Women in Animation: Focusing on the Right Things

Apologies for the belated post today and the complete lack of one yesterday (*&%^ work schedule). Today’s topic has been doing the rounds recently as a result of two news items (both, incidentally, in the Los Angeles Times).

The first concerns Pixar’s upcoming film, Brave, which was already in the news for having its director, Brenda Chapman removed halfway through production. The second is that the premiere of DreamWork’s Kung Fu Panda 2 is also the first time a women, namely Jennifer Yuh Nelson, has directed a theatrical animated feature.

Brenda Chapman, in the LAT article, bemoans the fact that:

We’re in the 21st century and there are so few stories geared towards girls, told from a female point of view.

Two things:

  1. Well, duh
  2. Is being female even necessary?

I will be the first to admit that males and females ain’t quite into the same things (she’ll like cartoons someday, dammit) but Chapman is calling for the wrong thing.

Does it matter that females create content for females?

I don’t care who makes my entertainment, as long as it entertains me. As a kid, I definitely didn’t care who was writing, directing or animating my cartoons.

It’s not that I completely disagree with Chapman. Balance is a great thing and over-dominance of one gender over another is wrong, especially in the creative arts where both sides are equally capable of producing excellence.

Women absolutely should have a greater role in creating content for girls but one should not construe such a need as being all-conquering. Men can and do have a role in creating content for girls the same way women can and do have a hand in creating content for boys.

The real crux of the issue is that there is a gender imbalance in the industry and people in general (both men and women) still have their attachments to content aimed at their respective gender. Both of these need to be fixed before we see any changes.

This post is as good as any to highlight the exceptional work done by Women in Animation whose goal is to:

foster the dignity, concerns and advancement of women who are involved in any and all aspects of the art and industry of animation.

They’ve got a great website that should be an essential part of your bookmarks and they hold plenty of events too that aim to further the organisation’s mission.