Brenda Chapman Speaks About Role of Women in Animation

Brenda Chapman

This LA Times article about the changing role of women in animation offers the first quote I’ve seen from Brenda Chapman since she was kicked off of Pixar’s Brave:

“I think it’s a really sad state. We’re in the 21st century and there are so few stories geared towards girls, told from a female point of view.”

The article goes on to say that she was fired from Brave over “creative differences” and that she is currently on a leave of absence from Pixar, though she will receive a directing credit on the film. My guess — and it’s only a guess — is that she has to remain with the company contractually until the film is completed in order to receive her credit.

See also: Meet Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the director of Kung Fu Panda 2


  • http://www.youtube.com/Mesterius1 Mesterius

    Interesting article, though I would have loved to hear more from Brenda Chapman… and not least from Pixar, about the reasons for her removal, though I suspect that will never happen. Intriguing how the writer puts “Brave” into perspective with “Princess and the Frog” and “Tangled”, hinting that Disney is currently retooling everything they do to make it appealing to boys – in the slightest fear of possibly losing that part of the audience. No wonder, then, that a film from a woman’s perspective has such a hard time getting made…

    No wonder, but it’s still frustrating as hell.

    (On a different note, I find it amusing that J. Katzenberg narrows the entire classic animation industry down to Walt Disney and the Nine Old Men.)

    • NC

      You’re right about how the article put PatF and Tangled into the same context but how was Princess and the Frog appealing to boys? The main male character is a weak character who’s lazy and has no real development, there’s really nothing about the movie that makes boys excited, not like Lion King did.

      • Ergo

        The underwhelming results of The Princess and the Frog is one of the reasons Tangled was retooled to be more appealing to boys.

  • eeteed

    “…there are so few stories geared towards girls, told from a female point of view…”

    i beg to differ. disney’s princess features being the biggest example.

    there are so many animated cartoons made for and about girls, it would be hard to count them all.

    i’d rather people worried about animated cartoons being made WELL, instead of being made FOR a specific group of people.

    it’s sad that there are so few animated cartoons made for and about left handed people.

    it’s sad that there are so few animated cartoons made for and about people who like catsup on their eggs.

    it’s sad that there are so few animated cartoons made for and about people that still use ditto machines.

    etc etc.

    if she was trying to say that there aren’t enough females working in the animation industry, i’d be interested in seeing some actual numbers of how many women vs. men work in the industry. how the ratio differs from country to country, what departments have more of one gender, etc.

    once upon a time the animation industry hired many MANY women. most were employed in the ink and paint departments. ink and paint is still done, albeit digitally. it’s hard to imagine that ink and paint, as well as jobs like inbetweening and cleanup aren’t held by a large percentage of women.

    another question would be, is the animation discriminating against women, or are women discriminating against the animation industry? how many women vs. men study animation in school? how many women vs. men actually apply for jobs in the animation? if only one woman applies for animation work to every seven men, then it’s going to be logical that there will be fewer women than men working in the animation industry.

    it’s one thing to say that the animation industry discriminates against women, but does somebody have actual numbers to support this? and such information should be cross referenced against other industries.

    if your complaint is that the top of the animation industry pyramid is dominated by rich powerful white males, welcome to the club. what industry isn’t?

    • NC

      The WIA had a panel at CTN that might give some credit to your argument. There’s a video of it somewhere, I can’t find it but one of the things they mentioned is how men will say “I wanted to be an animator ever since I was a kid.” but women tend to say, “I never thought about it until I heard you speak.”

      But who knows why that is.

    • optimist

      Your equating her observation with whining about a lack of films for “left-handed people” and “people who use ditto machines” is puerile and insulting.

      I take it you are not a female working in the animation business. The interviewee is. That’s why she offers her perspective on the subject. Based on decades of a successful career. That’s all it looks like she’s talking about to me.-her own opinions and experiences. Little did she know she should run studies, and have statistics and data gathering available to “back up” her thoughts before she expressed herself. Good grief.

      Keep prattling on, though. List the non-Disney princess animated features(of which in recent years there have been exactly two), the “so many made for and about girls” that are “hard to count”. List them. Work off a list of every major animated feature released in the last several years-there’ve been dozens of them.

    • Ergo

      Most of the women I know find the “Disney Princess” model insulting. They may be films made for girls, but they are made by men that have no understanding of girls.

      These films you’re talking about are one kind of girl, a small fraction of all the many different characters they could do, and they just keep going back to the same type again and again, boring their audience to death in the process. No wonder you feel like you’ve had enough of them if you think that that’s all a female lead has to offer.

