Monday, January 28, 2008

A special invitation from the Geena Davis Institute

Calling all story artists, writers, directors, and anyone else interested in a dialog on new research on gender and children's entertainment. On Thursday, January 31, from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is sponsoring a day of panels and discussion between the academic and entertainment communities. TAG members are especially invited, and the Geena Davis Institute has set aside 25 tickets for interested animation pros. These tickets include all the panels as well as a VIP breakfast, lunch, and the exclusive closing reception. To RSVP, go to the end of this post.

Many of you came to the See Jane panel we sponsored in Oct. 2006 with Geena Davis, or you might have attended See Jane discussions at some of the studios, so you'll be familiar with the efforts of the Geena Davis Institute. They would love to have further participation from animation's creative community. Here are the details (scroll down to the Thursday portion of the event).

Note that there's no obligation to be there all day. If your schedule only allows you to come for only part of the time, you're still welcome. I'm not sure if anything like this has been done before, an event that brings together people from the academic and the creative/entertainment communities, to share information and to dialog. I think it's a great idea, and I wish my schedule allowed me to go. I encourage any of you with an interest to attend.

Note that there is also a panel discussion Tuesday evening from 7:00 to 9:30 PM that is free and open to the public (unfortunately for me, this is during our General Membership meeting, but then most of you aren't committed to that). I don't believe that part of the event requires any RSVP. Check out the above link for details.


FOUNDER GEENA DAVIS and other special guests extend a personal invitation to you for a day of panels and discussion about gender and children's entertainment.

TOPICS INCLUDE:

  • New research on gender & children's entertainment
  • Entertainment industry perspectives
  • International perspectives on gender in kids' TV
  • The toy-product-media-marketing connection
  • And special feature speakers from the entertainment and academic communities

THE GEENA DAVIS INSTITUTE ON GENDER IN MEDIA OPEN FORUM
8:45 AM - 4:30 PM
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Town & Gown Ballroom
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089

REGISTRATION BEGINS AT 8:00 AM
Space is limited.
Please confirm your seat today.


The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media Conference 2008: Children and Gender in Film and Television has been made possible by a generous grant from the Annenberg Foundation.

RSVP

THE GEENA DAVIS INSTITUTE ON GENDER IN MEDIA OPEN FORUM

8:45 AM - 4:30 PM
January 31, 2008
Town & Gown Ballroom
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, Geena Davis' ongoing crusade against her perception of some kind of disparity of genders in media.

I would go, but i already have a seat at the sold out "He Man Woman Haters" meeting across town.

Kevin Koch said...

I'll never understand the need some people have to play the role of internet troll. Aren't there better ways to waste 30 seconds?

Anonymous said...

i simply disagree with Geena Davis' study.

its a study performed BY her institute, which had a conviction and then went out and funded a study to prove it. i don't think there was even a remote possibility of anything being proven by her study than what she wanted to prove.


^thats the blueprint for biased research.

any other discipline in the sciences or studies of society would have gone to an impartial entity to conduct the research, but not Ms. Davis. so i'm passing judgement on her conviction that there is a gender bias in animated media.

i implore anyone to go read about the "research" that Geena Davis' group conducted to back up theidea that females are not adequately represented in the work of the animation community. i think its unadulterated hogwash.

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin Koch said...

Dude, I'm afraid you simply don't know what you're talking about. The study Geena Davis sponsored simply took the top-grossing 100 or so G-rated films of recent times and looked at the genders of the main and supporting characters. It wouldn't matter what anyone's 'convictions' are, the characters are either male or female. And the results showed that the main characters were 75% male, with the background characters 83% male.

That kind of research is about as easy to refute as something could be. Heck, do your own, similar study right now. Take every animated show on TV (this is different subject matter, since she used feature films and a mix of live action/animation, but I'm using this example because it's easily accessible). Tape or Tivo the latest episode of every show. Then watch them all and keep score of the male and female characters. It's pretty much bias proof. Then come back and tell us the tally.

You'll be able to see for yourself if it's true that the overwhelming majority of characters are male. If they're not, then you can argue that she's wrong, that there is no gender bias in programming aimed at kids. What's interesting is that, in all the comments that were generated when we first posted about this research, no one seriously argued that the the research got the numbers wrong. People did argue about what the numbers meant, and what should or shouldn't be done about it, but the numbers are what they are, and even a brief survey of animated TV shows or features confirms it.

And you're wrong about how research is done. It all comes down to whether you use the scientific method or not. You're the one who needs to take a look at how the research was done, because all you're doing is yelling 'hogwash' without giving the slightest evidence that you have a clue. Tell us what the numbers really are. Tell us what the flaws were in the research paradigm.

Steve said...

Here's where I'm at.

I'm a jury, that's out, until I see the spin from the conference.

Don't mean spin in a bad way - but they're not doing this conference to see if they're wrong, they're doing this conference to convince everyone else that they're right.

I have my own theories.... but I don't have a big fancy grant to back them up, so I fear I will have to react to theirs.

Or agree with them. The week is young.

Anonymous said...

1. The SeeJane study is commissioned by SeeJane and proves exactly what SeeJane intended it too.

2. The Seejane research was conducted by Stacey Smith, one of the 6 chief advisors that make up SeeJane

3. The SeeJane research results are being touted as irrefutable.

^again, this is the picture perfect case for a biased study. raw data does not always represent what it is suggested as representing. there are nuances. there are mitigating factors. there are extraneous variables.

rudimentary bean counting does not provide an accurate impression of character's resonance on the screen, their affect on the story, etc. Much of the research done in their study is equatable to saying that Anchorage Alaska is the largest U.S. City(because it is in square miles).

Geena Davis has an agenda and as the founder and head of her Institute, she furthers it in all of the actions of that entity. Look no further than her recent screed against what she see as "unfair" about cartoon history transcribed here:
http://tinyurl.com/38oktv

Its there that she relates that Judy Jetson's waist is too thin and that Miss Piggy shouldn't have cleavage. Seriously, thats what she said. Read it.

...and thats why i can't take her seriously. Her perceptions are a shade away from those of Andrea Dworkin. To think that the Animation Union Local 839 is actually supporting this kind of crap.

Kevin Koch said...

Wow, somebody needs to take a deep breath and calm down. Look, it's really very simple. Most of us were profoundly affected in some way by the entertainment we saw as children, and that's part of the reason we got in the animation business. We all have those stories of how a particular cartoon or film or comic book deeply affected us. And I know for a fact that many of us think about what kinds of effects our work has on kids, and whether we're doing worthwhile work.

For years we're gotten the mainstream media's interpretation of research on entertainment and its effects on kids. We hear the soundbites, and we get annoyed that some pointy-headed scientist is trying to judge what we do. Some of that research has affected policy in things like broadcast standards and practices, which understandably provokes strong reactions. I think some of that social research, especially that done in the '60's and '70's, missed the mark, and I understand the creative community's skepticism towards social research. Skepticism is good. So is an open mind.

There's this whole world of people doing research on entertainment, and there's this whole community of people creating that entertainment. And as far as I know, those two communities don't interact at all.

Here we have an unprecedented chance as creatives to hear first hand from researchers, to ask them questions, to clarify some of their ideas, to challenge them, to learn from them, to educate them. So you can sit on the sidelines, your mind made up, throwing stones and feeling smug and certain, or you can engage in what might be a very useful process.

Oh, and to those who think this is a conference with a preset agenda -- you've never been to such a conference. I'll guarantee there will be researchers who disagree with each other, sometimes by a wide margin. The difference between the critical comments above and the disagreement you'll see at the conference is that it will lack the ad hominem attacks and vitriol. It'll actually be constructive criticism, which some people here need to learn to both give and take.

Justin said...

If you listen to their talk you'll realize that SeeJane is not trying to form any opinions about how females are represented, what their impact on the story is, or whether or not females are represented in a positive light. They are not telling filmmakers to make more movies starring females, and they are not telling filmmakers how women are or should be represented.

