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Empowering Girls: Princess Culture Examined

Ever wonder how and why the Disney Princess Culture distorted and minimized girlness, leaving girls as the extra character or one that desperately needs to be saved?

My film-maker friend, Aaron Lea, sent me this rejection letter to a Mary V. Ford from Disney dated 1938. It states that she should not bother sending her portfolio because the creative talent is, by company policy, men.

Which does help explain how the Disney Princess Girl Culture became so distructive and minimizing to girls.

Dear Miss Ford:

. . . .

Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school.

The only work open to women consists of tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with India ink and filling in the tracings on the reverse side with pain according to directions.

In order to apply for a position as “Inker” or “Painter” it is necessary that one appear at the Studio, bringing samples of pen and in and water color work. It would not be advisable to come to Hollywood with the above specifically in view, as there really are very few openings in comparison with the number of girls who apply.

Yours very truly,

Walt Disney Productions, LTD.

Aaron explained how during World War II Disney was put in a position, like most companies, to need women artists, which is how one of his creative idols was given some creative power. Here is a story on Mouseplanet about how women came to work at Disney.

“Mary Blair was an art supervisor and designer at Disney when they were at their highest level of brilliancy. Disney optioned to use her artwork for storybooks versions of certain films in place of stills, said Lea.

“Blair’s influence can still be found today (she inspires a lot of us creative types). The opening credits for Monsters, Inc. is definitely an homage to her, as well as Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” Lea pointed out.

To illustrate Blair’s influence Lea shares a sample of Blair’s work and a sample of his own.
blair art.jpg I Can Fly illustration Mary Blair.

aaron pink carriage.jpgClaudia Carey illustration Aaron Lea.

There is an article In New York Entertainment examining whether things are that much different at Disney in 2008 than they were in 1938. “The IMDb credits for Disney’s latest No. 1 movie, Ratatouille, list 26 separate animators — of whom exactly zero appear based on first names to be women,” they cite. To check the fact, here is a link to the entire credits. Two female story participants were given the glorious titles of “additional story material,” indicative of their involvement.

Over a rainy weekend my daughter and I rented Enchanted. Disney’s newest version of it’s own princess tales. Tune in tomorrow for analysis of Disney’s new generation of Princess film.

The main premises of the Geena Davis Institute is that when there are more women involved in the creative process of film and television it results in more empowering girl characters.

What can YOU do to ensure more girls are included in children’s media?

  • Make a video. The GDIGM has a YouTube project asking for people to get behind a camera and notify the film and media industry,

    I Want To See Jane! 

  • Donate money to the GDIGM so they can wine, dine and educate the film makers who do influence our daughters.
  • GDIGM is running a contest for girls. They invite all girls/women 13-26 to make a Video Ad citing the organizations research points. Someone has to win – why not your daughter? Go to the < site to learn more.
For more about how exactly Disney Princess Culture really is anti-girl read on:

Cinderella Should Have Saved Her Self

Ariel – The Little Mute

Belle – Battered Codependent

Over a rainy weekend my daughter and I rented Enchanted. Disney’s newest version of it’s own princess tales. Tune in tomorrow for analysis of Disney’s new generation of Princess film.
Image of Mary Ford’s Disney rejection letter.

398 replies
  1. Violet says:

    I have to admit that I grew up on Disney and have a fond place in my heart for it. I remember going to the drive-in or the Scera Theatre with my parents, and it was special.

    But I totally get your point and agree with it. I don’t think the princess angle would be so damaging if it were just one story in a broad sea of choices, but it feels like there are only a handful of archetypes for young women.

    When I was a kid, it was also just a movie. There weren’t the endless tie-ins with fast food, clothing, toys etc. And I saw it once – this was before VHS.

    There should be more women in animation – it’s ridiculous how few are in the industry. I guess this explains why Smurfette is the only girl smurf.

  2. Tracee says:

    Those are all extremely valid points Violet.

    It was a movie not a marketing machine, it was a story not an marketed identity.

    Also, when we were girls feminism and the idea that we could do something different wasn’t widely accepted, so maybe it wasn’t so damaging. It was still believed to be possible that we could be saved and taken care of.