      We need films with female leads desperately, films that cover many genres with characters that are fully realised. Coraline was a breath of fresh air. And Lilo in Lilo & Stitch was quite possibly the first believable animated little girl I’ve seen in a movie (even if the world she lived in was very unbelievable).

      I really hope Brenda Chapman stays at Pixar and continues to shake things up. They need her.

    • Katie M.

      I totally agree. I feel like there are plenty of feminine animated films that successfully attract a female audience. Whether or not they are made by women doesn’t really matter, its not like your average audience is going to discriminate. No one is complaining that KFP2, arguably a “boys” film, was directed by a woman (or that Harry Potter was written by a woman). Feminists might find men’s control over female entertainment as degrading and insulting, but many feminists also find femininity a weakness. I would also love to see a study on the percentage of female animation students vs male students to find work in the industry, because its pretty obvious that there are a lot more men taking up animation to begin with than women – even at the student level.

      • Burkiss

        There may not be many women directors but there are plenty of women producers steering animated features. I’d even guess they outnumber the male producers.

      • optimist

        But name a former animation artist, male or female, who became a feature film producer. An animation director is almost always from the story ranks.

        Producer is a different career track entirely from that of artist/story head/director.

      • greg m.

        Don Hahn.

    • Geneva

      No.

      Lemme tell y’all a story: I did an internship at a toy company. My good female friend got the same internship a few months afterward, so here are some combined experiences. Bear in mind that overall I consider the experience positive, but these issues NEED to be fixed.

      Now, this is the toy industry, and it is the midwest. They are not the same, but the structures, I am sure, are overarching enough to be applicable.

      The only other women working in the building were HR/secretary/sales/other periphery. And another underpaid (for the work) female intern. All-white, including myself. ALL of the decision-making people were male.

      When asked to do stuff for girls, we were told what little girls like. By men twice, sometimes thrice, our age. Nevermind that our experiences of being little girls– not *that* long ago– and artists, at that, gave us probably a better idea of what might look appealing to female children.

      Forget that color scheme of neutrals set off by a few tasteful shades of a tertiary color, we want magenta and purple. Cranked to the highest saturation. Make it happen. We know what little girls like!

      So I, and my friend, were left making tasteless, awful things. The same tasteless crap that alienated us when we were little girls! JUST because it’s for girls. It was way easier to produce stuff for boys that looked halfway-decent and have it pass through the higher-ups.

      The problem is that people think for little girls = bad. Seriously, can you think of many things speaking to young girls that AREN’T horribly stigmatized? All I can think of is Studio Ghibli.

      Yes, this is the same case for some gender-neutral stuff, but I can think of WAY more decent-quality stuff marketed to boys. Pixar’s entire library is all about that– high quality, “neutral,” but unmistakably centered from the male perspective.

      Argh. TL;DR: Made for girls by men is men basically just guessing at secondhand ideas of what little girls should like. Sometimes they do great (Ghibli, Sanders in Lilo and Stitch, etc.) This is not to say they are incapable. But having a clear presence of womens’ voices will probably reduce the presence of gaudy tacky approximations of what little girls are “supposed” to enjoy. Often it means forgoing what REALLY matters for superficial stuff to have this sort of target audience.

      Furthermore, executives and managers shouldn’t make decisions for non-creatives, but we all knew that.

      • Ergo

        I had to buy a gift for a five-year-old girl recently… The toys were shockingly bad, coated in lurid pink. Eventually just went with LEGO. Everything else just felt so demeaning.

      • Geneva

        Woops, I meant “Furthermore, executives and managers shouldn’t make decisions for creatives, but we all knew that.”

        Sorry readers, sorry CBrew fellas.

      • Katie M.

        If it sells it sells. Maybe some little girls can be tacky. Maybe you were a tomboy with a better pallete. There’s nothing wrong with any of that.

        Bringing this back to animation, I think we can all agree that most of the Disney princesses are hyper-sexualized and generally don’t reflect the greater percentage of women. However, did they make great films? Were you entertained? Did you love them as a child? I feel like a lot of people get so bent on the idea that being traditionally feminine is a weakness. Whats wrong with letting a little girl dress up like a pretty pink princess if that is what she genuinely wants to wear?

      • Ergo

        Nothing at all. But there should be an alternate. Or rather more alternatives, more variation in general.

