Disney's Cars 3 on White Male Privilege, Chauvinism and Supremacy



We finally watched Cars 3, as a late birthday present to my obsessed three year old. For the past year, Siraj has watched Cars and Cars 2 interchangeably every other day so it was only right that he should see the next installment inside the theater. 

Now, I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of Disney. There's a lot that can be written about its lack of representation, cultural diversity and privilege (looks sideways at Aladdin). The shows on its cable channel very rarely feature darker skinned girls as the lead of their sitcoms (hi...light skin Privilege) and they turn sadistic plunder into a love story that puts Native Americans and European land raiders on equal levels of ignorance (Pocahontas...Never Forget).

However, of late there seems to be a willingness to get it right (Yasss to China in Descendants, Lupita in Queen of Katwe, and recently, Auil'i Cravalho in Moana). The latter, Moana, hit all the notes in terms of respecting Polynesian culture, language, and utilizing Polynesian actors/singers. It also created a story with a female princess who gets the job done without Prince Charming. It's a love story but instead of romance, it was love of culture and island. 

Coming off of this high, Disney then gave us Cars 3. I'm not really sure what I expected from the movie but I definitely didn't imagine myself writing a blog about it. Yet here I am writing, and giving the company props for showing a cartoonish way of highlighting White Male Privilege. 

If you haven't seen the movie, don't read further, there's spoilers ahead. 

Cars 3 started out as the Lightening McQueen show. The race car is now a veteran on the track trying to keep up with the other faster and more technologically savvy race cars. Enter Cruz Ramirez, McQueen's new trainer, a nauseatingly positive, but, no nonsense clearly Latina race car.

As Lightening struggles to get back into shape with a dogged selfishness, he discovers Cruz's real passion due to his own display of chauvinism. After receiving a verbal lashing from her trainee, McQueen, Cruz reveals she wanted to race professionally but ended up as a trainer because of White male "car" privilege.


Scene from Cars 3 (Property of Disney)

At this point you're probably thinking...this isn't the same movie you saw, so let me explain. Auto-Racing in real life is overwhelmingly White male dominated, and it's very hard for anyone not fitting that description to even enter the sport, let alone succeed in it. 

I can only name two trailblazers off the top of my head, who are/were non-traditional racers, Danica Patrick and Lewis Hamilton. There are many reasons for the sport's remedial levels of diversity which range from racism, to chauvinism, to economic disadvantage, and also plain lack of exposure to the sport.

In Cars 3, these factors probably all played a role in the crushing of the fictitious Cruz's dreams. After revealing that she always wanted to race, we learn that Cruz was told never to dream big and to be content with her place in society. As a Black Muslim Woman, I can definitely identify with that. 



Towards the end of their revealing exchange, Cruz asks McQueen how he knew he could do it in his first race. His reply, "I don't know, I just knew I could."

Cruz's reply, "I wish I knew what that felt like." 

When I heard that, I instantly went "yaaaaaaaas", in my head of course. Cruz, the Latina, woman, cartoon, race car let us know, "they didn't want her to win"  (DJ Khaled voice). White privilege, chauvinism and their mother, White Supremacy has a way of making some women, people of color, and non-heterosexual Christians feel like they are genetically flawed and incapable of achieving greatness. So many give up and give in to false stereotypes that tell them they can't. 

In Cars 3, Cruz beats the odds as some lucky few are always able to do. Eventually, she comes into her own when given a chance to strut her stuff by her reluctant mentor Lightening McQueen. This after another White male car tells Cruz that her place is at the training facility. 

In spectacular fashion, Cruz hurls past Storm and his bitter chauvinistic insult, "You can play dress up all you want but you'll never be one of us" and across the finish line. By the way, totally got flash backs of the Orange One's, "would you look at that face, nobody would vote for that" comment about Carly Fiorina. 

So what's the take away here? 

Well...in my opinion, men should be more like McQueen. 

Here's why...Lightening:

  1. Realized his Privilege. 
  2. Checked his Privilege. 
  3. Stepped down and allowed a car of color (🤣 okay, in my head Cruz has morphed into the persona of Afro-Latina Lauren Velez) to take his place. 

If you wanted a cartoon example of what White male ally-ship could look like, then Cars 3 has it covered.

You're Welcome. 



Comments

  1. Absolutely intriguing!! Movies like these I can love and respect with my children they promote growth underatanding and a great dialog afterwards which is what im looking for for, they can keep those flashy lights and songs you cant get outta your head, I need a lesson!! Thanks for sharing, now I want to see it!��

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