My problem(s) with today’s animated films

Case in point?

Ah, where do I begin? Well for starters, this is going to be a rant. And when I rant, I go on a tangent. So… Tread carefully. But here me out anyway. Ready? ok.

With the recent slew animated movies in the past decade or so, there haven’t been a whole lot of female leads (that is, if you don’t count Brave or the Princess and the Frog. I haven’t seen either, but maybe I should.). This isn’t a new issue. It’s been talked about previously, but I want to reiterate it, especially with this new Planes movie, along with others (see also herehere, and here.)

I enjoy a good animated flick as much as the next person. Well, depending on the film. The Little Mermaid was my all-time favourite growing up, and all I wanted to do was swim and be a mermaid.  (The sequel to it sucked, but that’s another rant for another time.) Nowadays, these kinds of animated movies have changed; maybe it’s the CGI style that has the capability of making making goofier characters and thus, goofier plot lines, or maybe it’s the sense of humor that kids lean towards nowadays. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because of the characters they chose for their movies.

Planes: similar to Cars, except for the fact that one of them has high action air sequences. There’s nothing wrong with what Disney has to offer. The same goes for other animation companies as well. It’s kinda cute and creative, using inanimate objects as life-like beings. But in that kind of role, inanimate or not, there is never a leading female character, only male. (That is, unless she’s a princess.)

Are there not young girls out there that enjoy planes as much as boys do, and have dreams of piloting their own? What about racing cars? There certainly are, though that doesn’t seem to be a priority in our society.

Ok. I’ll admit that I haven’t seen Planes. Nor have I seen Cars. Nor Up. Nor Ratatouille. Nor… Whatever the rest there are. (Though I’m sure they’re all… Great.)

But really, whether it’s Disney, Dreamworks, or whatever other animation company out there, they  need to do better  in giving females more substantial roles than just the love interest/ quirky sidekick. Why should they just be there to help further the plot for the main character? And if they aren’t, why do they have to just be relegated to princess status?

If they ever were to put a female in the lead role in a new animated feature that wasn’t a princess/fairy like being: would that make it any difference? Would they think that if they put a female in that kind of role, would scribble the lines of a neutral film for boys and girls? Would it change the entire theme of the film? Well guess what? It shouldn’t.

It feels like that the writers of these movies are reserving  the more interesting and dynamic plot lines for the guys, and fostering the idea in the rest of us that the women are still second place in that category. These kinds of movies don’t give their female characters any room for development, they just regress into a stereotype. A sidekick. A love interest. For young boys and girls watching these movies, they–unless they are superbly sharp–won’t notice this sort of thing, and will be only swayed by the antics of the male protagonist et al. It doesn’t change a thing about how females are viewed, even in animation. Which is worse, because this is what kids are coming to automatically accept.

So… Should we allow that?