Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My thoughts on the "Pixar Needs Women" debacle.

Here's the NPR blog post, "Dear Pixar, from all the girls with Band-Aids on their knees", by Linda Holmes, that started this whole... thing.

See, I really,
really didn't want to have to post anything about this. But as I am a prospective animator with a uterus it seems obligatory. (And even that feels unfair, because I'm sure there are male artists who have an opinion about this too.)

First off, I think we can all agree that the history of animation in the United States is the good ol' Most Writers Are Male trope writ large. In heavy blocky letters. In red crayon. So it really isn't all that surprising that most of the lead characters in American animation are male (and I say American animation because I honestly don't know enough to discern whether this is a worldwide trend). And since I know my history and I know that it's still the case that most animators are male (and indeed, Pixar itself has a derth of women in it's writer credits -- but I don't think it will be very long before that changes) this issue honestly
doesn't bother me that much.

But it bothers me a little.

See, I am an adult who is well versed in animation history, so I know why we didn't see a real-life Hazel Hedgehog in the Looney Tunes or Disney or Hannah-Barbera character casts.  But we all know that this issue is being brought up because maybe it does bother young girls (of course, that's assuming that animation is for children, and that's a whole other issue that I can't get into right now unless you want a mile-long post. You really, REALLY don't want to get me started.) So maybe the thing to do is just ask kids what they fell about all this? That could be interesting.

I don't agree fully with Holmes' post, but I agree with her most reasonable request: We need more female leads in animation. And it'd be awesome if they don't need rescuing (a particularly weaksauce trend in animation is to have an exciting female lead who nonetheless can't seem to save the day by herself -- yes, I'm looking at you, people who adapted "Coraline"). And it'd also be awesome if they weren't largely defined by their relationships with whatever male characters are handy (also a weaksauce trend, see also The Bechdel Test.)

And I'm not saying it's bad for her to be a princess (though the specific Disney / Barbie Princess marketing blitz is yet another issue) and I'm not saying it's bad for her to be in a relationship. Heck, as far as the relationship issue, "Aliens" is a terrific textbook on how to handle it. Have you ever met anyone who described Ripley as "Hicks' girlfriend"?

There's certainly more to discuss here, but all told, Joss Whedon (who is male but can absolutely have a say in this) says it so I don't have to:

"(You ask,) 'So why do you write these strong women characters?' Because you're still asking that question!"


You will notice that The All-New, All-Different Realm of Madness has been added to the list of My Other Websites at right. There isn't anything there but the reviews, but that's more than plenty for now. It took me two and a half weeks to get everything they way I like; it was like the neverending project because I kept finding new ways to be OCD about it new tasks to finish. I at least have a deadline (October 26) to rescue everything, but I am going to take a serious break before tackling the features.


Zach said...

Elastigirl could hold her own.

Trish said...

^^ True. Very true.