July 21, 2010

  • I noticed an interesting, if pointless, link between the cartoon show The Boondocks and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. In both of these cartoons (or comics, books, whatever) there is a character representing big business, corporate greed, what have you. In The Lorax this character is the Once-ler, and in The Boondocks, well, it’s Mr. Wuncler. Both Once-ler and Wuncler represent the way big business uses the lower class for their own goals and rapes the land of it’s resources at the expense of all those on it. It’s just a nice little parallel, a nod of the head on the part of Aaron McGruder, as both characters’ names are pronounced the same.
    -Contributed by SamRay
  • We’ve all had our suspicions about Spongebob’s sexual orientation. Oddly, being close with a friend of the same gender points to homosexuality but, this isn’t about a relationship with Patrick. This is about the episode of Spongebob Squarepants in which his B.O. fends off residents of Bikini Bottom.
    In the episode, Spongebob confuses his B.O. for “ugly”. Spongebob’s “ugly” is homosexuality. This is backed up by a few events in the episode. Mainly, the scene where he stands on the roof of his pineapple and proclaims his ugly pride. Right after he exclaims his pride, we switch to Squidward alone remarking “Is that what he calls it?” It was right there and then that I knew that this episode was, very subtly, taking on the issue of homosexuality.
    -Contributed by Matthew S.
  • The toy characters in the Toy Story series are shown to internalize what they are made to represent: Buzz Lightyear initially believes himself to be a space explorer, the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots are extremely combative, and the like. However, they are not always equipped to actually carry out their assumed functions: Buzz’s laser doesn’t work, Rex cannot actually eat smaller animals, etc. One key inability shared by all of the toys is the inability to reproduce. Strangely, though, Woody and Bo Peep carry on a low key relationship. What makes this even stranger is that in Toy Story 2, Woody is prepared to leave for Japan and never come back, but does not even mention his relationship with Bo Peep, even though this would jump immediately into the mind of any normal person. This would suggest, then that their relationship is essentially “going through the motions”: they do it because they are “imprinted” to do so, rather than for any biological reason.
    -Contributed by H. Rex

Ex Situ: Ice Age 3: Can a Queer Utopia Be Built on Prehistoric Gender Roles?

October 28, 2009


Never saw Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, but since it’s coming to home video soon (I wish I got paid for that plug), it’s time for an apropos update.

Page Schilt has mixed feelings about Ice Age 3. On one hand, it shows animals of heterogeneous gender permuting peacefully. On the other hand, it does its best to reinforce stale stereotypes, particularly masculine tropes. Here’s a bit:

In an attempt to create a compensatory family of his own, Sid appropriates a trio of dinosaur eggs. Now in nurturing mode, he begins referring to himself as “Mommy” and even–unless I’m much mistaken–using feminine pronouns.

All of this, I know, sounds really queer.

But, like so much pop culture, Ice Age 3 simultaneously subverts and reinforces sex and gender norms. All the stuff it’s dredging up from our collective cultural anxiety closet–changing gender roles, the anti-sociality of the nuclear family, alternative communities, homoeroticism–is, I would argue, kept in check by the film’s policing of traditional gender roles.


The utopian nature of the collective is emphasized by the subplot about heterosexual romance between two squirrels. The female squirrel, a hot femme fatale, repeatedly uses her sexual wiles to part the male squirrel from his nut (pun intended, I’m sure). After battling it out in SM foreplay for most of the movie, the squirrels briefly succumb to sexual bliss before descending into domestic hell.

It’s a good read, with some links that I’ll probably highlight individually in the future.

Ice Age 3: Can a Queer Utopia be Built on Prehistoric Gender Roles?
> Catena Ex Situ

From the archives: Thoughts on Peppermint Patty and Marcie

September 3, 2009


Contributed by Krissy N.

Many people like to hypothesize that perhaps Peppermint Patty and Marcy are lesbians, despite a blatant lack of evidence. Peppermint Patty is not gay. This much is obvious from her treatment of Charlie Brown. She likes him. She expresses her crush through her aggressiveness, by being overly chummy and encouraging him to do things he would normally avoid. She is forcing a relationship between them. Notice that Charlie Brown never contacts her intentionally; they run into each other at school or afterward, on the baseball team, or while shopping. Their relationship is based on knowing the same people and attending the same school.

