Contributed by Alejandro L.
I saw that cute cartoon The Brave Little Toaster for the seventieth time but the protagonist, for which the title is named after, still comes across as lacking a definite gender, unlike the others. Here are some supporting analyses: every other appliance is undeniably masculine, there are (as far as I’ve counted) 4.5 exceptions of effeminate appliances (an old recorder, a sewing machine, a toaster oven, and one of the cars that was executed by the compactor) who rely on extreme stereotyping to get that point across. It has become customary to make a concept cartoon (such as talking appliances, talking animals, goofy-looking video game characters, etc.) male first as some sort of template for later additions to its world. Of course, this all leads back to Toaster’s gender. The animators and screenwriters took great lengths to avoid having to reveal that issue. The four other appliances in the Faithful Five have been fully defined (in regards to Blankie, Curby points out “he’s just stuck in a tree”). In fact, the only time Toaster was referred to by a pronoun was during the waterfall/rescue sequence, over the blaring rapids and music, Lampey screams “(he/she) sank”. That’s it. It could have been a gigantic Japanese to American transition fluke but I remained unconvinced.
The most likely reason why we never learn Toaster’s sex is to let everyone feel a sense of equality, so to speak. This plucky appliance is always in charge, tries to keep the rest of the gang in line (just wondering, were ya ever been reminded of a real person who has said “Knock it off you guys” like that?), suffers fear of inadequacy, and eventually makes the biggest sacrifice to save the Master. Why should someone of those characteristics have to been specified? Perhaps for one brief moment, cartoonists realized how much of an influence they were to children and decisively broke tradition. With a strange mixture of a placid yet heart-warming appearance, voice, and behavior, Toaster proves to be a role model for all. (I’m aware there is a sequel out there on videocassette, but I haven’t seen it.)