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Archive for January 24th, 2019

by Sam Juliano

The gloriously phantasmagorical Julian is a Mermaid invites a bevy of interpretations.  Some see it as a young boy with a crush on mermaids, perhaps inspired by love for a certain Disney animated feature, others see a child with a budding fashion sense who may aspire to become a designer, while others have little doubt this is a transgender tale of a boy who realizes at a young age that he wants to become a woman.  While all three are persuasive individually and could happen in succession, I am not fully convinced that the book’s gifted author-artist and Broadway thespian was aiming to document gender confusion in a scene-specific sense.  While that explication is bold and worthy of validation in view of how this narrative plays out, Love is cognizant of her target audience who overwhelmingly would not grasp or understand such a provocative social issue.  Love pleas for the acceptance of diversity in our culture and the common understanding that children may be governed by inward hankerings, which in turn will lead to a freedom of expression, one that shouldn’t be judged and ridiculed.  In fact it deserves applause.  Above all Julian is a daring and imaginative boy who will beat to his own drum.  He recalls the protagonist in the 2014 release Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchio and Isabelle Malenfant, which features a little boy with verve and commitment. Morris loves wearing the tangerine dress in his classroom’s dress-up center.  Some will conclude Julian is effeminate while others will liken his flight of fancy as an acute desire to be perceived a someone other than himself.  The 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie The Thirteenth Year presents Cody Griffin, a boy adopted by a mermaid mother, who finds himself undergoing a metamorphosis.  Julian is a Mermaid celebrates its subject, but remarkable Love never tips her interpretive hand. (more…)

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