Why Patty chooses to be aggressive toward Charlie is a matter of observation. Aside from Patty, the other girls include Sally and Lucy. Sally is Charlie’s sister, he has no choice about his relationship with her, they live in the same house. Lucy is the only girl Charlie approaches willingly, seeking her “advice” often. In these sessions she abuses and ridicules him. From observing this type of behavior, one may conclude that Charlie Brown is a masochist. Patty figures that the only way to have any sort of relationship is to abuse the poor boy. But she can’t be like Lucy because of her love for Charlie; she wouldn’t intentionally hurt him.

Marcy has no strong evidence to prove that she is not gay, but there are some interesting things I can say in support. Marcy is very passive. We have never seen her take great action, or even say much beyond offering a few helpful points to Patty or covering for her in class. Marcy reminds me a bit of Charlie Brown in her passiveness. She never places herself into any given situation, more that she is flung into it. Her actions are often dictated by others. She doesn’t have any strong ambitions or goals, neither does Charlie outside of his desire to succeed at least once. Both of them are very polite, honest, and nice to other people (especially adults). The two don’t force their opinions onto anyone, neither of them have an outgoing or aggressive “will” to speak of (Even Linus has a strong will, though no actual personality flaws. Instead, he is a dynamic personality, with an old and knowledgeable soul). Because of these similar traits I always wished to see the pair together.

Their similarities make one think about their relationship to Patty. Charlie Brown is the object of Patty’s affections, so what does that make Marcy? The Peanuts gang is partly defined by its relationships: Patty likes Charlie, Lucy likes Schroeder, Sally likes Linus, Charlie Brown likes the cute little redhead girl. Marcy is an anomaly in this social circle as a figure not involved in any type of crush as the other characters are. So it is not entirely unlikely that Marcy likes Patty. Having some of the same personality traits as Charlie Brown makes her a likely candidate as a significant other for Patty. In contrast to Charlie, Marcy chooses to be near Patty, showing more control over her circumstances than he ever could. Seeing what kind of person Patty chooses to adore, Marcy emulates that behavior, trying to draw the attention toward herself. Of course that is merely not enough. Marcy makes herself helpful so that Patty acknowledges her existence, depending on Marcy to help her out of tough situations. She wedges herself into Patty’s life the way Patty attempts to place herself into Charlie Brown’s day. Marcy uses Patty’s actions as the basis for her own.

Though Marcy might act passive to gain Patty’s favor, I do not believe that it is merely a facade. Part of the behavior is native to her personality. She spends a lot of time with Patty, it is nearly impossible for any person to maintain a passive facade that long. Patty is very overbearing and egotistical, if there existed anything with Marcy’s personality to disagree, the two egos would have clashed and the pair of girls would always be fighting. Marcy’s lack of a personality saves her persona from being crushed by the monster that is Peppermint Patty. Marcy’s innate passiveness ultimately prevents her from revealing her true feelings. Admitting now one feels about someone else takes courage, especially for introverts such a Marcy, who must live in the perfect and most likely repressed society that is the world of Peanuts.

Pokemon Explained

April 9, 2009


[Editor's note: This incredible, epic article has been floating around the web for about a year; it's originally from one of the memers at 4chan  (though it is suspected to have actually been written by either Francis Bacon, Mary Anne Evans, or George Eliot). Recently over at deviantART, an individual known only as BellicoseBreakfast took it upon itself to edit and proof the article for improved readability and coherence, and post it on the deviantART forum. For this, we are most grateful. Rather than merely link to a forum, diaphanous and mercurial as feline affection, we have taken the liberty of reposting it below in its lengthy entirety, with a merciful page break.]

ashslapHave you ever noticed that the pacing, tone and story development of Pokemon changes after Ash is hit by lightning in the early episodes, how Ash and his world were relatively normal until after the incident?

I have a theory.

