Monday, December 23, 2013

Banned, Censored, and the Obscure: Part 1

 The Powerpuff Girls: See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey
Season 5, Episode 8 

“Can’t you see the people in the street? Lined like cattle waiting for the butcher of freedom. Sacrificing their hopes, their dreams, all their individuality. For freedom. Do the people have to be freedom beef?”
- the professor

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Main Protagonists and Love Interests

Ratio of Female to Male Characters (from 2008-2012)

Gender of the Main Protagonist

Looking at only American, or American/Foreign Coproduced Animated Films Rated G or PG that were released in at least 500 theaters. If the film contained live action scenes, it primarily had to be about the animated characters set in an animated world.

9/53 female protagonists

46/53 male protagonists

17% female protagonists

83% male protagonists  

2/9 female protagonists had an equal male protagonist who shared the movie
2/46 male protagonists had an equal female protagonist who shared the movie

Love Interests

6/9 female protagonists had love interests (67%)

26/46 male protagonists had love interests (57%)

Raw Data: Gender Ratio Part 2

Ratio of Female to Male Characters (from 2008-2012)

All First Billed Characters from the Cast Overview list (ALL CHARACTERS)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

All First Billed Characters

Year: 2008 - 2012

 Looking at only American, or American/Foreign Coproduced Animated Films Rated G or PG that were released in at least 500 theaters. If the film contained live action scenes, it primarily had to be about the animated characters set in an animated world.*

53 Movies Released

All First Billed Characters from the Cast Overview List
Year 2008 - 2012

30% Female (247)
70% Male (581)
Total Characters: 828

Per Movie
4/53 female majority (with an average approximately 3 more female than male character)
49/53 male majority (with an average of approximately 8 more male than female characters)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Raw Data: Gender Ratio Part 1

Raw Data: All Voiced Characters with a name or character descriptor 2008-2012

All Voiced Characters

Part 1: Ratio of Female to Male Characters (from 2008-2012)
All Voiced Characters with a name or character descriptor
Looking at only American, or American/Foreign Coproduced Animated Films Rated G or PG that were released in at least 500 theaters. If the film contained live action scenes, it primarily had to be about the animated characters set in an animated world*

Year: 2008 - 2012

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Boxtrolls Teaser Trailer - LAIKA Love

I just went to see the new Despicable Me movie (maybe I'll do a review post on that, but it was much fun), and one of the trailers was a teaser for LAIKA's new movie set to be released in 2014:  The Boxtrolls. Seriously, kudos to LAIKA, because they are going to single handedly drag American family-targeted animation into the 21st century.

When in 2012 they introduced the first out animated character in an American family target theatrical release, there was some opposition. Some Christian reviewers commented on the difficulty of having to now explain to their children about homosexuality, as Nancy French put it:

"...Parents who take children to the new movie ParaNorman might have to answer unwanted questions about sex and homosexuality on the way home from the movie theater (French)."

Well, the new Boxtrolls trailer does that explaining, and quite eloquently:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Outing of Fictitious Characters

In the my recently published AWN article , I mention how there has been a decrease in the social censorship of LGBTQ themes and that “viewers who are less receptive to such characters are becoming less vocal.” I thought it would be nice to go into a little bit more detail about this and give some examples that show this change.
The outing of fictitious characters is not a new phenomenon. When a Picture of Dorian Gray was first released in 1890 media at the time called out the sexuality of the main character, the Scots Observer wrote that the book would be of interest to only those, “outlawed noblemen and perverted telegraph-boys (How Oscar Wilde Painted Over Dorian Grey).”
In 1895 the novel was used to call into question the sexuality of its author Oscar Wilde. When he was put on trial for being gay (or more accurately “gross indecency with other men”), sections of the book were read aloud. The opposing attorney called the novel “sodomitical” and drew comparisons between Oscar Wilde, and Dorian Gray as if the fictional character were a stand-in for the author (pg5).
Some sixty-eight years after the release of Dorian Gray, in 1958, Seduction of the Innocent was publishedIn this nonfiction novel author and psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, harshly critiqued comic books for their violence and sexual content. One of the chapters dealt with children’s sexuality, and suggested that Batman and Robin were a gay couple, Wonder Woman was a lesbian and that comic books were causing sexual perversion in children.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

AWN: ParaNorman Reblog

Exciting news!
I recently had the opportunity to write for the Animation World Network. In the article, ParaNorman’s Mitch: The First Family-Friendly Gay Animated Character, I look at the changes that have taken place in American animated theatrical releases in the past twenty years to allow for the first out animated character. This has been a wonderful experience, and I’m so thankful for all the feedback I received from Dan Sarto while writing. The article was just published today : ) 
Check it out HERE.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Gender Ratio 2008-2012

Study: Gender Ratio in Family Targeting American Theatrical Animation

Year: 2008 - 2012

Looking at only American, or American/Foreign Coproduced Animated Films Rated G or PG that were released in at least 500 theaters in the U.S.

