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Tilting at Windmills

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May 6, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

DIVERSITY REDUX....Speaking of diversity, here's some news about the portrayal of boys vs. girls in G-rated films:

  • There are three male characters for every female.

  • Fewer than one out of three (28 percent) of the speaking characters (real and animated) are female.

  • Less than one in five (17 percent) of the characters in crowd scenes are female.

  • More than four out of five (83 percent) of films narrators are male.

The full report, based on the 101 top-grossing G-rated films from 1990 to 2004, is here. The authors also note that males are less likely than females to be portrayed as parents and that nonwhite males are way less likely to be portrayed as parents. In addition, Black and Hispanic males are extremely scarce in G-rated films (they appear at well under half their actual rate in the general population), and when they are present they're far more often portrayed as violent than white males.

If you think that a study like this could have been done in, say, 1970, with about the same results, you're right. But it sure is annoyingly PC to keep pointing it out in this enlightened day and age, isn't it? That must be why the report got exactly one mention in the press after it was released: a 400-word piece in USA Today that gave over nearly half its space to a critic who said the whole thing was no big deal. Sheesh.

Kevin Drum 3:16 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (100)

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Comments

Frequency nailed it!

Posted by: shortstop on May 6, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

If you think that a study like this could have been done in, say, 1970, with about the same results, you're right. But it sure is annoyingly PC to keep pointing it out in this enlightened day and age, isn't it?

Yes that's because there's nothing wrong with it. People prefer to watch people like themselves on TV. There are very few Martians in G-rated films also, but you didn't complain about that. White people and males dominate G-rated films because those are the viewers. Forcing women and minorities into those G-rated films would be wrong because it would be racist and sexist affirmative action.

Posted by: Al on May 6, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Porco Rosso heartily recommends the films of Hayao Miyazaki.

Posted by: Porco Rosso on May 6, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that these were the top-grossing G-rated films should tell the story. This is what people that buy movie tickets want to see. That is why the characters are cast that way and aimed at a apecific audience. G-rated movie makers have a formula that works and will probably stick with it until viewing habits change. So it is no big deal. Unless you are some political correctness cop looking for something to whine about.

Minorities and women are all over the big screen in other types of movies and people buy tickects to see them pretty much regardless of race or gender. So there should not be a big deal if one type of movie is not PC in every respect.

Posted by: Fat White Guy on May 6, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

There are very few Martians in G-rated films also

There are surprizingly many Martians in PG-13 movies, though. I suspect it's because they like some violence and sexual situations.

Posted by: LowLife on May 6, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

What's particularly interesting about this study is not just the obvious sexism it exposes, but how deeply rooted that sexism really is in our culture and psyches.

I think one can make out an argument that one of the major reasons G movies have so many male characters is that they tend to be involved in the sort of things people like to watch: cops-and-robbers, action films, etc. Probably it's more plausible to think of them as occupying positions of power, because, in fact, males generally do.

So how do you get around the brute fact of what people find interesting and plausible, and introduce changes into their sense of what's interesting and plausible? I guess I haven't a clue.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 6, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

frankly, the films you outline (action, cops and robbers) generally aren't g-rated. The two big reasons for the dearth of females in G-rated films are that a lot of the source material (childrens' books, fairly tales) feature male protagonists, and more important, a number of very well-made childrens' films featuring female protagonists underperformed at the box office (A Little Princess, Matilda, Because of Winn-Dixie...), leading a lot of executives to believe that boys won't watch films with female protagonists.

While sexism on the part of Hollywood plays a role too, believe me, there are executives who very much want to do female-centered kids' films. Nina Jacobsen at Disney has commissioned a live-action version of Kiki's Delivery Service for exactly this reason. Oh, and the esteemed Mr. Rosso is correct-- Miyazaki has always featured great female characters in his films.

Posted by: Feathers McGraw on May 6, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that these were the top-grossing G-rated films should tell the story. This is what people that buy movie tickets want to see. That is why the characters are cast that way and aimed at a apecific audience.

There's a lot of question-begging and ignored assumptions going on here, given that, for starters, you don't have a control group of G movies that don't conform to those casting standards to which to compare revenues; and that PG, PG-13 and R movies -- which also don't conform to those casting standards -- outearn G movies generally.

Posted by: Phil on May 6, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

I think one can make out an argument that one of the major reasons G movies have so many male characters is that they tend to be involved in the sort of things people like to watch: cops-and-robbers, action films, etc. Probably it's more plausible to think of them as occupying positions of power, because, in fact, males generally do.

Right. Why is this sexist?

Posted by: e1 on May 6, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'll second Porco Rosso. Miyazaki consistently creates animated fims with female leads that manage to enthrall both boys and girls, and keep adults entertained.

It's not impossible to do. It's just easier to stick with the tried and true formula. And Hollywood is all about following the formula.

Posted by: ajl on May 6, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

A few people overreac with the "this is what we want to see" bit (who exactly is "we"?)

1) My guess is that blacks, Hispanics and Asians are more likely to go see whites than whites go to see minorities

2) The Hollywood script process tends to go with what worked before. (The book Brokeback Mountain had a Hispanic lead - easier to film with 2 whites for some reason, while the rerun mill like Scooby Doo certainly isn't trying to be creative)

3) As more and more Hollywood money comes from overseas sales,including DVD, my guess is that this trend will increase, being that mainly white
with a few minorities is part of the basic brand image Hollywood sells.

Posted by: Nullo on May 6, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

When governance creates bias and fear in society
it fetters them into agendas not of their design.

In other Words.
The Movies Suck.

Posted by: Mach Tuck on May 6, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Feathers McGraw hit on the main problem: girls are willing to see films that feature boys as the protagonists, but boys absolutely refuse to see films that have girls as the protagonists. And when you have, say, two kids to take to the movies, most parents will defer to what the boy wants to see to prevent arguments and tantrums.

I suspect this is partially due to what's usually provided as "girl" entertainment. I'm female and couldn't get up any particular enthusiasm to see "A Little Princess," though I loved the book.

Not to milk the Miyazaki thing even more, but did any of these executives notice that "Spirited Away" was a huge hit in the U.S. despite the fact that it had a female lead? Perhaps it was because, I don't know, it was an amazing film that didn't force its protagonist into a "girl" box and limit her actions.

Something to think about. Action movies with female heroes are doing very well (even the weakly plotted "Flight Plan" was a major hit with Jodie Foster as the star), so there's no reason why the same can't be applied to childrens' films.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 6, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

How many total G-rated films were released in that timespan? Can we assume that this group of 101 is basically every G film released by Hollywood from 1990-2004?

(Also, Winn-Dixie and Matilda were PG.)

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on May 6, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

But Yet Kevin makes me wonder How many Novels do the Same thing......?

Posted by: Mach Tuck on May 6, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

There is no formula. Hollywood studios' primary goal is to make money, and if Miyazaki's movies were more successful Hollywood would copy them in a heartbeat. Any time there's an unexpected hit, a slew of copycat pictures follows. American audiences don't want Miyazaki, they want Shrek and The Incredibles (which, come to think of it, did feature a couple of kick-ass major female characters).

