Hey, Movie Industry! Put more than one girl in kids’ movies

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I have read article after article about why the movie Frozen has been such a phenomenon. It’s the catchy tunes, right? The adorable sidekicks? The outstanding animation? Yeah, it has all those things, but I don’t think that’s it.

I think it’s something simpler.

Frozen has something that no other major kids’ movie has:

 

Two significant female good guys. [ETA: a commenter has reminded me of Lilo and Stitch, which has Lilo and her big sister Nani (not to mention the all-too-rare non-white cast and some deviation from the body-types we are used to seeing. Ka pai!). I think this counts too – I’ve ordered a copy for my daughters. Thanks for the reminder!]

Hey, Movie Industry! Let me tell you something about how most kids like to play: most kids like to play together. And when kids do pretend play, girls usually want to pretend to be girls. In my house with my two daughters (and for that matter, with me and my sister growing up or most of the time when two girls play together) it goes like this:

“Let’s play [current popular movie]!”

“Ok, I’ll be [girl character]”

“No, I want to be [girl character]”

“No, I want to be [girl character]”

“No, I want to be [girl character]”

What’s the problem here, Movie Industry? Yep. There is only one girl character.

When my sister and I were growing up it was:

“I want to be Gertie”

 

“I want to be Princess Leia”

 

“I want to be Princess Buttercup”

 

With my kids it’s “I want to be Rapunzel!” (no, neither of them wants to be Mother Gothel)

 

Or “I want to be Lisa!”

 

Or even “I want to be Miss Piggy!”

 

What happens when they want to play Frozen?

“I’ll be Elsa”

“Ok, I’ll be Anna”

Guess which game gets played the most?

 

Now, if you go into any toy shop this year you will see shelves sagging under the weight of Frozen merchandise. Anna and Elsa dolls, toys, games and costumes.

This is what happens when my daughters play our Jake and the Neverland Pirates Board Game:


“Ok, I’m going to be Izzy”

“No, I’m going to be Izzy”

“No, I’m going to be Izzy”

[a stalemate ensues and they eventually lose interest. The game sits there unplayed until I eventually ask them to pack it away, ask them again, ask them again, and eventually do it myself and hope that they don’t notice that they won]

 

This is what happens when we play our Frozen board game:

“I’ll be Elsa”

“Ok, I’ll be Anna”

Guess which board game I prefer them to play? Guess which puzzles, dress ups and dolls they ask for for Christmas and birthdays?

It’s movie

After movie

After movie

With just one girl as the love interest


Or as the token girl

 

 

 

Or it’s one great female character but with every single other significant character male

 

 

 

Including almost every animal sidekick in the history of sidekicks

 

 

 

Even all these male talking dogs from Up, which Charles Muntz was somehow breeding for decades without any girl ones because… everyone knows that talking girl dogs would be ridiculous?

 

And then there’s this incomprehensibly male cow from Barnyard, complete with udders

 

Or sometimes there are no girls at all

 

Frozen has two girls. Granted, it also has two boys, to balance them out. And, granted, for some reason Sven, Olaf, the Duke of Weselton, the Duke of Weselton’s sidekicks, the boss of the trolls, the dude who runs the sauna shop, Marshmallow the giant snowman and 16 out of the 19 randoms in this randomly-chosen crowd scene all have to be boys to balance them out too.

 

But at least there are two girls.

Get it, Movie Industry? Two girls. Or more! And maybe next time not all of the girls have to be white!

You’ll make more money.

Girls will have fun pretending to be the characters.

And you’ll make more money.

Female actors will get more parts.

And you’ll make more money.

Girls will have more role models.

And you’ll make more money.

And you might care about sexism in your industry regardless of the money.

So… do you wanna build a less sexist film industry?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speak up! Let us know what you think.