Sunday, July 6, 2008

What I Want

What I want, what I crave, is a Pixar movie that is based around a female protagonist. Crazy, I know. I love Pixar films. I watch them incessantly. I love the characters, the complexities, and the crazy-cool worlds they build. But what I would really love is for the main focus of a couple of their films to be on the girls. Maybe I'm being selfish. After all, Disney films did tend to focus on girl characters; of course, many of them are now kind of gender-traditional and not exactly with messages I want my movies to espouse. And Pixar women tend to be rocking. Elastigirl? Awesome. Dory? Wonderful. EVE? Powerhouse badass. Jessie was pretty incredible herself. Mrs. Potato Head was a bit of a nag, but her heart was in the right place.

So why, with these multitude of great, complex female characters, does Pixar shunt them off to the side to focus almost exclusively on their (equally great, complex) male characters? I don't know. But it definitely re-highlights concerns of Simone De Beauvoir's The Second Sex, and her assertion that women are The Other, while men are "Normal". It is something that exists in society today. Men find it hard to buy into women's stories, because women are separate entities. Men aren't asked to identify with them, or expected to identify with them, because men's tales are thought to be Universal and women's tales apply only to women. And it happens in every medium. Products advertised as "women's" products, or thought to be women's products, don't sell cross-gender as well as men's products do. And this isn't about true women's products, like tampons, but cars and phones and other gender-neutral (in that both genders can use them) products.

So, I would very much like for Pixar to focus on a female character. Human, fish, robot, toy, car, bug, monster, whatever. I want Helen Parr to have her own film. Or something. Because right now, women's mainstream films are Sex & the City and Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. I think Pixar has the magic to make a movie centered on a female protagonist not be just a women's film and not have its audience be women-majority. I think Pixar has the ability to have men identify with women, to battle back implicitly against the vision of Women-as-The-Other. Also, some minorities might be nice, other than Frozone. Who I loved, but didn't really play that big a role in the film.

I want to not come to the shocking realization that it is easier for men to relate to a robot than someone who may someday have boobs (or already does). And most of all, I want not to be inculcated with the idea that men really are the norm and women are not. That men's experiences are universal, therefore women do not need to be present. That men and men's emotional journeys are what are most important, and a woman's job is to play a supporting roles in that. Pixar is filled with talented people, and hasn't gone wrong yet. But it is depressing to see myself so absent from their success; I want that to change. I want the world to change; and I want Pixar to help.

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