    In today’s world that’s a dangerous message to send to our girls who need to prepare to earn a living and seek financial independence.

  3. Aaron says:

    In answering the male-to-female ratio in animation, as a woman, you need to ask yourself the following:

    Do you still read comic books? Do you want to? Manga? Graphic novels?

    Do you collect toys?

    Do you find yourself watching Spider-Man 3 and arguing how they portrayed Venom and the Symbiote incorrectly?

    Do you know who Tom Kenney is (Spongebob) and could recognize him on the street? Do you even care?

    Do you celebrate the brilliancy of Carl Barks and cherish the back issues of Donald Duck comics?

    Did you cry when you first saw the Star Wars:Phantom Menace trailer?

    I can see many women saying “no” to these (or even rolling their eyes), but these “idiosyncracies” are fairly common in many men which leads them to pursueing careers in sci fi/fantasy/animation. Call it “Geek Culture”.

    We do have our fellow “Geek Sisters”, check out Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel – turned – movie “Persepolis”which won at Cannes this year and got nominated for an Oscar.

  4. Tracee says:

    Does it take a geek to write a princess story?

    To draw princess pictures?

    To choreograph a ballroom dance?

    The things you mentioned aren’t marketed to or about girls. Disney Princesses are.

    Do females read Princess books, coloring books, sticker books, etc by the dozens? Yes.

    Do we wear clothing with princess pictures, have brides walk down the aisle imitating and dressed like Cinderella or Belle?

    Do we pin up posters and have bedspreads and put the dolls on our cakes? Can you actually buy girl stuff that does NOT have these images on them?

    Those are the stories and images marketed to girls.

    Are you saying men are better experts – because they are a different kind of geek – at our brand of Disney Magic than we are?

    That women aren’t applying for animation jobs? Writing jobs or producing jobs? Cause I don’t believe they aren’t applying.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “Does it take a geek to write a princess story?”

    Yes popular people don’t spend there times indoors fantasizing about a magical land where there’s a happy ending and the guy saves the girl from the clutches of evil. However geek does not imply gender.

    “To draw princess pictures?”

    I assume were still talking about Geeks again yes. Go to any art department and you will realize this very quickly. The art department at my school was probably 60% women 40% male. Talent was not based on gender.

    “To choreograph a ballroom dance?”

    Um this is where I wouldn’t call them Geeks. But some of the greatest ballets where made by men not saying they can do them better it’s just they’ve set the bar.

    “The things you mentioned aren’t marketed to or about girls. Disney Princesses are.”

    Actually Sponge Bob is sold to girls and boys. Manga is extremely popular with certain groups of girls. And I don’t think the gender of a cartoon should have anything to do with who’s drawing it. Unless you’d rather men draw men and women draw women.

    “Do females read Princess books, coloring books, sticker books, etc by the dozens? Yes.”

    Um I’m not sure what your trying to say.

    “Do we wear clothing with princess pictures, have brides walk down the aisle imitating and dressed like Cinderella or Belle?”

    I understand females appreciate the art that doesn’t imply interest it creating it.

    “Do we pin up posters and have bedspreads and put the dolls on our cakes? Can you actually buy girl stuff that does NOT have these images on them?”

    Again this has nothing do with the interest of the person involved. When I go to the movies I don’t have the desire to make a movie. When I see a Daisy cup with flowers I don’t feel the urge to submit a design.

    “Those are the stories and images marketed to girls.”

    Yes, yes they are and if girls buy them I’d say they know there stuff pretty well.

    “Are you saying men are better experts – because they are a different kind of geek – at our brand of Disney Magic than we are?”

    I’m not sure what your saying on one hand you hail Disney Princess’s as being all that is Female and then on the other you completely discount the animators who like you said are primarily male.

    “That women aren’t applying for animation jobs? Writing jobs or producing jobs? Cause I don’t believe they aren’t applying.”

    I’ve applied for a lot of jobs I didn’t get. Just because your talented doesn’t mean that your good enough for what a company wants. I’m sure a lot of the guys who make web cartoons applied to Pixar or Disney have been turned down.

