Posts tagged women in media
Posts tagged women in media
Principles of Problematic Character Design, the First
The tendency of artists to keep female characters close to idealized human proportions, even when male characters’ proportions are dramatically stylized.
I remember talking to a guy in school who claimed that it was impossible to make goofy looking female characters and it was like dude, just because you don’t doesn’t mean no one can.
“In fact, by using her wits a seemingly defenseless pony can be the one who outsmarts and outshines them all.”
CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW THIS IS A KIDS TV SHOW WHERE THE ENTIRE MORAL OF AN EPISODE WAS THAT BEING FEMININE DOES NOT MAKE YOU WEAK
I’ve read a lot of great essays about how fandom is female-majority and creates a female gaze and a safe space for women and etc. But spend five minutes in fandom and you’ll have an unsettling question.
Why does a female-majority, feminist culture hate female characters so much?
It’s not a question of if it happens. You know it does. You can go into any fandom and see it. Some fandoms are worse than others, but it’s always there. Scroll down the Tumblr tag for any show, movie, book, comic, whatever, and you’ll see nothing but love for the men, and a lot of unjustified hate for the women, maybe with a few defenders here and there insisting on their love for the women in the face of all that hate.
To be clear, we’re not talking about female villains. Male villains get just as much hate. It’s fine if you hate Bellatrix Lestrange or Dolores Umbridge, you’re supposed to. (I personally stan for Bella, but I realize that wasn’t the authorial intent.) This is about people hating Hermione, Ginny and Luna, but loving Harry, Ron and Neville. This is about how ambiguous male antiheroes, like Snape, Zuko, or pretty much any male vampire protagonist can get away with walking that fine line between good and evil and not only remain sympathetic, but be even more beloved for how ~tortured~ he is, but when a female character is morally gray that bitch has to die.
So you can’t tell me it’s okay that you hate Sansa because you also hate Joffrey and he’s a dude. They’re not comparable. It isn’t even comparable if you pick a female antihero. Let’s do this apples to apples, here.
We all know that fandom does this. We all know that it’s fucked up and symptomatic of internalized sexism. What’s really fucking weird about it, though, is that the women doing this hating often aren’t ignorant. These are feminists. These are women who can go on meta-analyses of the writing. Some will hide behind pseudo-feminist reasons for their hate—oh, it’s the writing, we just aren’t given strong female characters! (I saw this used for the women of AtLA: Katara, Toph, Azula, et al. This was about when I just backed away slowly because I know a lost cause when I see it.) I’ve seen women who denied being sexist, but couldn’t name a single female character they liked. And it’s always that the female characters aren’t good enough, even when they obviously have a double standard, and they’re measuring women on an impossible scale full of contradictions and no-win binds, while the men are just embraced and loved pretty much for existing.
The reaction nearly every time one of these women is called out is not to say, “Huh, you may have a point, I should examine the way I judge and process women’s actions more closely,” but an insistence of their feminism, followed by a more detailed description of why that particular woman is terrible and she hates her, as if the whole point were not that fandom is already oversaturated with that kind of hate, and as if the person doing the calling out were not already 110% done with that bullshit.
Particularly telling is that male-dominated corners of fandom do not have this problem. They fetishize, they objectify, they ignore. They don’t hate like this.
We know it happens. What I want to know is WHY.
Theories follow below the cut.
This is long and wonderful and logical and important and you should all read every fucking word of it.
Why fandom hates female characters, and what we can do to make it better.
Read it. Really. It’s amazing. A bit close to home sometimes, but that’s a good thing, as many of these are things I’ve been guilty of and still work on.
Femmes dans les films
Source des chiffres : http://www.annenberg.usc.edu/News%20and%20Events/News/111121SmithGender.aspx
Omg you need to WATCH THIS TED TALK RIGHT NOW
It’s (almost entierly non-problematic) feminist: yes
It talks about social ques given to children through kid’s movies and the whole Magical Quest trope: yes
It talks about raising boys to respect women in a way that’s not just chilvarly: yes
It’s written by a man: yes
THIS! I am so doing this!
