Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Dora the Explorer: Answering “Why?” 

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By: Emma B. 


Every year, Gwinnett County forces its students to engage in a truly awful ritual known as Gateway Testing. Sometime in March, hundreds of sophomores begin testing season by writing four essays in under two hours, over the course of two days. We practiced writing constantly leading up until the first testing day. Once it’s over, we continue with our normal routine and try not to collapse. It’s about as exhausting as it sounds. Even worse, if you don’t pass these tests, you’re not allowed to graduate until you do. Suffice to say, it’s one of the most dreaded times of the year. Furthermore, the last thing on anybody’s mind when walking into this dreaded exam is the outside world.   
So, on the first day, when my friends and I finished our round of testing, we raced to our phones. Yes, we’re addicts, but I never claimed to have shame. Anyway, I was scrolling through Instagram, trying to recuperate from the bureaucratic hell that only a few counties in the country have to go through. Then, at last, someone walked up to me and yelled.  
“Emma, have you seen it!?”I had a vague notion of what they were talking about but wasn’t sure. I had heard about something that morning. Still, I hadn’t seen what I thought they were talking about. 
“No, I replied.” 
“Emma, I-it’s bad.” They then showed me a clip of it. The trailer anyways. When I first saw it, I legitimately thought I had been transported back into my grandma’s living room. I thought I was watching inappropriate fan-films as a nine-year old again. I wasn’t sure whether to be shocked or disturbed. Of course, I did what any rational teenager would do. I took my phone and raced up to my friend and yelled,  
“Hey man, have you seen the Dora movie trailer yet!?”  
*** 
After that day, I forgot about it. Summer came, I became preoccupied with summer stuff.. Then, in the middle of August, I was reminded that the movie exhausted because online ads wouldn’t shut up about it. Then, I remembered a question my friends and I all asked ourselves the minute the movie’s first trailer released back during the testing days.  
“Why does this exist? Furthermore, does it deserve too?” 
When I first asked this question, I had the same answer everyone did. Money. Even some of the finest films ever made (The Godfather, To Kill a Mockingbird – just to name a few) were technically made to turn a profit. However, as I’ve become older I’ve realized it’s naive to stop at such an answer.  
Just because something is made for profit, doesn’t mean it doesn’t value. 
Furthermore, just because a film is made for profit doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to exist. If a film can prove its value, it essentially proves its existence.  
That being said, is there any value to Dora and the Lost City of Gold, as a film? Is it good for children? Is it problematic? Is there any staying power to it, and if so, what is it?  
Well, on a hot summer day in the middle of August, my best friend attempted to answer that question. 

*** 

We walked into the theater early and it not being a popular movie day, the theater was essentially empty. Of course, I bought my tickets ahead of time. Any person that thinks I would actually walk up to a ticket booth for a movie and just buy a ticket is a loon. That being said, we still had to confirm we actually bought tickets. So, we went on to the digital app and showed the man that we actually bought our tickets. Thankfully, he didn’t say anything.  
Now the theatre was remarkably empty, I consider that a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it would’ve been more interesting to see other people’s reactions to this film, yet at the same time, I was also spared the embarrassment of admitting I was seeing this film. However, thus comes my main problem.  
The film simply wasn’t that interesting.  If you have seen any Disney Channel Original Movie within the last 15 years, then you’ve seen this movie. It’s a cheesy high school romp until our characters get thrust into adventure. Now, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, isn’t the worst version of this formula I’ve ever seen. It’s not even that bad. However, given the subject-matter, I think it is disappointing.  
What people have to remember is that film and TV are primarily for entertainment, and though it can be fulfilling to watch a fantastic movie, there is value in laughing at the worst of film. When a movie comes out that seems to be taking the character of Dora the Explorer seriously, you might expect a similar reaction. But when I saw the film and found a relatively boring teen-drama film, I was ultimately bored. 
Again, the film wasn’t terrible. The opening 30 minutes were actually enjoyable. It was self-aware and treated its characters as such. However, after that point, it wasn’t very entertaining. There were a few key moments throughout the film that came close to the first 30 minutes, however, I won’t discuss them here. No spoilers. So then, that begs the question, why does this film exist? To that, I have another question.  
Why does High School Musical exist? Now you, dear reader, may counter with, “Emma, High School Musical is a cornerstone people’s childhood, how could you ask why that exists?”  
Others may ask me, “Emma, High School Musical is rich girl garbage that’s unhealthy and over-exaggerates high school.”  
To which I’d reply, you’re both right. The value of a film, iin my opinion, is not defined by its technical brilliance, but its lasting value. Whether for good or ill. However, even in this respect, Dora still falters. Despite one sequence of the film, it was simply boring. It was cookie-cutter, and I could see almost every detail coming ahead of time. 
But I still had a good time watching it. Sure, the film itself wasn’t particularly memorable, I still got to hang out with my best friend. In high school, that’s a rarity. Maybe, give a weird film a watch. Even if you can’t find any direct value in a film, there is certainly value in watching a film with a friend.  
And yes, if you want to see the trailer that started this whole story, just click here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUTtJjV852c).

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