Friday, March 27, 2015

Cartoon Closet Part 5

Part 5: Female Duos (in practice)


While there are not a lot of examples of female duos to draw from in animation (pun intended), in this section I will look at a popular pair of female duo side characters: Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. 

moving image. Harley holding onto Ivy, as ivy displays credit cards like a hand of cards

Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995) was a darker look at the franchise then early television versions. Incorporating quick dialogue and a film noir aesthetic, it used coding and visual and verbal euphemisms to wink at the older audience that made up a large portion of it's viewers.

Harley Quinn was a character created for the series, and one that became so popular she was incorporated into the comic book canon. The short comic, Mad Love, featuring Harley's back-story won an Eisner Award.





moving image of harley and ivy with jewleryIn Batman: The Animated Series. Harley is top henchwoman to the Joker who she is also in a not so subtle relationship with (see above video). She and the Joker are a comedy duo team, with Harley as the devoted heart to the Joker's brains. 

As a duo they embody all the traditional elements of a comedy team including slapstick violence... but with the dark setting of the show the violence against Harley at the hands of the Joker is presented to adult viewers as a clearly-coded case of domestic abuse. As Zack Beauchamp writes in Batman: The Animated Series. 

"The abusive structure of the Joker-Quinn relationship being obvious to adults but invisible to the show’s young audience reminds the adult viewer of how societal blindness perpetuates actual instances of horrific abuse."
ivy and harley having dinner wearing only men's shirts
In the episode Harley and Ivy Harley is kicked out by the Joker and ends up teaming up with Poison Ivy. The duo become a crime team, and Ivy takes the position of the brains in the comedy duo she forms with Harley.  While only containing a relatively short screen time together, fans latched on to their ambiguous relationship. 

The characters lived together in Ivy's home, with one bed. They had meals together, languishing in a casual attire of just men's shirts. Scene's driving in Ivy's pink convertible drew visual reference to  Thelma and Louise. 



ivy and harley in a convertablethelma and louise in a convertable
The question of whether or not the lesbian undertones of the relationship were originally intended is debated by fans. Considering the sophisticated writing style of the show, and the repeated use of coded adult narratives, it is not a far stretch to say that the writers knew exactly what they were doing. The comic Batman:Harley and Ivy which features writing from Paul Dino and artwork from Bruce Timm (the producer of the animated series), also includes much slashy fan-service and a prison shower scenes of the two.

Regardless of whether or not the gay undertones were originally intended, just as viewers loved the character of Harley Quinn, viewers loved her ambiguous friendship with Poison Ivy. Even her most recent series, Harley Quinn (New 52), incorporates her winking relationship with Ivy as a part of her character.




In the next section I will look at the history of the 80s, and what led to the 90's revival of the animated Male Duo.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Disney Channel Toon Gender Ratio 1990s

From the start of 1990 to the end of 1999 there were 24 narrative cartoons that aired on Disney. Some of these started before the nineties, and some continued into the 2000s, but all cartoons that aired during this decade are included. Cartoon shows featuring shorts with a rotating cast (Raw Toonage, Mickey Mouse Works, and The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show) were not included.

Shows:

Adventures of the Gummi Bears (1985-1991), Duck Tales (1987-1990), The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1988-1991), Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers (1989-1990), TaleSpin (1990-1991), Darkwing Duck (1991-1992), Goof Troop (1992-1993), The Little Mermaid (1992-1994), Bonkers (1993-1994), Marsupilami (1993), Aladdin (1994-1995), Gargoyles (1994-1997), The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa (1995-1999), Quack Pack (1996), Mighty Ducks (1996-1997), Jungle Cubs (1996-1998), Disney's Doug (1996-2000), 101 Dalmatians (1997-1998), Nightmare Ned (1997), Recess (1997-2003), Pepper Ann (1997-2002), Hercules (1998-1999), PB&J Otter (1998-2000), The Weekenders (1999-2004), 

