Commentary

Do Hollywood Cartoon Movies Really Need to Bash Males to Promote Female Characters?

Michael Morris
By Michael Morris | June 11, 2018 | 4:21 PM EDT

"The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part" (left) "Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet" (center) and "Incredibles 2" (right) (Screenshots)

With several major sequels already out at the box office, Hollywood appears set to launch some family-friendly cartoon films in the coming months – with male bashing?

Yes, apparently, Hollywood wants children to understand that not only are women empowered but they are empowered in spite of the hapless men that are seemingly only there to slow them down.

Enter stage left: “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” and “Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet,” and to a lesser degree “Incredibles 2.”

Hollywood, it would seem, is now dispensing with the pretexts and is telling their audience exactly what it wants them to think.

“The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” is, according to the film’s site, “[t]he much-anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, global box office phenomenon that started in all,” which “reunites the heroes of Bricksburg in an all new action-packed adventure to save their beloved city” from “a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild.”

The film’s new trailer wastes no time reintroducing its audience to its main characters: Lucy, and the seemingly always clueless Emmet, who spends his days “pretending” that “everything is awesome.”

Sure, Emmet is just a fun, flippant character who is just happy. What’s wrong with that?

Well, nothing …

That is, until the villain in the trailer hints at Hollywood’s answer.

“Bring me your fiercest leader,” demands the villain.

“This guy is ‘The Special,’” Lucy says, as a list of personality traits that describe Emmet appear on the screen: “Weak,” “Naïve,” “Simple,” “Powerless,” “Less than special.”

“This guy was a fierce warrior?” asks the villain.

Lucy explains: “Okay. Well, technically, I did the warrior stuff.”

“So, you fought, and master built, and kicked butt, and then the hapless male was the leader?” asks the villain.

Lucy responds, “He, uhh, well?”

Subtle, no?

 

Then there’s Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet.” The Disney sequel features its two main characters Ralph and Vanellope as they embark on yet another video game adventure, this time journeying from their respective arcade games Fix-It Felix and Sugar Rush and onto the worldwide web – as Ralph jokes in one of the trailers, to “wreck the internet.”

The movie trailer shows the bull-in-a-china-shop Ralph and cutesy little racer Vanellope winding their way through a cord and onto the web, where they see what it has to offer. If the clumsy character that is Ralph weren’t already evidence enough of male ineptitude, Hollywood again spells it out for us.

In the trailer, Vanellope, being chased, glitches through a Disney door that reads “PRINCESSES THIS IS A RESTRICTED AREA.” Appearing in the center of an ornate room full of the Disney Princesses, Vanellope is immediately surrounded by very defensive Disney princess characters and begins to explain that she is a princess too.

Here is how that conversation goes down:

“Hi,” says Vanellope, as Disney princess characters encircle her with clubs, lamps, shoes, and other objects drawn as weapons. “Woah, woah. Ladies, I’m a princess too.”

“What kind of a princess are you?” asks Pocahontas.

“Do you have magic hair?” asks Rapunzel from “Tangled.”

“No,” responds Vanellope.

“Magic hands?” asks Elsa from “Frozen.”

“No,” Vanellope answers.

“Do animals talk to you?” asks Cindarella.

“No,” Vanellope responds.

“Were you poisoned?” asks Snow White.

“No,” says Vanellope, seemingly stunned.

“Cursed?” ask Tiana and Aurora from “The Princess and the Frog” and “Sleeping Beauty” respectively.

“Kidnapped or enslaved?” ask Rapunzel from “Tangled” and Belle from “Beauty and the Beast.”

“No,” responds Vanellope again. “Are you guys, okay? Should I call the police?”

“Do people assume all your problems got solve because a big strong man showed up?” Rapunzel finally asks.

“Yes!” exclaims Vanellope. “What is up with that?”

“She is a princess!” all the princesses exclaim cheerfully.

Absolutely incredible, isn’t it?

Finally, and hitting theaters this week, we have Disneys “Incredibles 2.” The first film, “The Incredibles,” debuting over a decade ago, 2004, featured a super hero couple husband and wife, Mr. Incredible and Mrs. Incredible (ahem, Elastigirl) and their three kids, and revolved around Mr. Incredible’s attempts to keep his super hero dream alive, all while being a good father and husband, after the public seemingly had had enough of all of the supers’ heroic antics. Ultimately, Mr. Incredible determined that he wasn’t “strong enough” to do everything on his own, but instead needed his family. “Incredibles 2,” sings a different tune. This time Elastigirl is set to be the face of the supers.

This film’s trailer, again, wastes little time in getting to the point.

“So, are we going to talk about it?” asks Violet.

“What?” asks Mr. Incredible.

“The elephant in the room?” Violet persists.

“What elephant?’ Mr. Incredible asks again.

Cut to Elastigirl swinging up into a helicopter and smashing through its window.

“Mom’s new job,” responds Violet.

Later in the trailer, the stage is set. Elastigirl is said to be the supers “best play” at changing “people’s perceptions about superheroes,” so that they can once again go about saving the public.

“Better than me?” asks Mr. Incredible as Elastigirl clears her throat with a glare.

Now it’s Robert Parr’s (Mr. Incredible) turn to stay at home and watch the kids. From struggling with helping Dash with math to cooking meals to handling in-home discipline, Bob declares to his wife over the phone, “Everything’s great.” But as the worn-out images of Mr. Incredible in the trailer shows, everything wasn’t.

“You know it’s crazy, right?” asked Elastigirl to her husband. “To help my family, I gotta leave it. To fix the law, I gotta break it.”

Mr. Incredible responds, “You’ve got to, so our kids can have that choice.”

With Elastigirl as the better caregiver – exhibited in the first film – and now with her new role as the face of the supers, it would seem Mr. Incredible isn’t all that incredible after all.

These trailers beg the question: Do Hollywood cartoon movies really need to bash males to promote female characters?  Apparently, at least if you’re making a Hollywood film for kids these days, they do.

But Hollywood can do better. Women are strong in and of themselves. Hollywood need not thumb down at men to show what a brilliant job God did in creating women.


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