My previous Pixar post has gotten quite a bit of attention, and is even being linked to from other forums and sites. And, as should be expected, there's the token dude in there telling all the ladies they're "looking too much into it," stating that there are plenty of female characters in the movies. So I will now express my problems with this "defense." First, I will restate my previous and non-wavering point: Pixar films are male-centric even to the point where the directors and writers of said films are predominantly male; thus, it's ALL about the dudes.
Now, I will discuss the problems with female representation in the films (which may be a bit of a reiteration from my previous post, but bear with me).
Generally speaking, the women characters in Pixar films are mere tools of the men. Though women are, to some degree, involved, the focal points of the conflict and plot are always men. The men must do the journeying to some goal. If women are privileged with inclusion on said journey, they have the chore of nudging the man along. They are thus objects; they are tools the man gets to use to achieve his manliness.
Here's how I break it down:
- Bo Peep (Toy Story): Does she even do anything other than serve as the sexual prize upon Woody's return?
- Helen (The Incredibles): she's the homemaker. It is her job to raise her kids and her damn husband. While her husband is off trying to relive his glory days with his buddy, she's at home, having given up her superheroine-ness for family life (please note how much ass she previously kicked). She only reclaims the identity of Elastigirl when her husband goes AWOL and she's got to go get him back.
- Violet (The Incredibles): She's the angsty teen (or preteen--not sure how old she is) and seems to be happy at the end because she's accepted her superheroine identity. And how does this serve her? She is suddenly able to get the attention of a boy she's had a crush on. Wonderful. A boy legitimizes her identity (aren't we sick of this cliche yet?).
- Boo (Monsters, Inc.): she's an adorable infant who is the center of the conflict in the story. She doesn't really count as a female character because she can barely speak. She's just the wandering cute thing. Though the story is based on her being in the monster-world, she's just a baby barely interacting with it.
- Celia (Monster, Inc.): she's the love-interest of one of the male characters. The only thing she really does is cause a distraction--oh you badass!
- Dory (Finding Nemo): Like Boo, she doesn't really count. Her failing memory is a huge issue and she's pretty much there for comic relief (though I recognize it is because of her that Nemo is reunited with Marlin--though also recognize that shortly after they must rescue her--I mean, what a dumb bitch, getting caught in that net. Her capture legitimizes the relationship between father and son, and teaches the father a lesson on parenting).
- Sally (Cars): she used to be a successful lawyer, but gave that up for the allure of the small-town. In her seduction of Lightning, she also makes him aware of the beauty of small-towns. Her goal to bring success to Radiator Springs is not as important as Lightning's journey and success. Great job, Sally.
- Colette (Ratatouille): she's a tough woman, driven by her desire to succeed in a man's world. But then comes along the adorable goofball and her desire suddenly shifts from her own success to his. So she teaches him the shit and becomes his shadow.
- Eve (Wall*E): she's a trigger-happy badass lady-robot--but her mission is clearly the secondary one. Though she's constantly saving Wall*E's ass, the viewer still understands that she's not the important one (uh, hello--whose name is the title??).
- Princess Atta (A Bug's Life): her life is centered around her eventually becoming the Queen. She has authority over the colony, like her mother, but the story isn't about that. She's first seen as Flick's adversary, then his lover (the prize thing again). Her story is not the important one.
Helen going off to fetch her husband; Dory struggling with her own elusive mind; Colette's aggressiveness in the kitchen*; these are all unimportant side quests. What really matters is what Marlin, Sully and Mike, Woody and Buzz, Lightning, Wall*E, Linguine and Remy, and Bob are all busy doing. Even the rats in Ratatouille are all male--the only lady rats we see are at the end listening to the story or admiring the muscles of the males (couldn't Remy have had a sister--and where's his mother? Those rats didn't birth themselves). All Remy's conflict is male-centered. Even his imagination conjures a man.
The point is the inclusion of a female character is not the same as actually making a strong female lead. Creating side characters that are quirky and ass-kicking women does nothing to assuage the fact that what Pixar thinks is important and relevant in stories encompasses the actions of men. Women are just tools along for the ride.
Up doesn't give me much hope either. Hell, even the damn dog is gendered male. It seems that Pixar has decided once and for all that women don't matter enough to even give them their usual side-character representations. Fuck.
Oh, and let me point out how cliche it is to treat strong female characters as exceptions to the rule. Strong women are not anomalies, and our stories are just as relevant as any man's.
*Please note that the character of Colette isn't even all that fleshed out--we only see her in the kitchen--the one scene where she's not in the kitchen, she's contemplating the kitchen. We know nothing of her outside this setting.
Note: To all the menz who I'm sure are going to whine at me--go ahead. Argue with me. Your arguments are unfounded and blind.