      • http://kazrocks.blogspot.com Kazzer

        Are we really going to start attacking feminists now? No one said acting traditionally feminine is bad, and I know many women who identify as radical feminists who have no problem with pink or frills. What the above comment is trying to underline, I feel, is that women SHOULD have their own say in what ‘feminine’ means. Surely, Katie M, you can agree with that, considering you’re accusing feminists (in this comment and your previous one) of setting unfair standards? I hardly think if the ‘feminists’ you imagine took over the animation industry, all the cartoons would be about butch, tattooed, unladylike tomboys. the point is, SOME would be, and the right to choose one’s role models is a hell of a right. In response to ‘if it sells it sells’, well, there’s a symptom of the desperation for good female role models right there, isn’t it?

      • Geneva

        Katie: there’s nothing wrong at all with little girls liking sparkly pink nonsense. It’s just that that is only one of many types of girls.

        Furthermore, relying on the “that’s what they like!” sort of abdicates the responsibility in being the adult, the artist, the proliferator of visual culture, here. Children often like what they are exposed to/told they should. That’s how audience targeting works, and it really does work.

    • Kazzer

      Are you seriously suggesting that WOMEN are at fault for discriminating against animation?! I graduated with many talented, intelligent female animators who will probably never get to sit in a director’s chair because of ridiculous views like this. So let me get this straight, you suggest that it’s really all about talent and hard work at the end of the day, and people who whine about discrimination don’t really have a leg to stand on, THEN you round it off by saying offhandedly well, no duh, most industries are controlled by rich white males. Considering you feel discrimination charges are a load of bunk, is the conclusion to be drawn that rich white males are just naturally better at most things? INCLUDING writing stories about women? because if that’s true then I guess people like Brenda better back and leave it to the dudes, right?

    • Luis Uson

      About the last question “if your complaint is that the top of the animation industry pyramid is dominated by rich powerful white males, welcome to the club. what industry isn’t?”:
      The Hip Hop Industry?

    • Ergo

      Just read this. I think it highlights the problem with Princess films rather well.

      http://utopiangem.tumblr.com/post/6000593168/the-animated-princess-why-all-girls-animations-have

    • michael

      Ms. Chapman was referring to the numbers of women in a senior position in the animation industry (director,producer,etc.).The number of female directors I can count barely reaches 5.Sally Cruikshank was IMHO the last truly great female animator.Nina Paley is another up-and-comer.

  • NC

    “I think it’s a really sad state. We’re in the 21st century and there are so few stories geared towards girls, told from a female point of view.”

    From a male point of view it’s not exactly fair either. I mean most shows portray men as either:
    drunken, abusive and moronic fathers,
    slackers,
    misogynists,
    and all around less intelligent then their female counterparts. Not to say that men are smarter than woman or vice-versa but it seems that in this regard it is very much slanted in women’s favor. And if you don’t believe me just watch any one of the animated shows on Fox. Even Avatar:TLA had the whole “boys will be boys and girls will be women” attitude.

    It just seems that this is more than just a gender problem it’s a problem with our society in general.

    I think the sad thing is that there are so few films that empower humanity. Look at Princess Mononoke for example two very strong male and female characters who’s uniting ends up resolving the films conflict. Anyway I’m a white man so what would I know?

    • Geneva

      I agree with your overall point, but as for your views on bad stereotypes for men, the important thing is that there are LOTS and LOTS of counterbalances. The problem with female cartoon characters is that females almost NEVER play the neutral hero on whom we are supposed to project. Usually we are slated to Mother, Love Interest (though there are a few species), or Horrible Harpy. In more adult media we can be, uh, slaughtered horribly, I guess.

      The lazy and inept dude/capable lady trope is bad for women, too, because it basically just leaves us in the position of cleaning up after dudes’ messes. We are there to make the guy better and fix stuff, not to be the neutral everyperson, or the funny character. Exceptions exist but they aren’t the mainstay by a longshot.

      The idea of women not being actual characters is explored in a pretty funny and honest way in this image:

      http://www.overthinkingit.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Overthinking-It-Female-Character-Flowchart.png (note: this image isn’t intended to win any arguments, it’s just funny and true and I thought I’d post it for funsies).

      • NC

        It seems the more we boil this down it comes up that the major problem is that for both male and female characters are just dependent on stereotypes that create a vicious cycle.

        It does seem that in the end the best option is empowering each other rather than putting anyone down to bring the other up. It’s sort of the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”. Both sides should be working together on the same goal but both sides are afraid that if they show weakness the other will take advantage of it. So they end up fighting with each other even though it hurts everyone.

