If DreamWorks is ‘female driven studio,’ where are female protagonists?

The headline and photo from Hollywood Reporter:

“How DreamWorks Animation Became One of Hollywood’s Most Female-Driven Studios”


DreamWorks Animation's Dream Team

Jeffrey Katzenberg now employs far more women producers than men: “You can have a life and still work here.”

Great photo, nice quote, but I have two questions. How many directors of DreamWorks movies are women? How many protagonists in DreamWorks movies are female?

I think I can answer the second question.

Here’s a list of films from Hollywood’s “most female driven” studio. Out of 21 movies, 2 feature female protagonists. TWO. “Chicken Run” and “Monsters and Aliens.”

That’s great, Jeffrey! Awesome job.

The movies:

Shrek 1, 2, 3, all starring…SHREK!

Puss In Boots (Shrek spin off, giving another male protagonist his own film)

Prince of Egypt (Obvious, right?)

Wallace and Gromit (2 males)

Chicken Run (females in this one)

How to Train Your Dragon (Boy trains male dragon)

Kung Fu Panda 1, 2

Madagascar 1,2,3 (gang of 3 males, 1 female)

Over the Hedge (centers on male raccoon)

Bee Movie (Jerry Seinfeld, need I say more?)

Flushed Away (stars male rat)

Antz (stars Woody Allen)

Shark Tale (centers on a fish voiced by Will Smith)

Monsters versus Aliens (Reese Witherspoon stars in this one!)

Sinbad Legend of the Seven Seas (Obvious?)

Rise of the Guardians (Guardians are 4 males/ 1 female; centers on Jack Frost)

Did I miss something?


Girls gone missing: new previews

This poster for “The Hobbit” is all over downtown San Francisco where I just was with my 9 year old daughter and her entire class on a field trip. What’s missing here?

I know, I know, it’s not Hollywood’s fault. I should blame J. R. R. Tolkein instead. He created the series around mostly male characters. But before I go into Tolkein, I want to know: Have you ever seen an ad for a major motion picture featuring 13 female characters? Ever? Do you think all the other people passing by noticed that this poster is all male? Or is it so similar to all of the other all male, mostly male, front-and center male posters that no one notices that females go missing? It’s just a “normal” annihilation, kind of like a board room meeting at Facebook.

Here’s why J. R. R. Tolkein can’t shoulder the responsibility of sexism in 2012 USA:

(1) The gender imbalance is not just this movie, it is representative of a pattern, a gender matrix that Hollywood rarely breaks out of.

(2) Everything is derivative. Are we going to be reproducing sexism thousands of years from now because the Bible, the Greek myths, the classics, and DC comics are narratives created by men?

(3) Even when Hollywood makes a movie from a spin off of a character in a classic, time and time again, a male is picked as the new main character i.e. “Shrek 3” led to “Puss In Boots.” The latest?

“Oz The Great and Powerful.” The life story of Oz, the fake ruler, the imposter. He gets his own movie. I’m sure it humanizes him very nicely.

The real ruler of Oz? That would be Ozma. When I was a kid, she was my favorite character in the L. Frank Baum series, because she was the real ruler of Oz, the rightful ruler, and also because she had dark hair like me.

Anyone ever heard of her? Do your children know who she is? There is a book about her. Where is her movie? I didn’t see the preview.

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