This blog post is my attempt to awaken you to an issue, and to explain why it is so important that you see Brave on its Opening Weekend.
This is an issue that’s really important to me, and something I wasn’t aware of until I read this post by Shannon Hale. I highly, highly recommend you read her post. I kind of wanted to copy and paste the entire thing into my post, but that would be silly… so here’s a few of her main points:
- Hollywood appeals to a male audience (even in animated films) because they assume guys won’t see films with female main characters whereas girls will watch anything.
- If you were to look at the cast of characters of animated movies made in the last 10 years and count the number of male characters versus female characters, the ratio (about 1:10) would be completely imbalanced and unrealistically heavy on male characters.
- The roles female characters do have in the story reinforce negative stereotypes in society for women: girls aren’t leaders, girls aren’t important enough to be main characters, girls don’t matter to the story, girls aren’t interesting, and girls aren’t funny.
- Brave has a solid opening weekend (because it’s Pixar and Pixar has a solid reputation), but Brave does not make as much money as other Pixar movies have made in their opening weekends. This will send a message to Hollywood that having a female main character hurt sales and was a weakness of the film. Pixar is then hesitant to make more films with female main characters.
- Moms and Dads, girls and guys, show up on opening weekend to see Brave. Sales are high and equal to those of other Pixar films. Hollywood sees that the gender of the main character is not a weakness/strength, and Pixar is encouraged to make more movies with strong female characters in lead roles.
*Sidenote* Japan doesn’t have the same gender issues as the US in their animated features. The ratio is far more balanced and frequently have female lead characters. I showed the movies Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery, Spirited Away, and The Secret World of Arrietty (which all feature female main characters) to my majority male 11-12 year old students this year, and the kids LOVED them all. And my heart melted a little when the boys in one class were cheering for Arrietty as she scaled a curtain with hooks and proclaiming how strong and ‘epic’ she was. Boys WILL WATCH movies with girl characters.