        Another important thing to remember is that we’re still living in a world controlled by 60 somethings with older beliefs. I’m 25 and I see that we are probably the most openly and diverse generation since the 60′s who knows how things will change when we start taking the reigns.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Sad to hear about Brenda, but there ARE women making strides in animation. Lauren Faust for example, who turned MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC of all things, into a really popular cartoon that’s just exploding all over the place thanks to the original anti-MLP editorial posted here on the Brew.

    Seriously. Your opposition to the show caused its popularity to a degree. Because of that article, people started watching the show. Well that, and Lauren Faust is an amazing talented artist who has that magic touch.

    I would also like to acknowledge of course, the many unsung heroines we’ve all worked with but don’t quite have that household name. All hard working, talented, and driven. I’ve no doubt we’ll see more women breaking through in time.

    • Geneva

      Lauren Faust has left the show; probably because she wanted to actually have decent control over it and not have it be a steaming pile.

      I’m optimistic about women in animation and creator-driven content in general, but I kind of have to be to keep myself from jumping off a cliff.

    • Bud

      The show isn’t that popular, and really did reek. Bad designs, bad stories, and bad production.

    • Pepper

      I agree with Matt about MLP … although the funny thing with Ponies .. is that it’s attracted a bizarre nerdy cult following. My boyfriend (college aged) and his roommates LOVE the show to death. Meanwhile, my friend’s 4 1/2 year old daughter was bored by it, and decided the creepy-CGI Strawberry Shortcake was better.

      Sooo even if we wish to have shows and films that are more appealing to our mindset, the crummy fact is that little girls will still indulge in the crappy shows these creepy old men feed the industry. That’s a bit more disappointing to me. :\

      • girlfury

        One 4 1/2 year old with bad taste doesn’t represent an entire demographic so don’t be disheartened!! My 6 year old niece LOVES the show and won’t watch anything else.

  • FriendtoAll

    What bugs me most is that we’ll never got to know what REALLY happened to Champman over Brave.

    does everyone currently working at Pixar hate her as much as Lasseter apparently did, or are they so timid and afraid of their jobs that they can’t don an assumed name and proxy and do some whistleblowing?

  • Keegan

    Get back to the inking room.

    • NC

      ..and paint me a sandwich while you’re at it.

  • Jane

    Oh, gosh… here comes all “what about the menz??” comments.

    Females are a touch over 50% of the world population. Females are not represented anywhere close to 50% in most animated movies. There are far fewer females leads, and no, the many Disney “princess” movies made 20 to 50 years ago have female leads do not make it better. Out of the last decade of the Disney, the last 12 movies, 4 have had female leads. Their next 3 will have male leads.

    It just feels like Disney has more female because a lot of their really popular movies feature a female lead or a a female villain. Or both.

    It’s very sad Brenda was replaced. Bea and The Bow sounded like her one big idea, and like she put her heart into it. I don’t believe for a second that her version of Brave was bad. It’s Brenda Chapman! Of The Lion King and The Prince of Egypt. The only two certified animated epics from the west.

    Oh, well. Sucks for Pixar. I hope when her contract is up she’ll be able to go to a new studio.

    • Ergo

      “Oh, gosh… here comes all “what about the menz??” comments.”

      I know. It’s kinda creepy.

      • NC

        If you’re referring to my comment maybe you should look from someone else’s perspective. I work in an office that is 80% female and the majority of the directors are female. You don’t think I feel alienated some times? I’m just tired of having to be careful of what I say because what I say can be considered sexual harassment or bigotry while I hear my co-workers ogle the new guy. Yeah I know women had to deal with that themselves but as a person who wouldn’t treat others this way I don’t appreciate being treated that way.

        Not only that but I see a lot of men, or better older boys, wasting their lives and becoming terrible father figures.

        Yeah maybe there aren’t that many female leads but the majority of female characters not just in animation but film and TV in general are mostly portrayed as strong characters whose male counterparts are dependent on. You can pretty much rest assured that the days of Father Knows Best esque female characters have gone the way of the dodo.

        Also like, John K said Disney has never really made a boy’s movie (with the exception of Lion King). I haven’t seen Tangled but the advertisements don’t make it look like something boys would be interested in. It seems that somehow Disney makes a load of money making movies that niether appeal to boys or girls and yet are huge hits?

        Also Brenda Chapman CO-Directed Prince of Egypt with Steve Hickner (a man).

        I’m not saying that anyone should be held under a glass ceiling but don’t get so desperate for change that instead of destroying the glass ceiling you just put one group behind it for the other.

        It seems that the only way we fix this vicious cycle is by better crafting our medium so we’re not reliant on stererotypes like “stupid drunk father and smart sober mother” or “weak princess and big burly man.”