  6. Tracee says:

    I am not hailing Disney as being “all that is female.” In fact, I think the version of their femininity is distorted (by male interpretation).

    I think they are discriminating against women creative types to be quite frank.

    I think the argument that because more men like certain types of animation doesn’t hold true to why Disney is creating films without female’s influence.

    I’m sure there are many, many women who have applied and are qualified who have been rejected. Or women who work there who are not being promoted to influential positions.

    Tune in to tomorrow’s story as we examine Disney’s New Generation of fairy tale marketed to girls and who they hired to create the magic.

  7. Aaron says:

    In regards to my initial post:
    Simply put, there are professions that tend to attract certain sexes more than others.

    In regards to your issue with the princesses in trouble:
    Disney began a tradition with adapting classic fables when they made Snow White. Adapting the classics worked the first time, and they returned to this well many times after that. They produced 14 other films until they returned to the “princess in peril” genre 13 years later with Cinderella in 1950.

    The female distress angle was addressed again in Peter Pan (1953) and Sleeping Beauty (1959).

    Ok, lets stop there. Walt died in 1966, so out of the 24 films he helmed, only 4 films had this theme.

    The 90’s resurrected the “princess theme” with varying takes with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Alladin and Pochahontas. The distress angle was never the main factor behind these stories. Belle’s danger was not a central theme, Pochahontas saved John, Aladin would have been dead in the first act without Jasmine, and the same could be said for Prince Eric.

    The cycle was broken when Mulan came out, a film that truley demonstrated “female empowerment” if I’ve ever seen one from the studio. Not only did our heroine defy adversity, she saved the day and kicked major ass while doing it.

    Danger is a consistent device used in storytelling aimed at both sexes in film, as well as being rescued.

    Your main resentment is obviously directed to how these “characters” are being marketed to children. With that, all I can say, is that someone’s buying them, and the more people buy them, the more a company is going to feed that hunger.

    I agree with the arguement that the “princess needing rescue” is a negative stereotype. I agree 100%. The subject of why men dominate this field, has little to do with “Disney Princesses”, though. The influence of why this is sometimes a theme doesn’t come from animators, nor art directors, but the producers and writers. The animators merely animate what they are told to do.

    For example, while Ratatouille had a mostly male animating team, two of the 5 writers were female. Their power dictated to the men what to animate.

  8. Tracee says:

    I’ve no problem with Disney as a whole. I have a serious problem with Disney’s depiction of “what women want” because it’s distorted and that effects my daughter.

    I also think there is a valid argument that Disney robs Disney itself of the ability to tell better, more well-rounded stories – more Magical – by not including more women in every step of the process.

  9. Cale says:

    “I am not hailing Disney as being “all that is female.” In fact, I think the version of their femininity is distorted (by male interpretation).”

    Not two seconds ago you mentioned Disney and it’s creations as things girls fantasies are about. Even if it is distorted you could say the same thing for males in cartoons do you really think men can fly through the air and take bullets to the face without a scratch?(super man reference)

    “I think they are discriminating against women creative types to be quite frank.”

    How so? Emily Cook & Kathy Greenberg helped write Ratatouille. Rita Hsiao co-wrote Mulan. I’m sure I could find others but they don’t list animators or artists.

    “I think the argument that because more men like certain types of animation doesn’t hold true to why Disney is creating films without female’s influence.”

    I have a mother and a sister and a wife all of whom influence me and what I create could you say any less of Disney.

    “I’m sure there are many, many women who have applied and are qualified who have been rejected. Or women who work there who are not being promoted to influential positions.”

    What proof of that do you have? You have one letter from a time when sexual discrimination was rampit. And you have no idea of the talent level of the artist who submitted it.

  10. Violet says:

    I hear that same argument about why women aren’t in engineering, computer, math, science and now animation – that we are just not interested. I don’t buy it.

    I don’t think it is so much direct discrimination though, as much as young men and women get channeled and encouraged into gender acceptable areas and interests – sometimes without either side realizing it.