The accident with the bike put Ash into a coma. Days later he was found and was hurried to the hospital and treated with heavy medications, which is why Team Rocket became less menacing. The medication took effect and stabilized his coma dreams so that instead of being terrifying, they became idyllic, allowing him to live out his Pokemon master fantasies.

After the beginning episodes, the series is the result of Ash’s subconscious mind fulfilling his desires, as well as attempting to escape reality. Should Ash realize he’s in a coma, he would wake up, but suffer brain damage, so he must take down all of his mental barriers one by one until he can come to grips with who he is and escape his coma (since his mind will not allow him to escape until he’s come to terms with himself).

Further evidence comes from the realization that even though his journeys take him vast distances, he never travels on a bike due to having developed a phobia.

The coma and fantasy explains why he doesn’t change much physically. It also explains the worldwide socialism, as he thought up a safe system of government that would run smoothly and keep the world going, allowing his adventures to work like they do. It also explains how a child can go off on his own into a world full of dangerous and untamed animals, and why town has the same police officer and every Pokemon centre has the exact same nurse. Joy and Jenny he knew from his hometown, and they act as a safety net or anchor, allowing him to feel safe no matter where he goes. Joy and Jenny represent stability. The professors represent Ash’s ideals, which is why Gary became a professor. The fantasy also explains why every time he enters a new region, virtually no one has heard of him, despite his conquests. How could Paul, the rival of the Sinnoh area, not know of someone who has placed in at least the top 16 of all three leagues and has destroyed the Orange League and Battle Frontier?

Read the rest of this entry »

From the archives: Thoughts on Biker Mice from Mars

April 3, 2009


Contributed by Sterling F.

CharleyOf all the shows mentioned on this web site, no one has mentioned Biker Mice from Mars. This truly underrated show had some surprising adult characters and situations.

First let’s look at the main characters. Throttle is the quintessential leader who is smart and your average guy. He is the only one with a girlfriend who is tough and very loyal. Vinnie is the classic young, hyper, oversexed man. He boasts and brags consistently and of course tries to get women (I’ll explain that more later). Modo is the lovable big guy who is committed to family (he is pretty much a mama’s boy). Charley is a woman who lives alone and is a mechanic (she is also the most realistic looking woman as she rarely wears sexy clothing). She obviously enjoys the company the Biker Mice bring her. The villain Limburger is very similar to the British villains seen in James Bond films. His assistant Carbunkle is androgynous in both look and voice. Greasepit, a henchman, is an idiot.

Now, there are tons of sexual overtones and innuendos between Charley and Vinnie. It is evident in the first episodes (in the second episode when Charley is dressed in a short skirt and falls over in front of them, Vinnie asks her to “turn around again”). Other incidents include: his reactions to when Charley is in danger (male protectiveness of his woman), flexing in front of her, jealousy (evident when Charley’s old boyfriend showed up), and many incidences in which he wants her to check him out. Charley flat out refuses all his advances (after all, that is bestiality) but even including that kind of relationship which is more obvious than Elisa and Goliath in Gargoyles is bold.

Also, the Biker Mice are borderline chauvinistic in most of the episodes. They fight while Charley sits in the garage only because they make her. She often has to fight to get equal treatment from them which mirrors the women’s rights movement and the glass ceiling issue.

The villain Limburger could be considered gay. He never does anything himself against the Biker Mice, he hires someone else to do it. Limburger has no family to speak of (except for a nephew…think of Scar from The Lion King) and is often running, yelling, and screaming (with Carbunkle in tow) from the Biker Mice. Also, Limburger has an inferiority complex. He loathes anything dealing with being Plutarkian (he is an alien). He despises doing the Plutarkian greeting and always has on his human mask even when he does not need to (in fact an episode showed a flashback where he was infatuated with Earth movies).

One thing about the show that seemed negative was the portrayal of rats. All the rats on the show are evil or do evil things. Modo, in particular, gets angry when anyone compares him to a rat. The person(?) that brings down the Martian forces is a rat disguised as a mouse who infiltrates the group. He also kidnaps the girlfriend of Vinnie (note that this takes place before they get to Earth). This smells of racism (the rats being African-Americans) and the rat kidnapping one of the mice’s girlfriend goes right into the stereotype of African-American men craving white women.

