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What About the Ladies?

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What About the Ladies?

Postby RaeKasey » Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:00 pm

Isn't it about time for Pixar to have a female lead character?

I know that they've had some very strong females with a big part in the story in the past, but why haven't we seen a female lead yet?

Jessie, Dory, and Helen Parr were great characters, but none of them was the main focus of the story. And there have been a slew of others, too, but again they're all supporting characters.

I'm not complaining, certainly, because every film Pixar makes is genius. Just a little curious.

Any thoughts?
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Postby Glyph » Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:12 pm

Yes, I made a post about this earlier in this thread.

And yes, I AM complaining about it. In most animated movies there is only 1 prominent female character. Because this character represents her entire $ex, they have to make her perfect in every way: not too smart, not too stupid, not too nice, not too mean, not too pretty, but not ugly either. The result is usually a BORING CHARACTER. There are some exceptions, like Dory and Atta. Those characters had regular personalities. Most women in Pixar movies are boring though. They're just stereotypical girlfriend characters. Everyone complains about movies under representing minorities, but the sexism in the movie industry is worse. As we all know, women are not a minority and they never have been. There is no good reason for having so few animated female characters.

The biggest problem is that there are no women on the story team at Pixar. Women seem to be more interested in experimental animation than character animation, and men find it much easier to write male characters than female characters. Here's an interesting discussion about it.

When a discussion like this shows up, somebody usually argues that boys do not want to see a movie starring a woman. This is BS. Boys don't want to see overly girlish movies such as The Little Mermaid. But if you make a woman the star of a movie like Lilo and Stitch, boys have no problem watching it. Basically boys want to see fighting, so if you put women in more action orientated roles boys will watch it.
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Postby Skippy » Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:59 pm

Well there is always Lifetime Movie Network, where guys are evil, and women always save the day. j/k

Actually, I'm indifferent to what the gender or race of the main character is, just as long as it's wrapped in a good story and benefits the story.

I really don't think the gender of the Pixar staff has to do with the lack of female lead characters. Disney has had many princess and non-princess main characters, that came out of the minds of men, and are some of my all-time favorite movies.

If a good story comes along with a female lead, I'm sure it'll be made, but until then lets not rush them into a certain race or gender that won't necessarily benefit the story and result in a bad movie.

It's like voting for a certain race or gender for presidency, just because it hasn't been done, without actually taking into consideration what they offer the country.
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Postby Fairly Odd New Yorker » Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:32 pm

I think I made my point in another thread- it's so much easier for one to step in the shoes of someone of their same gender. Now that Pixar has more female employees, perhaps they could help for Pixar to create a strong believable female lead. It's certainly something I would like to see. :D
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Postby RaeKasey » Wed Mar 19, 2008 7:51 pm

Sorry that this has already been discussed. Didn't know. :)

I don't think them being men is really a good excuse. J.K. Rowling made a masterpiece fantasy series with a male lead. The Pixar people are every bit as smart and creative as she is, and aren't incapable of empathizing with and understanding women. I say it's time they give it a shot.
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Postby Fairly Odd New Yorker » Wed Mar 19, 2008 7:59 pm

RaeKasey wrote:
I don't think them being men is really a good excuse. J.K. Rowling made a masterpiece fantasy series with a male lead. The Pixar people are every bit as smart and creative as she is, and aren't incapable of empathizing with and understanding women. I say it's time they give it a shot.


True, but remember Pixar had to take some advice from Joan Cusack when trying to make Jessie's character stronger, and I think the same went for Dory. Rowling handled Harry Potter's character well, but I'm sure it was without a doubt harder to do. People often just stick to what they're familiar with. I don't think Pixar is sexist, it's just coincidence that all the leads are male. They seem proud of their strong female characters and are always looking forward to something different, so I'm sure when they realize they haven't made a female lead, they will. ;)
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Postby Glyph » Thu Mar 20, 2008 12:19 am

I don't think Pixar is particularly sexist, but our society is sexist and the trappings of society sometimes leak down to Pixar.

Women find it easy to write male characters because there is no social stigma against a women acting like, and thinking like a man. It's long been acceptable for little girls to be tomboys. They can dress like boys, play football, and play with transformers, and the girls will likely be praised by some people for doing those things. If a boy tries to wear pink and play with dolls, people are much more disturbed. In our society a man can't try to get inside the mind of a woman without worrying about his manliness and even his sexuality.

The Pixar people watch Miyazaki movies, and Miyazaki is very good at creating female lead characters. Miyazaki is great at getting inside the minds of characters that are not very similar to him personally. Pixar doesn't seem to be good at that. It seems like all of Pixar's stories have some problem that the guy writing the story can relate to.

Still, despite the difficulties men have writing female lead characters, there's no reason men can't write female secondary characters. The fact is most animated movies have much more male characters than female, including the background characters. Look at these statistics.

