My seven year old daughter was home sick last week, and we watched “Polar Express.” I’d just complained to a parent about how my 10 yr old no longer believes in Santa Claus, and she recommended this film. Wrong daughter, but I was curious, because this mom was so excited about the movie. So we watched and the animation was gorgeous, but there was only one female character. All the dancing waiters, the guys on the top of the train, the kid that missed the train, Tom Hanks, and the protagonist– all male. And no matter how good the movie is, I get bored when it’s all boys.
I was already thinking about the Christmas special dilemma, because I just wrote about my first blog on Reel Girl which was all about Christmas. That was 4 years ago, my first holiday season where I had three daughters, and we all watched “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” together. I was so excited, I made a fire and hot chocolate. We all got under the blankets. It was fun, but there are NO girl reindeers who fly. There’s an important scene in the movie where the boy reindeers compete and learn how to fly (“playing reindeer games”) Clarisse, the girl, doesn’t aspire to fly; she gets the role of cheerleader; she supports Rudolph. Herbie, the dentist, is also male. There are no girl elves with speaking parts. The movie is really, really sexist. It may be ruined for me because I hate having my kids watch females with no voices who can’t fly. But, I think I can keep showing it to them, if I can balance it out with some other movies with strong female protagonists. I haven’t done my research yet. I’m going to you, right away, to make a list.
We start out with a challenge: Santa mythology is rooted in a traditional marriage– Santa is the guy with the big job and his wife is known to all by the moniker: Mrs. Claus. Also, the reindeer are all known to be male, with Rudolph as the star. But I’m hoping this radical imbalance has been overcome in some good films or TV shows. Please let me know your suggestions, and I’ll put together a list.
Working List (I’ll add as you send me names)
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
Olive the Other Reindeer
Eloise at Chrismastime
It Happened One Christmas
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
Pippi Goes on Board
A House Without a Christmas Tree