    But geek girls are on the rise! (Aaron, my favorite graphic novel is Ghost World.)

  11. Violet says:

    I agree with Aaron that there are different takes on the princess in peril Disney stories.

    I get your side of it, I really do, but I can see the positive side of featuring central female characters (which is kind of surprising in and of itself) who all show intelligence, compassion, kindness and bravery. Some of them are rescued, true, but there is more to their stories than that.

    I honestly don’t remember absorbing the prince rescuing the princess part of it too much. I was much more drawn to being able to wear beautiful clothes and have magical adventures.

    But I was not subjected to the guerilla marketing of today which seems endless and more targeted. I grew up riding bikes and reading books far more than I saw tv or movies. I understand why you feel the way you do.

    It is kind of sad that one of the most female positive characters to date – Mulan, was not received by the public as well as other Disney female characters. I don’t see her much in Disney marketing efforts.

  12. Tracee says:

    Look at the credits. Directed. Men. Written. Men. Produced. Men.

    “Helped write” does not equality make.

    Same story with Enchanted – their newest Princess interpretation. Directed. Men. Written. Men. Produced. Men.

    Go to the credits of Disney films and count the numbers of women versus the numbers of men involved.

    Visit the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in the Media and educate yourself about it. Then maybe next time you get the opportunity, and I hope you do, you’ll hire the woman so that your mother, sister and wife will have more than a caricature of a token female character to watch in films. They’ve counted the women both on the screen and in the process. The numbers on the screen are 3 males to one female.

    You said yourself, male characters can fly and evade bullets – they have POWER. Female characters need saving because they have none.

    I want to see a gender shift in the Magical Kingdom – what’s wrong with that?

  13. Tracee says:

    Violet forget being saved – that’s the least harmful of the Disney messages to young girls

    Ariel gives up her voice. Voluntarily, to get a man. Then she gives up her family, again to be with a man (she’s never even spoken to).

    Consider the implications of that.

    Belle – is held hostage and then decides she’s in love with her captor because deep down “he’s really good inside.” She changed him, as only true love can.

    This is like training for battered woman syndrome.

    Ever wonder why there is a 20% rate of TEEN domestic violence?

    We have a real crisis because these archtypes are being romanticised and girls are taking it seriously. This is being commando marketed to two and three year olds – exactly when our girls are developing who they are and when they have zero maturity to resist.


    I’m not saying these stories don’t appeal to girls – I’m saying they are dangerous because they do.

  14. Cale says:

    I just realized the irony of your arguments hahaha your funny I didn’t catch it. You think woman should be empowered to do jobs but that they should be doing the girly stuff. Hahaha thats funny you want them to be stuck with making Unicorns and Fairy Princesses because girls should like those kinds of things. Oh you are to much.

    I just don’t see the concreteness to your arguments your stuck in what if space. Disney’s in business to make money plain and simple and they do that with talented people. They don’t do it with people who should be hired just because someone complains that there aren’t enough “insert sterotype” in a position.

    Here check out this article http://www.pbs.org/itvs/independentspirits/women.html
    Apparently contrary to what you may believe women animators are on the rise. In fact the late Jennifer Davidson was VP of Cartoon Network you can read an article about her here http://animatedfilms.suite101.com/article.cfm/jennifer_davidson_1969_2007

    I agree that diversity is an asset to any team but letting someone on a team simply because there different isn’t reason enough. If a woman or a man wants it today they can achieve it if only they try.

  15. Tracee says:

    Look at it this way Cale. Disney – in their Princess Culture Films – seem to be telling us what girls/women want.

    What I would like to know is this: Why do they keep asking men?

    Wouldn’t women tell their own story better?

    As a reporter I wouldn’t go to men to find out what it’s like to be a woman. Going to women for that particular story is going to be a more accurate representation, which makes for better media.

    I find it very difficult to believe there are not equally fantastic and wonderful women animators and film makers out there. I think Disney should hire them to produce the next generation of films that they market to girls. I want to hear what they have to say.