There are also lots of in-jokes. The voice of Vinnie is Ian Ziering of 90210. Thus, the show had guest appearances by people from 90210 including Luke Perry, Jason Priestly, and Jennie Garth (in fact, Luke Perry’s character looked like a twisted version of him). Also, an episode of the show dealt with Shakespeare. The voice of Limburger is a Shakespearean actor.

I hope this gives you an idea of the show, which was on the air for three seasons. Even though the animation was not nearly as good as Disney or Warner Bros., the writing combined sexual tension, humor, action, and adult in-jokes in virtually every episode while staying within the realm of children’s television. Also, what show geared toward kids would stretch out a storyline through 3 weekly episodes (as it did in its final season, before shows like ReBoot or Beast Wars did it)? Anyone who is a fan of this show or vaguely remembers it should comment and tell me what you think.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Discriminatory Segregationism in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

November 25, 2008


We are thankful here at J. Cart. Overanal.: thankful that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Take, exempli gratia, this still from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973 C.E.):

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Two immediate items of note:

  1. Linus Van Pelt, acting in his customary role as spiritual leader, is sitting at the head of the table.
  2. Franklin, the sole African-American member of the Peanuts ensemble, is sitting all by himself on one side of the table.

Here is a passable video of the sequence, including a nightmarish Guaraldi-seasoned tête-à-tête between Snoopy and a beach chair:

The scene in question is, in fact, somewhat questionable itself: the numbers of chairs and servings fluctuate throughout, giving the meal a disorientating Kubrickian quality. This produces in the scene a sense of unease and tension which reflects the viewers’ discomfort at the casual racism on display. Indeed, Franklin is seated in the malicious beach chair, which humiliatingly places him at an eye level below that of the others.

Though this segregation is not limited to racial issues only: Marcie, though eccentric and possessing of an ambiguous sexuality, is caucasian enough to be allowed to remain close to the rest, but is still seated at the end towards the left side of the table. Linus chooses to seat Marcie as far away from himself as possible, separated from the larger group by the dog. Indeed, the beagle is deemed a more fit companion than any heterodox humans. (Though, perhaps Snoopy is allowed to sit with the elite in due respect for his cooking prowess. It is also noted that Snoopy, in an act of defiant compassion, serves Marcie and Franklin first.) Furthermore, to extrapolate, the only characters exempted which could reasonably join the table next are the obsessive-compulsive Schroeder, the filthy Pig Pen, or the unloved and sadistic Lucy, who, if arriving late, would be forced to sit in one of the chairs next to Franklin and Marcie. Thus, the entire left side of the table would be relegated to odd, unhygienic misfits and belligerent, racial outcasts.

The characters are not evil: Peppermint Patty shows genuine remorse for embarrassing and bullying Charlie Brown, and Linus is often a beacon of compassion and temperance. But the point is made: the virus of casual discrimination is insidious and unaware, and can manifest itself at an early age.

Nota bene: this troubling issue uncovered via Super Punch >Catena Ex Situ

Ex Situ: On the Couch with Beavis and Butthead

June 14, 2008

We previously published A Freudian Analysis of Beavis and Butthead, but limiting one strictly to Freud nowadays is like limiting one strictly to gauche. That’s why Jeff Schwartz has written a psychoanalytic analysis of Beavis and Butthead, although he inexplicably does “not believe the psychoanalysis of fictional characters is useful.” The only rational explanation of this opinion is that his essay was written before the existence of The Journal of Cartoon Over-analyzations. Below, there is a representative excerpt of the essay:

The threat of castration, represented by Woman’s lack, is essential to subject formation, and Beavis is clearly outside of this system. Not only does his reflection tell him Bjork has a “schlong,” but when he and Butthead watch another video, which features a (supposedly) nude woman in a bathtub, Butthead expresses the hope that the woman will stand up, revealing her body to them. Beavis thinks that she will not, speculating that “she’s embarrassed because she has a stiffie.” Butthead attempts to explain that women cannot get erections, but the existence of humans without penises is unimaginable to Beavis.

