Posters - The Spiriting Away of Sen and Chihiro
Here's a question for everyone to ponder: what is the liklihood of seeing a movie poster like this in the United States? The answer is obvious: not bloody likely. It's damned near impossible to find movies where females take center stage, apart from the terribly formulaic rom-coms. And in animation, it is literally impossible.
It's absurd to see this retrograde mentality, while the rest of the world has moved on. The most successful movie outside of the US - Miyazaki's 2001 The Spiriting Away of Sen and Chihiro - demolishes any claims or excuses one can conjure. Here is a movie that was a runaway phenonemon the world over, an Oscar-winner, a high-water mark for traditional, hand-drawn animation. It centers entirely on a 10-year-old girl. And it's aimed at 10-year-old girls, or anyone who once was a 10-year-old girl (to paraphrase Miyazaki).
There is simply no excuse that every American animated movie is centered around boys. There is no excuse why women and girls only play token sidekicks in the Pixar movies. There is no excuse why the only acceptable role for a female lead is the Disney-fied fairy tale princess. There is no damned excuse. End of story.
I've been reading a number of blog posts this weekend on the issue of women and gender roles in animated movies from Pixar and elsewhere, and it's always so deeply frustrating. I can relate to the frustration women feel at dealing with the boys' club, because it's all so damned abusrd and useless. But there is always this attitude of helplessness, as though we are confronted by some immovable force of history. It's as though nobody wants to lift their eyes beyond this nation's borders, to see what the "rest of the world" has been up to.
Why are we still dealing with fairy tale princesses? Is this 1950? Why is there one token female who exists solely for the boy who's the lead? Why are all these movies aimed at 13-year-old boys, anyway? What's the point? The most frustrating thing is that every American animator boasts endlessly of their love for Hayao Miyazaki. Well....what's the deal?
There's no damned excuse. This is a question of access, pure and simple. Give women artists the chance, and they will prove themselves. They can make history. It's happening everywhere else. Why not here?
Oh, and by the way....this is a really great movie poster, don't ya think? Ghibli used it as the cover for their Spirited Away DVD. Enjoy.