  16. Aaron says:

    Misconception #1 – Geek Culture is encouraged only for men
    Geek culture is a “sub-culture”, and are seldom encouraged, whether you are male or female. I can ensure you, being a male, comic books do not score points with the ladies, and parents never tell you to stop playing football in order to come inside to watch Transformers.

    Misconception #2 – Creative careers are only encouraged to males
    Creative careers are seldom encouraged, whether your are male or female. The pay is not great, and the chances of finding work is slim. The chances are success are even rarer. I can’t tell you how many times adults, teachers and counselors discouraged my interests and told me to concentrate on a “real job”.

    Misconception #3 – There are no positive fantasy role models for girls
    I laugh at this. I came up with a list, and in a matter of minutes, I had more than I cared to write down. What follows is a partial list of positive genre based female heroes who don’t need large bust sizes and skimpy outfits to save the day.

    1.Princess Leia (Star Wars)
    She got rescued all right, and then took charge of the escape when Han and Luke failed miserably and ended up saving them. She then strategically led the attack against the Death Star. She also was in command of the Battle of Hoth.

    2. Kim Possible (Kim Possible)
    I think the fact that her sidekick is named Ron Stoppable explains everything needed to know that Kim Possible is a good role model for girls.

    3. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
    Where would Harry and Ron be without Hermione? Dead.

    4. Miss Piggy
    She taught us that size does not matter, to accept our bodies for what they are. She also knew karate. If puppets wore pants, I’m sure she was the one who wore them in her relationship with Kermit.

    4.Sue Richards/Invisible Woman (Fantastic Four)
    An accomplished hero, wife, mother,celebrity and socialite, she also became the leader of the Fantastic Four.

    5.Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup (The Powerpuff Girls)
    Sugar, spice, everything nice, and Chemical X. They were so cute, even with lifting a bus and throwing it through a building.

    6. Female Mutants (The X-Men)
    Beginning in the late 80’s, a book named X-Men found that its roster of heroes consisted mainly of “women”. So many female mutant heroes to list – Storm (the leader), Jean Grey (took over leading duties), Rogue, Psylocke, Kitty Pryde, Dazzler, Jubilee, Marrow, Phoenix, etc.

    7. Velma (Scooby Doo)
    She was the brains behind Mystery, Inc. She was also the original “geek-chic”.

    8. Agent Dana Scully (X-Files)
    Come on, how many predicaments did Scully save Mulder from? She was the brains, the voice of reason, common sense, an excellent detective, an expert marksman, and a scientist. She also had a baby, and then went back to work for the FBI.

    9. Princess Fiona (Shrek)
    I seem to remember some major Matrix style action from this princess who didn’t need a hero.

    10. Selena Kyle (Cat-Woman)
    Not only was she Bat-Man’s equal, she would be insulted if a man even tried to bail her out.

    11. Josie, Valerie, and Melody (Josie and the Pussycats)
    Face it. Alan was a putz. Josie and the gang solved crime on Earth and in space, but they rocked even harder.

    12. Captain Janeway (Star Trek: Voyager).
    She was hailed as the female Kirk, without the over-active libido (Kirk was a slut).

    13. Dora (Dora the Explorer)
    World traveller, sports lover, adventure seeker, animal lover, bi-lingual, multi-cultural, and educator. This little girl makes us all want to become UN Goodwill Ambassadors.

    13. Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
    Cute, fashionable, smart, and she also was known to literally drive stakes into the hearts of the undead.

    14. Ripley (Alien movie series)
    She convinced movie audiences that women were in control when she threatened the Queen Alien with the line “Get away from her, you b****!” I seem to remember at that point, all the men were dead. Also all the crew were dead in the first movie, as well as the a good portion of the prisoners in Alien 3. She was so bad ass that she was cloned for further feats of badness in Alien Resurrection.

    15. Charlie’s Angels
    Do I really need to convince you why this trio is on this list?

    I can go on and on. Even the misogynstic horror genre is ripe with female leads that save the day and kill the bad guy. I think there is a lot to celebrate in what is being done right, than criticize what is being done wrong. Also, I would like the mention, that the male counterparts to many of these heroes are bumbling idiots, but you don’t see me complaining 🙂

  17. Aaron says:

    RE: What I would like to know is this: Why do they keep asking men?

