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.

Golden Globes celebrates boys, ignores girls in kids movies

Last night, “Adventures of Tintin” won the Golden Globe for best animated film. Director Steven Spielberg thanked the studio for taking a chance on an “80 year old comic book series;” he didn’t add a series whose creator believed females didn’t belong in his imaginary world.

Other nominations in the best animation category? Rango, Puss In Boots, Arthur Christmas, and Cars 2. Out of five nominations, four were named for the male star of the movie. This after Disney switched the movie title from “Rapunzel” to “Tangled” to hide its female star. Not a single clip shown in the animated film category during the Golden Globes ceremony featured a female voice.

Best Director win? Martin Scorsese for “Hugo,” yet another kids film titled for its male star.

Parents, this sexism in kids’ films is not OK. Girls have gone missing.

Can you find the female in Sony’s Arthur Christmas movie poster?

Just picked my daughters up from school and we saw this poster huge and high above us by the Walgreens. Do you see Mrs. Claus tucked behind Santa? Do you think that reindeer is a girl? And can you imagine a poster for a kid’s movie titled with a girl’s name showing twelve female characters and one male? This gender imbalance isn’t petty. It’s everywhere and it’s shocking. For more invisible girls, see Reel Girl’s gallery of kids films in 2011.

Girls gone missing: kids’ movie posters in 2011

The year is 2011. You are a seven year old girl looking out the back seat car window. Unless you catch a glimpse of ‘Hoodwinked 2′ or ‘Judy Moody’ these are the pictures you see. In your world, boys are front and center. You are a sidekick or just not there at all.

Update: I’ve updated Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing From Kids Films in 2011 to include posters that had not been released over the summer when I initially posted the gallery.

I also, sadly, added Harry Potter. I love Harry Potter and love Hermione, but it is true, as commenters pointed out, the movie is clearly Harry’s quest, Harry is the star. The newly added “Hugo” also has a strong girl character, but token strong girls are not enough. Harry Potter and Hugo are also both titled for the male star, whereas Disney execs famously switched the title of Rapunzel to Tangled specifically not to highlight the female star. It’s amazing to me that this blatant sexism goes on in media marketed to little kids.

When kids see, again and again and again, that girls are relegated to supporting roles, both genders learn that girls are less important than boys. This is a terrible lesson for a new generation of children to be learning.

Movies included in the Gallery are ‘appropriate’ for little kids. My three daughters are ages 2 – 8.

 Disney's Winnie the Pooh movie poster