 53 Movies Released

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fact Check: Only 13 Female Protagonists

"Between 1937 and 2005 there were only 13 female protagonists in animated movies."

I stumbled upon this quote that's been floating around, originating from Miss Representation, though I can no longer find it on their site. There doesn't seem to be any source material backing it up. I feel like this is why it is so important to get some raw data out there about gender statistics in animation, because there isn't a lot to go off of at the moment.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cartoon Closet 6

Part 6: The Repopularization of the Male Duo
The repopularization of the male duo was directly tied to the creator driven animation movement that blossomed in the nineties. And the explosion of male duos shows was all the more striking in comparison to the eighties which was (almost) completely void of any. Lets looks at some historical context.

A Brief History of the Eighties

Under president Reagan there was a heavy deregulation of children’s media. Limiting the number of commercials targeting children was called out as violating an advertisers first amendment rights. Mark Fowler the elected chairman of the Federal Communications Commission continued the job the president started, saying “The marketplace will take care of children” (Education).

Rubik the Amazing Cube, yes - this actually existed
And take care of them it did.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New York Times Reblog

Dave Itzkoff recently wrote an article for the New York Times looking at the flaws in Fredric Wertham's research for the "Seduction of the Innocent." It is a great article and shows the ways in which major censorship was implemented (through the comic code) based on what now appears to be Wartham's exaggeration of his findings.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article

It is also is very exciting for me, as a blogger, because the article links back to my Cartoon Closet series.

"Elsewhere in the book Wertham argues that the superheroes Batman and Robin represent “a wish dream of two homosexuals living together,” and cited a young gay man who says that he put himself “in the position of Robin” and “did want to have relations with Batman.”

Although I've only been writing the Cartoon Closet for about half a year, it's a compilation of years worth of research. It's really exciting to be getting traffic from such a talented author, and well respected news source. Basically, yay!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Intended Innuendo

Children's cartoons are by defualt a comedy genre. There is a history of intended innuendo, or adult humor that is hidden along side the humor targeting kids. Here are a few examples showing double coded punchlines (this is a just a small handful of the types of jokes that are in kids shows):

Cartoon Network Bumper - Powerpuff Girls (Justice League Spoof)

Thursday, January 24, 2013


This is an ongoing timeline, showing an overview of the events I discuss in the Cartoon Closet series. It is in progress, and I will continue adding more dates and links to it. If you notice something important I'm missing, please comment, so I can add it in : )

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cartoon Closet Part 3

Part 3: Archetype of the Male Duo
The Male Duo in Live Action
The Male Duo Archetype* in animation has its roots in Vaudeville acts. Originally bawdy stage shows based heavily on their verbal humor, the transition to film led slapstick comedy to being the focus during the silent era. With talkies the male duo comedy acts incorporated both slapstick and verbal humor (wiki).
Gay Subtext?

Homoeroticism has been a part of the genre from the very beginning. Part of this has to do with relationship comedy, where the male characters would deconstruct male/female and husband/wife relationships playing the role of one or the other as part of the comedy act.

For instance in Their First Mistake (1932) where Laurel and Hardy adopt a child. In a conversation that takes place in bed, Laurel convinces Hardy he should adopt a baby, in order to keep his wife's mind occupied. That way they could continue going out at night together and it wouldn't bother her so much. But when they get home with the baby, they discover that Hardy's wife is filing for divorce for alienation of affections blaiming Laurel as the other woman (73). This is used to create a mock husband/wife relationship between them, first with Hardy playing the angry wife whose husband is shirking his responsibilities, then with Laurel playing the wife in a sequence that jokes about breast-feeding.

Their First Mistake is unmistakably homoerotic, but whether this was intended, or soley a result of parodying heterosexual relationships it's hard to know. But looking at an earlier Laurel and Hardy, Liberty (1929) we can see, as Russo puts it, homosexuality as a part of farcical misunderstandings (72).

In this movie a running gag involves the two having put on the others pants. They spend the first half of the short trying to find a place to privately switch clothing. The joke hinges on the reaction of those who catch them, and clearly think something naughty is going on. In one case, they are trying to change in the back of a taxi. Caught half-way through by a man and woman, Laurel and Hardy quickly leave, but before the couple enters the taxi the man makes sure no one else is in the back. Who is this third person he's looking for? (a woman perhaps?).