In watching the movie Cars, I was able to extract images, storylines, scenes, songs, and dialogue that depicted sexuality. Heterosexual exceptionalism spreads the presence of heterosexuality and functions as a means of interesting people. The article by Martin and Kazyak discussed G-rated movies as making franchised social worlds visible on the screen with young children being the intended audience. Children have a tendency to re-watch the same movies over and over. They explain in the article that children’s attention is more focused and content more understood with the use of non-human characters, animation, purposeful action, and frequent movements.
In the movie that I watched and analyzed contains characters as anthropomorphic cars with multiple personal and purposeful agendas. This is exceptionalism at its most public form in which heteronormativity is presented throughout the films characters. Martin and Kazyak state that “heteronormativity regulates people’s sexualities, bodies, and sexual relationships” along with other non-sexual aspects of life (Martin and Kazyak 2009, 331). Heteronormativity structures our social lives implicitly and explicitly.
The assumed, mundane, expected, privileged, and everyday ordinariness of heterosexuality lends heteronormativity its power over our predispositions and actions. As the article explains heterosexuality is generally constructed through the development of hetero-romantic love relationships in G-rated movies as transformative, exceptional, powerful, and magical. The other way heterosexuality is played out through the interactions amongst characters outside of love includes men gazing at women’s bodies in which the construction rests on racialized and gendered bodies. These relationships are portrayed as less powerful and serious.
In this movie, the primary story line is not heterosexually themed. The lead male character Lightening McQueen is an egotistic race car driver who has and is willing to do anything to win a trophy. After a little detour, he rediscovers himself and forms relationships with new people that he would normally have never met. The hetero-romance that occurs between McQueen and Sally is a secondary story line in this movie. Hetero-romantic relationships are characterized as being transformative. McQueen defies cultural expectations and his own self, including his huge winner ego, to embrace a hetero-romantic love relationship with Sally. This is transformative.
Also these relationships are often seen as natural. In one scene Sally take McQueen on a cruise in which the happen to admire the gorgeous scenery of Radiator Springs. The sunset, water, and wind in this scene depicts the beauty of nature as the setting for love. Hetero-romantic relationships are also fabricated as being in a realm of choice and freedom. Ironically in this film, McQueen cannot leave Radiator Springs. This put him in a position to befriend the town’s odd residents which ultimately positively altered his priorities. Outside of romance, heterosexuality is commonly depicted as entertaining, sometimes crude, and frivolous. These depictions are seen within the relationship McQueen develops with Mater.
At one point in the movie, Mater points out to McQueen that he is now his best friend. Also McQueen befriends Doc Hudson who is characterized as reserved, angry, and intimidating. Though the unfolding of their relationship, it was reviled that they both had a lot more common in regards to being race car drivers and the connotations associated with that lifestyle. Friendships in G-rated movies provide comic relief as hilariously portrayed by Mater but they also provide comfort and advice to the lead characters.
Outside of friendship heterosexual normativity is seen through the objectification and admiration of female characters. Sexuality through “sexiness” at which male characters’ gaze at. After McQueen’s first court hearing in Radiator Springs he pops off to Sally “now you can just stand there and let me look at you.” In the beginning of the movie, even the female car racing fans flashed Lightening McQueen. Sally’s body style as a Porsche gives her the sexy vibe which is yet sexually reinforced by a tramp stamp.
Heterosexuality is definitely an underlying theme in G-rated children’s movies that I have never paid much attention to. The implicit creation of characters and explicit actions of females and males both, do greatly reinforce our societies gender stereotypes and roles in children’s movies. Socialization begins early, and while children are being entertained they are also being exposed and taught that they too should adhere to the gender norms of our society.