On the Couch with Beavis and Butthead >Catena Ex Situ

From the archives: A Response to Sexual Ambiguity in The Brave Little Toaster

June 6, 2008

This article was originally written as a response to Sexual Ambiguity in The Brave Little Toaster. Alas, the name of the original author has been lost to the mists of time. And my poor organizational skills of ten years ago. Also: we apologize for the lack of updates this week. We take our update schedule very seriously.

I hope you were referring to The Brave Little Toaster (a 1987 Disney-affiliated cartoon movie) and not its parody, “The Brave Little Trailer” (a 1994 ten minute short on Animaniacs). The latter I know for sure starred a male cartoon character because at the end you see the Trailer as a grandparent with a white beard and the Pooh-bear voice of cartoon vocal-master Jim Cummings. But at any rate the first film does fail to meet your criteria for deducing the gender on cartoons for a number of reasons.

First off, you’re talking about appliances here. They have no clothes either way. In fact, going over the movie several more times I found no instance where the animators hinted of clothing on any of those characters; possibly to keep them subliminally apart from the human characters. And supporting my theory. (Yes there was that Hawaiian projection scene during that song but I’m talking about hints of clothing that was actually fused onto the characters kind of like Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast.)

Then you’d probably like to discuss color coding. Alas, it holds all too true for the stereotypically (hot pink) female examples, but remember- out of a million billion cartoons, I’m only evaluating the Toaster. Subliminally, I didn’t notice gender because the Toaster has chrome silver and black (those aren’t even really colors) which are exactly what all classic toasters are like. Hence, this character has passed the color coding test by avoiding it altogether.

Let’s see, the Toaster is seen dutifully and enthusiastically tidying up the cottage and minutes later is replacing burnt fuses and hot-wiring a car battery for a chair. Two opposing stereotypes=nothing.

The eye-detail doesn’t lead you much in any direction here. The Toaster has got the dinner plates thing but that’s because, being a toaster, it’s whole face is also it’s body (it’s sort of a verbal to visual pun). Absent are the eyelashes and that ever-alluring white glare found endlessly in Japanimation. To top it off, the Toaster has dark brown irises which not only transcends gender-specifications but ethnicity as well.

In dealing with the voice-issue, that one is totally arbitrary. In my case, I sit next to this student in my Algebra 2 class I would’ve sworn, for the rest of my like, was a full-fledged tomboy had I not heard someone speak his name.

Moving onto emotional status, examples grow increasingly murkier (as I would expect). The Toaster does briefly display what could be conceived as maternal instincts toward Blankie halfway into the movie- though by the end doesn’t mind sitting flat on him like a frat boy on a beanbag chair. Personally, I think that electric blanket is gay for several obscure reasons as well as those flagrant one (a scene where Curby “unloads” his bag of dirt, the Toaster wants Blankie not to gawk- my take on it is the Toaster also has a form of “unloading” like with breadcrumbs on the real appliance and since Blankie has none, he isn’t allowed to intrude this sacred act- it’s almost like a third gender! But now I’m really going off).

How about suggestive hints? If you want to think dirty you could say the Toaster has those slots on its head suggesting female genitalia (and the bread to toast process as pregnancy) but you will also notice the Toaster is the one with the inserting mechanism for those baked goods and, most obviously, it has a nice long power cord sticking out. Do you suppose that represents male genitalia? But rather than go off on a tangent rant of why this cartoon is suggesting of a hermaphrodite, it would be far better to just say “Hey, it’s toaster that happens to talk, okay?”

There was one scene that really, really had my gears turning and that was the otherwise meaningless encounter the Toaster has with a flower in a secluded, almost romantic setting. Well, my thoughts (as I’m writing this) are that the flower softly throwing itself at the Toaster symbolizes someone giving away their virginity- often associated with girls. But, then the flower seems to go into despair and wilt when it is told it was looking at a reflection (the Toaster clearly doesn’t want to get involved in anything here). Does this mean the flower was basically trapped in this romantic setting all alone and believed it found true love in the form of a reflection… or just a companion at all? Comments are welcome- either way, it still keeps the intrigue of my claim alive and well.

