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YMMV / Splash

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  • Applicability: According to autistic YouTuber Anna Moomin, Madison’s behavior in Splash is analogous to people on the autism spectrum: Madison is non-verbalnote ; is aversive to wearing clothes (see the scene where she walks to the “Statue of Liberty” buck naked) or at least doesn’t wear clothes that are deemed “socially acceptable” (such as her wearing Allen’s suit and boxer shorts when she goes to Bloomingdales); lacks an awareness of real danger (Madison leaves Allen’s apartment all by herself without understanding how the world works or knowing anybody; runs into a busy street, which causes some cars to collide with each other, but leaves her unharmed; and takes a blind, homeless man’s mug of pencils without understanding that she shouldn’t steal things from homeless people); takes things literally (Madison thinks the blue Tiffany’s box is the actual present); can’t comprehend sarcasm (When Madison says to Allen at the ice rink that ”his voice sounds funny”, Allen tells her that it was because he was being sarcastic. He then proceeds to insult Madison by saying “What? They don’t have that where you come from either?”); struggles to “pass” as a human being (much like how autistic people struggle to “mask” themselves as “neurotypical”); and feels the need to keep her “mermaid” identity a secret from Allen (much like how autistic women may feel the need to keep their autism a secret from their neurotypical partner in order to avoid hostility and rejection).
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: To some, the movie is best remembered for Madison the Mermaid's nudity.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Dr. Kornbluth, the Large Ham Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, easily steals every scene he's in.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Even though it’s sweet that Allen gets to be with his beloved Madison, in the long run, his love for her may not be enough to survive in her underwater world. He also can’t ever leave her side, otherwise he’ll drown (Madison explains to Allen that he felt safe under the water as a young boy because she was present). Lastly, Allen will probably have to give up his human speech and instead learn to speak in high pitched dolphin squeaks. To make matters worse, he can’t ever go back to his life on land or visit his brother Freddie above, so Allen will be forced to cope with the downsides of undersea life, like his loss of humanity.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
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  • Jerkass Woobie: Stan the Tour Guide, in a way. After what happened with Madison, how does he tell future tour groups that it was a one-time fluke and that they shouldn't expect to see that happen again?
  • Memetic Mutation: A Tumblr GIF of Allen saying to Madison at the pier of the East River “I love you! Let’s get married!”, only to then have Madison reject his marriage proposal by diving back into the water.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Dr. Kornbluth calls out the other scientists, particularly the leader Dr. Ross, for planning to dissect Madison. But they merely insult him for "not being a real scientist", expressing how Kornbluth would always be a disgrace in his eyes and the eyes of the scientific community no matter if he is considered crazy or not, thus making all his efforts to earn his respect amongst fellow scientists for naught. This helps lead to his Heel–Face Turn afterwards, and also makes Ross look like an idiot and a more deplorable Mad Scientist then Kornbluth, since he could have gotten into the history books as the one who established contact with a new race if he wasn't such a cold-hearted "sadistic pig".
  • MST3K Mantra: Don't try to figure out how Madison is able to read a map despite having had no previous contact with the English language.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Kornbluth's mentor.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: The film is now likely best known for the Disney+ release being digitally altered to cover a shot of Daryl Hannah's bare rear end, launching a vitriolic debate over "censoring" the movie (even though the original version was still available several other ways). Things got even worse when a couple months later X-Men: Days of Future Past was released on the service with its shot of Hugh Jackman's bare ass intact, leading to many calls of a Double Standard.
  • Signature Scene: Madison at the Statue of Liberty.
  • Special Effect Failure: While the effects in the actual movie are decent enough for the time, the same can't be said about Disney's attempts at censoring Madison's bare backside in the Disney+ print. They tried to do so by extending Madison's hair down to the top of her legs; unfortunately, the digitally-added hair doesn't always connect with Daryl Hannah's own hair, which at points makes it look as though she has an absurdly hairy butt.This comes from the "new hair" being cloned from a small, random section, so it all moves along with that small section, not the hair next to it.
  • Values Dissonance: The scene in the prologue where ten-year-old Freddie drops coins on the ground in order to look up women’s skirts is played for laughs. It gets worse when you see Freddie doing the same thing, this time as an adult. In fact, when Allen lifts Freddie up and tells him how embarrassing it was back when he was ten, Freddie justifies his inappropriate behavior by saying to Allen, “Look, if something works for me, I stick with it”. Nowadays, Freddie’s behavior (known as “upskirting”) would be seen as a sex crime in the state of New York (where the movie takes place).
    • Freddie announcing to everyone at work that Penthouse magazine printed his letter titled “A Lesbian No More” would not fly today, given how lesbophobic the title of the letter sounds (and the fact that doing something like that nowadays would constitute as sexual harassment in the workplace).
    • Allen telling Madison that they need to take a blood test before they get married. Although certainly not a common practice anymore, back then, it was meant to ensure that the couple wasn’t carrying any sexually transmitted diseases or genetic disorders.
    • The saleslady at Bloomingdales saying to Madison, as she escorts Madison to the dressing room, that her daughter is “lucky” to be anorexic because at least she can fit into a red dress would definitely not fly today, considering the public’s greater awareness of eating disorders and how deadly anorexia nervosa can be. note 
    • Some feminists have criticized Madison’s characterization as being the “classic heterosexual male fantasy” (that is, she’s beautiful, silent, childlike, naïve, horny, and submissive to her man). The October 1984 issue of Mad Magazine lampshaded this feminist criticism a few times in their parody of Splash titled “Splashdance”.
      • Even Jonathan McIntosh of Pop Culture Detective included Madison as being an example of the “Born Sexy Yesterday” trope, in that Madison has the body of a mature, sexualized woman, but has the mind of a naïve, yet highly skilled, child.
  • Values Resonance: In spite of some the film’s problematic, dated elements (see Values Dissonance above), there are some things in Splash that are pretty progressive even thirty years later:
    • Usually, in romantic comedies, the protagonist tends to be a woman who is obsessed with finding a man, getting married, and having a kid, but in the case of Splash, the protagonist is a MAN who is obsessed with finding a woman, getting married, and having kids (which is certainly a rarity for a romantic comedy).
      • Speaking of other rarities in romantic comedies, instead of the woman sacrificing everything to be with her male lover at the end of the film, it’s the male protagonist (Allen) who gives up his family, his friends, his home, his produce business, and even his own species in order to be with the woman he loves (Madison the mermaid) at the end of the film.
    • Madison is not a Damsel in Distress nor is she waiting for her “prince” to comenote . If anything, Allen is the “damsel in distress” who has to be constantly rescued by Madison from drowning, and Madison is the one who pursues her man even if she has to swim all the way from Cape Cod to Manhattan in order to be with him.
    • When Madison rejects Allen’s marriage proposal, Allen assures Madison that whatever “dark secret” she has, he would still love her, whether it’s her dying of a terminal illness or that she was “once a man”. Even though Madison is not actually transgender, the fact that Allen would accept Madison if she were is pretty progressive for a movie released in 1984.


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