General

Feeding young minds

The general population of men in the world is not significantly larger than that of women. That said, I have noticed that the number of male characters in movies is far larger than that of females. For example, of Hollywood’s highest grossing movies from 2017 – 2018, only 33,1% of all speaking or named characters were women. This is not realistic, given that there are more women in the United States than men. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular animated movies since 2013; in Big hero 6, only two of the six heroes are female, and there are only four named female characters in the entire movie. Even Baymax, a robot, is shown as a male. In The Lego movie, there are more than 20 named male characters versus five named female characters. In both these movies, protagonist and villain are male. 

But even when both villain and hero are female, the ratio of male-to-female characters is still skewed. For instance, in Zootopia, there are only seven female characters and 13 male characters. In Frozen, the two main characters are girls, but besides them, there are only three other female characters and 12 male characters, including the two male snow-creatures that Elsa, one of the main female characters, brings to life. 

It has also come to my attention that when the main character of a movie is a girl, she almost always has to seek out the help of a man to overcome her problem or reach her destination. And very often this guy doesn’t actually want to help! In Frozen, Anna pays Christoff to take her to a mountain.  After his sleigh breaks, Christoff wants to leave Anna behind, but he doesn’t because ‘she will die on her own’. Does this mean that if a woman embarks on a journey by herself, she is almost certain to fail? Another case in point is Zootopia, in which Judy, a cop, uses blackmail to get Nick, a shady male fox, to help her with her case. He promises her only 48 hours of his time, but she later convinces him to be her partner. 

Given the amount of time children spend on screens these days, the educational value of movies should not be underestimated. And if stories are there to teach children about the real world, what do little girls and boys learn from these movies? Even if it really is more difficult for women to accomplish the things men do, is it not better to send girls into the world with confidence rather than doubt? Not to mention that boys also receive this message through movies. Also, when almost every female protagonist is a princess, how can anyone live up to that? Truth is, you can’t. Because you’re just you, and it looks as if that is not going to be enough – or is it?

By Francí Van der Vyver is a 16 year old self-educated girl who enjoys reading, writing and painting

Images credit: Photo (1976) is in public domain

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Uownit-SA is an online publication focused on collecting and publishing valuable and informed opinions from all the people of South Africa, published on the 15th of every month. Send us your views to contributions@uownit-sa.co.za.

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