Friday, July 23, 2010

Pixar Heroines... or lack of.

Bob: Wait here and stay hidden. I'm going in.
Helen: While what? I watch helplessly from the sidelines? I don't think so.
Bob: I'm asking you to wait with the kids.
Helen: And I'm telling you, not a chance. You're my husband, I'm with you - for better or worse.

Helen Parr (aka Elastigirl) rocks. Majorly. Without a doubt she's the strongest Pixar heroine... although, she, like Dory, Jessie, and Eve remains, not the protagonist of the story, but a sidekick. In fact, Elastigirl is the only Pixar female that one could even begin to consider as the 'main character' of her film, although it's clear by the laws of filmmaking that Mr. Incredible is the actual main character.

There has not been one single Pixar film in which the main character/protagonist/person the story revolves around, is a girl.

Now I'm not what you'd call a feminist in this day and age, but it still seems a bit strange to me that after ten films, not one of them would sport a female in the lead.

It's not that Pixar ignores women, they obviously have some pretty awesome chicks alongside their heroes. But why not, just once, cast a girl in the leading role? To make a story truly universal and loved by all audiences, does it [i]have[/i] to be about a guy? Or do the Pixar executives just not feel comfortable doing an in depth portrayal of a woman?

What do you think?


Andy Hauge said...

Well. I don't think it's just Pixar. It's the standard for any major story. They're all guy-centric. I think there's probably a few justifications given for that, but I think what it boils down to is this.

Romances star women. Everything else stars guys. And I do think it's often because we don't understand how to fictionally portray women, or their plot progression. (I'll refrain from a Hero's Journey rant, lol)

Elizabeth Amy Hajek said...

Maybe, maybe not.

When you think about it, the line between romance and everything else gets blurred at times... what about films like "The Princess Bride" and "Australia"? And then there are historical films such as "Miracle Worker." Even in Pirates of the Caribbean, where the lines of "protagonist" are really murky, one could make a really good case that Elizabeth Swann is the protagonist of the story. So maybe those are only 20% of the films that get made... that still means that Pixar should have put out at least two films with female protagonists. Although technically "Wall~E" was a romance and, of course, starred a guy...

However, Children/family Films (which Pixar IS)traditionally star females just about as often as they do males. City of Ember, Narnia, Lady and the Tramp, The Blindside, Dreamer, The Aristocats, Camelot, etc. The Disney Princess movies could be classified as romances, but they are usually seen as "children's films" and often deal with much more than just romance (Mulan, Pocohantas, etc).

So with all of these titles to look at... why hasn't Pixar given us ONE film with a female protagonist?

Rose Marchen said...

I have no idea... actually, I never even noticed that until you pointed it out! Write and ask them. =)

R. A. said...

Shannon Hale also blogged about this:

Emily Starr said...

Actually, Elena, there is a Pixar movie in the works that contains a female protagonist. Scheduled to come out in 2012, the movie "Brave" presents the audience the Princess Merida, born royalty but desiring to be an archer. The director will be Brenda Chapman, director of The Prince Of Egypt, and it will be Pixar's first fairy tale.

Elizabeth Amy Hajek said...

Shieldmaiden - a couple of my friends on Facebook also pointed this out in response to my link to this article. I'm really glad to hear this!

Victoria Rose said...

Hmmm...very interesting observation. I for one find it refreshing that the guy is the lead. In this day and age where women are at the forefront of almost everything - politics, industry, sports, you name it - I enjoy where the man is leading. There are so many movies with women, I have no issue with ten great movies (aka Pixar) giving the female roles the back seat.


Isaac Mahomie said...

Perhaps Pixar is more concerned with telling a good story than they are with being politically correct.

Hydra said...

I agree that most children/family films star girls. I think Pixar realizes this and wants to give little *boys* characters to look up to. Plus, entire families (even certain fathers I know) will watch Pixar movies because they're about guys. I have yet to see a man watch an animated movie about a girl and enjoy it.
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