Discuss: Is Pixar Sexist?

A gang of men. Animated men.

I know I’ll get hit immediately for extrapolating the argument a bit beyond the breaking point, but I think the question is a fun one – albeit a fun one in wolf’s clothing. Either male or female wolf’s clothing, of course.

Where would such a loaded question come from?

After the release of Up, Linda Holmes from NPR’s Monkey See wrote a fantastic open-letter to Pixar praising their work and also lamenting the lack of female main characters in their films. It makes sense. Even in the animated animal world, the protagonists are all male. The rats, the clown fishes, the cowboy and spaceman toys. The former superheroes, the cars and the ants. There have been some strong female characters, but they have never been the main focus of the story.

Holmes points out that Pixar plans on finally changing that tune with The Bear and the Bow sometime after 2011. Unfortunately, that main female, leading the charge of the story and the character arcs – is a princess.

I find myself oddly on the same side as Holmes, although I have trouble sympathizing as a male oppressor. There are a thousand princess stories. I’m wondering if another one is really what young women need.

Subtle Fight Club references aside, it raises an important question and raises an important fact about Pixar.

The question: Is Pixar sexist, and if so (or if not) should they have any responsibility to build a film around a strong non-princess character?

The fact: Pixar has embedded itself so far into the cultural psyche that it’s going to be held to a higher standard.

What do you think? Sexism? Higher standards? Does a company making some of the best movies out there have a responsibility to build those brilliant films around diverse, strong characters?

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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