If anyone here is a fan of, or watching the HBO hit series Game of Thrones, you will be noticing that it has already been filled with empowered women, from the Khaleesi and Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen, to the teenage assassin Arya Stark, to her sister Sansa, to the brave male-ish Brienne to the pre-teen Lady Mormont to the evil Queen Cersei Lannister. On the other hand, almost all of the male characters in the series – especially boys – are either dead, lame, stupid, assholes, or mentally retarded, or all of them. Remember the little Lord Robin Arryn whose maturity is so much delayed? And the timid late King Tommen? Or his “vicious, idiot” brother, the late King Joffrey?
Game of Thrones is just one of the slew of Western television and movie series that features empowered women. I am not against empowered women – in fact it has been great that this era’s humankind has mostly accepted women in most parts of the society, in stark contrast half a century ago or so when they were often prejudiced. We had been close to having a woman elected as President of the United States for the first time, but we have seen a woman for the first time leading one of the world’s most powerful country. We had already seen women toppling a formidable dictator and making important breakthrough in science and technology.
For the TVs and movies, we had already seen the girl versions of the previously successful franchises which had male leads. There had been Disney’s Girl Meets World, made as a sequel to the nineties series Boy Meets World. The recent Ghostbusters movie featured an all-female team of ghost hunters.
The problem is, most often, these serials and movies often show these empowered women while the male characters are often seen as stupid, vicious, assholes, or rather having every negative attribute known to the entire universe. Game of Thrones is one example. And too bad, most recent Disney literature featured this scenario. Many are noticing recently that Disney is shifting focus on girls, and their girl-orientedness is already approaching Barbie proportions. They are even running a program encouraging girls (and only girls?) to write computer codes. And many are accusing that their recent shows are “teaching girls that boys are stupid”.
For example, the hit animated series Frozen. Many boys began to hate the movie. And there’s one writeup by Richard Holt in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper criticizing the movie. The byline of the Telegraph article reads: “Disney’s wildly successful animated film Frozen peddles a form of female empowerment that caricatures men as idiots.” It also made special mention of the kiddie show Peppa Pig being the “worst offender” in showing empowered females at the expense of males.
There had also been an article which I stumbled upon, written by Allison Hull. Most likely she is a woman, but she is so deplored on this trend by Disney especially when concerning her sons. She had made example of every Disney movies that has been made and how they depicted males as losers while having a kick-ass female lead.
Who are the male role models in the Disney movies? Why do we have to push men to the side in order to encourage women?
And for the record, the Disney movies that followed — Strange Magic, Inside Out, Zootopia, Finding Dory and Moana — all have female leads.
It is not only Disney nor HBO that is making this trend. In fact, it’s already a trend in virtually all of Hollywood. Especially in children’s animated movies. Almost all of the kiddie flicks in the recent years have female leads, with often stupid or vicious male characters. Even theAnd I can’t remember any animated kid-friendly flicks that have strong male leads. Virtually. Not. A. Single. One.
I hate to add some Montbernian conspiracy here, but it seems there is a curse going in Hollywood right now. Why it seemed that family movies with male leads often don’t fare well in the box office? Not even with a perfect 100 score in Rotten Tomatoes is enough to entice viewers. Pete’s Dragon, Good Dinosaur and The Monster Calls both performed disappointingly in the box office despite having a high RT rating. Even the Shaun the Sheep movie that came from the famous British stop-motion series performed weak, and it already scored almost a perfect 99 in RT. Perhaps only The Jungle Book, which ironically is a Disney remake of their original animated movie, managed to approach almost one billion dollar box-office mark and has also impressed critics.
The situation in the West has already been complex. I don’t know if, because of the string of box-office disappointments on family flicks that had a male lead that movie producers are now already reluctant in making another one. Or we have to blame whoever Montbernian had casted a curse on the male-leading (especially family) movies. Perhaps an animated movie about Peppa Pig would beat Avatar in the box office then? Hollywood – and most of the Western world – severely lacked any recently male-leading family films and boys are yearning for any good role model which they can emulate.
On the opposite side of the globe, it seemed that literatures having male leads are still thriving and are continuously being produced. I am referring to the shounen genre of the Japanese anime and manga, though the shoujou, referring to the opposite gender, seems to be gaining momentum. These literatures and serials proved to be famous not only in Japan but also in the entire world. If the Western media can’t produce enough male-leading movies and serials, perhaps their Japanese counterparts can fill the gap, for now.