Whither the non-princess heroines?

Posted at 10:30 AM Jun 08, 2009

By Andrea Grimes

I haven't seen Pixar's latest adorable jaunt into adorable jaunts, Up, but word on the street is that it's yet another excellent Pixar product. And it comes from a long line of excellent Pixar products, with Toy Story and Ratatouille being two particular favorites of this Doll's. Everyone loves Pixar. But that doesn't mean the ladies don't want a little more from them. NPR's Linda Holmes says what many a film-going girl has wondered over the years: where are the girls like me on screen?

In an open letter to Pixar, Holmes makes a simple plea: "Please, please make one about a girl who isn't a princess."

I don't like to make movies political, especially kids' movies, if I can help it. Sometimes a princess is just a princess and should be taken as such.

At the same time, little Russell, in Up, is Asian-American, right? And that's not a big plot point; presumably, he just is because there's no particular reason he shouldn't be. You don't need him to be, but you don't need him not to be, either. It's not politics; it's just seeing the whole big world.

Well, the whole big world has a lot of little girls in it, too. And not all of them are princesses -- and the ones who are princesses have plenty of movies to watch.

Holmes makes a great point, here. There's nothing wrong with princess movies. But can't we give little girls another narrative? Kids who consume popular culture use films like Up as take-off points for their own imaginative play; don't we owe it to little girls to give them a character besides "princess," however spunky and self-sufficient said princess might be?


MichaelC said:

Hello? "The Incredibles"?

Andrea said:

Michael -

I think the author argues that the Incredibles has good female characters, but they are not leads. I haven't seen it, myself.

Paul said:


Aside from one female character who was designed to be a ditz (Finding Nemo), the females have been pretty good. But they've never taken top billing. And The Incredibles is primarily about Mr. Incredibles' mid-life crisis.



You haven't seen The Incredibles?


I mean, it's a great film and it's got some absolutely stellar scenes and...

Listen, do you just want to borrow my copy? I don't mind.

Andrea said:

Paul -

I really haven't seen it. I'm super awful with films--I almost never watch them, and there's a whole slew of classics I know plenty about but have never seen. It is not my pop culture strength.

Paul said:

Honestly, if that's the case, you are more then welcome to borrow my copy. The Incredibles is one of the few films I can pop in at any time and enjoy it.

Calvin said:

Yeah, I think it's on my desk right now. Always up for some 'Incredibles.' But, that may be the exception that proves the rule. It IS sad the lack of strong, lead females for kids that have anything normal about them. It is much easier to play the nerdy male turns hero than ugly girl turns... turns what? Into a pretty girl? What is the female gender's 'hero' character to be like for kids?

It is sad that our culture can't afford to be honest with its kids. After creating a system that values girls for outward beauty, making a kids movie that focuses OVERTLY only on beauty (All the Teen movies in the later post do this just fine) might seem harsh or cut too close to home for pre-teens. Ah well. Once the girls grow out of princesses and start watching teen movies, then they get to be the lead, and they get validated for becoming pretty at just the right age to attract the assholes. Yay!

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