Seriously, Pixar. How many of these things do we have to write?

by Amy Kraft on June 10, 2009

Prior to taking Olive to her birthday screening of Pixar’s latest, Up, I read this impassioned letter by Linda Holmes on NPR.org, Dear Pixar, From All The Girls With Band-Aids On Their Knees. In it Holmes rightly points out that girls are conspicuously absent from the Pixar movies:

Of the ten movies you’ve released so far, ten of them have central characters who are boys or men, or who are anthropomorphized animals or robots or bugs who are voice by and imagined as boys or men. These movies feature women and girls to varying degrees — The Incredibles, in particular — but the story is never “a girl and the things that happen to her,” the way it’s “a boy and what happens to him.”

Interestingly, my husband recently sent me a similar argument after the release of Ratatouille by Catherine Price on Salon: To Pixar: We love it. But next time could you add a girl?

It’s not like Pixar doesn’t know how to make a good girl character. Linda Holmes already referenced the awesome Mrs. Incredible, Elastigirl. I enjoyed kick-ass EVE in WALL-E, and lately we’ve been watching Toy Story 2, introducing Olive to Jessie. Dory and Boo round out the lot of these lovely supporting characters. 

up_ellie

And then in Up, there’s Ellie. I could write a love letter to her, her character is so great. Pixar, you gave her about 15 minutes of screen time, but it only took us a minute to love her. Honestly, though I did like Up, I spent most of the movie wondering what it would have been like to have her as the central character. And yet, if you go to the official Up website, there is NO MENTION of her. Seriously. Go check out the synopsis, the characters, and the gallery. I’ll wait…

Nothing, right? NOTHING! Dear Pixar, don’t you realize that Ellie’s heart is what’s beating life throughout the film? 

So, I’d add my name to the petition for Pixar to create a girl-driven movie. Pixar, you were willing to take a huge risk on a senior citizen and a chubby boy as main characters, and I’m not denying that Carl and Russell are awesome characters, but I implore you to take a risk on a girl. And this is my promise to you: if you take the risk and give us a heroine the likes of Ellie or Elastigirl for a WHOLE MOVIE, I will take my daughter to see it no fewer than 3 times. I’ll even shell out the extra dough for 3-D, so hungry am I for you to make this movie. You can take that to the bank. PS – Don’t think we’re letting you off the hook with a princess movie. There’s no risk in that.

Sigh. I’m going to go watch some Miyazaki movies to cheer myself up.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tommy June 11, 2009 at 9:03 am

I totally agree, and I’m hoping that the newly announced Monsters Inc will be all about the now-older Boo having in adventure in Monstropolis.

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big cheese June 11, 2009 at 9:08 am

You’re so right, Tommy. Boo all grown up would have monster potential. :)

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Adina June 11, 2009 at 9:43 am

Behind a great man is a greater woman.

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Jonathan Maier June 12, 2009 at 1:33 pm

It was my 8-year-old daughter who first pointed out to me that the Pixar movies had no female leads. She told me that’s why she loved the recent Monsters vs. Aliens. She’s right—it has a BIG female lead.

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Ian June 14, 2009 at 5:51 pm

I’m glad you mentioned Miyazaki at the end of your post. John Lasseter and all of PIXAR are gigantic Ghibli fans and Im surprised they have barely done a film with a girl character while nearly all of Miyazakis films have the female lead. Truly remarkable.

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big cheese June 17, 2009 at 12:22 am

Ian, on our DVD of Kiki’s delivery service, when you play the movie you have to sit through John Lasseter pontificating on how much he loves the movie. And yet.

Jonathan, your daughter is awesome.

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Mark July 27, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Wonder if it has anything to do with toy merchandising. Pixar stories initially skewed towards boys, by and large, and so their merchandising (and a massive part of their revenue chain) skewed towards boys. Now with Disney as an owner—who, by and large, merchandises best with girls—it might simply be a divide-and-conquer approach to brands.

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