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.