    Actually, I can speak from experience here since I work marketing for films.

    Disney isn’t asking men, they, like most of Hollywood now, are using focus groups to recut (and in many cases, reshoot) films. These focus groups are consisted of various ages, sexes, and ethnicities. If you understand “decision by committee”, then you’ll understand why this has disastrous results and has hurt the integrity of cinema for over 15 years now.

  18. Tracee says:

    Committees do not write films. They give their opinion on films. If you include women as the primary writers, producers and directors, the hypothesis is that you’ll get a different kind of film.

    I feel for how difficult it is to get into a creative industry Aaron (I’m a creative type myself). But you’re a white male in America. Times the difficulty by two, three or four and then you’ll know how the women in your industry feel.

    You shouldn’t defend or justify sexism.

  19. Tracee says:

    No one said there were NO positive female role models.

    Ms. Piggy was one of an entire cast of Muppets. 50% of the audience was girls. Does that seem fair for girls?

    You are right, we are making progress – for sure. I enjoy your list of positive role models in animation and film. They have a significant impact on girls.

    There is no harm in encouraging the industry to do better for girls. More girl characters and well-rounded powerful girl characters can only make their stories better.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Not to be argumentative, but doesn’t Kim Possible wear a belly shirt? And have a terrible attitude?

  21. Aaron says:

    Perfect protagonists make for boring stories. Male heroes are not without their vices. Political correctness and “feel good politics” do not make good entertainment, but creates banality.

    Lets take the newest hero that will be in theaters this summer, Iron Man. He is a raging alcoholic. I’m not defending this vice, but lets not over analyze the imperfect female heroes and forget that male heroes have their negatives as well.

    Han Solo was a criminal who found redemption, but still shot someone in cold blood.

    Leia was never in need of rescue anymore than the rest of the cast. Go back and re-watch the original trilogy, everyone was getting captured and rescued, and Leia did her fair share of saving the day.

    There seems to be an abundance of those “looking for offense”.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I used to have a commonly misunderstood view on affirmative action plans and business. But my current Human Resources coursework has shed new light on the subject. One just can’t look at a company and decide that there aren’t enough of “insert minority group here.” It takes a detailed analysis of the current job functions, the population on a whole, the avaiable to work population, the available to work population with the required skill-sets (or the skill-sets that would react well to training), and then the people in that population who are actively seeking employment. So the analysis is pretty detailed. I would agree that if Disney has an issue with this, then they need to engage in public service that helps women, who truly want to, become members of the creative society.

    So to offset the blatant brainwashing that Disney controls from the grave, I copied a bunch of GI Joe cartoons for my girls. But I edited it down to only the parts where Scarlet, Cover Girl, Lady Jane & The Baroness kick butt.

  23. Violet says:

    This has been an interesting topic and my husband and I have been discussing it for the last couple of days.

    Women are not well represented in Hollywood. Of the 250 top grossing films in 2007, only 6% were directed by women. Women work in animation more than ever before – but it’s still primarily a male field.

    These are the people who are forming the creative ideas that our culture and our children will later be bombarded with. I don’t think it’s asking too much to have our gender involved in those creative decisions.

    Aaron is right, focus groups shape the majority of movies out there. One problem is that women and girls will get into male focused movies, but men and boys are less likely to watch female centered movies.

    Support indie movies and movies directed by women if you want more of that. Like I mentioned in a previous post, Disney changed the genre with Mulan and it failed. Where were you and others like you when it came time to support the shift?

    In the end, consumers are the ones who decide what is supported and what isn’t. Which is why I think it’s great, Tracee, that you back up your feelings on this by not buying princess products.

    I think some of the female characters Aaron listed are positive, but others, not so much (Miss Piggy? Oh Aaron) and many play into feminine stereotypes that some of us would like to see less of. Show me a comic heroine ala X-men style with a normal woman’s body. They are also often the token female ala Smurfette.

