Luisa Madrigal from Encanto is a Bright and Shiny Assault on Reality

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Want more?
Check out the episode of The Pop Culture Coram Deo Podcast on Encanto for a thorough analysis of the film
Or check out the expanded edition of this post on The Federalist.

My family was late to Encanto and had been told by friends the film quite good. For my part, having now seen the movie, I can’t get past Luisa Madrigal just being a dude in a dress.

The character trope is about as obvious as can be: “Strong woman” has to be literally strong. It’s exhausting; Hollywood has collapsed feminine strength into one image, the one that most conceals the ways in which women are distinctly strong.

The images aren’t the whole of the presentation, though: The song Luisa sings which helps define her character – Surface Pressure – is filled with the imagery and angst of responsibility for a family, a deeply masculine concern.

Looper gets it.

Don’t talk to me about realisic-portrayals-of-plus-size women; Louisa isn’t plus-sized. She’s jacked. You want realism? Check out how Louisa’s character model compares to the husky-voiced actress who makes her sing:

Wouldn’t you like to inject whoever at Disney made the voice-casting choice with truth serum and ask, “Now, why did you conclude Luisa needed a husky-voiced actress?”

Encanto isn’t ignorant of traditional female stereotypes. In fact, the portrayal of women – drawn from the traditional family culture of Colombia, which Woke Disney feels ok portraying – is quite excellent otherwise: Mom heals people by feeding them. Another woman’s emotions swing around from sunny skies to literal storm clouds. One of the women hears everything & isn’t trustworthy.

Then there is Louisa.

My wife’s theory is that Louisa is there to function like The Objective Room at N.I.C.E. did for Mark Studdock in Lewis’ That Hideous Strength: force the affirmation that reality is plastic, free to be formed & reshaped at human will.

If this isn’t familiar to you (a) you have to read Lewis’ Ransom Trilogy. The 3rd book, That Hideous Strength, is the blueprint for what we’re living through. Here’s more on Studdock & the Objective Room from The Discovery Institute but be warned: spoilers abound.

Here’s the take-away. Disney is deeply, deeply committed to using their access to children’s lives to shape what children think of as “normal.” That’s young brain is a sponge & this works for information, practice, & aesthetics. Disney knows this & uses it. Do you?

They couldn’t be clearer. This is what they want – and families who want to see their children live well (and on the far side of our cultural descent into actual madness) better get on this, decide where Disney gets to come in your house, & how to talk to your kids in a way that helps them love the true, good, and beautiful while (as a necessary corollary) recognizing + rejecting this kind of dehumanizing messaging.

We live in a constant propaganda onslaught. This isn’t the time to get lax.

Need help? You can read more here: “Kids’ Movies, Disney Princesses, and the Moral Discipleship of Children

Want more? We’re trying here at Servants and Heralds with Pop Culture Coram Deo; Jared and both I write and record the podcast to give families a hand up on how to live & move in our pop culture environment.

If you are up for a more thorough treatment the best I know is The Pop Culture Parent – Jared Moore, Stephen Burnett, and Ted Turnau do a great job in the book (a) helping parents ramp up or (b) improve on already-strong practice.

To close, women are wonders of God’s creative goodness & wisdom. Louisa, part of our ongoing assault on reality, masks, hides, & conceals that truth. Women are strong, indeed, in uniquely feminine ways- in ways that contrast with currently fashionable destructive nonsense.

Transgender weightlifter Janae Marie Kroc. Photo by Per Bernal.

Update

The twitter thread that began this post got rediscovered by the Egalitarian/LGBTQ+/Woke crowd. I thought I would add an update that came out of that renewal of interest.

1.) We know what non-Size 1 characters in Disney look like. We also know what guys look like. Below you’ll find an example of each. Which does Luisa most resemble?

2.) The bad guys get exactly what I’m saying (see the Looper pic above) and fought really hard to make it happen. This is directly counter to the normal insistence that body representation be handled accurately. What do you think made them pivot from that insistence?

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