I was so convinced of my theory that I decided to view that sequel The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars. I shuddered when I heard it existed and I shuddered more at each passing minute of seeing it- this is the marriage of mediocrity and bribery at its worst, folks. But in the end, I got just what I wanted- more proof the Toaster has no gender. There is yet again a scene where they were supposed to refer to it by third person (by some gigantic refrigerator?) but it could have very well also been referring to the Radio or Lampey. I know it gets rather cumbersome to dissect a movie so thoroughly but to me, it’s increasingly obvious that the animators took great lengths to avoid the issue (and possibly the children’s book this was all based on). The simple fact of the issue is they refuse to give the audience any definite truth on the Toaster. However another totally different possibility is they’re letting you chose the specific gender of this utterly neutral character with an utterly flawless design. I choose neither side for all those reasons stated above. Of course, you can still choose male… if you want to believe that.


May 13, 2008

  • Here’s a theory you might have missed behind “Casper the Friendly Ghost”.  It goes that Casper is symbolism of homosexuality and the struggle for gays in society.  Casper is a boy ghost or male who constantly seeks the company of other boys or other males.  The boys seem to think Casper is a nice fellow and find nothing wrong with his company. After a short while of cute playing, the friendship is ruined when grown ups, who represent the more “traditional” views of society, intervene. More than frowning on such relationships, they fear it terribly and steal the innocent boy and run away from poor Casper, who is left to seek out the next relationship.
    -Contributed by Dave R.
  • In Tex Avery’s “King Size Canary,” a cat and canary compete by “growing” larger with the use a vitamin serum; the bigger one has the edge on the other.  It goes back and forth with no resolution other than running out of serum as they stand on a basketball sized earth.  This is all a metaphor for the US vs. USSR nuclear arms race!
    -Contributed by Dave R.
  • There has been a great deal of speculation regarding the fact that Smurfette is the only female Smurf in the entire village. People automatically assume that Smurfette is responsible for the propagation of the entire Smurf population. This is an erroneous assumption, because this theory postulates that Smurfs reproduce sexually. I offer forth the idea that Smurfs reproduce asexually, much like amoebas. I believe that when a Smurf takes off his little white hat, the hat grows a new Smurf, and the old Smurf grows a new hat. In the case of Smurfette, well, there is at least one obviously homosexual Smurf in the village (that being Vanity), so why not two? I submit the idea that Smurfette is simply a cross-dressing male Smurf, and there are no real females in the village. No real female acts that over-the-top feminine. I have converted many unbelievers to this theory, based on the simple logic that it puts forth.
    -Contributed by Natalie.
  • For me, the show that brought the whole anthropomorphic vs. realistic animals debate home for me was none other than The Get Along Gang. It struck me as weird to begin with; you stick a moose on his hind legs and he looses something fundamental about being a moose. And Montgomery has antlers, which brings up the issue of whether they could be considered a weapon in his society. But the episode that sealed it was the one in which the Gang ends up in a snowy town where they must search for an escaped elephant. A non-anthropomorphic elephant. From the zoo! I always thought that if you’re going to create a world of humanoid animals, you might as well go all out and populate your zoo with humans.
    -Contributed by Farnie6.

From the archives: Bestial Sexuality in He-Man and She-Ra

May 8, 2008

Contributed by Lady Bast.

He-Man revolves mostly around bestial relationships rather than sexuality (although it’s there), hence all the human/animal crossovers (e.g. Beastor, King Hiss, Cobra Khan, even the Sorceress). Some are even cybernetic, brandishing nasty little built-in devices (e.g. Trap-jaw and Hordak if you want to cross into She-Ra). Most of these are the bad guys because we want to underline their bestial natures, but some, like the Sorceress, are good guys. The difference is that good guys get to “bond” with animals that are admired and not feared.

Again, this is a Medieval-type society even though technology also seems to be at a high. Most people seem to have mechanical equipment of sorts and many use blasters though He-Man uses a sword to underline his sexuality. Skeletor also uses a sword (it is supposedly the “other half” of He-Man’s) to mirror the hero, but this happens rarely. Usually, Skeletor uses a magical staff with a ram’s skull on it. This is probably meant to represent evil (i.e. horns of the devil – bestiality).