      • Dana

        “I’m just tired of having to be careful of what I say because what I say can be considered sexual harassment or bigotry while I hear my co-workers ogle the new guy.”

        I understand this seems like an unfair double standard. But the difference is, when men make comments or advances like that towards women, it can feel threatening, because that’s the kind of world women live in. When women make comments like that towards men, it’s not exactly classy, but I doubt it makes those men feel unsafe.

        “don’t get so desperate for change that instead of destroying the glass ceiling you just put one group behind it for the other.”

        Who is trying to do this? The evil harpy feminazi bogeyman? Actual feminism, the kind most of us believe in (remember, it’s the few crazies who scream the loudest) is about raising women to the level of men, not tearing men down or trying to achieve superiority over them.

        Someone else said this above, but those stereotypes you’re talking about (stupid man, capable woman) hurt EVERYONE. It’s not evidence that men are in danger of becoming the oppressed sex (you’re not). You’ll be fine, I promise. Please, just work with us here—I agree wholeheartedly that ditching the stereotypes will be better for everyone.

      • Jane

        @NC
        If you feel like your co workers are talking about other co worker in a sexual manner you should talk to HR or your boss.

        “Not only that but I see a lot of men, or better older boys, wasting their lives and becoming terrible father figures.”
        I’m not sure what this means?

        You seem to be hung up on the old sitcom formate of the fat lazy dad and the hot naggy mom. It’s a formula that’s been around for 60 years. But I can’t remember the last time a animated movie used it. The Simpsons movie yeah, but that was based on the sitcom. So I don’t see how it’s relevant.

        And see, this is the textbook “what about the menz?” stuff a guy comes into a discussion about to womens issues and brings in non-related issues and tries to hijack the discussion.

        And you haven’t seen Tangled because “advertisements don’t make it look like something boys would be interested in” okay who’s relying on stereotypes now? It didn’t look like it was full of guns and farts so no boy (ya know, REAL boys) could enjoy it?

      • http://kazrocks.blogspot.com Kazzer

        NC, if you feel like everything you say might be construed as gender or sexual harassment, i’m not sure your workplace is the problem, dude. it might be you telling women to ‘paint you a sandwich?’ I’m sure you were being very ironic, plus one of your female workmates said something even worse, yadda yadda yadda, but to someone that doesn’t know you, it just looks like the office dude who ironically makes racist jokes then complains that black people are ‘way to sensitive’. it’s a thing.

    • Karl Hungus

      So we’re bean counting now?

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/VujadeEntertainment#p/u/0/3HaupcJwAdk Steve Schnier

      “Females are a touch over 50% of the world population. Females are not represented anywhere close to 50% in most animated movies.”

      That’s because Females have the good sense to stay away from this insane business. Of those who do get into the animation industry, most gravitate towards the administration jobs (producer, etc.) because they are the most stable and businesslik

  • Ergo

    “I think it’s a really sad state. We’re in the 21st century and there are so few stories geared towards girls, told from a female point of view.”

    That is the only quote by Brenda Chapman in the whole article. She doesn’t even get a chance to elaborate on this. What a terrible article.

    • PeteR

      Now that Brenda’s gone, it’ll be interesting to see how the two male directors finish the film.

    • http://kazrocks.blogspot.com Kazzer

      hopefully a more capable MAN can finish her quotes and clear up what she was REALLY trying to say. oh no no, that is not sexist, I just feel like men have a better place in the quote-making industry, I mean, as a man, I know of a lot of girl-related quotes, (of course, made by men) so I’m definitely not sexist. Ho ho ho, if anything, it’s WOMEN who are probably discriminating against QUOTES, and not the other way around.

  • http://thatssokraven.livejournal.com/ Kelly Tindall

    Two of the biggest threads on Cartoon Brew this week: “Woman directs movie!” and “Director owns shirts!”

    • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ mick

      mmmm, shirts you say? Well now…. (rubs chin gazes off into the distance)… women should be better represented in shirts… 50% of the shirt buying population after all… ‘woman directs shirt’

  • DB

    Idle speculation as to why Brenda Chapman was fired.

    So one day, she is called into a story conference with the men and charge:

    Lassiter Lackey: This story is great, we love it and the work you’re doing, but we’ve come to a conclusion there are a few tweaks that could make it even better.

    Ms. Chapman: Such as….

    Lassiter Lackey: There need to be more characters. As she proceeds on her quest the heroine should gather round her several quirky but lovable characters (designed for future use as happy meal toys), and the story should be structured around increasingly inventive hair-raising escapes. the upshot being that the characters learn that if they stick together all their dreams will come true.

