Is Pixar a Boys Only Club?

Michael Hanscom was watching the trailer for Pixar’s upcoming film, Cars, and was left to wonder – "where are the female leads?"

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. Look at the ‘poster wall’ on Pixar’s website. None of the poster designs feature a female character…even the rollover effects exclude every female character save Dory.

Hanscom goes on a detailed look at each of the Pixar film and the strengths and weaknesses of the female characters within. And he has a point. He even has a good point that recent Disney films have been fairly good about creating strong female characters.

Now go read the comments left by ‘Tim Who‘. It’s not just Pixar who is playing this game. It’s nearly every film ranked in the top 100 by AFI. So is Pixar just following a proven formula or is it a boy’s only club?

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8 thoughts on “Is Pixar a Boys Only Club?

  1. Taylor Easum

    There is a point to this. Simply put, it’s not that filmmakers need to force themselves to write more female leads (and just better female characters in general) it’s that to exclude them, either purposefully or through innocent oversight or cultural influence, deprives the world of good movies, and good characters. It’s not cinematic affirmative action–it’s just good cinema.

    My best argument for this point? Spirited Away. Fantastic movie. Pinocchio and Spirited Away are probably two of my favorite animated films–one about becoming a real boy and another about becoming a strong, independent girl. And for those of us with daughters, it’s good to know there are films like Spirited Away out there.

    Perhaps they’re a bit weak on female leads thus far, but 5 or 6 movies is hardly enough to judge them on. But you can’t fault Pixar for being overly formulaic by any means. Think about Finding Nemo: a single father raising a son with a birth defect? What’s most important is that it’s a great movie; but this is at least partly because of (pardon the cliche) thinking outside the box and coming up with unique characters.

  2. K

    The best way to kill the Pixar golden goose is to start imposing conditions other than to make the most entertaining, high quality movies they can.”

    The one quality that contemporary Disney 2d animation really excelled at was cultural, sexual and racial diversity. Considering the results, I’d say this wasn’t a big advantage.

    Like a lot of Japanese, Miyazaki’s attitude towards women is pre-feminist. He puts them on a pedestal, and he draws inspiration from his ideal of women and girls in particular. So if Pixar hired someone like Miyasaki, there’s a good chance that they’d get a good film with a female lead. OTOH, if the creative folks are told “make a female lead”, and they are not particularly inspired by that requirement, then you’re going to get a mediocre product.

  3. r chevalier

    What about Finding Nemo?

    Toy Story II also had a pretty strong lead female character.

    -r

  4. elitegangsterofthedamned

    Wah! Wah! Wah! Sheesh, what a baby.

    Like any other corporation, Pixar makes its decisions based on market research and focus groups. If their research indicated people wanted female leads, they’d put them in. Your complaint is with the people who tell Disney what they want…oh wait, they must all be brainwashed misogynists! Please do something useful with your life instead of bitching and whining about how there aren’t enough women in X.

  5. elissa

    Amazingly, elitegangsterofthedmaned your response is typical of anyone who is completely blind to the lack of minorities of any kind in our films and media, not to mention a bad excuse for continuing sexism (which still exists, by the way) in our society.
    True, Pixar is a baby in the animation world. However, they are aware of the importance of having strong female characters (which is evident if you listen to interviews and commentaries). But it’s a company (and an industry) run by white, straight men – yes, they will produce what they know – but that’s no reason not to encourage and press them (and the entire animation industry) to include not only women, but other minorities.
    Just because Disney films have characters that little girls want to dress up as, does not mean that they are good, strong role models. I would argue that Disney females are more pedestal-bound characters then Miyaski’s characters.
    Is is so wrong to want female characters that are strong and independent? Boys have so many options for role models, girls have a drastically smaller pool to take from.
    And as an argument, saying that Pixar makes its decisions based on what the audience wants isn’t the strongest one. Isn’t this the same company that rebelled against the “animation formula” (fairytales and musicals?).
    Taylor is right, animation in general, is depriving itself by forgetting about, well, more then half of the population.
    And so, until that happens, I have no qualms “whining” to fix what I think is a problem.

  6. Ken

    Yeah, they’d better do something before they end up making too much money!

    Seriously, girls have other places to go for role models.

    Give it time… Pixar will bring us strong female leads. Boo, though young, was a brave person who ended up taking things into her own hands.

  7. Mark

    Has everyone forgotten about The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, etc. – all female leads. I think Disney has been quite fair over the years. They make plenty of movies for all individuals. Oh, and for the rest of the minorities, watch Playhouse Disney in the morning. Every one of their shows offers 80% minorities.

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