They are simply stating that in the real world more than 50% of all people are female, but in the top 100 feature length animated films only 17% are female. They are trying to make people aware of the bias so that they can try to make a conscious effort to undo the bias. Do all of the palace guards have to be male? Do all of the talking chickens have to be male? All of the talking fish?

Anonymous said...

Oh brother. If you really believe that there isn't an agenda at work here you are profoundly naive.
Anyone could have told Geena Davis that there are more male stars in cartoons. The question being raised by her ridiculous cabal is WHY there aren't more female leads in cartoons (a phenomenon that becomes less and less true all the time).
The most obvious answer, of course, is that historically girls will watch cartoons starring boys but not the other way around. And why is that? Davis is implying that it's because men have some anti-woman agenda and through our dastardly male-run media we continue to keep gals submissive and filled with self hatred ("Give Judy Jetson bigger boobs and a smaller waist! We want broads to know that THIS is the ideal and if they don't look like this then they're worthless cows! Mwah ha haaaaa!").
"Studies" like this and "Institutes" like Davis' believe that by guilting everyone into a more politically correct mindset that it will somehow change things for the better. I don't doubt that their intentions are what they consider "good"... but their conclusions and judgements are laughably over-intellectuallized (the reason Judy Jetson looks the way she looks is because SHE'S A CARTOON CHARACTER... i.e. a CARICATURE... SHE'S NOT REAL! IT'S WHIMSY! FANTASY!) and, deep down, fascist in nature (if you like 'The Muppets' you're an evil woman-hater because it promotes bad stereotypes... join the rest of the evolved elite or be branded a monsterous sexist).
Davis and her ilk are determined to make children's entertainment even more insipid and toothless than it already is. You can tell their plan is working by the popularity of such drek as 'High School Musical' and 'Hannah Montoanna' as well as the fact that the 'Transformers' no longer use guns and a typical episode involves the robots going to a slumber party. How much lamer does Davis want cartoons to get?
I would also draw attention to the fact that a huge number of executives in charge of children's programming are women.
As a woman who has pitched countless shows starring fun female leads - and as someone with an army of female friends who have done the same - only to have a female executive tell me that they're not interested BECAUSE my main character is a girl, I can attest that the proof is in the pudding... children's programming isn't driven by any agenda other than what the public demands. Sometimes it works in our favor, sometimes it doesn't.
Geena Davis is desperate to be relevant in some way. I have better things to do than help fool her into thinking she has anything to offer other than a world of dull, safe, completely flavorless kids' shows.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, i didn't include ONE ad hominem attack in my posts about Geena Davis that you replied to. not one. i criticized her thinking and i questioned her intentions. there is a difference and if you stop to take a deep breah, you would recognize that. I don't agree with SeeJane and i'm leveling criticism at it. i'm allowed to do that. i think i've presented a pretty compelling case and that shouldn't make you mad enough to launch accusations at me. if you don't like differing opinions on Geena Davis, then don't promote her agenda. Or.. by all means post her events. but you must let people chime in.

Kevin Koch said...

Folks, chill, please. Look, it's really simple. If you think this meeting might be interesting or worthwhile in some way, check it out. If you can read minds and you know all about what everyone else thinks and what their secret agendas are and you've already made up your mind without actually taking the time to find the facts, then stay home, and please stop posting nonsense.

Simple, huh?

Pete Emslie said...

Justin said: "They are not telling filmmakers to make more movies starring females, and they are not telling filmmakers how women are or should be represented."

Well, actually they are. This is directly from their site:

G-rated movies and certain TV categories need more females as main characters, minor characters, narrators, and in crowds.
3 out of 4 characters in G-rated movies are male.

This pattern remains steady even when the data is analyzed from multiple perspectives (major characters, characters in groups, movies released in the 1990s versus the 2000s).

In TV made for kids 11 and under, the bad news is that in TV-Y and TVY7 there are twice as many males as females, while the good news is, TVG is almost balanced at one for one.
G-rated movies and certain TV categories need more characters of color, especially female characters of color as main characters, minor characters, narrators, and in crowds.
In the 101 highest grossing G-rated movies 1990-2005 characters of color are most often sidekicks, comic relief, or villains. In TV aimed at kids 11 and under, three-fourths of all the individual, speaking characters are white. Girls of color are least likely to see themselves reflected in media made for kids.
G-rated movies need to create more female characters with aspirations beyond romance.
In G-rated films, Dr. Smith and her researchers discovered that often female characters have no personal aspirations beyond romance i.e. romantic love or marriage.
G-rated movies need to create more women and girl characters that are valued for their inner character, too.
In G-rated films, Dr. Smith and her researchers discovered that most often plots with female leads revolve around physical appearance and ability to attract a mate.


Now, to be fair, I don't think these requests are unreasonable as far as varying the types of roles out there for female characters in animation. What I object to however is the implication that somehow the existing roles we are currently seeing are shameful. For example, this complaint that "In G-rated films, Dr. Smith and her researchers discovered that often female characters have no personal aspirations beyond romance i.e. romantic love or marriage" really doesn't seem fair, considering that it takes two to tango, as they say, and the male in question is ultimately after that same goal!

I'm also leery about the whole "characters of color" debate. Seems to me that however minorities are portrayed in film, the various lobby groups are never satisfied no matter how well-intentioned and respectful the filmmakers set out to be. Arabs blasted Disney over "Aladdin" and Native Americans blasted them over "Pocahontas", which ironically was so politically correct in its nobleness that it failed to be entertaining! Blacks protested over there being none of their own in "Tarzan", despite the obvious dilemma that, for that time period, they would have had to been either spear wielding natives or one of Prof. Porter's baggage-toting jungle guides. A distinguished "Mr. Tibbs" type just wouldn't be credible in the story.

I agree that there should be more roles for women in animation, but in addition to, not instead of the ones that we have already. I'm just worried that Geena Davis and her See Jane crew don't really understand the medium nor the art of caricature of the human form and character type.

Anonymous said...

"If you think this meeting might be interesting or worthwhile in some way, check it out. If you can read minds and you know all about what everyone else thinks and what their secret agendas are and you've already made up your mind without actually taking the time to find the facts, then stay home, and please stop posting nonsense. "

Kevin, your prejudices really are hilarious. What you've basically said here is that if you DON'T think the meeting is worthwhile or interesting, your opinions must surely be nonsense based on a lack of factual knowledge.
Isn't it possible that we've made up our minds based on prior knowledge of the organization?
Isn't it possible that our opinions are based on obvious facts and not merely knee-jerk reactions?
If it were President Bush giving a seminar about why cartoons should have more guns and violence would you recommend that people go before they make a judgement? Somehow I doubt it.
You opened a discussion about a subject that people feel strongly about, including people who actually disagree with you. Get off your high horse and deal with it.

Kevin Koch said...

I'm just worried that Geena Davis and her See Jane crew don't really understand the medium nor the art of caricature of the human form and character type.

I think Geena Davis has some pretty good bona fides in the realm of entertainment and female characters. Since she and "her crew" have met and spent time with story artists, writers, directors, and producers at several prominent studios, and based on my personal interactions with Geena and her crew, it's safe to say they get it, and that they understand the nature of the business.

But hey, anyone in LA can go to the actual meetings tonight and Thursday and see for themselves.

Soapie Didget said...

Without reading everything that has been written in response to this post.
Do all the palace guards have to be male? If it's a period piece, Yes.
If I am king and the guards are protecting me? Hell Yes!

Kevin Koch said...

Pete, another thought on part of your comment:

For example, this complaint that "In G-rated films, Dr. Smith and her researchers discovered that often female characters have no personal aspirations beyond romance i.e. romantic love or marriage" really doesn't seem fair, considering that it takes two to tango, as they say, and the male in question is ultimately after that same goal!

Well, actually, usually the male in question is ultimately after something else, and the romance is a distraction in facing his obstacle, or else he has to overcome great odds to gain his love.

