Sunday, December 29, 2013

SheZow and Gender Binary: Part 1

SheZow is an Australian/Canadian coproduced cartoon that was picked up by the Hub, and began airing in the states in June, 2013. The original pilot aired in 2007, as part of the Disney Shorty McShorts' Shorts show.


The story follows Guy, a twelve year old "extreme dude," as he is described by the official website. Guy and his family move into a home they inherited from his deceased Aunt Agnes. While Guy and his twin sister, Kelly, are unpacking boxes they discover a hidden ring that belonged to their Aunt. Kelly at once recognizes the ring as SheZow's ring. Guy doesn't believe that Agnes was secretly a superhero and puts the ring on, thus inheriting the SheZow powers that are normally passed down from aunt to  niece in their family line.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Duck Dynasty and Racism

Robertson returning to Duck Dynasty has been touted as a "win" for his family. I don't think it is a win for anyone.

On growing up in pre-civil-rights-era Louisiana
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field.... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

-Phil Robertson



Robertson was born in Caddo Parish, in 1946. It is possible that segregation did its job well, and that as a child Robertson was blind to the racism around him. But he has a masters in education, is an adult, and has access to the internet. I find it difficult to believe the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty truly has never heard about the dark and tragic history of the Parish he grew up in. 

Lets give some historic context about what the black families Robertson worked alongside had lived through:

“The numerous murders and acts of violence committed during the weeks preceding the presidential election of 1868, and during the summer and fall of 1874, clearly indicated the political nature of the white violence. Indeed, at least 290 homicides (51% of the total number) occurred during those two years. Moreover, even more significant is the fact that no less than 220 blacks (74%) killed by whites were during those two years. The statistics were much higher than the ones for the other parts of the state. They show the greater readiness of whites in Caddo to resort to extreme violence in period of political tensions in order to maintain their social and political preponderance over the black masses (pg 7/379).
“Caddo claimed the sinister distinction of being the lynching capital of the states from 1910 until 1929. (pg 7/131) ”
Though Robertson was born years after these events, they were within living memory during the years he worked. Many of those working in the field would have been personally touched by those events. Though by the forties Caddo Parish  had lost it's grim nickname, violence was still high. Three years after Robertson's birth the KKK began it's third re-activation in the South.

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


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

House Party: A Furry Tree Games Review


I was recently contacted to write a review for a game designed by Furry Tree, a small UK company that specializes in educational games. House Party was funded in part by the Art Council of England.

First, I would like to say that I am an American, so my review is based on a perspective that comes from being raised in the States. Also, I think I should start out by mentioning that one of my all time favorite games to this day is The Asylum. A flash based game in which you are a psychiatrist to stuffed animals. Although it a fairly silly game, I remember playing it as a child and finding it oddly profound. Simple animation, and easy, humorous game play, does not mean you cannot also deal with complex emotional issues.
House Party



In this quiz style game. You are at a house party for monsters, and you pick different people to talk to. By giving “good” advice about relationships, sex, sexting, drinking, and similar questions, you will become their friend on Fuzzbook (the goal of the game). There are seven different characters you get to talk to.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mile High Comics vs. My Comic Shop

I try and always buy my comics locally (and while I'm on that note, if you're in Portland check out Excalibur), but when I'm trying to find certain back issues and have to hunt online I shop at one of two sites: milehighcomics.com and mycomicshop.com

Mile High Comics is known for having a slightly pricier baseline, but they are also known for always having a 60% off sale running. They are actually the first site I ever bought comics online from. Over the years I have had good luck being able to find sometimes uncommon issues that with the discount would be a reasonable priced.

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:



Sunday, June 30, 2013

Random Cards Post

 
As you guys know, I sell greeting cards online, so I thought I'd show off a few of my favorites:

Here are two different nerdy cards:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

In Defense of General Zod

I realize that the Superman universe is built on decades of comic lore, but when I discuss this movie it will be only within the context of the movie world itself. Also, lots of spoilers below.

Superman: Man of Steel


At the beginning of the movie we are introduced to the people of Krypton. We discover that their children are genetically created for one of three paths: warrior, laborer, or scientist. These blood lines dictate the lives they will live and the training they will receive.

We also learn that the council that rules has been exploiting the natural resources of their planet to the point that the core is unstable. The result will be the destruction of the entire planet and the death of everyone and thing that lives on it.  The council refuses to believe they are in any danger, or to create any sort of backup plan in case things go south. Either they are completely incompetent, or really psychotic.

...I'd say mostly psychotic

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.

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Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Is the Brave Redesign Sexist?

If you wander through the parts of the interweb where gender in animation is discussed (or any Disney Princess forums), you probably already heard about this before the Huffington Post wrote about it.

Merida, from Brave, got a marketing makeover and it's making some people very mad. So, what's the big deal?

 

Well, the picture above is one I modified to prove a point, here is the real design:

 

She has more adult facial proportions, less vibrant hair, a thinner waist, a larger bust, more defined curves, and a sexier outfit that is lower cut and slides down her shoulders.

I have a lot to discuss about this, but currently am short on time (so this is just a teaser), but in the next couple days I will post an article looking at Brave, the Disney Princesses and marketing to little girls.

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.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Croods: A Review


I don’t normally do reviews, but having recently been so immersed in the 2008-2012 gender ratio study I’ve been doing, I decided to talk about a movie I recently saw that I had a very strong reaction to, The Croods. Spoilers abound (be warned).



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, February 14, 2013

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

Timeline

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 : )

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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?).