Keep Your Amatonormativity Away From My Dragon

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to complain about love. Specifically, romantic love, and how it seems inescapable in media. If you’re unfamiliar with the word “amatonormativity,” it’s basically a term that describes how much pressure society puts on attaining romantic love, and ultimately, marriage, as well as the importance put on romantic love above all other types of love. Amatonormativity is what’s turned me off of most books tagged as “romance” on Goodreads. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good love story, but does every story have to be a love story? I’ve read lots of books where the romantic plot seems forced or unnecessary, but it’s there anyway because everyone needs to fall in love always, right?

And here’s where the dragons come in.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the last movie in a series I love, is on Hulu right now, and despite my best judgment, I finally watched it after pretty much a year of pretending it didn’t exist. I was pumped when they announced a third movie, and that excitement immediately died after the trailer revealed one thing: the white “Light Fury” whom I will refer to in this post as Girl Toothless. “Ugh,” I thought, “it’s Pink Stitch all over again.” Thanks to amatonormativity, not only do the human characters have to fall in love, so do the animal sidekicks. Even though I love How to Train Your Dragon, I really did not want to watch a movie about Toothless getting a girlfriend. Aside from Toothless being adorable, the reason why I love the series so much is because of Toothless and Hiccup’s special bond. They love each other so much, yet I knew the introduction of Girl Toothless was going to ruin it.

Reader, it was even worse than I could’ve imagined.

It’s revealed in this movie that Toothless and Girl Toothless are the last dragons of their kind due to Grimmel the Grisly, a dragon hunter who wiped out all of the Night-Furies save for those two. It’s natural, then, for Toothless to be curious about Girl Toothless when she first shows up. But he’s pretty much in love with her right from the start. There’s a scene where the two dragons do some sort of mating dance, with a hidden Hiccup giving a clueless Toothless some tips on what to do, which gave me a false sense of security. Clearly Toothless still cared about Hiccup if he was letting him be his wingman. But then Girl Toothless flies off, Toothless follows her, and then just… doesn’t come back. While Hiccup worries, his fellow Vikings tell him that maybe it’s time to let the dragon go now that he’s found a mate, and “let him be happy.” Um, I’m sorry, was Toothless not happy with Hiccup for the past five/six years?? Was Toothless not ready to sacrifice his life to save Hiccup in the first movie? Did they not share an unbreakable bond that withstood the unfortunate circumstances of Hiccup’s father’s death? Was Hiccup’s love for Toothless not enough to break the Bewilderbeast’s mind control? Was their relationship not the catalyst for ending the enmity between Vikings and dragons forever?? No, Hiccup, get over all of that and go let your bonded bestie “be happy.” Because he couldn’t possibly be happy without a female dragon in his life.

This makes me mad not just because it belittles Hiccup’s relationship with Toothless, but because it’s a scene that’s played out in my own life. I’ve lost a couple people whom I’ve considered best friends once they went and got boyfriends. Texts became less frequent, plans would get cancelled, until eventually I realized I was no longer a part of their lives. I’d cry, thinking, “Maybe I didn’t mean as much to them as I thought. Maybe our friendship didn’t mean as much to them as it did to me.” And that’s a really shitty feeling! Not all friendships are meant to last, even with people you consider best friends, but I can’t help but think that maybe we wouldn’t have drifted apart if not for their romantic relationships taking over their lives. So thanks for that, amatonormativity.

Going back to The Hidden World, the end upset me so much that I wanted to yell at the TV. Hiccup realizes that humans aren’t ready to coexist peacefully with dragons, so for the dragons’ protection, they should disappear into the Hidden World, an underground network of caves where the dragons came from. Understandable, I guess, but not really a satisfying ending to a franchise centered on dragon-hating Vikings turning the creatures into beloved pets. Hiccup and Toothless don’t see each other again until years later, both of them now with families of their own. I suppose most people thought this was a cute and heartwarming, if bittersweet, end to the series. For me, it left me feeling bitter. Even though they have a small reunion, they’re not really part of each other’s lives anymore. It makes me feel like, what was the point? So everything could be wrapped up nicely, with everyone getting married and having kids like you’re “supposed to”? I would’ve preferred an ending more true to Hiccup’s touching line: “It’s you and me, bud. Always.”

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