Speaking of stereotypes, I remember just shaking my head during 'Happy Feet' during the scene where the wanna-be girlfriend wanted to go along on the hero's quest, but was sent away for her own safety. Instead, the hero went off with a band of puny wisecracking vatos to save the day. I think there were two females in that movie: Mom and girlfriend. No, wait, there were some bimbo chicks, too, and a frumpy schoolteacher.

Yeah, I know, that's just one recent example, but it's just not that hard to find those kinds of examples.

Pete Emslie said...

Yes Kevin, but the female in most animated features of the last 20 years (particularly Disney) also wanted something else from life too. Usually independence or a change of lifestyle, her soul back, or something, just like her guy.

By the way, does "Happy Feet" count - I thought we were discussing animated films here? :)

RedDiabla said...

I would also draw attention to the fact that a huge number of executives in charge of children's programming are women.
As a woman who has pitched countless shows starring fun female leads - and as someone with an army of female friends who have done the same - only to have a female executive tell me that they're not interested BECAUSE my main character is a girl, I can attest that the proof is in the pudding... children's programming isn't driven by any agenda other than what the public demands. Sometimes it works in our favor, sometimes it doesn't.


I've been there, done that with the pitches, as well. Unfortunately for me the series ideas I come up with have female lead characters, and the women executives frown upon them.

Sucks big time, I tell ya.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god can we PLEASE stop looking at entertainment as something OTHER than entertainment?!

Can I pretty please watch my cartoons without having to deconstruct every single line while asking my inner child if this story is constructive or not?!

Will the alarmists and parent groups of the world PLEASE stop sucking the "fun" out of every single atom of existence?

Can we all please just TOUGHEN THE FUCK UP A LITTLE BIT AND STOP BEING SO GODDAM SENSITIVE?!

Hey, Geena Davis... wanna prove to the world that women are as tough as men? Then howabout NOT getting your tender little feelings hurt by something as trivial and stupid as Judy Jetson's waist or Miss Piggy's chest?! Try that out... 'cause right now you just come of like a spineless, weak, damaged little girl.

Same goes for you, Koch.

CR said...

"Can we all please just TOUGHEN THE FUCK UP..."

Look everybody! It’s the tough guy.

I bet he runs out to his car and cries every time somebody critiques his work.

Kevin Koch said...

Yeah, the tough anonymous internet guy, the guy who wouldn't dream of saying a word of this stuff to someones' face.

Ah, the joys of allowing anonymous comments. What would the insecure trolls do if they actually had to have the balls to use their real names? Oh, wait, I know, they'd have to shut up or toughen up. They'd have to have the courage of their convictions. They'd have to stop whining.

Yawn. Time to go do some real work in the real world.

Anonymous said...

I suppose when you don't have any sort of real 'arguments' to counter anything I said you have no real choice but to zero in on the 'tone' of my comments - which clearly frazzled your oh-so-sensitive holier-than-thou nerves.

And, as usual, when you don't have anything better to counter with, you bitch about anonymity. That's really gotten boring.

I and everyone else who posts anonymously have every right to be hesitant about posting our names because the fact is: idiots rule the world... and there are more idiots than there are logical, rational, thinking individuals. But since we've got to tread the same sidewalks life is easier if you're unaware that we know how stupid you are.

So go ahead and feel superior. It really doesn't matter to me. My post was to assure other like-minded people out there that not EVERYONE is a politically-correct fascist like you. I know that nothing anyone says that isn't already 100% in line with your Berkely-bred way of thinking will fall on deaf ears anyway. Keep missing the point.

Now go work on some cartoon where everyone gets along all the time.

Oh wait, you're a union rep. You don't work. My bad.

Um... said...

"Time to go do some real work in the real world."

Is this the same "real world" where all females are spunky go-getters and all males are basically retarded?

Kevin Koch said...

Your ignorance of what I do for a living is, well, pretty much in line with the ignorance in the rest of your vitriolic and hateful rants. Which isn't surprising.

Anonymous said...

"Hateful"? Guilty as charged I suppose. I do hate really crappy, watered down, politically correct programming. I guess that makes me a villain.
Of course, you have yet to actually address any of my points... you only seem to be able to address my attitude.
So go ahead... convince me that children's entertainment will improve with more and more 'sensitivity' crammed into it. Lord knows my favorite part of 'GI Joe' was the 'learning' segments at the end. And 'Captain Planet'? What a masterpiece.
Go ahead. I WANT to be convinced. I'm open-minded. What's your argument?

Pete Emslie said...

Kevin, with all respect, I think Anonymous has made some valid points that should not just be dismissed out of hand. In fact, it would be interesting to see what response you'd get from Geena and the See Jane reps if confronted at the panel discussion with these concerns.

I happen to agree with Anonymous that the meddling of politically correct types has resulted in visual pablum in lieu of genuinely funny and entertaining cartoons for kids. Though I'm sure that a character like "Kim Possible" scores high with See Jane for taking charge of a situation and saving the day, I question whether they are indeed open to all manner of portrayals in cartoons of females and minorities, even when the resulting characters are villains, buffoons, bimbos or any other type of role that See Jane might consider objectionable. I think that Anonymous is right to question their stand on this and, if more female roles are generated for kid's shows and movies, would See Jane then take a hands off approach as to what unflattering types exist among the variety of roles that might include. If, however, they believe that they have the right to scrutinize and pass judgement on such characters (as I believe their website statements imply), then Anonymous and all of us who value creative freedom have every right to be concerned and vocal in our criticism.

Kevin Koch said...

I'm afraid I'm not going to take the time to address straw-man arguments. I've never advocated any of what I'm being challenged to 'justify.' I passed on an invitation for the animation creative community to engage with social researchers, which I think is something that could be useful for both groups. And I pointed out that Geena Davis and her 'cabal' were being misrepresented by some of the nasty accusations made by anonymous commenters. That's all.

Unfortunately, some people come into this subject with too much of their own baggage, and feel the need to project their own issues onto others. I choose not to accept those projections. It's that simple.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Right.

Anonymous said...

thats funny, because i though Geena Davis was projecting her own issues onto the animation community(with the leverage of claiming that its all in the name of kids of course).
clearly reality has inverted itself for you.

Killroy McFate said...

I think Geena's kinda..um..hot.

Anonymous said...

What's most distressing about Geena Davis' and Kevin's 'worldview' is that they shrowd themselves in faux-liberal morality... but their ideal that there is a certain moral code that all media should follow or even TRY to follow is fascism - pure and simple. You can deny it all you want, but you are trying to FORCE commercial media to adhere to a socio-political mindset. Davis' organization is a wolf in sheep's clothing... they're the 'Thought Police' disguised as a bunch of caring liberals.
So it stands to reason that people of her ilk inspire anger among those who actually believe in free speech.
And Kevin, supposedly, represents ARTISTS! How can you be a representative of creative people yet still be in favor of this kind of anti-creative censoring?
Look, maybe kids' entertainment is still evolving socially, but if you look at the big picture you can see that it IS evolving. And things evolve much more naturally without watchdog groups poking and prodding. You can't FORCE true progress. You can force the appearance of progress, but not actual progress.
If you believe in freedom of speech, you can't qualify it by saying you only believe that it applies to things that promote one type of worldview. This means sometimes some things are going to be less progressive than others... and others may be downright offensive to you. But that's the price you pay.
Watchdog groups and people that feel the need to push their agenda on everyone are dangerous to liberty. It may sound alarmist, but fascist, repressive, puritanical societies are formed this way. Subtly... and with the best intentions.

Kevin Koch said...

Kevin's 'worldview' is that they shrowd themselves in faux-liberal morality... but their ideal that there is a certain moral code that all media should follow or even TRY to follow is fascism - pure and simple.

This is so demented that I really fear for your mental health. My friend, you don't have a clue about my world view, but let me assure you that it doesn't include fascism, censorship, puritanical repressive societies, or eating kittens and babies. Hey, next time you're using junior high school debating techniques, just compare me to Hitler. It'll take fewer words.