Posted by: e1 on May 6, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

ASS CLOWNs
I would like to see more Ass Clowns in Movies.
You Know follow the AC-Pundits around, like Rush, and make reality pundit 'mooovies' Drugs Hookers Lobbyists, the Whole Schmeer.

Posted by: Mach Tuck on May 6, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Not to milk the Miyazaki thing even more, but did any of these executives notice that "Spirited Away" was a huge hit in the U.S.

Spirited Away had a U.S. box office gross of a little more than $10 million. Not even in the top 100 animated films.

Perhaps it did well in DVD sales, though. I haven't seen those numbers.

Posted by: e1 on May 6, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Brokeback Mountain wasn't first a book.

And who are the consumers of G-rated films? Not the viewers, but the people who decide which films to view?

Posted by: adam on May 6, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Just before I read this post I was having a conversation with a 22-year old woman who was wondering whether there was data on her generation and relationship formation. She was wondering if her generation is having a crisis of commitment/intimacy.

The young white men, in general, she commented (noting exceptions, all Republican), don't want to date, don't want to grow up, don't want to commit to a relationship, are socially confused. She complained that too many get into a "I'm a guy, what do you expect? I can't empty the garbage. I drink too much" routine. While we are on factoids, 57% of college students are women, 43% are men.

Okay, so their social lives suck and they aren't going to amount to much, but, evidentally, the Gen Y guys ARE still going to movies.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 6, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I had sex last night for the time since 1971. Yeah, it suck to be me.

Posted by: Al on May 6, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

frankly, the films you outline (action, cops and robbers) generally aren't g-rated.

But the study seems to indicate that it's effectively kids' versions of these movies, or elements of such movies, that tend to capture the interest of most kids.

If that's what they find interesting, it's hard to know how to get around that, and what it seems to imply for the abundance of male characters.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 6, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

I pity the researchers for the brain damage they must have experienced with repeated viewings of so many G-Rated films.

Posted by: Martin on May 6, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

I think the fact that some people feel the need to sit down and tally these statistics shows a mindset that's a lot more bizarre than the issue they're talking about. People who think like this have issues.

Not enough females in crowd scenes? Maybe there's just a larger stock of male extras looking for work. Geez. Wonder what the other studies will show.

Anybody want to look into gross stereotyping of blacks in films? Funniest treatment of that I ever saw was "Hollywood Shuffle."

BTW, I also highly recommend Miyazaki's films.

Posted by: tbrosz on May 6, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Brokeback Mountain wasn't first a book.

Not a "book" in the sense that it wasn't a long story that took up a whole book.

I'm not sure what your point is, but the film was adapated from a short story written by Annie Proulx. It appeared first in a magazine and later in a collection by the author.

Posted by: rachelrachel on May 6, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

I think the fact that some people feel the need to sit down and tally these statistics shows a mindset that's a lot more bizarre than the issue they're talking about. People who think like this have issues.

Do you see what I'm dealing with? Please, someone, adopt me now.

Posted by: tbrosz's daughter on May 6, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

One observation.

One thing I've noticed myself is that there's something actually very effective about including female charcters in many action sequences. Particularly in martial arts sequences, it seems to work very well -- witness the two Kill Bills, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

What's fascinating about these sequences is the grace and choreography of them, despite their gore. And women seem like the ultimate underdogs, making their conquest of literally armies of enemies seem all the more remarkable.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 6, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Apparntly the bias goes both ways. How many times have we see film in cities like New York where the white characters are robbed virtually always by whites, when in fact in large cities the vast majority of crime is commited by people of color. There is a clear effort made to virtually never show blacks or hispanics as criminals. If the film is a hard hitting look at urban crime or a boyz in the hood type film then they show blacks and hispanics, but if it is your typical mugging of a white couple in a place like New York, blacks and hispanics are virtually never shown in that role.

Posted by: John on May 6, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

The book Brokeback Mountain had a Hispanic lead - easier to film with 2 whites for some reason, while the rerun mill like Scooby Doo certainly isn't trying to be creative)

Hell, the Scooby-Doo films starred Freddie Prinze, Jr., so they're ahead of Brokeback in ethnic diversity.

Posted by: DonBoy on May 6, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of scooby doo.. did you guys hear about the robo-transformer scooby?

He protects nanotech scooby snacks.

I'm not joking

Posted by: Sandals on May 6, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

The two big reasons for the dearth of females in G-rated films are that a lot of the source material (childrens' books, fairly tales) feature male protagonists

The producers have a choice of which stories to adapt. Most of the Disney cartoons that were adapted from fairy tales (and this goes back a number of years) do feature a female in the lead role: Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast.

a number of very well-made childrens' films featuring female protagonists underperformed at the box office (A Little Princess, Matilda, Because of Winn-Dixie...), leading a lot of executives to believe that boys won't watch films with female protagonists.

Matilda and Winn-Dixie were rated PG, targeting an older audience.

It's often said that little boys often won't read books with girl protagonists, but little girls will happily read books with boy protagonists. Editors have encouraged children's authors to write about boys to have a more marketable product. These are publishers who publish lots of books and have a good idea what sells and what doesn't, so they have a bigger statistical sample than the handful of G-rated feature films that are released.

So I think there's some truth to that. On the other hand, all the Disney films I mentioned above (and others adapted from non-fairy-tale sources) did quite well at the box office, even with boys. So it is possible to make children's films with female protagonists and make money. And of course, there's a market for "girl's films," and such films do get made from time to time.

But I think that a big part of the dominance of boys in films for young children is economics.

Posted by: rachelrachel on May 6, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

We are a society in transition, to what I'm not sure.


Feminism has come a long way in empowering women, in showing they are capable of anything a man is, that they are strong, smart, and independent.

For the most part we accept and encourage women in formerly male roles, in science, the army, law and government.

Gender roles have changed, and most fathers (at least the ones I know) would rather have a daughter that is a lawyer instead of a house wife.

Feminism has proved the value of women, but the work is not complete in showing the value of the traditionaly female roles, of empowering those who do that work.

I was home sick one day and I was watching my favorite sick day fare, trashy talk shows.

The subject of this episode was children with gender issues.

One black boy caught my intrest the most. It was implied he developed gender identity issues because his favorite TV show and the charecter he looked up to the most was Kim Possible.

Kim has some values that any father should encourage in his son. She is strong, smart and indepentent, and fights for what is right.

Yeah, but she is also the head cheerleader at her school.

All the positives are cancelled out in a fathers mind if you find out your son wants to wear a skirt. Nowadays, tom boys tend not to have such a hard problem with this.

Even for the open minded accepting type, it's hard not to think, "his life sure would be easier if he just acted 'normal.'"

So, in my opinion, G-rated movies use male charecters more because parents are not yet willing to accept boys with an equal balance of traditionaly male and female personality.

It's much less painless to throw in an ass kicking female sidekick then it is to show this type of multilayered male.

As for crowd scenes, well, with G we are talking mostly about animation, and girls are harder to draw.

Posted by: bob on May 6, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of diversity, here's an article on how Richard Nixon bilked Saddam out of $400 million,


http://cannonfire.blogspot.com/2005/12/wilkes-and-cia-some-history.html

Somewhere along the way, a mafia-like group of Republican operatives -- which included Richard Nixon and his old "pals" -- muscled onto the scene. In short and in sum, they demanded a hefty cut of Operation Arm Saddam.

