Welcome to part two of our queer-theory evaluation of Kronk’s New Groove (2005). If you haven’t read the first part, I strongly suggest that you do if you want parts two and three to make any sense.
Assuming you have read the first part, let’s continue on our quest for queer-analysis.
How do the characters adhere to the pressures and expectations of the paradigm?
Kronk, through his panicked effort to uphold the lies he’s told his father, demonstrates the degree by which the pressures placed onto him in childhood have been internalized. Despite having an extremely positive relationship with his community and satisfaction in his line of work, Kronk is distraught about the fact that he has failed to live up to the expectations of his father. Kronk is characterized as naively self-assured—yet, for the sake of earning “a big thumbs up from Papi”, he’s willing to forgo that. This mirrors both the real experiences of queer people who have internalized homophobia and transphobia, and who feel a need to distance themselves from their identities—as well as the experiences of queer individuals who cannot come out due to a disapproving family. There’s a familiarity to the sadness that a queer person experiences introducing their partner as their roommate, and that sadness is echoed by the experience that Kronk has feeling that he will only be able to earn respect from his father through a false performance of his life.
How do the characters subvert or defy the pressures and expectations of the paradigm?
Despite maintaining a sense of guilt as a result of internalized cis-heteronormativity, Kronk ultimately never abandons any of the behaviors he was shamed for in his early childhood. He works as a sous-chef, channeling his childhood love of baking, and utilizes his knack for animal communication in his part time work as a children’s camp counselor. Kronk, at his core, embodies the admittedly trite motif of “staying true to oneself.” The film itself also defies expectations of the paradigm by supporting Kronk and praising his effeminate traits. Kronk is not a town outcast, he is a community fixture, and he has earned this position in his community by portraying an organic self.
What evaluations are being made of gender roles and relationships?
Gender roles are generally adhered to in Kronk’s New Groove, and divergence from them is treated as comic relief. However, that doesn’t mean that isn’t being examined in this film—it just happens to be examined without sensitivity. The the male/female binary is never strictly adhered to, as many female characters do display “masculine” traits and sometimes have androgynous features and attributes. For example, Yzma is a female character who lacks traditional beauty, and this is played as something for the audience to gawk at. There is a particularly uncomfortable scene that tries to posit that Yzma having body hair should be regarded with shock and disgust, and Yzma broadly is seen as antagonistic—not just for being an evil, cruel person but for failing to be an attractive woman. Two central male characters, Kronk and Emperor Kuzco, display traits that are effeminate and mildly queer-coded. But, again, these emphatic displays of gender variance are treated with mockery. The divergence from gender binarism is common in the film, but the tone surrounding it is incredibly shameful.
In the third part, we’ll be discussing presentation of gender, heterosexuality, and relationships.