Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lack of Female Role Models in Children's Animation

Actor Geena Davis (yeah, she's called "actor,' not "actress" -- go figure) spoke at the National Conference for Media Reform about the lack of female characters in animation by Disney, Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbera. The program Democracy Now! carried the video of her presentation tonight. Ms. Davis, an Academy Award winning actor, is the founder of the See Jane foundation.

"On the Looney Tunes website, they list twelve characters, and only one of them is female, but it’s the great one. It’s the one you all love and remember the best: Granny. She’s the one who owns Tweety, and she has to leave so that the story can happen."

And there's more that I'm tempted to quote from, -- but I don't want to spoil it. Even though there is some tongue in cheek in her presentation, she makes her points about gender equity. I had forgotten how funny Geena Davis is. (I never saw the TV show where she was president. Was she a funny president?)

Transcript here. But if you click on one of the links for a streaming video (at the top of the page), it's more fun to see her dry delivery and actually view some of the graphics. It runs maybe 12-13 minutes.

UPDATE: The ever excellent trove of animation blogging, Cartoon Brew, had the story earlier in the day. I didn't see it. Always worth a peek, the CB site always elicits comments from pros and animation lovers. I urge you to go there if you want to see some reaction.


... said...

I find this topic actually rather interesting. I am writing a paper on how children cartoons are anti-transgressive when it comes to gender...from what i have seen most represented is that of the classic role of the male and female. I am well aware that it has indeed gotten better but the fact of the matter is, that children are learning from this and because they are like sponges they are only going to take in these subliminal message apply them to real life. I am actually going to check out the link that offered right now.

Bozz said...

I've just Googled the characters for Monsters vs Aliens and its still the same formula as always - a wide range of diverse and 'interesting not-necessariliy-sexual' male characters and only one female. And of course, shes 'sexy'. Do writers find it impossible to imagine women in any light other than a sexy one? Why do female characters always have to be sexy in some way to be considered interesting? The male ones dont necessarily have to. I was hoping to find even just ONE female monster/character thats nothing to do with 'sexiness' for a change, maybe just ugly or ordinary but funny like the guys are allowed to be, but no :o(