This second wave of Legitimate Businessmen made a deal with Saddam to supply the Iraqi military with uniforms. I've seen varying estimates as to how much money this scheme was worth; the high figure is $450 million. The group promised high-quality uniforms manufactured by "their" plant in Tennessee. Actually, the job was off-shored to a Romanian firm known for producing clothing on the ultra-cheap. This decision insured that, instead of making big profits, the Republican mobsters could make big, big, BIG profits.

Saddam's people were not happy when they opened up the boxes and discovered wool uniforms. In a desert country, in the summer, wool is rarely the soldier's first choice.


All in background on Brent Wilkes.


Posted by: cld on May 6, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone else find it odd that the authors of the study switch midway through from the dearth of female characters to the dearth of male non-white characters? I imagine I can go through the couple rough charts in the summary, and deduce what fraction of the female characters are non-white, and how that fraction compares to the total number of characters and to the non-white male fraction. But this summary certainly does its best, at a first read-through, to make that time-consuming. My immediate suspicion is that non-white women are shown more "positively" and in greater numbers than non-white men are.

But let's keep in mind what "positive" is here (NB, that's my word, not the study's). Male characters, especially non-white male characters, are (according to the study) more aggressive or violent. St. George, rumor has it, behaved very aggressively towards the Dragon.

Posted by: waterfowl on May 6, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

The real question is why are there so many bad movies, and why do people watch them?

Posted by: Matt on May 6, 2006 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

We've been debating this one for a long time: Should the media portray the world as we, liberals, WANT it to be or should the media reliably portray the world as it is?

The report objects to the transparent message being communicated to young children, that "being male and white is not just the norm but preferable." The authors complain that "The majority of children do not see themselves reliably reflected on the screen."

The authors complain that white boys are portrayed as dominant because males are portrayed 3X as often as women. White boys are also portrayed as disconnected and dangerous, but unfortunately, people of color are portrayed as even more disconnected and dangerous. For example, 45% of white males versus 22.2% of nonwhite males are portrayed in committed relationships. And 37.6% of white males and 62% non-white males are portrayed as physically aggressive or violent.

Yet, white males ARE more likely to be in committed relationships than African American males.

And Black Americans commit violent crimes at about 7X the rate of white Americans

And African Americans make up about 40% of the US prison population.

So this report wants "unbiased films" to promote female numerical equality accurately but portray nonwhites more favorably than reality suggests. In other words, the author's basic complaint seems to be that G-rated films are not upholding a 70s liberal feminist agenda to attack white males by increasing the authority of women and nonwhites.

Nothing newsworthy in that. Jeepers, that's why we have lost white working-class males and far too many elections.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 6, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how the results compare for PG or PG-13 movies? I just bring it up because, of course, most G movies are at least primarily aimed at kids, and what I've heard is that young girls are willing to read books with male protaganists, but young boys are not willing to read books about girls. (Or even books *written* by women -- this is why "Joanne Rowling" was changed to "J.K.") If this is true for movies as well as books -- and I don't see why it would be different -- then it may be that movies about boys are the best bet for studios because that way both boys and girls are ready to watch them, whereas movies about girls will mostly only appeal to girls themselves.

Posted by: Shoshana on May 6, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

As a useless Academic myself, I understand and sympathise with your amazing ability to get worked up about nothing...but this is also the reason why people mock us and undermine the things in which we believe that are of actual value to social criticism.

Now I'll get back to my dissertation on manifestations of the phantasmagorical in the post-nuclear consciousness.

Posted by: Jess in DC on May 6, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Just before I read this post I was having a conversation with a 22-year old woman who was wondering whether there was data on her generation and relationship formation. She was wondering if her generation is having a crisis of commitment/intimacy."

I'm wondering if that woman you were talking to is just too picky about who she dates.

Posted by: Paul on May 6, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

No big deal? Of course not! Because of course, we are no longer a sexist or racist society. That was all so, so long ago...

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on May 6, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Anecdotal evidence for sure, but I'm 23, and I'm seeing all my friends get engaged right now....kinda feel left behind to be honest. I don't think commitment is out of style....staying with that commitment though, I'll tell you in a few years.

Posted by: bob on May 6, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

One thing I've noticed myself is that there's something actually very effective about including female charcters in many action sequences. Particularly in martial arts sequences, it seems to work very well -- witness the two Kill Bills, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Steve Sailer - maybe not the most popular person here, but he has some sharp observations - has pointed out that these so-called "butt kickin' babes" are popular among the male adolescents who make up so much of the audience for movies. Everyone knows that male-vs.-female violence usually doesn't work out so well for the females, and I suppose in some way that's what makes seeing the opposite outcomes so much fun.

I was somewhat dismayed to read that Geena Davis, one of the backers of the Dads & Daughters group that commissioned this report on G-rated movies, describes herself as an advocate for increased opportunity for women and girls in sports. Uh, Geena, haven't you heard of the federal law Title IX, which has steadily killed off many sports opportunities for men?

Posted by: Peter on May 6, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ptate, I think you're talking about two different things. Yeah, there is a certain silliness in films like Robocop and Spider-Man portraying the Detroit and New York City criminal underclass being almost exclusively made up of unshaven white guys. But in underrepresenting girls as characters in family and childrens' films, I think the studios are hobbling themselves creatively by not exploring a whole range of stories involving female characters. For example, I think Mulan and Lilo and Stitch have a freshness to them which comes partly from the unique concerns of their female characters. Those would be different and less interesting movies if they were about boys.

Posted by: Feathers McGraw on May 6, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Well, PTate, here's the problem: people have a strong tendency to copy what they see, and when they see something frequently they accept it as "normal". If they are exposed to a white male's world at such a young age, all the problems with race and gender in our society today will perpetuate themselves into the future, in the minds of the new generation. We need positive role models and characters to respect who are of all genders and ehtnicities. Then, it will be diversity that becomes normal in childrens' minds. Stories--whether spoken, acted, filmed or read--are extremely powerful, and we've known that for the entirety of human history.

Posted by: brainchild on May 6, 2006 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

brainchild,
So you want the movies to portray some politically correct liberal wet dream of a society, rather than the world as it really is, do you?

Dream on. If you want to make movies like that, no one's stopping you. Good luck lining up financial backers.

Posted by: brainiac on May 6, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

It's not just movies.

Media has the right to market as it sees best. But it is a reflection on our society. And I think it is pretty scary how much fiction infects our real life. And we can look at TV, too.

When I was growing up it was a totally fictionalized version of the "wild west". Then it wa all the cop and spy stuff. Then science fiction. 3 of the 5 watching were women, but it was all male centric. And it all still is. Why?

I've never dated a useless, defenceless, panicky woman in my life. I get so impatient when they crop up in movies . . . to be saved by the valiant male.

My daughter is now graduating to adulthood and has always enjoyed a wide range of entertainment, but it was so obvious how much she appreciated films with heroines. I can't call her right now but I'm going to ask her.

In media it is not a 50/50 society let alone favoring minorities in any way.