Ensemble Casts


Adventures of Gummi Bears (4M, 2F)

Tummi (M), Zummi (M), Grammi (F), Gruffi (M), Sunni (F), Cubbi (M)
Duck Tales (4M)
Scrooge McDuck (M), Huey (M), Dewey (M), Louie (M) 
Gargoyles (6M, 2F)
Goliath (M l), Elisa Maza (F), Hudson (M), Brooklyn (M), Lexington (M), Broadway (M), Angela (F), Bronx (M)
Quack Pack (4M)
Donald Duck (M), Huey (M), Dewey (M), Louie (M)
Mighty Ducks (4M 2F)
WildWing Flashblade (M l), NoseDive Flashblade (M), Duke L'Orange (M), Mallory McMallerd (F), Tanya Vanderflock (F), Check Hardwing (M),
Jungle Cubs (6M)
Baloo (M l), Bagheera (M), Louie (M), Shere Kahn (M), Kaa (M), Hathi (M)
101 Dalmations (2M, 2F)
Lucky (M l), Cadpig (F), Rolly (M), Spot (F)
Recess (4M, 2F)
T.J. (M l), Spinelli (F), Vince (M), Gretchen (F), Gus (M), Mikey (M)
PB&J Otters (2F, 1M)
Peanut (M), Butter (F), Jelly (F)
Weekenders (2M, 2F)
Tino (M l), Lor (F), Carver (M), Tish (F)

Main Character (Plus Supporting Ensemble)

The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (M) (6M, 1F)
Winnie the Pooh (M)
Tigger (M), Piglet (M), Rabbit (M), Eeyore (M), Owl (M), Roo (M), Kanga (F) 
TaleSpin (M) (3M, 2F)
Baloo (M)
Kit (M), Rebecca (F), Molly (F), Wildcat (M), Louis (M)
Darkwing Duck (M) (2M, 1F)
Drake Mallard (M)
Gosalyne (F), Launchpad (M), Honker (M)
The Little Mermaid (F) (2M)
Ariel (F)
Sebastian (M), Flounder (M)
Bonkers (M) (1M, 1F)
Bonkers (M)
Miranda Wright (F), Lucky Piquel (M)
Marsupilami (M) (2M)
Marsupilami (M)
Maurice (M), Stewart (M)
Aladdin (M) (1M, 1F)
Aladdin (M)
Jasmine (F), Genie (M)
Disney's Doug (M) (3M, 2F)
Doug (M)
Skeeter (M), Roger (M), Patti (F), Beebe (F), Porkchop (M)
Nightmare Ned (M)
Ned (M)
Pepper Ann (F) (3F, 1M)
Pepper Ann (F)
Nicky (F), Milo (M), Lydia (F), Moose (F)
Hercules (M) (1M, 1F)
Icarus (M), Cassandra (F)

Duo (Plus Supporting Ensemble)

Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers (2M) (2M, 1F)
Chip (M), Dale (M)
Monterey (M), Gadget (F), Zipper (M)
Goof Troop (2M) (2M, 2F)
Goofy (M), Max (M),
Peter (M), Peg (F), P.J. (M), Pistol (F)
Timon and Pumbaa (2M)
Timon (M), Pumbaa (M)

Out of 68 main characters: 52 M, 16 F
Out of 109 main characters and main supporting characters: 78M, 31F

19 shows had a male lead and male majority (79%), 2 had a female lead and female majority, 1 had a female lead and a male majority, 2 had equal male and female main characters

In all cases where there was a leader in an ensemble cartoon (5), the leader was a male character.
In both of the cartoons that had equal male and female main characters, a male character was the leader.

While ensemble cartoons had an average of 5 characters, there were never more then 2 female characters on an ensemble show.

1/24 shows had at least 3 female main characters including ensembles (Pepper Ann with 4).
14/24 shows had 3 or more male main characters including ensembles