Or you could come up to me some time and engage me in actual conversation, and find out what I really do believe. Then you wouldn't get to anonymously libel me anymore, but I promise, you'd find other hobbies.

Anonymous said...

Junior High debating techniques? At least I'm debating. You just keep saying, in essence, "Nuh-uh, you big stupidhead!"
(by the way, comparing you to Hitler wouldn't be appropriate as his style of fascism was very overt and obvious. I find subtle fascism disguised as liberal moralizing to be much more threatening)
Why not try ADDRESSING some of the concerns I've raised?
I've given you countless opportunities to support your arguments and each time you just dodge the actual issues in favor of your tiresome "I'm not going to dignify that with a reply"-style non-points (which of course draw light to the fact that you have no real arguments).
So again, I will challenge you: Why SHOULDN'T your (and Geena Davis') stance on these issues be feared by those who revere free speech? Convince me that I'm wrong. Enlighten me on whatever detail I'm missing that doesn't imply that you subscribe to a politically correct credo that aims to surpress anyone you find 'offensive'.
I don't WANT to fear people like you, Kevin, but you've given me no reason to see you as anything but another threat to free speech. It's not libel if the evidence backs it up.
You can't just say "Well I'm not a fascist" even though the evidence supports that assesment. I belive political correctness IS fascism. So explain to me why your worldview is no threat to free speech or free thought.
I await with an open mind.

Kevin Koch said...

You can keep trying to put words in my mouth, but I won't play that game.

Should I address the concerns that you've raised? Do I really need to address the fact that you've accused me of being a fascist, a Puritan, a censor, a faux liberal, that I'm promoting a single-world view, that I'm anti-free speech, that I'm anti-creative? All of these characterizations of me are nasty, dishonest, and childish.

These are your projections. These are ideas that are not supported by anything I've ever said or written, but come for your bizarre spin that you're trying to put onto me.

Want to know what I really believe? I believe that we need to have the courage to actually look at the work we produce. See Jane pointed out that much of our work contains a significant gender bias, in both the number and quality of female roles. Surprise, surprise, this is something Hayao Miyazaki has been saying for years, to the point that he has consciously tried to counter this trend in his recent films.

After the original See Jane report came out, we at the Guild realized that the same gender bias exists among animation creatives, with female writers, directors, story artist, etc. making up around 12-18% of our industry.

In response to these two separate sets of facts regarding gender bias in animation, did I call for some kind of quota system, or censoring, or thought-policing, or affirmative action, or hiring quotas, or any of the nonsense you and others have accused me of? Nope, not once.

Instead, I organized a panel discussion with some the top creatives in our industry, including several prominent women. We had a great discussion that both male and female animation professionals engaged in. No pronouncements were made. No agendas set. No forces of anti-creativity were unleashed. Instead, we discussed the nature of the business, and possible reasons we're in this situation. We challenged knee-jerk assumptions, and we challenged ourselves to look hard at something that has been swept under the rug for decades. If that threatens you, then that is your problem. But that was over a year ago.

Now, in the last week, I passed on an invitation for animation professionals to go to an event that is actually structured to bring both creatives and social researchers together. Is that what fascists do? No, I don't think so. And your response? Blind rage and attack. You say you await my response with an open mind. Was your mind actually open enough to go to the event in question, and see for yourself if this "ridiculous cabal" was really as you've painted them?

I don't really have to ask, do I?

Peace, brother, take a deep breath and relax. I ain't your enemy.

Anonymous said...

"After the original See Jane report came out, we at the Guild realized that the same gender bias exists among animation creatives, with female writers, directors, story artist, etc. making up around 12-18% of our industry."

SO WHAT?

without evidence that this is by design or that women are being denied jobs in our industry than the above posters viuews on your intentions are spot on.

here's a little info for you: fashion is almost 90% women. there's a reason for this fact that you and SeeJane will have to come to grips with.

WOMEN AND MEN ARE DIFFERENT.

i know, its hard to believe. i urge you to digest this though because while i don't want to pass judgment on you, its becoming more and more clear that you can't grasp this fact. a fact that comes from science. remember science? bulls are different than cows, male gorillas are different than females. throughout the entirety of the natural world males and females have different dispositions and different tendencies because they are different genders.

has it ever occurred to you that men and women are naturally predisposed to different inclinations in all of their interests. they are.

you are going to have to accept the fact that countless fields are dominated by women and likewise for men. you aren't going to have parity. let me repeat because that bears repeating: you are never going to have parity. stop impeding the creative process by manufacturing fairness. you will just end up with a lot of angry people. if you want to blame someone for ou industry being dominated by men, then you might as well blame women. they don't major in animation, they don't come out of the schools, they don't gravitate towards the field - and its not men's fault.

so unless you have proof that women are being blocked from entering the animation community then you and Geena Davis can go take a long walk off a short pier. you are in very dangerous territory for a union representative. you are essentially supporting new hiring practices based on gender.

if you say you aren't, then go read the SeeJane agenda that you support so vehemently. think twice because we elect you.

Anonymous said...

"In response to these two separate sets of facts regarding gender bias in animation, did I call for some kind of quota system, or affirmative action, or hiring quotas, or any of the nonsense you and others have accused me of? Nope, not once."

you have stated your intentions many times before- like this quote from a post by you at the Pegboard:


"in our industry, I think it's only fair that we have greater parity in our workforce."


link:
http://tinyurl.com/39owcr


there's nothing fair about the way you view the world. its what you perceive as fair. the people who want to go into animatiom, do just that. here is an idea, why doesn't Geena Davis maker her own animated movie that could be staffed by all women. or start her own studio. how about she CONTRIBUTES to the art form instead on riding on our backs and telling us how we don't adhere to what she thinks is fair. there isn't a shred of evidence that the circumstances in our industry are the fault of anyone in it. if anything, its the result of women who have never cared to enter our industry, and i can't fault them for making decisions of their own.

Anonymous said...

I love how you end with 'peace brother I aint your enemy' despite your hateful, combative rhetoric.

Now, before you say "BUT YOU STARTED IT!" (which would be typical of your childish reactions to anything that challenges your opinions), know this: I fully admit to being hateful and combative, and I most certainly do not shroud it in liberal moralizing (I choose to shroud it in anonymity instead because I know full well that you're allowed to spew the most fascist-style agenda imaginable as long as you proclaim to be a liberal who's "just looking out for the children" whereas if you dare to express any opinion based purely on logic and common sense that actually REQUIRES people to take personal responsibility for their lives you will be called an evil tyrant and burnt at the stake). I, in fact HATE fascism and I will always COMBAT ideas that try to sneak it past us with the assurances that its "for our own good."

But lets move on to your arguments...

"I organized a panel discussion with some the top creatives in our industry, including several prominent women. We had a great discussion that both male and female animation professionals engaged in. No pronouncements were made. No agendas set."

So, it sounds like you got together with a bunch of people who either 1) All agreed with you, or 2) Disagreed, but no one had the balls to actually take a stand on what should be done.

What's the point of all this discussing if you're not going to attempt to find ANSWERS to the questions and SOLUTIONS to the problems?

I think one of the things that bothers you about me is that I actually take a stand on this issue. I don't merely disagree with you and Davis, I say flat out that we need to recognize the damage that these organizations can do and challenge them to keep away from tampering with our freedoms.

You may think I'm just an internet troll who's out to get you, but apart from your dangerous opinions I have no agenda with you personally, but I get very defensive if I think my freedoms are being tampered with, and I've seen watchdog groups like Davis' destroy the quality and integrity of an art medium that I've loved since childhood.
You can tell me "don't worry" all you want, but the actions of these groups worry me and I intend to LOUDLY oppose them.

"After the original See Jane report came out, we at the Guild realized that the same gender bias exists among animation creatives, with female writers, directors, story artist, etc. making up around 12-18% of our industry."