On two other tracks:
Male/female reading habits and books bought. That, I think, would show distinct gender differentiation.
So many toys for boys are violence oriented. "They are born that way." May be, but we sure encourage it.

Posted by: notthere on May 6, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

notthere,

I've never dated a useless, defenceless, panicky woman in my life.

You've tested them all in things like major industrial disasters, assassination plots, wars? Or you just knew that they didn't panic, had defenses, and . . . um, were useful? Nice for you.

Most existing women haven't the foggiest idea how they would actually fare in an emergency. I certainly couldn't vouch for myself. I hope I'd do what needed to be done, but I would hesitate to guarantee it.

Re books and toys: I can't stand literature directed specifically at women, apart from Sara Paretsky's mysteries. And the toy problem is very, very old, and not easily solved. Check out Saki's "The Toys of Peace."

Posted by: waterfowl on May 6, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Compare the 50 greatest chick flick wit the 50 greatest guy flicks and you can see how disturbing our the stereotypes in the movie biz.

I mean, Dirty Harry is the first one, and that bozo never has has any gal friends in the whole movie, all he does is shoot this big gun and sneer. Clint eventually figured out how to direct better movies, but what kind of bozos watch Dirty Harry.

Then check out the Devils Rejects. I mean this has much more violence, and the boys and girls are involved, I mean sex with dead people, cutting people up, real gory criminals, much more violence than Dirty Harry. But the director generates sympathy for these viscious thugs.

Why do men watch movies with great big violent heors?

I think the men who like Dirty Harry and Die Hard because they have a hidden sexual thing for men and they can only find relief in lousy movies. Men who like these things are secretly looking for a sexual fantasy of daddy giving a spanking, the sexual thrill they can never get out of fear of castration.

Posted by: Matt on May 6, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

What ever happened to the concept of a "role model?" Is it too PC for this crowd?

Children's entertainment isn't about portraying cold, unfiltered reality. If African-Americans are more likely to commit crimes, perhaps it is because they have fewer non-criminal role models. I'd think that the tendency to see them portrayed as more violent in children's entertainment is an obvious issue.

We reap what we sow, folks. It's amazing how much the right's worship of the marketplace blinds them to simple causality.

Posted by: modus potus on May 6, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

some commenter wrote:
"White people and males dominate G-rated films because those are the viewers"

Outright crap. The majority of viewers of G-rated films are females.

Posted by: Nathanael Nerode on May 6, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Feathers McGraw: "I think the studios are hobbling themselves creatively by not exploring a whole range of stories involving female characters."

I agree completely. There are also female ways of telling stories that studios don't get--and we don't necessarily want stories about butt-kicking or feisty women who can compete in a male world and don't need men. Lara Croft is a male idea of what a strong woman should be.

brainchild: "people have a strong tendency to copy what they see, and when they see something frequently they accept it as "normal"."

Again, I agree, but the problem is the moment a camera starts filming it becomes a filter to portray a chosen reality. Choices are made about who gets to be in the picture and who gets to be admired. And a huge cultural/political battle is being fought over who gets to control the choices. All this study found is that a particular agenda, much beloved by many of us, didn't "win." We know that already, hence the total meltdown that is Bushco.

modus potus: " If African-Americans are more likely to commit crimes, perhaps it is because they have fewer non-criminal role models."

Do you also blame "gangsta" music on a lack of positive role models and exploitative studios?

There have been some great films made that appeal primarily to the African American market full of very real people and positive role models. But when a researcher looks at the top-grossing G-rated films, films that appeal to a general audience, those films will have to appeal to white audiences, and those audiences won't necessarily suspend disbelief just because role models are good. I sometimes think the positive role model thing can be rather pathetic--white directors/film writers can be so middle class. Oh, look! A brilliant black surgeon, and SHE's married and pregnant!

Multiculturalism is very, very tricky.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 6, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Some ignoramus wrote:
"haven't you heard of the federal law Title IX, which has steadily killed off many sports opportunities for men?"

Again, total crap.

Sports opportunities for men must be provided at approximately the same level as sports opportunities for women, under Title IX. Invariably this means slightly more for men than for women.

The problem is that a lot of colleges have decided to put, essentially, their *ENTIRE* men's sports budget into football. Leaving very few opportunities for men who don't want to play football. This happens at high schools too.

If you want to play football, you have every opportunity, with twelve or more strings. If you want to play something else, you have a problem.

This has nothing to do with Title IX, and everything to do with the disgusting "football culture" under which the football programs are given infinite amounts of money, football scholarships, exemptions from academic performance requirements, multiple paid coaches, etc., etc. If there were a similar program on the women's side (actually, I hear that cheerleading is like that at a few schools), it would choke out all other women's sports the way football chokes out all other men's sports.

Posted by: Nathanael Nerode on May 6, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Another thoughtless person wrote:
"Not enough females in crowd scenes? Maybe there's just a larger stock of male extras looking for work."

Very, very unlikely. The number of unemployed wannabe actresses in Hollywood is much larger than the number of unemployed wannabe actors. This has been true for generations.

Please, before dismissing this sort of study, get a clue.

Posted by: Nathanael Nerode on May 6, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

You've tested them all in things like major industrial disasters, assassination plots, wars? Or you just knew that they didn't panic, had defenses, and . . . um, were useful? Nice for you.

Posted by: waterfowl on May 6, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's an amazing thing, but most people do not panic unless taken by a crowd hysteria. Considering how few women have, in recent time, been exposed to war situations, it seems they are no more likely to panic than men and just as likely to behave heroically--stupidly might be another adjective as it is in disregard of one's own life.

None of us know how one might react in any future circumstance. May be it's the fear of NOT being brave that makes one so; I don't know. You might be "brave" today and a coward tomorrow.

If a person, in adversity and under pressure, responds with looking for a solution rather than whining/weeping and throwing up their hands; tries to take control over a situation; engages those around to make a plan; looks to help others around them . . .. Clues abound as to how people behave.

No, it is not only men who have been heroic in the past. Women are at least the equal.

Posted by: notthere on May 6, 2006 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

"brainiac": So you want the movies to portray some politically correct liberal wet dream of a society, rather than the world as it really is, do you?

Right! Hollywood already does an excellent job of portraying absolute reality and doesn't need these politically correct liberals and their wet dreams messing that up.

Posted by: eye roll on May 6, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Yet, white males ARE more likely to be in committed relationships than African American males.

And Black Americans commit violent crimes at about 7X the rate of white Americans

And African Americans make up about 40% of the US prison population.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 6, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

This post really bothered me as there is no comparison of like to like. Poverty levels? White "trash" to poor blacks. Inner city and country? Court prosecution rates and sentencing; well known to be biased?

Not a good comparison. Some how they ARE bad people! I don't think so.

Posted by: notthere on May 6, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

Not only are things not improving, they're going backwards. TV is more racially segregated than it was in the 70s, f'r instance.

And the lack of women in the top-grossing movies has more to do, I think, with what kinds of movies are top-grossers: they tend to be testosterone-heavy tales of male derring-do in which lots of things get blown up. The plot, dialog, and character arcs tend to be peripheral, if not actually vestigial.