    Ms. Chapman: But – that has nothing to do with my story!

    Lassiter Lackey: As you work for Pixar, Ms Chapman, it has everything to do with your story – or should I say, Pixar’s story.

    Ms. Chapman: If you want to turn my film into one more in a long line of increasingly formulaic BS, why even hire me in the first place?

    Lassiter Lackey: Good point. You’re off the picture.

    • Cody S

      ….what?

    • Burt

      bahaha, way off.

      • Jorge Garrido

        Care to elaborate, Burt?

  • http://www.adamoliver.com Adam

    There’s arguments for both sides of the sexes with stereotyping with Disney.

    My point would be to look at the best, most appealing Disney characters…how many are men? Insert large percentage here. Then narrow it down to the last 20 years (as to show how much Disney has updated it’s outlook)…still men. If there is a good woman, she’s always a antagonist!

    I was excited by Bear and the Bow, female directing, the rest of it, but it seems that playing safe (like the post a while back about stereotypical animated trailers) is the done thing…even with point of view.

    Maybe they’re scared the women might do it better…?

  • Amy

    “I think it’s a really sad state. We’re in the 21st century and there are so few stories geared towards girls, told from a female point of view.”

    Agreed. I’ll be interested in how 2 male directors tell the story of a young princess–not that it hasn’t been done before.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/floydbishop FloydBishop

    One element that’s lacking here at the Brew is first hand interviews and news stories. When everything runs through the filter of mainstream press first, we’re left with watered down articles and no follow up questions that would really benefit the animation community as a whole.

    I’m wondering what an organization such as Women In Animation has to say about this issue, and what Brenda Chapman thinks could be done to remedy the situation? Mainstream press rarely even gets the right films paired up with the right studios. I doubt we’ll get much deeper than these casual news blurbs.

  • Colonel Sandwich

    Directors get fired ALL THE TIME. Shrek 1 went through tons of directors before settling on the final pair (one of which is female). Brenda Chapman is a woman, but I doubt that’s the reason she isn’t on the picture.

    By the way, i can’t believe nobody has pointed out that Kung Fu Panda 2 is the FIFTH DreamWorks film to have a female director. Prince of Egypt, Shrek, Shark Tale and Spirit all came before. Your move Pixar.

  • B.Bonny

    Looking forward to more women given the helm in animated movies – or just movies in general. For one thing, perhaps it will dampen use of the male fantasy character of the warrior woman who beats up larger men.

    = Elaine May.

  • DonaldC

    I have never cared about the sex/gender of creators.

    Just make something entertaining and I’ll love you no matter what the hell you call yourself.

  • James

    I don’t know why Brenda got the boot, but the idea that it had anything to do with gender is absolutely ridiculous. The strongest women I’ve ever met have never had to pull the gender card. They’re also the most admirable. To be honest I was really pulling for Brenda, and whatever happened I hope she’s able to bounce back from it and direct another film. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to have your story and beloved characters changed beyond your control, but that’s going to happen with any story as it matures into something great whether you’re the director or not. I know the hardest thing to do after something like this is to dust yourself off and get back up, but hopefully Brenda has already started on a second story.

    Even before the director change I was thinking this could very possibly rival my favorite Pixar film, which is currently the Incredibles.

  • Graham

    Yes, so few stories geared toward girls, like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Quest for Camelot, The Swan Princess, Thumbelina, Anastasia, Alice in Wonderland, Happily N’Ever After, Hoodwinked, The King And I, The Princess and the Goblin…

    • http://kazrocks.blogspot.com Kazzer

      all made by men dude. well done hoisting your own petard. a good, manly metaphor.

  • David M

    That article is so laced with gender/sex nonsense. I don’t doubt for a second that there is discrimination against women in some industries (just as there is discrimination against men elsewhere), but…

    >> “…a reality that “Kung Fu Panda 2″ producer Melissa Cobb attributed to a dearth of role models.
    >> “There are no 80-year-old animators out there today for women to look up to,” Cobb said. “It’s taken a moment for women to realize there is a lot of opportunity here.” ”

    I could be reading between the lines, but are they suggesting that women specifically need to see other women in animation to become inspired? That seems absurd and insular to me and suggests that they need to stop thinking in genders. A role model is a role model regardless of what they have between their legs. Personally I admire and respect people of both prominent genders and if I wanted to take up a pursuit that was deemed “feminine” by the gender binary crowd, I wouldn’t say “Oh, I don’t see any men doing that, I guess I’ll just forget it” – I’d go after it anyway.

