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.

Girls gone missing in new Halloween movies for kids

As if Halloween wasn’t sexist enough already with its sexy “cute” costumes aggressively marketed to little girls, this season Hollywood delivers not one, but three animated male-centered monster movies. In each one, males are front and center while females get relegated to the sidelines.

I just saw this poster for “Frankenweenie:”

The movie is about a boy and his dog and named for the male protagonist. The male/ female ratio on the movie poster 4:1 (I thought that the smaller, sidelined cat could be female, but after looking up the character, I learned his name is Mr. Whiskers.)

If you’ve been reading Reel Girl, you know I just blogged about all the sexism in “Hotel Transylvania.” Here’s the poster, male/ female ratio 6:2

And a couple weeks ago, I blogged about ParaNorman.

Also named for the male protag (remember, the name of “Rapunzel” had to be switched to “Tangled” because Disney didn’t want a girl’s name in the title.) Male: female ratio 4:1

These repetitive images put females in the minority and on the sidelines. They are reproduced in toys, games, and clothing, and show kids that boys are more important than girls.

See Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing in Kids’ Movies in 2011.

“Hotel Transylvania” Part 2: boy human steals the show

I blogged about “Hotel Transylvania” before I saw it based on promotional material that features truly pathetic male/ female ratios. I am sorry to report that this movie is more sexist than I assumed. The sexism is so ridiculous, it’s almost funny. Basically, a male human stumbles into a movie about monsters, takes over the whole story, and makes the movie all about him. Seriously. In this way, “Hotel Transylvania” sort of reminded me of “Shrek 3″ where Fiona goes missing for the movie while Justin Timberlake steps in as the new costar, playing Shrek’s long, lost only male heir. WTF? (That was before, by the way, sidekick Puss in Boots got his own movie. Not Fiona. But I digress.)

I thought that “Hotel Transylvania,” at the very least, would be a father-daughter bonding film. (Sure, there’s the whole dead mother thing in it, but at least there’s no wicked step-mom.) The movie was supposed to be about the dad, Dracula, giving his daughter, Mavis, a birthday party for turning 118. But then a human, Johnny, finds his way to the monster hotel. Johnny shows everyone how to have fun. After finding himself giggling with Johnny, the stiff, repressed, human-hating Dracula and the boy become BFFs. The last scenes of the movie show Dracula and his all male possy of monsters going into the human world to find Johnny again. Dracula has realized that Johnny and his daughter do, in fact, belong together.

That’s right: Mavis is reduced to love interest, a love sick teenager. She’s not even in the scenes where the monsters go to bring back Johnny. She is crying in her bedroom during all of that bravery. It’s Dracula who courageously risks his life going out in the potentially lethal sunlight,¬†chasing down Johnny’s plane. That scenario really pissed me off, because here the girl could be rushing out to win the guy but her dad does it? ARGH.

There is one great female who has about three lines near the end. She was my favorite character in the movie in spite of being decked out in pink. Blink and you’ll miss her.

While there were several sub groups of all male monsters such as construction workers and rocks bands, guess what the one all female group was? Maids. Yep, the hotel’s housekeeping brigade is made up of witches. Witches with no speaking lines. It’s amazing to me how sexism in professional life consistently persists in the imaginary world.

There were sexist jokes as well, said construction workers reacting to a female, a monster carting off a female mannequin, Johnny groping a skeleton by mistake and pissing off her husband.

Because there is at least a Minority Feisty representation in this movie, Reel Girl rates “Hotel Transylvania” ***H***

One more thing: A commenter pointed out to me that in my last blog on “Hotel Transylvania” I made an incorrect count on males and females. I forgot to include the Invisible Man, represented in the promo material as a pair of floating glasses. That brings the pictured male/ female ratio up to 8:1

“Hotel Transylvania,” 16%, and the Minority Feisty

Hotel Transylvania opens today. What’s wrong with this poster?

That’s right, the usual skewed gender ratio that puts females in the minority. Here we have 6 male characters and 2 females. One female in– surprise, surprise– pink!

Check out this giant promo I walked by in a mall in San Francisco this morning. I count 7:1

If all goes right for me, I actually plan to be sitting in a theater, watching this film in one hour, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be eating my words and females will fare well in this film. After all, the synopsis reads that the Vampire Dad wants to give his daughter the birthday of her life because she’s turning 118. But I fear that the vampire daughter will not be the star of this movie. One obvious clue is that she’s not front and center in the poster, her dad scores that prime real estate. I worry that males will radically outnumber females in crowd scenes and spoken lines, and that the vampire daughter will be limited to the role of Minority Feisty.

The Minority Feisty refers to how Hollywood represents females, who are half of the kid population, as a minority. But a feisty minority! Isn’t that great?

Parents can point to examples of a powerful female but the power structure is never threatened because there are so few of her. I used to call her the Token Feisty, but that’s not really fair because there can be two or even three of her. The important thing is that, proportionally, she is outnumbered by males. The Minority Feisty’s job is to limit female power in a way that never threatens the power structure. That number seems to be, not only in Hollywood, but across all professions, about 16%.

I’ve got to go now or I’ll miss the movie.

More soon…