Speaking as a woman, let me say I like a good explosion now and then. I hoot and holler at pyrotechnics as much as anyone. But I demand a STORY to go with it; a story told by and about characters I can understand and sympathize with, with dialog that's a few levels up from pre-adolescence.

When all you're gonna give me is tough guys talkin' trash and blowin' shit up, and the only female in the flick is some dumbass eye candy who exists as a prize for the hero, I'm not going to give you my money. Because that kind of movie says absolutely nothing to me.

Crouching Tiger? Loved it. Both Kill Bills? Loved 'em. Pulp Fiction? Loved that one, too. They were amazingly violent; there was a lot of profanity (in the last two); there were mofos and heroes. But there were also compelling stories, whip-snap witty intelligent dialog, and women who were active, heroic/villainous drivers of the action.

I love the X-Men franchise; didn't even bother seeing the Fantastic Four. Why? Again: in X-Men, the female characters are as complex, capable, brilliant, and good/evil as the men, while F4 gave us a vapid Jessica Alba to go with a generally vapid and unintelligent storyline.

You know, it's not rocket science. Some women just don't like being treated or protrayed as afterthoughts.

(I'd say 'most women,' but sadly, we seem to be moving backwards in that regard as well.)

Posted by: CaseyL on May 6, 2006 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

I like little boys.

Posted by: Don/GOP/Al on May 6, 2006 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Girls and Women get dragged to boy movies far more often than the other way around, and that factor overshadows almost any other part of the dynamic you can name.

Posted by: Kenji on May 6, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Right! Hollywood already does an excellent job of portraying absolute reality and doesn't need these politically correct liberals and their wet dreams messing that up.

Right! The problem isn't that movies are unrealistic, it's that they're unrealistic in a politically incorrect way.

Posted by: shakes head on May 6, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sports opportunities for men must be provided at approximately the same level as sports opportunities for women, under Title IX. Invariably this means slightly more for men than for women.
The problem is that a lot of colleges have decided to put, essentially, their *ENTIRE* men's sports budget into football. Leaving very few opportunities for men who don't want to play football. This happens at high schools too.
This has nothing to do with Title IX, and everything to do with the disgusting "football culture" under which the football programs are given infinite amounts of money, football scholarships, exemptions from academic performance requirements, multiple paid coaches, etc., etc.

Football is a major profit center at many Div. I-A schools. It frequently bankrolls the entire athletic department. Universities that worship the football culture do so for one reason - $$$.
And don't think I'm some apologist for football, in fact I don't particularly enjoy watching it

Most existing women haven't the foggiest idea how they would actually fare in an emergency.

And most men would?

Posted by: Peter on May 6, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

I fantasize about little girls.

Posted by: BB/Pale Rider/Apollo 13 on May 6, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

notthere:"This post really bothered me as there is no comparison of like to like"

It is gut-wrenching to come up against this kind of stark statistic, I agree. Personally, the one that gets me is the one about African-American men committing violent crimes at 7X the rate of white men....Imagine what that suggests about the cultural experience of young black men.

But the post was addressing the Annenberg report complaint that nonwhites were shown being violent more often than whites. Nonwhites--at least African American nonwhites--ARE violent more often than whites. Why is certainly associated with the social pathology of poverty. The prison figures are exacerbated by unfair sentencing & prosecution. The marriage rates are also affected by poverty and the number of young men in jail. As a society, we haven't been very successful changing those social problems. (On the other hand, young African Americans are now the racial group with the highest levels of self-esteem in the USA, even though they are the worst students.)

But the Annenberg report was complaining--with regard to women--that G-rated films didn't reflect reality and--with regard to nonwhites--that G-rated films DID reflect reality.

You know, it is all fiction. Personally, I like my reality straight-up, not manipulated to cushion my ideology.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 6, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

I was the production manager on an animated feature film for one of the major studios. From my experience I can say that the reason that animated films skew male is that the writers and animators are men. For the same reasons that novels written by men tend to have male protagonists more frequently and more male characters overall, so do animated films. It's been said a million times, but it's still true - when womem have parity in the writing and producing of films, we will see something approaching parity in the sexes appearing on the screen.

Posted by: Amy Richards on May 6, 2006 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

But the post was addressing the Annenberg report complaint that nonwhites were shown being violent more often than whites.

But then you have the various Law and Order shows. According to estimates about 80% of the criminals on the shows are white (and usually middle or upper class), when in fact they are set in NYC, where 90+% of criminals are nonwhite. So these things work both ways.

Posted by: Peter on May 6, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Most children see enough women during the middle of the day. A little balance in the movies isn't all bad.

I suppose you think there are too many men in gay X-rated movies.

Posted by: Al on May 6, 2006 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose you think there are too many men in gay X-rated movies.

I dint know they made Gay X-rated movies..

How do you know?

Posted by: Mach Tuck on May 6, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

And really AL who watches porno for the Acting Ability?

I guess you have created another 'First'

Posted by: Mach Tuck on May 6, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who actually works in "Da Swamp" of Hollyweird as a writer, let me tell you that the Kiss of Death is to write a script with a female lead, and that has been going on for the 30 years I have direct knowledge, only it's gotten worse in the past 15 years. This is really a sad thing, because I once sold a script (that didn't get made eventually) with a female lead in an action role, which had originally been a male, but was rewritten during the 1988 strike. It was amazing, the new character had to use brains, and the solution to the story wasn't an M-60 with 500 rounds of full metal jacket. She was INTERESTING!

For those who don't know this, the character of "Ripley" in the original "Alien" was originally written as a male. It was pure chance that Ridley Scott decided to turn things on their head and change that, and that only after a great screen test by Sigourney Weaver who was up for the other female role (which would have been the only female role) in the movie.

But then, as David Freeman once said, "Hollywood is the last respectable outlaw profession for upper class white boys." Most of whom were the dorks who couldn't get a date in high school, though none will ever admit such (I could get a date, but not at my school).

I would really love to have been able to work in the Good Old Days, when you could write for women like Betty Davis and Lauren Bacall and Katharine Hepburn and all the rest of those great, gutsy women, and get to write INTERESTING screnplays, instead of the toilet-paper substitute the corporate widget-makers now want.

Posted by: TCinLA on May 6, 2006 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

Most children see enough women during the middle of the day. A little balance in the movies isn't all bad.

I suppose you think there are too many men in gay X-rated movies.

Posted by: Al on May 6, 2006 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

All too sadly, many kids do not see enough of their fathers or any men in reality (not movies=fiction).
=======================================================

I had sex last night for the time since 1971. Yeah, it suck to be me.

Posted by: Al on May 6, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Was that your left or right hand?

Posted by: notthere on May 6, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Not enough females in crowd scenes? Maybe there's just a larger stock of male extras looking for work.

Yeah, 'cause you know how all of those extras hang around animation studios just waiting to be cast ...

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 6, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

while F4 gave us a vapid Jessica Alba to go with a generally vapid and unintelligent storyline.

A scantily-clad vapid Jessica Alba, please. Although not nearly scantily-clad-enough to warrant even the matinee fee.

