O Juliet, Juliet, wherefore art thou Juliet?

Driving to school today, my three daughters and I passed a poster for Disney’s new movie “Gnomeo and Juliet” coming to theaters February 11. My kids wanted to know, where’s Juliet?

Can you find her?

How many beards do you see?

If you spot Juliet around town, preferably with eight or so of her girlfriends frolicking behind her, Romeo nowhere in sight, please let me know. Extra points if she’s doing something acrobatic and looking grumpy, instead of standing around beaming at Romeo which, of course, she won’t be because, remember, he’s not in the poster.

Last year, at the same billboard location, around Townsend and Brannan, there was an ad for Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.” It featured only the flame-haired Madhatter.

I’m sure Alice found her way out of Disney’s marketing machine rabbit hole onto some poster, somewhere in San Francisco, but my daughters and I never discovered her. Maybe we should’ve checked the backs of milk cartons.

Girls in kids’ movies have gone missing.

Just last month, Disney’s male executives announced they were going to stop making princess movies, practically the only animation vehicle where girls were allowed to be stars. It may be a lame genre, but at least it acknowledged that girls do, in fact, exist.

Movies that feature girls in title roles, star girls, or feature female characters of any kind continue to decline. See statistics here.

Research is also showing that the limited role models for girls in the media along with the increasingly gendered toys sold to them is affecting children’s brain development.

Apparently, imaginary land never got the memo that we’ve all achieved gender equality and are living happily ever after in a post-feminist world.

7 thoughts on “O Juliet, Juliet, wherefore art thou Juliet?

  1. You can’t really blame Pixar and Disney as almost all of their film plots aren’t original, they are all based on folklore or fairy tales or stories, some of them written more than a century ago. It’s important for women to be major parts in films but there is no point subverting gender stereotypes, just for the hell of it. Directors work with a range of stock characters and stereotypes, It’s not in the name of prejudice, it’s just how media works. I’m not saying there should be no female heroes, but women send different messages to the audience then men do. That will never change, because women are different to men. Nothing will ever change how we see women as more motherly or caring and men more vulgar and aggressive, it’s not the way we see the genders but for media purposes it is how it works.

    It’s the same with politics, the ratio between men and women in the house of commons or congress is very disproportionate, but those men have been voted in there by both men and women. The system isn’t unfair it’s just how things are viewed. There also isn’t anything to say that those men aren’t going in there and fighting with all their hearts for equality, there could also be right wing females in congress saying that females have been given too many rights.

    As for the Gnomeo and Juliet posters: There are many different variations of the poster, some with the pair of them, some with just her and some with a large ensemble of character. It’s likely to have been targeted to the audience of that Ad space, The company is there to make money they don’t care if it’s men or women giving it to them. They just make what sells.

    • Hi Sam,

      I blog about this issue a lot: derivative and recycled stories. I do blame Disney. They year is 2012. It’s time for more female protagonists. We can’t keep the misogyny up for thousands of years to come. Tell stories from a female perspective. Create new stories. It’s not fair to our kids to feed sexism generation after generation.


  2. What about boys, though? Tangled featured a competent, present male lead, but it also featured Rapunzel, and she was great! Gnomeo & Juliet may feature Gnomeo, but isn’t the original Shakespeare play primarily about him anyway? And regarding Alice in Wonderland, while Alice is conspicuously missing from the posters (I’m assuming because Johnny Depp’s performance was a major draw?), Alice herself was definitely the main hero of the movie! I am all for equal gender representation in media – but that’s WHY I like some of these new cartoon trends. It’s about time that girl heroines shared the spotlight with boy heroes. By no means have we reached a golden equality, but we’re finally heading that way – for far too long, boys have been sidelined to girls in children’s cartoons, particularly by Disney. Who would you rather have your sons look up to? Prince Eric, who is easily bamboozled by a wicked witch, simply because she has pretty hair and and sexy figure? Or by Flynn, from Tangled, who learns to act selflessly, for the sake of someone who needed him, because it was the right thing to do? And if not for your sons, for your daughters – would you rather they dreamed about the prince from Snow White, coming to save the day by kissing them? Or would you prefer their idea of a good man was someone who was a support to them, cared about them as a person (and didn’t just “save” them because she was “pretty enough” to kiss)?

    Gender equality ought to be about BOTH genders, not just girls. Do a little research on the effects of media on boys – we are “empowering” our girls at the expense of our boys! This is NOT empowerment – this is extreme feminism.

    • Hi Alena,

      I disagree with your theory that girls in cartoons have always had the spotlight and also that now its time for them to share that attention with boys. Strong girls are now, and have always been, missing. Over the years, princesses have gotten a little more complicated, but most of their narratives still involve marriage, though now she often ‘rebels’ and marries her own choice, its still about a guy. Check out the Geena Davis Institute’s statistics about the lack of girls in kids’ films– the link is on my blogroll.

      Thanks for visiting ReelGirl.


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