I don't argue that this is untrue, but the question is WHY is it true? Geena Davis would have us believe that it's because of some corporate evil or sociological defect on the part of men who hate women (don't insult our intelligence by denying that) but the truth is closer the what Anonymous12:49PM said... it's just because that's how men and women have differed through the years. As times change, the gap sometimes narrows... but it's neither good nor evil. It just is.

Every time you dodge the issues (which you continue to do... you still haven't come out with what you believe should be done about the problem you and Davis seem convinced exists) it makes me more convinced that your way of promoting your ideals is through carefully crafted subtlety. You won't come right out and say what you feel because then it would become obvious that you would endorse some form of censorship.

You noted that Miyazaki noticed a gender bias and did something about it. A brilliant example of why people like Geena Davis are obsolete.
Miyazaki didn't NEED someone to come along and TELL him to create compelling female characters... HE JUST DID IT. Not only did he do it for artistic reasons, he profited from it (gasp!). This is why Miyazaki is a genius and Geena Davis is an idiot. Rather than use her creativity and talent to LEAD BY EXAMPLE, she forms her little watchdog group and tries to guilt creative people into her mindset. Which example do you think is more effective?

As it has been pointed out here, there are people trying every day to pitch movies and shows that break down stereotypes but they get shot down. Is it because of some evil corporate plot? No, corporations will do anything if they think it will make them a buck. It's because the industry (particularly in America) is not keen on taking risks. This same issue applies to a lot of different problems, not just gender bias. So the problem is not one of gender bias, it's one of a lack of bravery on the part of studios.

It's amazing to me that the far left and the far right don't rally together more on this issue because the fact is, they are both very keen on censorship.

You keep screeching that because I didn't go to the rally that must mean that I'm not open minded. I don't need to go the rally because I've followed this group's agenda and I already know what it is. Going to her little rallys just gives See Jane more integrity than it deserves. I want to encourage people to either speak out against it or ignore it so that "babysitter" groups like hers stop messing with our ability to create.

So, Kevin, after begging and pleading, you finally gave a hint as to what your position is and it sums up into two possible categories:

1) You're merely in favor of everyone talking about the issue, not formulating opinions because that makes things ugly (in which case, what's the point?).

or

2) You want people to THINK you're out to 'promote dialogue' but what you really want is for people to be won over to your side.

If it's 1, you are merely a tool. If it's 2, you are a sly politician trying to win people over. Either way, we are at odds.

Maybe I'm missing something. I'll ask you one last time: What do YOU feel is the cause of the gender biases you talk about, and what do YOU feel should be done about it?

Kevin Koch said...

...your intentions are spot on...

And what were and are my intentions? They are certainly not what you've gone to great lengths to pretend they are. You refuse to get it. You refuse to actually look at what I've said and done, and continue to imagine I have intentions I do not.

You pulled up a quote in which I indicated that I thought it would be a good thing if there were more female animators and writers and directors. I guess that scares the crap out you, but it doesn't scare me. I frankly think it would be a good thing.

You'll note that you couldn't find a quote where I called for hiring quotas, special treatment, affirmative action, outside oversight, inside oversight, or anything remotely fascist, could you? With everything I've written and done on the subject, that quote is the most damning thing you could find. Pathetic. And you want me to imagine you have an open mind.

its the result of women who have never cared to enter our industry, and i can't fault them for making decisions of their own.

Sadly, people like you are part of the problem. Any woman in the business who wants to get along knows she needs to avoid doing anything that might upset someone like you. And sadly, any female thinking of getting into the industry who's reading this thread is probably rethinking that decision.

You've spent a lot of time trying to stomp down what you imagine are my thoughts and intentions. Look in the mirror if you want to see a bona fide member of the thought police.

Anonymous said...


"You pulled up a quote in which I indicated that I thought it would be a good thing if there were more female animators and writers and directors."


no - i didn't.

i cited a quote where you stated what you thought was 'fair'. the audacity. your perceptions of whats 'fair' doesn't enter into it.

whats fair is people who have a passion for animation go into the industry and as it happens, not a lot of women are amongst them.

this is not a crime. this is not a wrong.

unless you can cite evidence that women are unfairly discriminated against, then you have NOTHING to belly ache about.


lets recap for you:
women are free to enter the animation industry and yet their numbers are not that strong, in the same manner that men are free to enter the fashion industry and their numbers are scarce.

there's no crime being committed here Kevin. its just the way the cookie crumbles. deal with it.

Anonymous said...

"You pulled up a quote in which I indicated that I thought it would be a good thing if there were more female animators and writers and directors. I guess that scares the crap out you, but it doesn't scare me. I frankly think it would be a good thing. "

See, this is yet another area where you and I really differ and where your thought processes are really outdated and scary.

The notion of more women entering animation doesn't scare me... it's simply irrelevant to me. What I want are more GOOD animators, writers and directors. I don't care what their race, gender, religion or background are... but I only want them in the industry if they're GOOD at what they do.

YOU, on the other hand, are the sexist one as you clearly seem to think that women need to be spoon-fed into male-dominated careers.

Women don't need our "help" in getting into animation. They're doing fine on their own.

You seem to think we should "reach out" to women to get into animation. I say we reach out to people with talent.

Women need to be held to the same standards as everyone else if they want to have a positive impact on the industry. By your logic, if a man and woman both applied for a job as a director and the woman was a little less qualified, you would presumably give the job the the woman because you have an agenda that says more woman need to be in the industry. That's just sheer idiocy and, more frighteningly, unjust and sexist.

I've read what you've written for years, Kevin, and it runs the spectrum from narrow minded to hypocritical.

I've given you multiple opportunities to explain your position (beyond simply telling me I'm just "wrong"), but all of the evidence (i.e. everything you've said on this matter) paints you as a sexist, fascist, narrow-minded, pseudo-liberal who wants to APPEAR progressive even though all of your opinions are based on an extremely narrow notion of what you consider to be "fair" and "correct."

The fact is, I could argue in favor of the See Jane institute better than you just by virtue of having an objective mind. You, on the other hand, formulate your opinions purely subjectively and, like so many of your ilk, you expect the rest of us to just go along with it just because it seems "progressive" when, in fact, anyone with a brain can see that it's the opposite.

I gave you your chance. You blew it. It's just a good thing for you that the union is as ineffectual as it is... otherwise I'm certain you would be voted out. But since the union doesn't really do anything, clearly no one cares enough to remove you from your post. Myself included.

Kevin Koch said...

So having an opinion about what is fair is audacious? So you really are the thought police.

And are you really under the illusion that men are rare in the fashion industry?

Kevin Koch said...

YOU, on the other hand, are the sexist one as you clearly seem to think that women need to be spoon-fed into male-dominated careers.

Man, you're spewing bile and putting words in my mouth faster than I can respond. Uh, no, fool, I do not think woman need or want to be spoon-fed into animation. This is another example of you playing thought police about what you imagine I think.

And the best you can do, since there's nothing I've ever said or done that gives the slightest evidence that I'm a "a sexist, fascist, narrow-minded, pseudo-liberal" is to just keep repeating the same libel. Brilliant.

In the land of internet trolls, you are surely king.

Pete Emslie said...

Well, the results of the 2008 "Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media" study are in and can be read firsthand right here:

http://www.thegeenadavisinstitute.org/downloads/GDIGMARTICLE.pdf

To be perfectly blunt, the results are exactly what Anonymous had predicted (as had most of us, I'm sure), as they basically set out to "prove" through contrived data what it was that they wanted to hear in the first place. Reading this report only makes me shake my head in wonder as to how anyone could pursue such nonsense, as it comes across as highly laughable to me. Here's a particularly telling excerpt from the report:

Females in animated stories are more likely to have small waists(36.9% vs. 6.9%) and have an unrealistic body shape (22.7% vs. 1.2%) than are females in live action
stories. Males are also assessed for style of presentation differences. No differences emerged for sexually
revealing clothing. However, animated action males are more likely than their live action counterparts
to have a large chest (15.4% vs. 4.9%), small waist (18.4% vs. 4.3%), and unrealistically muscularized
physique (12.5% vs. .5%). Clearly, animation appears to favor highly sexualized female characters with
unrealistic body ideals. For males, animation seems to heighten their muscularity.