It doesn’t even have to come in the form of actual harrassment – just a glance at how female characters are presented in video games tells us everything we need to know about what kind of demographic most developers want to appeal to. It’s certainly not us women. Now, to get something out of the way as soon as possible, I’m not saying that ‘sexy’ character design always equals ‘bad’. Sometimes a sexy character design completely fits the character and the context. For example, Isabela from Dragon Age 2 is one of my favourite BioWare characters of all time, partly because her sexy appearance isn’t meant to titillate a presumably male audience, but is rather deeply rooted in her behaviour and lifestyle. No, the problem with ‘sexy’ character design is that it’s grossly overused, as if the only way a female character can be appealing is if she gives the player an erection. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that women sometimes feel alienated by that.
It’s not difficult to see why some women are turned off by the idea of gaming. It’s not that the actual gameplay is something women just aren’t built to do (which is a ridiculous idea), it’s the harrassment, the entitlement, the ‘boy’s club’ mentality, the lack of outrage at sexism when it happens, the character designers who think armor that exposes your midsection and cleavage is a good idea (hint: it’s a horrible idea, you will get stabbed in the heart and die before the battle has even begun). When my brother says that girls don’t play video games, he’s speaking from observation. He might not be consciously aware that developers intentionally cater to a largely male demographic while ignoring all the rest, that only 10% of developers are female, that 85% of playable characters in games are men, but he certainly feels the effects of it, even at such a young age.
In a perfect world, “xxxGamerGurlxxx” might not feel the need to emphasize her gender in gaming spaces. In a perfect world, she wouldn’t feel the effects of the gaming community’s broken perception of women every single day. She wouldn’t be painfully aware that every time she uses her headset she risks being treated like less than a person by people who thinks it should be okay to call women sluts and cunts at least somewhere. She wouldn’t feel like being a woman makes her different in any way when she picks up a controller. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world that needs us to fix it. And we can’t do that by being quiet.
(This is just an excerpt, go to the link to read the whole thing. Credit to Hannah Elstrom as the author.)
This is yet another great piece about how women feel alienated in “geek” spaces, in this case, video games. This is on topic also because she mentions that part of the alienation comes from the way women are depicted in video games and in promo art for video games, including battle bikinis that’s meant to be armor, and women’s attack poses that start with our butt facing the enemy. These things clearly mark gaming as something meant for hetero men, that women are meant to be the object, not the subject, and it does send a message to female gamers that this place is not for us.
Matt Lauer asked Anne about that photo of her vagina and she ended her response with: “I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies sexuality among unwilling participants, which brings me back to Les Mis.”
OK, like, sure, I’m vomiting all over Les Miserables, but that’s talent. She went from vagina photo to Les Mis without even blinking. And the Oscar goes to.
Anne Hathaway also shut down (skip to about 53 seconds) Jerry Penacoli when asked about her catsuit in Dark Knight Rises, by saying, “Are you trying to lose weight? What’s the deal, man? You look great. No, no, seriously, we have to talk about this… What do you want? Are you trying to fit into a catsuit?”
Speaking of douchebag Jerry Penacoli and his sexist manner towards women, Scarlett Johansson also called him out on his BS. And it was beautiful.
Or how about that time Emma Stone called out the indifference in interview questions in comparison to her male actor counterpart?
Emma Stone: They ask who is my style icon, what’s the one thing that I can’t leave my house without. I’m always like, “My clothes!” I can pretty much leave without anything. It’s fine as long as I’m not naked.
Andrew Garfield: I don’t get asked that—
Emma Stone: You get asked interesting, poignant questions because you are a boy.
Teen Vogue: It’s sexism.
Emma Stone: It is sexism.