I hate it when I see little girls idolizing Dora the Explorer. Is she the only female role model young girls have? Some girls also idolize the Disney princesses, but those movies are in the "Disney vault" so the girls most likely haven't seen the movies. They just own a bunch of princess CDs, and they're not aware of the morals behind the movies, they only know that princesses are supposed to be pretty. When I was little I liked sailor moon, and they had a lot of female x-men. Batman also seemed to have more women back then. Female superheros seem to be kind of out of style now though, at least on Saturday morning tv.

By the way, I'm not saying all girls should be fans of superheros instead of princesses and bratz dolls. What bothers me is that kids don't seem to have much of a choice any more. They can either watch a show that is made for a mostly male audience, or they can watch something like the Bratz show.

Sorry that this has already been discussed. Didn't know.
No need to apologize, I was just saying I've been thinking about this for a while.
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Postby Skippy » Thu Mar 20, 2008 1:11 am

^Very nicely put. I agree with you on all aspects.

Miyazaki lives in a different society that isn't as sensitive as ours and was able to put himself into and study the female characters without being considered perverse.

Adults are just as much to blame for this. In a recent Jim HIll article he explains how Pirates & Princess at McDonalds is driving the workers crazy. Some mothers, if asked whether they want a little boy or girl toy, will go bananas on the employees stating that their little girl can be a Pirate if she wants too.

http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hill/archive/2008/03/18/why-do-princess-pirate-happy-meals-make-mcdonald-s-managers-want-to-walk-the-plank.aspx

What you don't hear is any incidences where the mother is defending her sons choice to be a princess if he wants to.

Society is hyper-sensitive and you never know what will set someone off (possible even get you sued).

Scary.

Persepolis was made in a society not as sensitive as ours and thats why it was produced so easily. She was a good female lead that was also critically acclaimed.
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Postby Fairly Odd New Yorker » Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:18 am

Glyph: I'm a little crazed at the moment because I just wrote a paper on sexism and stereotypes against women in the work force.

I can't stand sexism or stereotyping of any kind, and I've noticed that girls can be tomboys, but guys can't be girly because it's 'unmanly' and frowned upon, and usually leads people to think that they are gay.

I think the reason there's no female lead because if you think of it, some things can be taken the wrong way. Imagine Flik a girl, getting beat up by Hopper- people will assume that's channelling violence against women. Any sort of character violence between two guys or two girls is common in cartoons, but not usually violence between a girl and a guy- people are afraid to point out spousal abuse, which, in my opinion, that sort of thing shouldn't be ignored and should instead be brought to life.

Am I making sense? I should stop here before I lose my train of thought. :P
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Postby Glyph » Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:15 am

That's a good point. People usually get around that problem by having a female villian, or a male villian with a female sidekick. I think Mulan may be an exception, but I saw it so long ago so I might be wrong. Mulan was such a strong character it doesn't seem like anyone would mind if the male villain attacked her. Like I said I don't remember if she was actually attacked or not though.
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Postby The Star Swordsman » Fri Mar 21, 2008 7:43 am

I would like to see a female as the main, MAIN character for once. It would seem different to watch, but I probably wouldn't notice
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Postby A113 » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:33 pm

About 22% of speaking characters in Pixar films are female. :(

Pixar should let a female direct a film, for once. It's not like they mess things up, you men. :lol: Pixar should also totally have a female main main MAIN character.
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Postby Glyph » Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:41 pm

I'd love it if a Pixar movie was directed by a woman, but there aren't many women interested in animation. You can't choose a director just because they're a woman, especially at Pixar where there are so many other great directors.

Anyone here have any theories about why women usually do experimental animation instead of cartoons? I think it's party because it's a tradition in this country for cartoons to be written by boys, for boys. In Japan, it's long been considered normal for women to write comic books and anime, which is partly why so many of the female cartoon students I see are asian or white anime fans.

I go to art school, and 2/3 of the students are female. However, the kind of art I'm interested in, like illustration, video games, and film, are all male dominated fields. It's strange.
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Postby A113 » Sat Mar 22, 2008 2:18 am

Glyph wrote:there aren't many women interested in animation. You can't choose a director just because they're a woman, especially at Pixar where there are so many other great directors.

What? :? There are many women interested in animation, it's not just for men (no pun intended). Come on! Sure, Pixar has a few traditions, but that doesn't mean that men are better directors than women, or that the women should be ignored. :x
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Postby Glyph » Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:42 am

A113 wrote:
Glyph wrote:there aren't many women interested in animation. You can't choose a director just because they're a woman, especially at Pixar where there are so many other great directors.

What? :? There are many women interested in animation, it's not just for men (no pun intended). Come on! Sure, Pixar has a few traditions, but that doesn't mean that men are better directors than women, or that the women should be ignored. :x
Hey, please don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say women aren't good directors, or that they should be ignored. I said Pixar can't hire a director ONLY because they are a woman, and for no other reason. She also has to be an outstanding director. She would have to be on equal footing with Brad Bird and all of the other talent Pixar has to choose from. Last time I checked Pixar has one female director on their team. Just one. When there are so few female directors to choose from, there isn't a good chance that we'll get to see a female perspective any time soon.

The fact is, there AREN'T many women interested in cartoons. Have you gone to a character animation class? The entire animation industry is male dominated.
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