Girls go missing in new Christmas movies for kids

Last night on TV, while watching World Series Game 2 with my three young daughters, we all saw a commercial for “Rise of the Guardians,” the Christmas-themed animated movie coming out November 21. Guess who was missing from the multitude of characters in the preview?

Females. Not one damn female voice. Seriously.

A Google search tells me there is, in fact, a Minority Feisty (the tiny minority representation of strong females you can usually find in animated films for kids): the Tooth Fairy.

I know, I know, “Rise of the Guardians” is derivative. Mythical characters throughout history are males. “Rise of the Guardians” features the Easter Bunny and Jack Frost, just like “Hotel Transylvania” features famous monsters like Dracula and Frakenstein or  the bad guys of “Wreck-It Ralph” are based on pre-existing video games. What can Hollywood do about that?

Hmmm..what about not being so lazy and using a little imagination? Why not conceive of previously male characters as female? Or what about creating some brand new female characters? Ever heard of Santa Claus’s evil sister? If that use of imagination is too challenging for Hollywood, why not make the Tooth Fairy the star of the movie instead of Jack Frost?

But come on Hollywood, aren’t stories for children supposed to be imaginative?

Here is the crazy irony. This is imdb.com’s synopsis of “Rise of the Guardians:”

When an evil spirit known as Pitch lays down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces for the first time to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of children all over the world.

Protecting the imaginations of kids is the whole reason I started this blog, Reel Girl. After having my three daughters, I was blown away by the gender stereotypes marketed to my kids through animated movies. These images and narratives in children’s movies repeatedly teach little kids that males are the adventurers, the risk-takers, and the stars, while females– half of the kid population– are continually limited to a sidelined minority.

Anyone remember 2011’s holiday movie, “Arthur Christmas?” Can you find the lone female here?

I honestly don’t know if you can even say that “Mrs. Claus” qualifies as a Minority Feisty.

And by the way, if you scoffed at my reference to Santa’s evil sister above, isn’t Santa’s son Arthur, the star of this movie, a newly made-up character? Why not put Santa’s daughter at the top of an elf-girl pyramid?

Can you imagine that? Try hard to think up a poster for an animated movie in 2012 that shows this gender ratio here but reversed. Would you do a double take? Would parents think “Fantastic Ms. Fox” was some crazy lesbian movie? Is that the concern here?

There is no good reason for the imaginary world to be sexist like this. It’s the imaginary world! Anything should be possible, even equality.

How do you think seeing these stereotyped gender roles repeated again and again is affecting your child’s imagination? Her aspirations?

Here’s an interesting “coincidence:” 16% of characters in movies for kids are female; in 2012, in top positions in professions all across America, women rarely make it past 16%.

Tell your kids that it shouldn’t be normal for females to go missing, either in movie poster after movie poster or in a boardroom.

15 thoughts on “Girls go missing in new Christmas movies for kids

  1. I meant the possibility of one author or more making up the original stories in the bible initially 2000 years ago, that the bible was just a fairytale crafted from human imagination. I was not refering to the scholars afterwards who revised the bible. And I have opened up the bible to read it on some occasions, but got fed up with the sexism and stopped reading it. I hate people who make assumptions with lack of evidence.

    • Hi Nan-Yi Wing,

      Totally agree with the sexism in the Bible, and honestly, don’t see how its somehow better that all of the writers were men and sexist instead of one writer anyway.

      MM

  2. I disagree with most feminists on some things, but this is disgusting.

    I think it has something to do with the girls can watch superhero movies, but boys can’t watch princess movies, girls can wear pants, but boys cannot wear skirts mentality.

    Even the bible (highly male dominative society) managed to have a leader/warrior who was a women.

    • The idiot, uncivilised barbarian who wrote the bible obviously didn’t want his book to come off as totally sexist, so that’s why he created a leader/warrior woman to throw people off the track. People do that all the time in real life. That woman’s just a minority feisty. Really, if you compare that lone female with all the others who were brutally tortured, raped, and never given basic human rights, it’s unsurprising, given the fact that the bible a chauvinistic, male-worshipping load of crap.

      • You’ve never opened a Bible before in your life, have you? If you have you’d know that it wasn’t written by one person but, rather, it’s a collection of many writings spread out over several thousand years by many different authors and then compiled over several centuries by Christian and Jewish scholars to make what we know today as “the Bible” ;-) It’s not one book.

        Please PLEASE do some research before making such insulting claims. Not only was your post offensive, but it makes you look incredibly ignorant and closed minded… and I mean that in the nicest possible way, believe me :-)

      • ‘Out of all of the writers of the Torah, only one is considered, as a slight possibility, to, perhaps, have been female.’

        I know. I was correcting “Nan-Yi Wang’s” ignorant assumption that one person wrote the entire Bible:

        ‘The idiot, uncivilised barbarian who wrote the bible obviously didn’t want his book to come off as totally sexist, so that’s why he created a leader/warrior woman to throw people off the track.’

  3. “Females. Not one damn female voice. Seriously.
    A Google search tells me there is, in fact, a Minority Feisty.”

    So which is it? Factually, you can’t have it both ways. That is, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Before you go off on some tangent about how I don’t get the point you are trying to make, no, I get it 100%. I’m putting forth no rebuttal here regarding the lack of females roles in general, or that females characters are often secondary in nature. I am only calling you on your contradictory and/or false claims. The fact is this movie does use female voices, albeit perhaps in small secondary roles, but female voices none-the-less.

    “Not one damn female voice,” yet you acknowledge the work of Isla Fisher (“Tooth”). A more accurate statement might be “one female voice in a minor role.” I use “might” here because without having seen the movie you have no basis for making such a claim. However, even your claim of a lone female voice is without merit. One minute of REAL research and you would have discovered that of the eight voices in the movie, three are female. Who needs facts when they don’t support one’s premise (no matter how valid that premise may be)?

      • Ted needs to work a little on his reading comprehension before he rushes in to make claims that are without merit.
        Ads are important, because they are what children will see, even if they choose not to go to the movie.
        Who says the Easter bunny is male, anyway? As a fertility symbol, seems to me a female bunny would make better intuitive sense. And the Australian thing is an odd choice. Rabbits are feral, here. We shoot them.

  4. Hi Margot !

    Your blog is very inspirational.
    Sorry if my comment seems a little bit off, english is not my first language and it might come out a little bit rambling.

    I’m a woman, and I work in the animation industry, and I’m so fed up with the juice we’ve been served for so many years, and all the clichés, and all the shortcuts people take because it seems easier than think of new and intelligent things, mostly for girls.
    I feel like I want to change the things. I remember that when I grew up, I read a lot and I looked up at characters like Elisa Maza in Gargoyles. I feel like I need to make the things evolve, at my humble level.
    So thank you for pushing and inspiring us

  5. I already knew something was wrong with this movie (like many others) when I watched the trailer. Even if the main character is female, she is most likely to be stereotyped. I was actually put off watching Arthur Christmas last year after noticing the gender ratio on that movie poster you posted above, and I’ve skipped watching countless movies because of the same reason.

    In addition, I don’t think it’s effective to create movies with gender equality, unless you’re hoping for a feminist’s utopia. Most people don’t realise the problem of sexism, and the best way for them to know is to create a movie where the oppressed female characters stand up for themselves and fight against inequality. Pretending that sexism is non-existent does not help to get rid of it. We humans need to identify the problem first, find out the cause of the problem, and finally, take action. Example of opposite: Conservatives deny the existence of global warming, deny that humans caused it, and refuse to do anything about it.

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