Posted by: Anarch on May 6, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

I want to add that, although I seem to be arguing differently, I really would prefer that movies aimed at children contain a variety of positive role models for all children. Yes, women should appear in crowd scenes in equal numbers. How hard can that be? I also don't understand why 37% of white males or 62% of nonwhite males should be shown as violent or dangerous. THAT definitely doesn't match reality and isn't good for anyone.

At the same time, children are tough little birds--there is a reason why, say, Charlie and the Chocolate factory is more popular than...oops, CCF is PG. Okay, why Whale Rider is more popular than...oops, another PG. Okay, Harry Potter...oops, that's ALSO PG. Harriet the Spy?...PG.

What WAS on That List of 101 G-rated films?
Among others, 101 Dalmatians; A Bug's Life; Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland; Aladdin; Babe; Anastasia; Beauty and the Beast; Cirque du Soleil; Gone with the Wind; Homeward Bound; Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius; Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie; Jungle Book; Lion King; Mulan; Pochantas; Princess Diaries, Secret Garden, Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Wild Hearts Can't be Broken...

Okay, I look at this list and what occurs to me is that adult reality is not what these movies are about. I wonder if the authors classified the dominance, disconnection and destructiveness of various animal species as white, non-white or animal? I see movies for boys and movies for girls and movies for both. The films draw on stories from many times and cultures.

Does archtype mean anything anymore or is that just something we opera lovers understand?

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 7, 2006 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Do we want more women on screen, or do we want more roles that celebrate traditionaly feminine traits?

I mean, you could take any cookie cutter action movie and put in a female instead of a male and only have minor plot changes...

But where is the movie that celebrates the housewife?

O yeah, they are boring.

Movies based on the traditional male traits...action, independence, etc are more interesting.

That doesn't mean cooking isn't neccesary and honorable, just that it is boring.

Interesting movies will be about masculine charecters, even if the actor you choose has a vagina.

Posted by: ed on May 7, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, ed. Heroism, patriotism, adventurousness and courage are male traits. The only chicks who are heroic, patriotic, adventurous and courageous are dykes or, y'know, trying to catch a husband.

And heaven knows there's no end of action movies based on those exciting, male-dominated professions such as accounting, high school shop teacher, and Republican lobbyist.

Posted by: CaseyL on May 7, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

We may philosophize about why girls will see boy movies but not vice versa, but the fact is pretty undeniable. And it's not just because writers, directors, etc are men.

Jo Rowling became J K Rowling because she was told boys wouldn't read a book by a woman. Would Harriet Potter have made her author a gigabuck?

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on May 7, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

CaseyL:

No, you missed my point. Women have those traits, but they are traditionaly defined as masculine traits.

I'm talking about masculine/feminine roles outside of the idea of penis or vagina.

You could put a man in as an average housewife and men wouldn't watch it, penis in the lead role or not.

I'm asking, where are the movies that celebrate traditional female roles, and why don't they make money?

Posted by: ed on May 7, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

The main reason the Miyazaki films didn't do as well as the disney trash because disney did everything in their power to limit Studio Gibli's market penetration. They kept Naushika out of the video market (with the exception of bootleg subtitled versions) for nearly 15 years. Miyazaki eventually broke down and signed a distribution contract with disney in part to limit the pirated versions that were popping up at the SF and comic conventions. Princess Mononoke was a huge hit in Japan and English voices were recorded simultaniously with the Japanese version with an eye on the US market. Disney promised immediate distribution, but renegotiated as soon as they had copies of the film. The reason was that disney was copying the background and zoom effects that Niyazaki invented for the film to use in Tarzan. Disney than held up the release until after Tarzan and then spent only a tiny fraction on marketing and released to something like only a third as many theaters. None of Miyazaki's films have gotten the heavy marketing or widespread distribution of any G film produced in the US. Disney has seen to that.

Posted by: joe on May 7, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

A few weeks ago I rented The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio, with Julianne Moore in the lead role. I don't know how well the movie did in the box office.

But it was a movie about a housewife in the 50s and 60s who is married to an alcoholic man who drinks up a good deal of his paycheck. She writes winning jingles for ads, and manages to keep the family with 10 kids in clothing and food. The movie is based on a true story.

I really liked it, but my guess is that some men would find it quite uncomfortable to watch. Also some Roman Catholics would not like it. The movie doesn't make a big deal about this, but there is one scene where Julianne's character Evelyn talks to a priest because her husband is becoming increasingly violent and she's worried about her kids. The priest basically tells her to just suck it up. But as I said, the movie doesn't make a big deal about this.

Middle aged women watch movies, too, and many of us would like to see fewer mindless shoot em up type movies and more thoughtful movies, with strong characters, male or female, and of various ethnicities.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on May 7, 2006 at 2:10 AM | PERMALINK

Feathers McGraw hit on the main problem: girls are willing to see films that feature boys as the protagonists, but boys absolutely refuse to see films that have girls as the protagonists. And when you have, say, two kids to take to the movies, most parents will defer to what the boy wants to see to prevent arguments and tantrums.

I suspect this is partially due to what's usually provided as "girl" entertainment. I'm female and couldn't get up any particular enthusiasm to see "A Little Princess," though I loved the book.

She has a point. Suppose instead of yet another film about a young girl who wants to be an ice skater, equestrian or gymnast, make her a basketball or volleyball player instead? I think a few more boys would be interested in that, because they can relate to those sports (more team emphasis, and less on "feminine" stereotypes). But the marketing people might not go for it, since it would go against traditional demographics, where girls are hammered over the head to have "princess" dreams (Disney has been particularly relentless in this), thus turning them into the pliable, dimwitted shopgirls of tomorrow.

Posted by: Vincent on May 7, 2006 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

'I suspect this is partially due to what's usually provided as "girl" entertainment. I'm female and couldn't get up any particular enthusiasm to see "A Little Princess," though I loved the book.'

An interesting example, since the film was excellent. In fact, Warner Brothers released it in early 1996 to rave reviews and almost no box-office.

Then, during the fall election, Bob Dole did onw of those court-ordered blame-Hollywood tirades (like Mr. Viagra ever gave a shit about stuff like that), mainly due to the lack of G-rated movies. WB's response was to rerelease the film with more advertising -- and there was even less business that time.

The real reason, ratings aside, is as I stated above: boys won't go see a movie with "Princess" in the title, but girls have no problem watching all the little princes that dominate kid flicks -- or did until recently.

Posted by: Kenji on May 7, 2006 at 4:30 AM | PERMALINK

NOT G-rated but a good movie, I thought:

Mrs. Henderson Presents.

Great acting and script. Strong woman boss meets strong man; second strong woman in tragic role. Great eye candy (tits), music and singing.

I give it an A-rating.

Now if it had only been called Mr. Van Damm Presents Non-Action Breasts! This might have been a blockbuster.

And if the Lord Chancellor in the UK could allow this in the 30s, you'd think by now the same thing could get a lower rating on the screen.

Of course we've just had John Ashcroft. And Gonzalez's breast-covering proclivities have yet to be revealed.

God help the United States. We are soooo prudish.

Posted by: notthere on May 7, 2006 at 5:08 AM | PERMALINK

More people saw my tape than all the G-rated movies put together!