    My husband agreed that geek culture is just less appealing to women. He used to work at an ad company where the owner ran a little indie animation studio on the side, and it was all shy, quiet (weird) men who ate, slept and drank anime. They wanted women animators on the team, but there was NO female interest EVER (although they finally got a female intern.)

  24. Tracee says:

    Parents should ban Disney Princess Movies and all the Paraphernelia if that’s what it’s going to take to convince them that they have a financial stake in getting women in on the writing, directing and producing team.

    Parents should also encourage daughters in their interest in animation, film, writing, etc. because this is an area with a massive impact on the way girls view themselves.

    Disney is a huge corporation and could/should have mentoring and recruitment programs to draw women in to their industry. Maybe they do, I don’t know – but they should amp it up if they are having a hard time finding women. Pay for some high school art classes in the public schools if that’s what it takes.

    I firmly believe they rob themselves of half the storytelling Magic by not incorporating the feminine voice and the feminine story, especially in films about women and girls. See Enchanted written, produced and directed by men, again.

    It is vital that more women be involved.

  25. Cale says:

    I guess no one read the article about female animators I’ll post the link again http://www.pbs.org/itvs/independentspirits/women.html.

    In this article it basically debunks your whole idea that having women in the industry would change things because get this woman have and always have been in the industry. Your only complaint seems to be that there isn’t a studio that is entirely made up of women from the grunt animator up. How would this bring any different creativeness to a media have you seen Oxygen have you seen Life Time? When you have a media focused on doing nothing but pleasing one sex you alienate half the population. Which is why your whole purpose of having this group of imaginary women interested in animation ruling a studio does work.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t you post a comment to the Disney HR Group instead of speculating on the Princess Culture? I am sure they will be happy to provide you with any information you want. Of course, being male dominated, they will give you lies. Let’s move on to the real evil in the world.

    The Jonas Brothers.

  27. Aaron says:

    Re:Show me a comic heroine ala X-men style with a normal woman’s body.

    Show me a man’s body, too. Dear lord, I would even kill for Nightcrawler’s physique compared to my doughy white self 🙂

    Better yet, look at this picture of Captain America. No man could ever compare in real life! 🙂

  28. Tracee says:

    No one wants to exclude men Cale.

    I’m not sure why you find the idea of including more women’s voices threatening or offensive.

  29. Tracee says:

    “Women pursuing careers in the field seem more interested than men in animation as an art form,” writes Linda Simensky, the Cartoon Network’s vice president of original animation. “Thus, it is not surprising that the area of independent filmmaking seems to have more women than men; after all, it is an area of animation which has more room for self-expression and no real traditional hierarchy in which to fit.”

    This is from the link Cale provided. Thanks Cale.

    It appears to directly contradict the theory that women aren’t interested in animation.

  30. Tracee says:

    Cale you make a good point about Lifetime and Oxygen. Much of the programing on those two “women’s stations” doesn’t appeal to me and I would find some unsuitable for my daughter.

    When I found out that BET’s president is named Debra Lee, a woman, my reaction was, ” What the F$*& ?!?!”

    Obviously just because a woman is running the show doesn’t meant it won’t be degrading or minimizing to girls. If it did we wouldn’t see so much nasty booty on the BET, which is some of the least empowering trash I’ve ever witnessed. Definitely unfit for children.

    But Disney is different. Disney has a long-standing tradition of children’s film. Disney has a long-standing desire to make Magic. Disney is already in everyone’s hearts. You can tell when you watch the creative “geeks” talk about it that this is their true passion – the money is a perk. What the artists have invested goes beyond the bottom line. I’m simply saying, they can do better by including more women and the feminine perspective.

    Disney has nothing to lose and everything to gain by being more inclusive in the writing, directing and producing of its films.

    I don’t want to ban Disney – I want to ask them nicely as a consumer and girl advocate to be more inclusive and provide better stories about girls.

    I would love to have them respond, “Of course, you make a valid point. Let’s hire some more ladies. We value the feminine perspective. We have daughters too and we want better messages for them.”

