This entry was published at least two years ago (originally posted on July 1, 2007). Since that time the information may have become outdated or my beliefs may have changed (in general, assume a more open and liberal current viewpoint). A fuller disclaimer is available.

Given that Ratatouille has just hit theaters, I feel compelled to revisit a question I asked just over a year ago: Is Pixar a ‘boys only’ club?

Just where are the girls in Pixar films? To date, there’s not a single Pixar film that has a female main character: The Incredibles comes the closest, but even there, both Helen Parr/Elastigirl and Violet are supporting characters, and it’s Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible that’s the hero.

Come on, Pixar. You’ve done superheroes, bugs, cars, cowboy and space toys…isn’t it time to take the ‘NO GIRLS ALLOWED’ sign off of the clubhouse door?

9 thoughts on “Rataphooey”

  1. I dunno about that. I think the two female characters you mention in the Incredibles are the smart ones. I don’t see them so much as support, or perhaps I see support differently.

    Toy Story is a buddy picture, yes. What about a Bug’s Life? Or Nemo? Are there no equally strong female characters in those? I’m not arguing your point so much as trying to understand it.

  2. There are NOT equally strong female characters in Bug’s Life or Nemo. The princess in Bug’s Life is unable to save her people by herself and she needs the help of a bumbling male character to do it. And don’t even get me started on Dori from Nemo, who saves the day repeatedly by accident and not through her own competence. These are not role models I’d want a little girl to follow: be helpless and a man will save you OR be stupid and everything will work out anyway. Pixar needs to create a strong, capable leading lady.

  3. Though I have no idea who made the film, one of the reasons I liked the film “Flushed Away” was for the strong female character.

    If I analyze the film, which takes some of the fun from it, it is essentially a cartoon reworking of the classic “The African Queen,” but, what makes it good for me, is the female character is in the Humphrey Bogart role and the male character is in the Katherine Hepburn role.

  4. I completely agree about Flushed Away–Loved it! Although I can’t claim to like everything DreamWorks and Aardman have done (enough Shrek, already!), I thought Flushed Away was a great movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed Wallace and Grommet. I’d still like to see a female lead in a major animated film, though. Undeniably, Roddy St. James is still the star of Flushed Away.

    And let’s make it clear I’m not anti-Pixar. I still love their movies–a lot. I’m planning to rent Ratatouille as soon as it’s out on DVD (I just won’t pay to see it in a theater). I would like to see Pixar (or any other animation company, for that matter) make a movie that had characters (preferably leading characters) little girls can use in their games: characters that will encourage them to be brave, strong, and self-sufficient, just like little boys are encouraged to be.

  5. I don’t remember a Bug’s Life well enough but I think there is another message in Nemo, one of self-discovery and growth through the interactions with these ineffective female characters. And I don’t see how the Incredibles can be seen a showcase for a single character: if it’s not a clear demonstration of how all four characters have roles to play, we didn’t see the same movie.

    Sounds like someone (or a pair of someones) need to come up with a concept for the movie they would like to see. And fire up Mulan before you start: it’s not like no one has ever made an animated feature with a strong female character. I’m not awake enough to think of more right now, but I have a hard time believing there aren’t more.

  6. Ack. No one is saying there’s never been an animated movie made with a female lead character. No one is even saying Pixar is bad. Their movies are, with the exception of Cars, all really great.

    Do they rely on stereotypes rather than creating realistic female characters? Yes.

    Do they have a female leading lady in any of their movies? No.

    Does Dori in Nemo expand, change, or become anything more than a dumb blonde? No. The movie is about other characters adapting to her stupidity. Does this mean I don’t like the movie? No.

    Do the characters in the Incredibles work together? Yes. Are any of the women in leading roles? No. Undeniably, that role belongs to Mr. Incredible. Does this make the women less strong? No. But who is it that goes to work in the “real world” and who stays home and has babies when the super heroes retire? Are the women in the movie stereotypes? Yes. Do I still like the movie? Sure.

    All I am trying to say is that Pixar doesn’t set a very good example for little girls, and I think they could do a better job of being less biased. This is simply about Pixar, not about every other animation company in the world, and I think I said that earlier in one of my other responses.

  7. Hi everyone,

    I’ve been reading all these posts with various reactions and would like to chip in. First I am a huge Pixar fan so may be biased, but I’ll try to keep my subjectivity out of this!

    First in reply to the main post – It starts off about the plain fact that there are more boys than girls in the films – fair point, no denying this. But then you go on to say that they’ve done cars, superheroes, bugs etc – lets take the ‘no girls’ sign off the door. This seems to reflect and feed the sexist perspective that you initially start off against! Who says girls don’t like these things! If you are going to say that girls don’t like bugs then you may as well say that boys don’t like cooking!

    Then to Prairie : I like your thinking, but you have to admit that it’s not just the girls that are stereotypes in these films. Boys are as well. As you say, it’s Bob who goes to work – stereotype.
    If they went about subverting or reversing these stereoptypes then people wouldn’t identify with the roles as much. Audiences need to have familiar things to identify with or they don’t feel empathy with the characters and don’t get into the movie.

    There. It’s off my chest.

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