Posted by: paris hilton on May 7, 2006 at 5:57 AM | PERMALINK

I was also thinking that maybe whites are shown in more films than blacks because G-Rated films are supposed to be more wholesome and innocent and often traditional than other films. Since blacks and hispanics have higher average levels of social pathologies (crime, single mothers, substance abuse, poverty, violence, etc.) we subconsciously associate wholesome and innocent more with white families which are more likely to have both parents, and live more comfortable and stable lives, and where issues are dealt with more thru dialogue than violence.

Just a thought

Posted by: John on May 7, 2006 at 6:02 AM | PERMALINK

Just a thought

Posted by: John on May 7, 2006 at 6:02 AM | PERMALINK

It's a nice thought but a typical response. Are you white?

Do we, subconsciously? Do we look at how we treat our poor; white, black, whatever?

Why don't we separate out the poverty involved in the decisions these people make?

There are two groups of people whose poverty we sustain. Black people, particularly domestic over Somali, Ethiopian, etc., and Native Americans, the first people here. Why?

There is a lot of racism (and poverty prejudice) still alive in the US today and I expect it to expand and show itself against Hispanics in the future (over and above present visible prejudice).

Posted by: notthere on May 7, 2006 at 6:40 AM | PERMALINK

One of the finest movies about young kids ever made is the 1964 movie "The World of Henry Orient". Two teenage girl leads -- Tippy Walker and Merrie Spaeth. They play 14 year old friends, one of whom falls in love with a 5th rate concert pianist, Henry Orient (Peter Sellers). The supporting cast is fantastic (Sellers, Angela Lansbury, and Paula Prentiss), but the two girls are 90% of the movie. In several scenes the camera just fixes on the two of them talking, just long takes, 3-4 minutes, as if the director were saying, "Don't look away. This is the most interesting thing in the world." And for awhile it is.

As for other movies, it would be a great double bill to show Tiger Bay (Hayley Mills) and The Professional (Natalie Portman) together. Two films about young girls falling in love with men who have murdered. Mills shares the screen with her distinguished father who allows her (or not) to act him off the screen. Portman's role is showier and gaudier in a more ludicrous plot, but she's similarly accomplished.

One way of encouraging Hollywood to make more movies about girls is to support the movies that are made.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on May 7, 2006 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

This is what people that buy movie tickets want to see.

How do you know that? I would wager that folks would watch whatever Disney decided to slap on the screen.

Also, about the Martians. Are women and minorities really that alien to you? Or is it that you think that (like martians) they don't really exist?

Posted by: JT on May 7, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Hey everybody,

I don't know if anybody has mentioned it yet, but most crimes have a perp and a victim of the same race (whites killing whites, blacks robbing blacks, etc.). Local news channels tend to focus on interracial crime to a greater extent than on, for instance, white-on-white crime because it has more drama and creates more paranoia, which means more ratings. No wonder people who watch local news tend to be more stressed and paranoid than people who don't. This means that when you see in a movie a white guy gets robbed by another white guy, the movie is being more statistically accurate than if the robber or the victim were black. In fact, considering the fact that you do still see plenty of criminals in movies who are black or latino robbing from white people, movies are skewing in this sense towards what white conservative males believe than reality in this sense.

Posted by: Yo on May 7, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

One of the stereotypes today is that it is manly to act, not think. Damn the consequences! The counterpart to this view is that it is a feminine trait to examine problems, consider solutions and compromises. And the vast majority of american sheep buy into these factors - There are more men in positions of power than women/Having a position of power is evidence of postive personal characteristics/Manly men are portrayed in popular culture as dumb, unthinking brutes who charge ahead, guns-ablazin'/Even 'thinking men', and come on, you've all seen this in the movies, are men of action, down deep - witness the stabbing strokes at the keyboard in any current espionage film, making data processing, (which is really what makes the world go round, and which is REALLY BORING, lets face it data junkies)seem second on the excitement scale only to mowing down ranks of invading (and probably non-white) marauders. We are taught that thinking a problem over is a bad thing (yes, this means, as well, the collection of trolls posting on this topic, with such preciously well presented gems as '90% of crimes in New York are commited by non-whites", the subtext being, 'so let's kill anyone who isn't white'. First off, what's your source -Worldnetdaily, fauxnews? Second off all, is this the actual crimes commited or prosecutions - let's look at numbers of convictions of non-whites versus number of plea bargains with sealed records of whites. Or the fact that possession of powder coke still merits a slap on the wrist, holding rock with get you the nightstick lullaby. Basically, how do you haters sleep at night, there are so many things in the world you must hate, it must bug you half to death to know that there is no longer enough wood left in the US for all the cross-burnings you want to do. FUCKERS!) But I'm off track. The simple fact is that we don't want to think, especially in popular entertainment. We want mindless violence. This is considered a masculine point of view, but the reason that women as well will watch this garbage, is because women do not want to think either. WOMEN BUY THIS BULLSHIT VIEWPOINT TOO. Children with parents who care will actively fight this, and not because gender roles are environment based - you cannot teach a little boy to enjoy playing house, boys are more aggressive naturally. But, you can teach them not to buy into thug/republican/hate culture. Likewise, with little girls, you can not, I believe, teach a girl to enjoy violence for its own sake - women, environmentally, are thinkers and nurturers. Little girls can be taught, however, not to just roll over for any thug/republican/hater, to be assertive, to stand for what's right

Posted by: sparky on May 7, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

I don't buy this "study".

I followed the links, and found no actual data on the study. In fact, if you try to follow all the links, you'll wind up at a dead-end at an unregistered URL.

For many years, G movies have gone out of their way to be PC. Pocahontas, Tarzan, etc. come to mind. Almost always, minority characters are portrayed as thoughtful and good, and usually need protection from evil, white males bent on destruction.

This story doesn't wash.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on May 7, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

John: "I was also thinking that maybe whites are shown in more films than blacks because..."

Because the white audience is 75-85% of the US market?

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 8, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

RE: For many years, G movies have gone out of their way to be PC. Pocahontas, Tarzan, etc. come to mind. Almost always, minority characters are portrayed as thoughtful and good, and usually need protection from evil, white males bent on destruction.

Comments like these are indicative of a tired ideological myopia typical of the blogosphere, sportsfan79.

Did you even see Pocahontas or Tarzan? Is there some alternate universe that you have visited where animated films marketed primarily to children have EVER been historically accurate or non-PC? Lets see, in The Lion King, the main animated characters are depicted as kind and noble. I dont recall any scene in which the lions are shown as they would be in real life, hunting down and tearing apart prey. And would you care to explain exactly how early Disney classics like Cinderella or Snow White were non-PC?

On the other hand, Disneys Tarzan did not depict non-white characters at all. None. Nada. Zip. Of course, the film also transformed the novels ape-reared British aristocrat into someone much more resembling an American surfer-dude. And exactly who was the evil, white male in the enormously successful Aladdin, and who were the thoughtful, good minorities? How about Beauty and the Beast? Are you seriously suggesting that the Beast represented a minority? Or that Belles village friends were really disguised non-whites? Or how about The Little Mermaid? Wasnt the main villain a (gasp) woman?