    >> “There are a ton of women in the industry and a lot of women high up in producing positions,” Smith said. “It’s a matter of time. It’s going to get better.”

    Glad to hear it, but I hope they’re getting their thanks to their own talent and not to meet quotas.

    • http://kazrocks.blogspot.com Kazzer

      no one’s suggesting women be hired to meet quotas. as some comments below state more gracefully than mine, there is a lot of female talent in the animation world. yes, a woman can look up to people who aren’t necessarily women, but what do you think it says to young women when they see talented female creators get pushed back to accommodate MEN who think they can portray women better? At least give women the chance to prove that concept wrong. it’s cool that you say you don’t give a damn about gender, just talent, but judging from a lot of industry stories in this comment thread, as well as from men and women in the industry, I’m sorry to say that a lot of people aren’t as enlightened as you.

    • eeteed

      “…there are no 80-year-old animators out there today for women to look up to…”

      tissa divid.

      she is one of the greatest animators ever.

      • eeteed

        tissa dAvid!

        apologies to tissa =(

    • ReginaldZ

      I had the same thought myself (about only women inspiring women). I dated a woman in college who was getting her art degree and constantly honing her drawing skills, and she listed Chuck Jones and other males from the Looney Tunes era as major inspirations. I still have some Bugs Bunny drawings she did that you’d swear were done by Tex Avery.

  • Matt B

    Hayao Miyazaki is probably the one person who comes to mind as having done more for the honest portrayal of girls and young women in animation than anyone I can think of.
    But animation, comics & visual art are far from lacking in female talent. In fact I feel that they’re brimming with it.

    I’m sure it’s simply a matter of time before someone like:
    Tracy Butler,
    Kristen McCabe,
    Katie Shanahan,
    Chang Dai,
    Elle Michalka,
    Joy Ang,
    Marina Gardner,
    Brittney Lee,
    Kelly Hamilton,
    Gigi Digi,
    Emmanuelle Walker,
    Rebecca Sugar,
    Jessica Plummer,
    Kei Acedera,
    Brianne drouhard,
    Trudy Cooper,
    Lissa Treiman,
    Lois van Baarle,
    Jennifer Hager,
    Lauren Faust,
    Jessica Borutski,
    Jen Wang & Vera Brosgol are putting their own stories up on screen for us all to enjoy one day.

    Vera’s new book ‘Anya’s Ghost’ in particular is a fantastic read with an authentic female character & story perspective.

    These women are all young, vibrant, rapidly expanding supernovas of potential for the future of their art-forms!
    I don’t know how anyone could ever be pessimistic, or get into these trivial debates while talented ladies like these are out there working hard and making great art!

    Juicy Pixar Drama or insider revelations aside… if I were to ask Brenda Chapman, Nancy Beiman or Jennifer Yuh Nelson one question, I’d simply be:
    “So, what’re you developing/working on next?”

    • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

      Whenever the subject of female animated feature directors comes up it usually starts with Brenda Chapman and her co-direction of THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998).

      For the historical record, I’d like to note that the first animated feature, THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED (1925) was directed by Lotte Renniger. Joy Batchelor co-directed ANIMAL FARM in 1955. In more recent times, Arne Selznick directed the THE CARE BEARS MOVIE (1985, for Nelvana, released by the Samuel Goldwyn Company) and Yvette Kaplan co-directed BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA (1996, for Paramount Pictures) – both huge box office hits.

    • girlfury

      You need to add Jill Culton to that list.

    • http://jessicaplummer.blogspot.com Jessica Plummer

      I’ve been wanting to stay away from the comment sections here on CB lately, but I wanted to say: Thank you, Matt. And your last line is exactly the attitude that needs to be carried on.

  • tom

    If there’s anything to be worried about, it’s not the gender of the director. It’s how they’re going to treat Scotland in their film – something which, already, is looking pretty woeful.

    • Justin

      What are you basing this on? All I’ve seen so far are a few concept pieces of forests and one screen grab.

      • tom

        I’m basing it on Billy Connolly doing a voice role, and the fact that the film is called “Brave”. Connotations with Braveheart cannot be denied, Hollywood does indeed like to sex up Scotland.

        And then with this screengrab, of course the main character has red hair. Of course. Now, I’m not complaining about this too much, since there is at least a good basis for this.

  • Darkblader

    Although I highly agree we need more female leads for cartoons, it may be a long time before we can even see that happen that isn’t the sugarcoated garbage. Also. Not my video, but somebody is on the same page on wanting female leads for animation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGCKsb_U9dA

  • Tony C

    Hey everybody! I discovered a ‘statistic’ today. There are less females in animation than men!

