Why boys need better cartoon role models, too

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Hiccup & Toothless in flight. Photo courtesy Brett Jordan via Flickr Creative Commons.

Hiccup & Toothless in flight. Photo courtesy Brett Jordan via Flickr Creative Commons.

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We’ve heard it so many times that it almost doesn’t surprise us anymore: girls today relentlessly encounter slimmed-down, sexed-up, and princess-ified role models in the movies and toys they consume. But what about boys?

  • Larry

    Sexism tends to be the rule rather than exception with production of american cartoons for television. The fate of the show Young Justice is a perfect example.

    Young Justice was a cartoon whose viewer demographics were pretty respectable ratings, crossing gender and generational lines. More importantly it had a larger than average female viewership. The show was cancelled because its young male viewership was not high enough to sell the tie-in toys which sponsors of cartoons looked for. Warner Brothers made no effort to market merchandise towards girls (unlike the Disney juggernaut).


  • Eric Flett

    I have two sons. We still watch ‘cartoons’ togehter, although much of that is anime. Some of the role models are fine, others suffer the same problems mentioned in your post. When they were younger we spent most of our time with Hayaro Miyazaki, not Walt Disney, where the heros and heroines are much more interesting, as are the worlds they inhabit and problems they solve. Foreign films can be a wonderful way to find new models and nuances for masculinity, femininity, and heroism, but it can take some work to track these alternates down!

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