Eep’s a Good Start, but The Croods’ Feminism Could Evolve a Little Further

What Women Really Think
March 21 2013 2:23 PM

Eep’s a Good Start, but The Croods’ Feminism Could Evolve a Little Further

xx_factor-130321-eep
How feminist is Dreamworks' new heroine, the cavewoman Eep?

© 2013 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission

“You’re heavy,” Ryan Reynold’s character, Guy, tells Emma’s Stone’s teenage counterpart, Eep, early in DreamWorks Animation’s new 3-D feature, The Croods. “Thanks,” Eep gushes. It’s a simple exchange, but it was easily my favorite in this rollicking, prehistoric tale.

Eep is the latest animated heroine to grace our movie screens, and in some ways her debut on Friday will be a feminist victory: Her dense, compact body and swinging, clinging athleticism are a far cry from the skinny Ariels of the past. But The Croods’ progressivism only goes so far. In the end, Prince Charming still holds the glass slipper.

Eep and the rest of her family are modeled after Olympic athletes—swimmers and gymnasts in particular, writer/director Kirk DeMicco said at a press conference in New York City on March 8. “We wanted it to be believable that Eep could live in that time period and that she could climb these rock walls and move like she moved,” DeMicco said when I asked him about the character’s physique.

Advertisement

The problem is Eep’s character doesn't live up to her unconventional looks. She’s no Merida, the beautiful, independent heroine of Pixar’s 2012 film, Brave. When I interviewed Pixar producer Katherine Sarafian about Merida’s mold-breaking mane of curly red hair, she said the character embodied “a new kind of heroine who was trying to determine her own path in life, someone who is not defined by who she ran off and married.”

But Eep, though she is described as “rebellious” and "aspirational" in press materials, can only attain freedom through the slender, shirtless boy who shows up and leads her to it. We get the look of a new female protagonist but the same old Prince Charming story. Guy, for example, introduces her to shoes, fire, and the revolutionary idea that a better tomorrow awaits her.

Along with Eep's dependency, we get her chubby, dumb little brother; a “wild beast” of a little sister; a strong but deferential mother; an overprotective father; and a grandmother who is “ancient, some say, at age 45.” All of them are endearing but not exactly stereotype-shattering. 

It’s a shame, because co-writer/director Chris Sanders has said that the higher number of female characters in The Croods means that more could be done with them. But he’s also said that he and DeMicco wanted to indulge in “the dopey caveman world,” as well as work against aspects of it. The characters in The Croods navigate that imaginative world with ease, and I’m not sure how evolved any kids’ flick about Neanderthals needs to be. Still, Ryan Reynolds said he wants Guy to get a shirt if there’s a sequel. I’d like to see Eep get some autonomy.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

The Best Thing About the People’s Climate March in NYC

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

John Oliver Debunks the Miss America Pageant’s Claim That It Gives Out $45 Million in Scholarships

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 22 2014 1:22 PM Is Arabic Really Just One Language? 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 22 2014 2:12 PM Crusader, Sans Cape The superhero trappings of Gotham are just a clever disguise.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.