I finally emailed Brenda Chapman. She is the co-director of Pixar’s brave (Pixar’s first female hero). She has a blog which looks into storytelling and females. Her experiences with working in the animation industry and her work with female characters (Brave revolving around the mother and daughter relationship) – I wanted to ask her her views on female heroes in animated films, the perfect hero and the limitation that females have when being the hero. I hope that she is able to reply back. I am going to find some more backup interviews soon.
I went to an animation event – FAFF. It was a showcase of a small businesses working on large projects. It didn’t relate to animated films, but instead focused on true stories, future issues and factual animations. However I was able to see how realistic characters were created.
Identified more people to contact and formed ideas of what primary research. At this stage I really need to start collecting more primary resource – I think I needed to take time to do a lot of research online and reading lots of books in order to understand exactly what I wanted to find out from people. Below are some planned primary research:
- Another Questionnaire – I made a questionnaire in 2015 and I got a lot of interesting and useful comments – I hope to look at this and improve it (more suited for my newly adapted question). I want to ask some personal questions and how influential gender is when watching animated films.
- I want to make a list of animated films with females and share this with males (to tick off) how many they have seen. And maybe do the same with women.
- Keep watching and reflecting the animated films
- Focus groups to really interview a group of people. Understand their experiences with watching the opposite gender in animated film – was it a problem?
- Email psychologists, animators, storytellers and feminists to gain an understanding of their perspectives.
The idea that movies influence our children and how they act in life. Young boys needs to connect with the heroine and understand they don’t have to fight it alone they should join a team. The narrative of beating the evil and then collecting the reward (often the women). ‘Why is there so much force? and so little yellow brick role‘- in these stories. “The movies are very very focused on defeating the villain and getting the reward, and there is not a lot of room for other relationships and journeys.” He defends the Disney princesses, but they appear to be aimed at women. They teach girls how to defend themselves from the patriarchy but how do the boys deal with the patriarchy? there are no models. 1 in 5 women are sexually assorted, ‘who are these guys? What are they learning? What are they failing to learn? are they absorbing the story that a males heroes job is to defeat the villain with violence and then collect their reward, which is a women, who has no friends and doesn’t speak.’
“We have tools at our disposal like girl power, and we hope that that will help, but I gotta’ wonder if girl power is gonna protect them, if at the same time, actively or passively we are training our sons to maintain their boy power. I mean, I think the Netflix queue is one way that we can do something very important. And I am talking mainly to the dad’s here, I think we have got to show our sons, a new definition of manhood. Now, the definition of manhood is already turning upside down. You’ve read about the new economy is changing the roles of care giver and wager and throwing them in the air. So our sons are going to have to find someway of adapting to this, a new relationship to one another … and to seek out the heroines who are there,who show real courage who bring people together and to nudge our sons to identify with those heroines, and to say: I want to be on their team.” – (Colin Stokes)
5/09/2016 – Went to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall for five days
I watched lots of videos and podcasts from TED talks and YouTube that explored the key areas I had Identified in July. I watched a lot of different videos and essentially gained new ideas and perspectives not previously considered. I have been able to find more sources from the previous videos and ideas I had not thought about originally, such as vulnerability and risk taking.
A video I watched spoke about vulnerability (being comfortable to be vulnerable) will lead to taking risks and getting to where you want in life. The heroes from stories, have to take risks – to meet the heroes journey. Then why are strong characters so precious (of course showing strong role models are great) but weaker characters are also important. Humans are not always strong and showing vulnerability is the key to becoming successful achieving what you want – collecting that reward. Is something I am very interested in researching for my dissertation, understanding the perfect hero.
I have read 5 of the 18 books I have identified. I have collected quotes and identified new perspectives on my topic. At this stage I can see how the topics cross over nicely and feed one another. I want to put these quotes onto a document to make it easier for when I come to write the dissertation.
I have collected more websites. I have researched heavily into the hero – how real heroes react in life. And a lot into psychology and how females and males differ.
I have a lot more free time now so I have been watched around 15 animated films this month. I have chosen a selection of animated films from Studio Ghibli, Pixar, Disney and etc.
[I have been Busy on animation presentation throughout this month – returning back after summer and preparing to start new term]
13/08/2016 – Went to Dorset for five days
I’ve been watching a lot of videos this month, they are quick to watch and really help me gather new perspectives. This video addresses the idea of how fiction can change and improve reality. The changes that needed to be addressed were first written in the pages of novels. It told the story through a perspective of the hero – society is reflected through our stories that we tell. Research has shown that stories have influenced how we view the world. The heroes of these stories can make changes occur. At the same time, we nee new stories for the new problems and how we can address these to the masses.
02/07/2016 Went to Cornwall for a week.
I have listed points into my four main ‘chapters/ areas’ Gender, hero, psychology and narrative. This was important as it gave me a clear understanding of what ideas I had and how they all linked together. I finally have all my own thoughts onto a page and what was next to look into. I need to now research into these points to find evidence to back up these beliefs.
I made a long list into a wide range of animated films (from around the world) and identified that there are fewer female leads. (I need to make something visible to reflect on this like a diagram / visually).
I played around with my lead questions and explore my most important issues so far. Although they are all similar, I still feel as though I need to spend more time understanding my topic (I just need to work on the wording) In a way that is tight enough to show a clear dissertation.
“Her [Jane Austen] legacy and the reason she is still read today, is that she writes very compelling characters, character that we all know and recognize. Even though these characters are… two hundred years old infact, they are characters that we see in our everyday real lives, Mr Collins from pride and prejudice, we all know someone as annoying as him…”
“Shes [Jane Austen] a timeless writer and all the great writers are timeless, in that they can write about people. Because although, events and times change, people never actually change. So, The really great writers will write about human nature and of course because that never changes over the years their writing is still as relevant 2-300 years in advance.”
I watched a video – which doesn’t relate to anything to do with animation – but spoke about Jane Eyre being one of the best developed characters in Literature. Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre featured for one of the first times, a story based around ‘plain’ looking but strong intellectual women in society. They stand up, make mistakes and develop by the end of the film. Using these characters to help show what a hero could be in animated films. I would like to research a little into this. These characters are meant to be well developed – they gave women a voice during a time which they didn’t have one. And they did it in the romance genre!
Visit to the National Gallery
Visit to the National Gallery (London) – John Berger’s book the Ways of Seeing is a book I read a few years ago and want to use for my essay. It explores the ways that we view the world – which has been influenced by the media and even paintings that we see. From these paintings we can see how we have been portrayed. At the National Gallery I wanted to view paintings of heroes and heroines how they were depicted before animation – furthermore how gender is depicted. I feel it will give me a historical insight into the ways stories were reflected in these times – the roles gender had and characters.
In the art-form of the European nude the painters and spectator-owners were usually mean and the persons treated as objects, usually women. The unequal relationship is so deeply embedded in our culture that it is still structures the consciousness of many women. They do to themselves what men do to them. They survey, like men, their femininity.
(John Berger. p63)
One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of women in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object – and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.
(John Berger. p47)
Above I have noted three paintings from different eras that reflect how gender were deemed. The women the feminine, soft and beautiful creature – more often than not, painted passive and to be looked at. The men are the drivers of the stories, active poses looking onto the subject matter – they appear more flawed, more gruesome or active.