  31. Aaron says:

    Re: Cartoon Network quote –

    Self expression, experimental, art, existintial awakenings, and human psyche films are predominant themes in “indie filmmaking”, NOT “mainstream” though.

    What that quote means is that women tend to want to make these films more than big mainstream films. These films just aren’t popular, they don’t resonate with most people.

    Now pause, that is not a sexist comment. Read on.

    This has nothing to do with the sexes, because men make these films too, facing similar hurdles in raising capital and finding a distributor. They just aren’t popular with American audiences. Worldwide gross is what we aim for, because marketing arthouse flicks is a lot easier to sell to European audiences than those in say, Ohio.

    Trust me, indie filmmaking is my bread and butter. But a small quirky film like Darjeeling Limited can’t compete with the latest Sandra Bullock predictable epic or large robots destroying each other on screen. When it comes to film, I’m a snob, and I would rather see more independent and foreign films than major blockbusters. However, get this, mainstream female audiences snub indies just as much as “Joe Six Pack”.

    I’m not going to pretend that males don’t have an advantage over women in Hollywood, but there are a lot of misconceptions about the sexes and how this interplays with not only entertainment, but storytelling, careers, marketing, and merchandise.

  32. Tracee says:

    Aaron – you’re in the industry. What do you think is the best way to get women involved?

    Sounds like you are too Cale. How do you think we can most effectively get women’s stories told and heard in film?

  33. Aaron says:

    Re:How do you think we can most effectively get women’s stories told and heard in film?

    Make your own film outside of the studio system. Unless you are Spielberg and you have the pull, studios tend to want “yes-men”, not artists that have a burning desire to pour their heart on the screen.

    Step one. Write your story (google screenwriting, this is a whole other enchilada).

    Step two. Find people who share your artisitic vision and will work for free (or at best, “points”, points being profit they can share if your film gets sold.

    Step three. Find money. Easier said than done. Read “Rebel Without a Crew” written by Robert Rodriguez.

    Step four. Make your movie.

    Step five. Find a distributor, get it sold, convince someone with your movie that you are “bankable”. Once you “are in”, you have a better chance of finding better work. Your first film is your resume.

    It’s not easy, and the chances of failure are great. Nothing risked, nothing gained.

    Men and women who want to be filmmakers know this.

  34. Tracee says:

    Here’s a commentary from the LA Times explaining that the princess tales were seemingly innocuous until the year 200 when Disney began marketing them much more aggressively making them Princesses.


    “As Peggy Orenstein documented in a 2006 New York Times Magazine article, that changed in 2000, when Disney decided that, henceforth, the princesses would collude. They went from princesses to “Princess” — as Disney execs call the fast-growing product line marketed collectively under just that logo. Merged into a sort of uber-princess, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine and the older members of the gang formed a vast global conspiracy to turn a bunch of aging animated films into cold, hard cash — faster than Cinderella’s fairy godmother could turn a pumpkin into a coach. “

    It also examines the aspect of Matricide – the killing off of all the mothers and their unDisney influence.

    Pause for a moment to consider the fate of the princesses’ mommies in those Disney movies. “Cinderella” and “Snow White”? Mothers killed off by mysterious illnesses. “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin”? Mothers all missing; presumed dead.

    “Disney really has it in for mommies: Even when you leave princess-land, it’s the same pattern. Bambi’s mom? Shot dead by a hunter. Nemo’s mom? Eaten by a barracuda. Of all the major princesses, only Sleeping Beauty (a.k.a. Aurora; like all criminals, she often goes by an alias) has a nuclear family, not that it does her any good. “

    Thanks for the links Violet.

  35. Anonymous says:

    It was refreshing to read these comments here! I always felt very much the same about these princesses…Teenage marriage? Giving up royal power and immortality to marry some dope who can’t even remember your face? What was that mermaid thinking?
    A princess you might enjoy and approve of is the “Paper Bag Princess”, a charming and slightly cookie childrens book in which the princess heads out to rescue her prince from a dragon (after it ate her entire family) but then decides he really isn’t worth the trouble and goes off to lead her own life.

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