Or going back to Scarlett Johansson, she did almost the exact same thing (skip to around 1:40):
Reporter: I have a question to Robert and to Scarlett. Firstly to Robert, throughout Iron Man 1 and 2, Tony Stark started off as a very egotistical character but learns how to fight as a team. And so how did you approach this role, bearing in mind that kind of maturity as a human being when it comes to the Tony Stark character, and did you learn anything throughout the three movies that you made? And to Scarlett, to get into shape for Black Widow did you have anything special to do in terms of the diet, like did you have to eat any specific food, or that sort of thing?
Scarlett: “How come you get the really interesting existential question, and I get the like, “rabbit food” question?
What I’m trying to say, really, is that I love how these actresses are stepping up to the contrast of females to males in Hollywood. Even though they have to go through the sexism, inequality and general rudeness of media outlets, they’re using their popularity to stand up to it and make others question what is wrong and unjustified in the way they are being treated.
So freaking happy to see all of those linked in one post, I love compilations.
I just want to say that this is why minority representation in the media matters. Mae Jemison was inspired to become an astronaut after watching Nichelle Nichols as Uhura on Star Trek.
Media is NEVER “just” media.
I am incredibly proud to present a project that I worked very hard on that has finally premiered on the internet! Over a year ago, back when I still worked at Hero4Hire Animation as the art director/lead design, I was given the reigns to direct a big project for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media. Its a wonderful foundation that fights for the interest of one of the things very closest to my heart; that being the portrayal of girls and women in animated media, as well as for equality of roles for women working within animation. Things are slowly changing (Rebecca Sugar being the first women to get her own show on CN!!!), but animation is still largely dominated by men, especially in roles of power like direction and creators. This is often reflected in the female characters that arise from this disparity, that can often be cookie cut outs, token in nature, or at worst just there for the pure reason of sassy eye candy. That’s not to say there aren’t great female characters in media, but the numbers are actually quite staggering. Even being really in tune with the issue myself I was blown clear away by the actual numbers when I attended the institutes conference in NYC last year. I’d recommend taking a look at the research found here, as it’s really eye opening.
So I got to meet Geena Davis. I’d never met a celebrity before, let alone sat down with one over tea to show her my drawings and pitch book for the short I had made for her foundation. It was a little nerve wracking as I sat there in the small NYC cafe waiting for her arrival, only made more so when she walked in and was the tallest person ever. Let me describe to you the inner monologue of someone who has a stunningly beautiful, 20 foot tall movie star walking at them:
“AAAAaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAA AA AAAAA”
Needless to say Geena is a rad lady and super nice. Also I managed to not make any “There’s no crying in baseball” jokes despite how my terrible brain kept a constant feed of them supplied to me throughout our ensuing conversation.
The project went through a few stages before the finished product. Initially it was drafted to be a more story based short. I’d written a 14 page script which even still I think is pretty funny/informative, about traveling through the various animated stereotypes of girls (and boys too!). Maybe someday that will see the light of day, but it ended up a studio decision in interest of time/funds to go with a more infographic style short piece instead. Which is fine, because flat art is my bread and butter baby. Aw yiss gimmie dat illustrator program.
Anyway before I get too far off and write a novel, I am super proud to present this piece for the foundation and SeeJane.org. It was a joy to work on, and a privledge to be given a writing, directing, and design position on it given the content. I am flattered that Hero4Hire and Geena put that much salt in me.
This project, of course, would be nothing without the others who made it possible. Adrian Garcia, whom I worked with on storyboards, also made the animatics and did most of the effects animation you see here that makes everything look so 3-D and beautiful. He’s such a pro. Dan Flynn and Mike Nordstrom who did all the beautiful character animation. Evan Sussman who did all the post work that really made this thing look special. And Mari Kidder! My super sweet intern turned junior design assistant who is going to graduate college this year! She came in for a week long whirlwind and saved our butts for which I will be forever grateful, haha. Oh man we would have died without her help aaa aaaa.
But I digress, This project was my baby. I would be honored if everyone took a peek at our little film, and even more honored if it helped people think a little harder about the issues it brings to the spotlight.
Wow this made me so happy I teared up. That flash video is so beautifully animated, and seeing how much work that went into it is amazing! Not to mention the message and the point of such an organization is an extremely positive one.