“Brave” doesn’t make 2012 “year of heroine worship” in movies for children

There is one thing I really like about the A. O. Scott piece in The New York Times “Hollywood’s Year of Heroine Worship.

This photograph by Tierney Gearon :

The New York Times chief film critic is living in an entirely different universe than my three daughters and me, or he has the lowest expectations imaginable.

Scott writes:

There is a smattering of evidence to support the impression that they have, because 2012 was, all in all, a pretty good year for movies and also a pretty good year for female heroism.


Here’s a recap of Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girl’s Gone Missing From Children’s Movies in 2012 posted just yesterday:

Yes, we got “Brave” this year. Thank you director Brenda Chapman for making Pixar’s first movie ever with a female protagonist. I’m sorry that you, one of the only women to direct animated movies produced by a major studio, were fired half way through production and replaced with a male director.

But “Brave” is just one movie. The exception proves the rule. It’s December now, and sadly, it’s time for me to admit that once again, in the movies made for children in 2012, girls go missing. In staggering proportions, males are consistently front and center; females are mostly sidelined or not there at all.

If you look at the gender placement in the images on the movie posters below, the meaning of “marginalized” couldn’t be more clear. Remember, these are movie for kids. So when your children go to the movies, they are learning, time and time again, that boys are more important than girls…

Only 16% of protagonists in movies are female; only 16% of women make it into power positions in almost all professions across America. Children’s movie posters, and of course the movies themselves, are an effective way that we acclimate a new generation to expect and accept a world where females go missing.

Out of the 16 posters for children’s movies in 2012 pictured below, just 4 represent movies starring females: “Mirror, Mirror,” “Brave,” “Secret World of Arrietty” and “Big Miracle.”

Here’s the Gallery:


This Gallery is about the last thing I would want to tell my three daughters– ages 3, 6, and 9– that this is what  year of heroine worship looks like.

Go to the full post of Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing From Movies for Children in 2012


11 thoughts on ““Brave” doesn’t make 2012 “year of heroine worship” in movies for children

  1. I’m not sure if you’ve seen Paranormal (yet). I just got back from the cinema, where I watched it with my daughter. Maaannn, I know they recently made Coraline, but still. Anyone else here get the sinking feeling that if Coraline hadn’t been based on a very popular book with a proven track record — written by a man who himself has daughters — that if it had started instead from a Hollywood script, even the protagonist of Coraline would’ve been a boy? For ‘ratings’? I’m getting so jaded.

    Paranormal reminded me very much of Monster House, with exactly the same character tropes and interpersonal dynamics. Even the plot pacing was similar, with an overly drawn out action sequence as climax (for my liking — though interestingly, my four-year-old asked if we could go home at that point).

    I’m grateful to you for giving me the term ‘Minority Feisty’, because indeed, there is a girl character (a nerdy, excluded type with a monobrow who plays the witch in a play) in Paranormal who has very few lines, but one of those lines is a feminist piece about the mistreatment of witches throughout history, or something similar.

    Plotwise, it’s up to Norman to save the world (or community, at least) from a witch. Which he does.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing a mainstream high-budget, well-marketed kids’ film in which a *girl* gets to save the world. (The superhero fantasy.) Unless I missed something, so far, feisty girl protagonists have only really been responsible for getting *themselves* (including close family members) out of cultural constraints, or out of general strife. That’s saying something pretty big to girls. And boys.

  2. First time at your site, and have already loved the half-dozen posts I’ve read. But I had to come back to this post – did you read the entire article? Because Scott does say it’s just “a smattering” of examples, and goes on to point out that “The rush to celebrate movies about women has a way of feeling both belated and disproportionate.” So I think that the article is not as undermining as its headline would have you believe.

Leave a Reply