Of course, there are tons of teens, and even quite a few children, who are drawn to Japanese anime, manga and anime-influenced animation. Good luck trying to find simplistic notions of PC or non-PC represented here. Strange, isnt it, that people embrace this work even though it doesnt necessarily feature protagonists who are male, stereotypes, or look like the people who watch it.
Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles. Which of these films are offensively PC?

Posted by: Alec on May 8, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Guess you didn't look very hard, sparky.

http://www.thriveoncreative.com/clients/seejane.org/pdfs/nielson.film.titles.pdf

Posted by: Nick on May 8, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

And if it is the case that boys of a certain age won't read books by/about women, or watch movies where girls are even just relegated to the background (17% of crowd scenes?!) - then why is that?

-Dan S.

Posted by: Dan S. on May 8, 2006 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Dan S.: "And if it is the case that boys of a certain age won't read books by/about women, or watch movies where girls are even just relegated to the background (17% of crowd scenes?!) - then why is that?"

I've already spent too much time on this thread, but this is an interesting question!

Eleanor Maccoby and other developmental psychologists who have looked at children's play styles find that boys and girls choose to play with same sex playmates from fairly early on. (At least in playground, free choice, "open field" settings. One on one, they'll play together.) Here is one study.

This preference for same sex playmates seems to originate from the children themselves, and it appears to be the girls that pull away first. Parents and other adults seem to have little influence over it. It may have something to do with play styles and speech habits. Little boys tend to be more competitive, dominant, they interrupt more, use language to show off and are more likely to order people about. Their play tends to occur in large groups. They enjoy rough and tumble play.

Little girls tend to play more cooperative games, they use language for social cohesion, like having and following rules, take turns, prefer to play in groups of two or three, are less physical. They are willing to comply with male directions, but the boys won't be influenced by the girls. So the girls don't want to play with the boys.

Translate these differing play styles to movies, which are by definition a group medium and entertainments, and you have a partial answer. It is much easier to tell a story with boy-style physical action. Competition--the implicit threat of losing--is always an attention getter. Humor is much easier with an interrupting, bossy, scatological boy-speech style.

Make a movie for girls--I've always wished someone would make Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink into a film, for example--about a group of little girls being cooperative, caring for little creatures, playing house, dressing up, making new friends, and being orderly. Little girls would resonate to such a story, but the little boys won't be interested. Put in a pirate, a sword fight, a sinister outgroup and the boys will be more enthusiastic.

Ah, some will say, that is because boys have been socialized to be dominant! We must teach them the alternate better way! Alas, one of the frustrations for feminists is that some deep aspects of human behavior are not so easily attributed to socialization.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 8, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Dan S.:"...movies where girls are even just relegated to the background (17% of crowd scenes?!)"

I didn't address this part of the question. This part I think is just laziness on the part of casting/animation. I suspect boys wouldn't be bothered if crowd scenes were 50-50.

On the other hand, what is realism? It depends on where the crowd scene happens. I was India last Christmas and in some parts of India the absence of women in public places was startling to the Western eye.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 8, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

What makes a blockbuster- teenage boys seeing the movie multiple times. That is the target demographic. The rest is fringe. NB- Titanic's huge success was due to both teenage boys and girls going for multiple viewings.

Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech on May 8, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Consider this...I have been drawing cartoons all my life and now make a living at it. Before I had to, I don't think I ever drew a woman. It was just too hard. Draw a circle with two dot eyes, a "C" for a nose, and a smiley mouth and...you have a man. Do the same thing with curly hair and you have...a man in a wig. Is it any wonder most cartoon crowds are mostly male?

Boys who draw veer to the grotesque, and that's who become animators. Cartoons are about goofiness, and men aren't comfortable with girl buffoons. So you have your Madonnas like Snow White, but for every one of her there are seven dopey, grumpy male sidekicks not far behind.

How many Looney Tunes characters were female? What Disney and Hanna Barbera shorts stars were females who weren't girlfriends? For that matter, how many Sesame Street Muppets?

Weird guys generate goofiness, and their Madonna/whore complexes and inability to easily draw women are at the heart of this issue.

Posted by: David on May 8, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Ptate, seriously. The issue isn't why boys and girls won't watch movies based on extreme gender stereotyping - which, while based on quite possibly characteristic traits (however originating), are neither universal nor expressed at the same intensity across the board. It's (my question), why young boys would, if that is the case, so strongly reject female characters or creators, and more broadly, why do filmmakers provide such underrepresentation of females.

Of course, if boys (even animated ones) can only play rambunctious roles (forgetting various shows where boys, alone or with girls, show some variety of, ie, nurturing behavior) and girls can only sit and talk and play quietly (forgetting all the shows where they do anything else.

"Ah, some will say, that is because boys have been socialized to be dominant!"
Well, yes. That might be only one piece of the puzzle, but whatever else is going on, boys are socialized to be competitive, etc.

"Alas, one of the frustrations for feminists is that some deep aspects of human behavior are not so easily attributed to socialization."
It's hard to say. Whatever the deep aspects might be attributed to, the shallow aspects are fairly easily attributed to socialization.

Given the track record of "human behavior" or human nature as a justification of all sorts of societal inequalities/injustices/statusquo perpetuation, it's understandable why folks - rightly, wrongly, or both - would be a bit suspicious.

Posted by: Dan S. on May 8, 2006 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

RE: What makes a blockbuster- teenage boys seeing the movie multiple times. That is the target demographic. The rest is fringe. NB- Titanic's huge success was due to both teenage boys and girls going for multiple viewings.

Titanics box office success was NOT simplistically related to teenage boys dominating viewership. According to a Newsweek survey two months after the movies release, 60 percent of Titanics American audience were women, and 63 percent were under 25. Forty-five percent of women under 25 who had seen the movie had seen it twice, while 76 percent of all repeat viewers planned to see it again. Also, about two-thirds of the films box office receipts came from foreign markets, and in countries like Japan and South Korea, Titanic was particularly embraced by teenage and young adult women.

Also note that with the case of Asians and other cultures, the film was spectacularly successful even though the viewers did not have a burning need to see characters who looked like them.

While the Star Wars films still skew more male than female, the same was NOT the case with any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

JK Rowling was initially encouraged to use initials on the assumption that boys would not buy or read a book by a woman author. But now, not only are the Harry Potter films spectacularly successful with both boys and girls (and men and women), but Rowling is the first person of any gender to become a billionaire by writing books.

So by any realistic measure, the conventional wisdom that movie viewership is always driven by boys or by people who need to see people who look like themselves is just plain, flat-out wrong. By the way, I dont recall a big increase in LOTR viewership by elves and dwarves. Also, by the way, the success of some of the Marvel Comics based films (Spiderman and The X Men) is based on the universal themes of people who are treated like freaks or outsiders despite their untapped or hidden talents.


RE: On the other hand, what is realism? It depends on where the crowd scene happens. I was India last Christmas and in some parts of India the absence of women in public places was startling to the Western eye.

Great point, PTate. I noticed this as well when I visited India and Nepal a few years ago. On the other hand, there is no particularly reason that animation has to be socially or demographically realistic in any way. I suspect that some of the gender imbalance in animation is related to Davids point about weird guys satisfying their fantasies.

Posted by: Alec on May 9, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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