble, she insisted to her husband that he help them, because it was the humanitarian thing to do. It was presented in such a way that harkened to the proverbial housewife image, whereby the female has nothing to do other than take care of the house and children, and as a pleasant little “hobby”, helps out humanitarian efforts to do some good for the world.
With the men, the images were more plentiful, and more a-typical. The general was a macho, power-hungry jerk, a seemingly perfect attitude for a man in this position. Z was, while more timid, an entrepreneur, striving to accomplish something in his life, and managed to become another male hero twice during the course of the film. In the bar, it was the men who started fighting, not women. Again, very typical.
As a whole, Antz demonstrated how completely these stereotypes have permeated our culture, simply because, if we had not been watching this movie in an analytical way, the stereotypes would have floated past us, unnoticed.