In keeping with this theme, He-Man (as He-Man) is a big, hulking, Mr. Universe kind of guy with a California tan and blond hair (really big with the girls at this time). Adam, though pale, is also a big, hulking, Mr. Universe kinda guy. The difference is that He-man wears reds and browns and golds (and no shirt) because he’s a manly man whereas Adam wears pink and lavender. In the 80s, He-Man equalled a “real” man. Adam was a pasty-faced, pastel-wearing pansy.

He-man rides this big cat, right? Looks like a tiger. Green. Why doesn’t he ride a lion? Only male lions are really associated with masculinity, most other cats are associated with the female persuasion, as is the colour green which is usually a symbol of fertility. This one’s tough to prove, because the colour might just have looked good on the background. And tigers are rather ambiguous sexually: they are not directly associated with the male, but they are muscularly powerful and this one does have a male voice, and they’re not directly associated with the female, though most cats are by default. The nitty gritty details are just something else to think about. Male or female, a cat was used because the cat symbolism was big in the 80s. Especially the big cats because they had the power of the beast and the sleekness of the sexual.

And She-Ra rides a horse. The unicorn horn had nothing to do with She-Ra’s sexuality (or lack thereof), it was there because unicorns would sell. The key here is that She-Ra rode a male horse and we all know what a woman riding a mustang represents, yes?

A word on stereotypes: women are always wimps and/or ditzes in He-Man. Teela is supposed to be this great fighter, right?, but she’s always the one who gets to sound like a total idiot with that whiny “Adam, where’s He-Man?” (or vice versa) thing that she does. And if the Sorceress is so powerful, how come she spends so much time moaning and groaning about this and that and needing He-man to rescue or “help” her (as in he does all the work)?

The only exception to this, as far as I can tell, is Evilyn. She’s one of Skeletor’s lackeys and I can’t remember a single sucky thing she might have done. Mind you, I may be wrong. I don’t remember too much about her because they didn’t use her nearly enough, probably because the presence of a female in the bad guys’ camp removes their illusion of “sexlessness” (i.e. they’re all beast).

This applies to She-Ra as well. The “evil Adora” was much more effective than the “good Adora”. When she was working for evil, Adora was respected as a general in Hordak’s army. As a good guy, she’s a wimp and needs to transform into She-ra to do anything effectively. Notice that She-Ra’s voice is deeper than Adora’s, probably to make her sound more masculine. Female heroes (I don’t use the word “heroine”, a hero is a hero no matter what the sex) are often portrayed as “men with breasts,” a sad affliction that still surfaces occasionally. In fact, the only way to make her seem feminine is to give her these empathic/telepathic animal communication and healing powers. Like a woman absolutely has to be nurturing and healing. I think that all these extra powers succeeded in doing was to make her look weaker than her brother (she needs more power to do the same job). Although I’ve often thought that He-man got the short end of the stick because his sword doesn’t change into other things (Sword to Shield!). That’s like the ultimate Swiss Army Knife.

Other aspects of this stereotype manipulation are all the supposedly strong females in She-Ra who swoon over the male ones (as Glimmer did with He-man in “Secret of the Sword”) and let them take over, or who surrender/run away when confronted with a male opponent (e.g. Catra of the Horde who wimps out every time she loses her mask). Again, only Shadoweaver is of any interest although why she doesn’t just kill off Hordak (who’s too stupid to have been Skeletor’s mentor, I don’t care what the movie says) and take over is a mystery to me. The only really great female characters Filmation comes up with are almost never used… such a pity.

As you can see, He-Man and She-Ra don’t walk the sexual/bestial barrier that Thundercats does. It does use a greater amount of stereotypes, though I’m sure they thought they were quite advanced in using female fighters and lead characters.

Again, I don’t want to imply that the animation companies were trying to project these messages or used such symbols on purpose because they didn’t. And it certainly isn’t what us children picked up on either. The creators of these shows just used the images that were popular at the time, symbols that were created and used by advertisers/designers to represent the facts that already existed and those facts were that people in the 80s really, really wanted sex and bestial imagery and that, in this case, we haven’t yet obliterated all the stereotypes.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 137 other followers