    Is it time to throw around baseless accusations yet?

  • Toonio

    Sex or no sex people tend to forget that Pixar has fallen victim of it’s own success.

    They used to support directors and their ideas but now it seems there is a “council” with absolute and definite control over the productions just to secure successes.

  • http://rauchbrothers.com Mike Rauch

    CAVEAT: This is not a comment on the article. I didn’t read it. This is a comment on some of the related issues discussed in the thread…

    There is no arguing the fact that animation suffers from a serious lack of diversity in storytelling. This goes across the board— gender, race, age level, tone, subject matter and any other number of areas.

    To grow the art form, expand its audience, and keep the stories we’re telling relevant, this has to change. Men and woman both need to play a role in making that happen. This is an issue I think about on a weekly basis, and in my own small way attempt to resolve.

    Because of its imprint in the industry, the decisions made at a place like Pixar can have far-reaching impact. However, real change can be made by small, individual action. Become a part of “the system” and work to change it from within in whatever way you can. Or ignore it all, forget about what’s “viable in the industry” from content and career perspectives, and do something you believe in. Refuse to be a part of productions that aren’t in tune with your point of view. Tell a different kind of story. Collaborate with other creatives who have a broader worldview. Work with people outside the animation industry who don’t have the same limitations.

    It is possible to approach your career this way. Maybe even necessary. The things each of us choose to do can make a difference. The industry may only change in small, incremental steps, but anybody who cares about this stuff owes it to themselves and the art of animation to do what little they can.

    Animation has to be challenged to grow beyond adolescence. Hopefully, in time we’ll see a greater diversity among professionals in the industry and in turn the stories being told.

  • annie oakley

    funny (not). I was just talking to a student about how PIXAR makes “boys” films: Films that are made by men who are writing/creating their boy toys for, really, other boys.

    that’s why I’m not a big fan of pixar.

    Dreamworks at least has several women directors!!

  • David

    What’s wrong with boys making boy movies?

    • http://www.danielmaraya.blogspot.com Danny Araya

      I was gonna say the same thing. If they really are a bunch of boys making boy movies, how is this a problem? If anything it sounds like they’re being extremely honest in regard to their interests and the kind of movies they want to make.

      I never understood where other people get off telling one studio or another what KINDS of stories they need to tell.

  • hb

    I hope the day comes soon where a director gets fired for “creative reasons” and their gender is of no consequence.

    Sadly, we live in an era where the balance between men and woman in positions of power is still VERY lopsided towards men, so even if firing Brenda Chapman was the best decision, her gender is the story.

    I’m thankful that while I was studying animation, half of my class (literally split down the middle) was women. I am also thankful that, while not a 50/50 split, I have worked with many women throughout my career in the industry. Things are changing, but slowly.

    It’s such a touchy issue that you can’t say one thing or the other without risking offending someone. But I think a lot of it is a numbers issue, not bigotry or misogyny. The thought of Pixar as a “boys’ club” is off, I think. I’d say it’s an “old boys’ club” big difference. Gender has nothing to do with it, but trust and familiarity has everything to do with it. Think about all the directors who have finished their films there: Lassiter, Docter, Stanton, Bird, Unkrich. Brad Bird is the only one who didn’t start out there (or be there from the start, in Lassiter’s case) but aside from his successful career, he was also a friend of Lassiter’s from CalArts.

    I bet Jan Pinkava wishes this much controversy was stirred up when he was removed from Ratatouille.

    The only way we can know if Pixar was right or wrong, is if Brenda Chapman goes and does what Chris Sanders did after being removed from American Dog/Bolt: direct a way better movie.

    Best of luck to Brenda! I am excited to see what Mark Andrews does with Brave though!

  • http://www.bigdaddyanimation.com Big Daddy

    It does seem odd that though many of the classic Disney features, are stories about princesses, one would think women behind the scenes had some kind of influence in production. And yet it’s not the case. Perhaps the women in our industry should get together and produce something independently? A talent like Brenda will prevail. She’s probably already working on the next pitch…..

    • The Gee

      Not sure if this should be considered facetious or not but, one word:

      OprahMoneyTree

  • gigi

    i just think it is sad when we have to use the word “female animator” it shouldn’t be a big deal but it is. le sigh.

  • Wwell wwatevver

    [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, "Be considerate and respectful of others in the discussion. Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted." If you have a criticism, be constructive and mature."]

  • John K.

    It’s a shame animation has lost its charm now but she’s got a point there too.