Hey Geena, if you're reading this, please take note: IT'S A CARTOON!!!! Body types are abstracted and exaggerated in a cartoon - they are CARICATURES of real life, not simply tracings of live action performers.

To be honest, I always liked Geena Davis as an actress, but I sure hope that neither she nor any of her "See Jane" cronies are ever let anywhere near an animation studio or network headquarters. They've just proven with this report that they have no clue about animated films whatsoever and should just keep their noses out of it.

Anonymous said...

Once again, all your ubiquitous response is "I AM NOT! YOU'RE WRONG!" without giving us any evidence to actually PROVE that I'm wrong.
The strongest opinion you've dared to produce is "I think it would be good if more women were in animation." My goodness! How bold of you!
And yet, even that weak-chinned "opinion" is backed up by nothing of substance for us to ponder. No real reasons WHY you think it would be good if more women were in animation or how you think that should be brought about.
I've pointed out lots of evidence to support my opinion of you, but you haven't really given anyone any reason to think anything to the contrary.

You are either everything I say you are or you are a PROFOUNDLY awful debater. Or possibly both.

Anonymous said...

fashon is a female dominated field Kevin. i know, my wife is a designer - but don't take my word for it. go out and ask people in the fashion industry. i'd hate to force you to speak about something you know nothing about(once again).

Anonymous said...

As a woman in the industry, Kevin, I want to say thank you. I'm gonna stay anonymous because I might be working with one of the jackasses who have been posting here. I went to the panel in 2006 and it was a good event, with none of the imagined male-bashing.

Anonymous said...

Women dominate the fashion industry?

Kevin Koch said...

Haha, interesting link, thanks. Here's a quote:

But circumstantial evidence is making some designers wonder about the (gender) disparities. Of the young American designers most embraced by retailers and celebrated in the fashion press in recent years, the roll call is almost exclusively male: Zac Posen, Marc Jacobs, Narciso Rodriguez and Mr. Som as well as Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler. Their female contemporaries have had a harder time breaking through, among them Behnaz Sarafpour, Alice Roi and Ms. Subkoff.

So, anonymous, did you make up having a wife?

Oh, and thanks to the female anonymous above. It's much appreciated.

Pete Emslie said...

Now would anybody care to read the brand new Geena Davis Institute report I linked to and comment on that?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Anonymous Female... you've utterly fallen for Kevin's nonsense and that's exactly what he wants... for women to say "Wow... Kevin is so progressive! He's sticking up for women! Yay!".

Kevin, and people like him, are either women who have been duped by camps like Davis' into thinking that the big bad world is against them or they're men who have perpetual guilt just for being men.

If Kevin truly believed women were equal to men, he wouldn't support Davis' idiotic cause.

What could be more anti-woman than the belief that women can't decide for themselves what industries they choose to be in? Or that they need the prodding from watchdog groups to help them along?

The fact is, if you show favoritism to someone based on their gender - whether you are a male or female - you're sexist.

Kevin's assesment that "I think it would be good if more women were in animation" suggests that women possess some inherent superior quality that men do not.

See, a NON-sexist seeks workers based on their abilities. Not their gender.

Kevin Koch said...

Kevin, and people like him, are either women...

Wow, you do provide the laughs. For the record, I'm not a woman, though I'm not surprised that someone with your keen observational skills isn't sure. And I'm not guilty about being a guy. So ixnay on yet another of your false choice set-ups.

But don't let that stop you, since some with your absolutist thinking isn't capable of much else.

Pete Emslie said...

So, are my posts not showing up or what? How about reading and commenting on that Geena Davis report, huh?!! Geez!!

Kevin Koch said...

Hey, Pete, I took a look at the Stacy Smith report that you linked to. I'm struck by the recomendations:

Recommendations for Entertainment Executives and Creators:
1. Include more females as main characters, secondary characters, in crowds, and as narrators.
2. Provide female characters with aspirations beyond romance.
3. Develop the inner character of female characters, too.


I have to say, that doesn't sound too fascist to me. I don't see the recommendations for new oversight groups, for legislation, for canceling shows in production, for not allowing animators to caricature people, on anything like that.

I've talked with male writers and story artists (who make up over 85% of our industry) who have admitted that before this issue was brought up they tended to automatically make most secondary characters male, and that they tended to stereotype their female characters. This wasn't intentional, and it wasn't because the story/setting required it, it was just an unconscious process that they thought could easily be changed. So the first recommendation seems petty reasonable.

Same for the second. Stuff like Mulan and Lilo and Kim Possible and Dora are relatively recent example of what happens when creators actually consider female characters as real people, and not just romance partners.

The third recommendation is simply a call to do good storytelling, and stop relying on cliche.

Seriously, if these recommendations coming from this study are frightening, then we're in trouble.

Pete Emslie said...

To be honest, I have no problems with those recommendations either, Kevin. However, judging from the overanalyzing that they later go into regarding female characters, I just see that they don't seem to find anything to their liking. That whole business about honing in on the waist size and "unrealistic body shapes" just totally loses me, I'm afraid. Though they say they'd like to see a variety of body types in films, I have a suspicion that they'd even find fault with such diverse caricatures as Cruella deVille and Mad Madam Mim.

After reading this report, I was reminded of a comment I recall by some middle aged woman emerging from the theatre after seeing the stage show of Mel Brooks' "The Producers". She said something to the effect of "I found it really offensive. They just took everything too far."

Well, people like that are just missing the whole point, and I'm sad to say that this report, with its obsession with cartoon character physiques strikes me as being evident of the same humourless mindset. By all means, let's see more female characters in animated cartoons. But in addition to the strong-willed, take charge heroines, Geena and her crew are also going to have to accept the villainesses, buffoons and bimbos that I mentioned in an earlier post. After all, we certainly see a lot of male buffoons like Homer Simpson on TV. The main difference being that we guys aren't the least bit offended by such portrayals - we just laugh at them like the cartoon makers intended us to!

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, you posted an article about male DESIGNERS in fashion. designers make up roughly 1 position is the workforce of a fashion company.

i eagerly await an articles citing how women aren't the overwhelming gender working in the fashion field as:
sewers,
production managers,
buyers,
showroom managers,
sales associates,
account executives,
creative directors,
publicists,
reps,
pattern makers...

shall i go on?
i'll restate what i said because its turue: the fashion industry is one where women vastly outnumber men. i'm talking about the entire industry because that is what Geena davis is talking about. next time you want to refute a point, try two steps:
1. cite an article of relevance.
2. know what you are talking about.

*but just for kicks, heres an article about the abundance of female designers today that is from 4 months ago and not 2 years ago(like yours): http://fabsugar.com/658273

Anonymous said...

Wow, Kevin... you've gone from merely delusional to just really dumb. Try reading the "Kevin and people like him" sentence a few more times and maybe you'll get it.

Either way, delusional/dumb or sincere/smart, you should be thrilled because THIS discussion is a REAL debate about these issues. Not Davis' idiotic preaching-to-the-choir "seminar" where attendees are either in agreement with her or too scared about looking sexist to REALLY disagree.

I wish we lived in a world where real debate could take place in person without anonymity, but it can't.

But if your goal is that people should honestly and openly debate this issue, well, mission accomplished.

GDIGMexdir said...

"But in addition to the strong-willed, take charge heroines, Geena and her crew are also going to have to accept the villainesses, buffoons and bimbos that I mentioned in an earlier post. After all, we certainly see a lot of male buffoons like Homer Simpson on TV."

By all means, yes - portray lots of different types of male and female characters! Our focus is on complex portrayal and varied portrayal of both genders. We don't dictate anything to anyone. We aren't out to police anyone... and we aren't picking on anyone.

