Today, my three young daughters and I saw yet another sexist preview advertising a children’s movie, this one for “Planes.” The scene begins a la “Top Gun” with two male planes flying fast and doing stunts.
Plane One: What’s taking this guy so long? Is he really as good as he says he is?
Plane Two: No, better.
Plane One: Whoa, who was that?
Our Hero (descending fast on top of them): Well, hello ladies. Ready to lose?
Our hero goes on to leave the “ladies” in the dust.
The message is that females are losers, not leaders. They can’t compete.
Here’s the preview:
No female in the preview at all.
If this were one misogynistic joke in one movie, maybe it wouldn’t be that horrible. But sexist jokes dominate movies for kids. Sexism in movies for children is a repetitive pattern. Kids learn from patterns. That’s how brains develop. See the problem?
Take a look at these sexist jokes from “The Lorax,”“Madagascar 3,” and “Pirates.” All this, when kids’ movies already feature so few female characters at all. Is mocking girls a lesson you’d like your children to learn when they go to movies?
Here’s a picture of Cutlass Liz complete with beach ball breasts, bared belly-button, tight pants and phallic cannon. Voiced by Salma Hayek, she’s one of the very few female characters to make it into the movie “Pirates! Band of Misfits” coming out next month from Sony Pictures Animation. It’s a movie for your kids.
Here’s the poster:
See that bird? She’s one of the other female characters. In the preview there’s a joke about whether or not she’s fat or just big boned. (If you see the movie, it turns out she’s a dodo, but before that she’s just fat ha ha ha.) That’s not the only sexist joke in the three minute preview either.
An all male group presents itself with this hilarious intro: “No one here but us Girl Scouts.” (You can watch the preview for yourself here.) The “we’re not scary or powerful, we’re only girls” gag isn’t uncommon in animation. In a preview for “Madgascar 3,” while an all male group of penguins is pillow fighting, one of them says: “You fight like a bunch of little girls.” Isn’t the intended audience for these movies, in part, little girls? How will these kids feel when they see jokes about how harmless they are? How will they feel when the audience laughs? Do you think boys and girls will learn to laugh at these jokes too?
There’s no reason why at least half of this “band of misfits” can’t be female. How are girls going to feel when they see this movie and their representation is a sexualized pirate and a bird mocked for being fat? One of the few female characters in the upcoming “The Lorax” movie is also mocked for being fat. Coincidence? You can watch that preview here. Mind you, all these sexist jokes I’ve gotten from three minute previews. I haven’t even seen the whole movies yet.
There’s another female character in “Pirates” played by Ashley Jensen. Her name? Oh, she doesn’t have one. She’s called “Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate.”
Sexism in movies made for kids is so perpetual and accepted, that, ironically, it’s become invisible. In contrast, when “the leprosy community” and the World Health Organization complained about a leprosy joke in “Pirates,” Aardman Animation modified it. This from Wikipedia:
In January 2012, it was reported that the latest trailer of The Pirates! caused some very negative reactions from the leprosy community. In the trailer that was released in December, The Pirate Captain lands on a ship demanding gold, but is told by a crew member, “Afraid we don’t have any gold old man, this is a leper boat. See,” when his arm falls off.Lepra Health in Action and some officials from the World Health Organization, expressed that the joke shows the illness in a derogatory manner, and it “reinforces the misconceptions which leads to stigma and discrimination that prevents people from coming forward for treatment.” They demanded an apology and asking that the offending scene be cut before the film is released. Several days later, Aardman announced that they will modify the scene, “After reviewing the matter, we decided to change the scene out of respect and sensitivity for those who suffer from leprosy.
Leprosy joke, not OK. Protest and removal. Sexist joke(s )when half of the audience is probably girls: totally cool. Are they even noticed? Will anyone make a peep?
Parents, if you’re at a movie made for children, and you see a sexist joke, either in the movie you’re watching or in a preview for another, please call out: “Not funny! Sexist!” Do this for your kids. It’s unfair to relentlessly show females in this way.
When our daughters want to dress up as a pirate for Halloween, is Cutlass Liz the character they’ll want to emulate? What do they think a “girl pirate” is? Where are the other “girl” pirates?
Why is the animated world so sexist? Why does it have to be sexist at all? If we can’t get gender equality in our imaginations, how can we get it in reality?
Which new movie do you think this line comes from?
Could it possibly be in an animated film where the intended audience is little girls? Little girls who probably love to pillow fight? Who are probably awesome at it? Yep, it’s in the new “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”
Why would kids need to hear a line making fun of how girls fight? What writer or producer or director could possibly think perpetuating that stereotype would be funny for girls to hear? Or were they, more likely, not thinking about little girls at all?
“Madagascar 3,” by the way, features the same 4 main characters as in 1 and 2. Guess how many are female? One, Gloria the Hippo. She has hardly any lines in this preview. There is a female villain played by Frances McDormand who is featured prominently in the preview. I hope she has a big part in the movie as well.
This frat boy mentality that looms over kids movies has to end. Hollywood, please stop programming sexism to kids. It’s not funny.