"The main difference being that we guys aren't the least bit offended by such portrayals - we just laugh at them like the cartoon makers intended us to!"

And we aren't out to speak for everyone, not every female, nor every male. We tend to engage in discussion with people that don't do that either. That is why we do research -- to find out the specifics of a case, rather than engaging in conjecture.

We are a research group and that is what we do: research and outreach around our research. You can actually give us ideas for research -- as we are out to serve the industry in terms of more female inclusion on camera in entertainment aimed at kids.

It is not about what we think, what we guess, what we need -- but about what kids need.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media 2008 Conference Survey
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media organizes the sponsorship of research projects on gender, children, and entertainment. Thus far, this research has focused on gender imbalance and portrayal.
Based on your experience, please nominate in order of importance FIVE (5) of the following suggestions for GDIGM’s next research focus (1 = most important, 2 = next most important, etc.).:
SUGGESTED FOCUSES OF GDIGM RESEARCH

____The reasons why domestically-released G-rated television programs are far more gender-balanced than domestically-released G-Rated films.

____Effects of gender-specific marketing on domestic male or female audience prevalence.

____Key aspects of domestic and international market success of US-conceptualized G-rated films that are more gender-balanced and feature complex female characters

____Domestic and international product marketing for US-conceptualized G-rated television and G-rated films

____Effects of key international marketing demands on domestic G-rated film releases as well as domestic television programming aimed at children

____Content patterns and effects associated with stereotypical gender portrayals, both domestically and internationally.

____Correlation between hiring patterns and on-screen gender balance

____ Prevalence of males and females in domestic media tracked longitudinally over time

____Key aspects of financially successful (top box office) gender-balanced G-rated films

____ Key aspects of financially successful (top box office) gender-balanced PG-rated films

____Effects of stereotyped and/or hypersexualized domestically-produced/conceptualized portrayals on developing youth, both domestically and internationally

____The role of exposure to hypersexual portrayals on girls and boys’ short- and long-term perceptions and beliefs about beauty, thinness, and physical attraction, domestically and internationally

____Gender inclusion strategies in other multi-national/global industries for possible application to the entertainment industry

¬____Other. Please explain __________________________________________________________

Comments:

(Optional) Your title/occupation: _________________________
Your Suggestions to Extend the Message
If The Geena Davis Institute could extend its outreach with key groups of people, which of the FIVE (5) following groups do you suggest. Please number them in order of importance (1 = most important, 2 = next most important, etc.):
____Computer Animators
____Computer Animation programmers
____Studio Heads
____Merchandisers
____Directors of Entertainment
____Assistant Directors of Entertainment
____Casting Directors
____Schools of Animation
____Film Schools
____Business Schools
____Parents
____Toy Companies
____Story Board Artists
____Writers of Entertainment
____Comedians
____Critics
____Advertisers
____Other. Please Explain:

Comments:

(Optional) Your title/occupation: _________________________


You can email that to us at:

info@thegeenadavisinstitute.org

We also have a cool online contest for the next generation of content creators going on at our website...
and we are working with international researchers that are surveying TV aimed at kids in their countries.

www.thegeenadavisinstitute.org

Further info. about last week's conference:

THE GEENA DAVIS INSTITUTE ON GENDER IN MEDIA RELEASES NEW FINDINGS
MALES OUTNUMBER FEMALES ALMOST 3 TO 1 IN FILMS

For more information please visit: www.thegeenadavisinstitute.org

LOS ANGELES, February 7, 2008 – Examining 15,000 individual speaking characters across G-, PG-, PG-13, and R-rated films, research by Dr. Stacy Smith of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication in association with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media indicates that males outnumber females roughly 3 (2.71) to 1 on the silver screen.

Dr. Smith and her team also examined 4000 female film characters and found that two types of females often frequent film: the traditional and the hypersexual. For example, females are over five times as likely as males to be shown in alluring apparel and are roughly three times as likely as males (10.6% vs. 3.4%) to be shown with an unrealistically “ideal” body.

Earlier findings revealed that G-rated television did a better job at including females in its fare than do G-rated films. Nevertheless, Dr. Smith’s research reveals problematic portrayals in television aimed at children. Females in kids’ fare are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire (20.7% vs. 5.4%) and nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a small waist line (25.6% vs. 14.4%). Animated females in TV for kids are more likely to be shown in sexually revealing attire than are live action females (24.5% vs. 17.4%). Also, females in animated TV stories for children are more likely to have small waists (36.9% vs. 6.9%) and have an unrealistic body shape (22.7% vs. 1.2%) than are females in live action TV stories for children. Though, females are not the only ones hypersexualized in TV content for children. Animated males are more likely than live action males to have a large chest (15.4% vs. 4.9%), small waist (18.4% vs. 4.3%), and an unrealistically muscularized physique (12.5% vs. .5%).

This research was announced at a four-day international conference on gender and children in media at the University of Southern California and hosted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Academy Award-winner Geena Davis, Sony Entertainment Co-Chair Amy Pascal, Philanthropist Wallis Annenberg, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson, Brown Johnson President, Animation, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group, and Tom Lynch were keynote speakers at an exclusive luncheon for more than two hundred executives and producers.

The successful conference also featured two days of international researcher workshops made possible by the Ford Foundation and the Annenberg School of Communication, with over 30 accomplished children's media researchers from around the globe and a panel.

At an Open Forum on January 31, panelists examined the link between media and American public health issues such as low self-esteem and body image, the effects of American media in other countries such as hypersexual American content in an African context, the business of marketing products to young people through the media in the United States and around the world, and how writers and producers can create complex female characters for the children’s market. Among the day’s participants were Geena Davis, the Institute’s founder, Heather Kenyon of the Cartoon Network, Doreen Spicer of the movie “Jump In,” Kaaren Lee Brown of DiC, David Kleeman of American Center for Children and Media, WGA’s Animation Caucus head Craig Miller, Cort Lane of Mattel, and critics Brian Lowry of the TV Guide Channel. Linda Simensky, Senior Director of Children's Programming for PBS, was the Open Forum’s keynote speaker.



About 205 executives and producers from Nick, Pixar, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, Disney, ABC, etc. came to the luncheon, learned something, and had a blast. The point was awareness and some food for thought.

Again, we are here to be useful; we are here to provide information. You soon will be able to come to our research library and read or view the articles, videos, etc. on gender and children and entertainment from around the world -- not just from us, but from researchers around the globe.


Thanks very much!

Crystal Allene Cook
Director
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

GDIGMexdir said...

P.S.

Having met Amy Pascal, Stephen McPherson, Tom Lynch, Brown Johnson, Linda Simensky, Gerry Laybourne, and also John Lasseter last year, I can pretty safely say, none of those leaders in this industry was "scared" about looking "sexist" when we presented. Most people found the research thought-provoking. Most people truly working in the industry have found the research useful.

Pete Emslie said...

Hi Crystal,

Thanks for stopping by here and explaining the position of your Institute more fully. Admittedly I'm playing hardball with my critical comments on your findings and I'm not about to backpedal. I honestly don't have a problem with your "Recommendations" so long as no studio is prodded unfairly into agreeing to implement them. In fact, I personally agree with there being more female characters in all media, both animated and live-action, geared towards either kids or adults. My reasons, though, are not in respect to filling some quota to even out the ratio. No, I am simply keen on seeing more female characters of various personality types because they create more interest for me as somebody who enjoys seeing explorations of the human condition far more than action film shoot-em-ups. Actresses in European films tend to get juicier, more diverse roles in my opinion than do many actresses in contemporary American films. Just look at the fun female characters to be found in the films of Spanish director, Pedro Almodovar, or France's Francois Ozon, for example.

My problem with your studies is your fixation on body types in the realm of cartoon characters. It should be noted that the head size of Judy Jetson is as disproportionately large as her waist is tiny. In other words, young Miss Jetson is a caricature of a pretty girl, not a hand-traced copy of the genuine article. Exaggeration and abstraction are the tools of the cartoonist and must never be compromised. So long as The Geena Davis Institute can recognize this and accept it without further criticism, then perhaps we can all find some common ground after all.

GDIGMexdir said...

Hi, Pete--

The bulk of our work for the time being focus on what affects children 11 and under. Geena's bringing up of Judy Jetson was hyperbolic and appropriate to the audience of adults she was addressing. In fact, Judy Jetson wasn't in the TV sample -- as that show was not on in the summer of 2005 when Dr. Smith and her researchers sampled over 500 shows, both animated and live action.
Further, in the business of cartoons or other shows for kids whether you or I like them is not all that important-- we are certainly not the test market for kids 11 years old and younger. I also take issue with the earlier post who said "they're just cartoons!" No. TV and films geared to kids under 11 are a multi-billion dollar product- and play-oriented business. Kaaren Lee Brown from DiC stated this in very plain English last week during the conference-- no one makes money directly from kids' shows. Any money really made from shows aimed at kids eleven years old and younger is made in selling product. At GDIGM we don't argue with this -- this is simply the case. In fact, the point is to get kids to identify with or to really like a character and then get them to ask an adult to buy it for them... and then to take the product home and play. The toy market is almost solely aimed at kids even younger than 11 and older than 2. Why? Kids younger than two can't really ask for a particular toy and kids older than 11, don't really play much anymore with traditional toys. They play video games, use their phones, etc.

Anyway, now, again, back to the research -- it's irrelevant, really, whether you or I or anyone else even on this blog (unless they are younger than 11) personally likes a TV show/movie/product aimed at a kid younger than eleven years old. I would dare say, whether they themselves "like" a character is irrelevant to most studio heads of either gender when the target market is kids younger than eleven.

What isn't irrelevant, though, is how kids internalize messages about attractiveness, beauty, ability, aspiration, equality, popularity, race, intelligence, ethnicity, etc. No one at GDIGM is stating that everyone should be the same nor that all shows or movies have an equal number of every ethnic group or of both genders or happy endings or positive messages. We are also not saying that exagerration is unwarranted or inappropriate. But, let me state this case in other terms, 60 years ago, caricatures of particular ethnic groups were rather common in popular culture -- and in cartoons. They aren't now. Why? Is is just that people of certain ethnicities need to lighten up? Or is that as a culture, we decided, uh, hm, maybe that stuff isn't as funny as we thought or maybe it doesn't do us such good as a society. Was it censored? My guess is no -- one can create as much stereotyped portrayal as one wishes of particular ethnic groups; it just probably won't make it into a TV show aimed at kids, or one trying to sell a product to children.


A studio head made a great point last week about stereotyping -- she just generally finds it to be lazy or bad writing. Our tack at GDIGM following her experience might be to suggest as complex and varied and interesting portrayals of females as there are of males. There is room at the table for lots of different kinds of portrayals, of both males and females. I have personally removed the word "positive" from other's people's literature when they were talking about us and our mission. We are not just about "positive" -- we are about complex. Females deserve to see themselves in lead, side, comic, buffoonish, ghoulish, evil, good, roles and all the variations inbetween and thereof, just as males deserve the same.

So, my guess is that we can all agree there are some things that might be better for kids than other things. Sugar might be what a kid wants, but it's not something a kid should probably have 24/7 -- But sort of like sugar, media is found everywhere and in almost everything.

The Women's Foundation of California conducted a huge survey and research project around young people, both male and female, and their relationship to media in a study in 2006. In all ethnic groups and to both genders, young teens cited their number one influence as media. Far beyond their parents, their schools, their churches... Well, what does that mean? It means that show business -- what a market dictates -- determines what most influences most young people. Market-driven decisions by adults most influence what kids, at least in urban and rural CA, watch, what they wear, how they behave, what they value, etc.

27 researchers from 15 countries doing work completely uninvolved with our previous studies or our current ones joined us last week for discussion and reflection on gender portrayal and balance in TV aimed at kids in their countries. Their independent research showed similar finding to ours with one HUGE exception. Whereas 90% of the content American kids see is created in America or in Canada, that is, is mostly of North American society and about North Americans... somewhere between 6% to 35 or 40% local product is what kids around the world are viewing; said in another way -- kids in 15 countries mostly view a media diet of American and Canadian made TV and movies. Now, are Americans or Canadians forcing kids younger than 11 in countries as different from ours as Fiji, South Africa, India, China, Brazil, Israel, Egypt, Belgium, Germany, Australia, Chile, Slovenia, etc. to watch North American content? Probably not. But the fact is that they are, so what gets created by Americans and Canadians for kids, based on what they know, gets broadcast to the world and can take on very different meanings in other social contexts. Is that worth a thought or two when creating a show or a character or deciding on representation? Probably yes. It couldn't hurt.

Just as there is room in a discussion of show business for profit margin, target audiences, product development, marketing, distribution, international sales, creative development, test groups, etc... there is also some room for reflection and examination of social lessons and messages based in research. There is room for dialogue about how an adult given the responsibility of creating something aimed at children, might, in addition to possible profit margin, consider some of the social implications of his/her work. Are we at GDIGM in any position to dictate to anyone what those social reflections might be? Of course not. We are 100% uninterested in legislation, gov't policy, etc... are we interested in the social reflection of a creator including some consideration to female or male portrayal and whether or not to use stereotypes? Sure. That is our stated mission. Were we bent out of shape when G-rated TV came up as being fairly well gender-balanced and most varied and complex in its portrayal of both genders and of various ethnic groups? No. We think -- cool! Great job! But as a research group, we have to think: Why is this the case with G-rated TV and not the case with other product aimed at kids? So, that may be a further project we engage in.

Again, although we surveyed PG, PG-13, and R-rated movies along with G-rated, the bulk of the focus of GDIGM's work is on what children younger than 11 watch. For the most part, kids younger than 11 probably aren't watching "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down" -- and if they are, they probably wouldn't know what toy to buy (this is a joke -- "hyperbole" alert! Hyberbole alert! Take notice!!).

Anyway, I have said a lot here. We really do welcome the input of content creators and we'd be really happy to have suggestions about our next research (please see my earlier post). We at GDIGM are here to highlight varied and complex work, to be of service to the creative community, to provide a space and the resources (well beyond ours) for reflection, and to engage in dialogue.

Most warmly,
Crystal

Pete Emslie said...

Hi Crystal,

Again, with all due respect, you're starting to lose me as you're showing your true colours. Just to cite a couple of your statements:

Further, in the business of cartoons or other shows for kids whether you or I like them is not all that important-- we are certainly not the test market for kids 11 years old and younger. I also take issue with the earlier post who said "they're just cartoons!" No. TV and films geared to kids under 11 are a multi-billion dollar product- and play-oriented business.

Though I wasn't the one who said "they're just cartoons!", I do happen to agree with that statement. Regardless of the inevitable consumer products that follow and make the big money for the producers/networks, etc. the job of creative types should be to come up with shows that entertain kids. I don't honestly believe we owe them more than that. Here's where I think you folks at the Institute are misplacing your priorities. It seems very obvious to me that you place greater emphasis on creating shows that teach and enlighten young kids. I actually believe that by making that the priority we do kids a disservice. I suspect that you folks love shows like "Dora the Explorer", yet I feel that the preschool set would be far better served by cartoons that appeal to their developing sense of humour. In the long term, I think kids who have a keen sense of humour are able to pick up on other things better through life than the dullards who were spoon-fed such visual pablum as "Dora" and the long line of moralizing kiddie dreck that has permeated preschool offerings since the ultraliberals took over the kids' entertainment industry. I think those of us who grew up with the likes of "The Flintstones" and "Yogi Bear" in our early childhood are the better off for it. I think that humour has a way of challenging the mind to a greater extent in kids, leading to a lifetime of more curiosity and finding out about things for themselves.

What isn't irrelevant, though, is how kids internalize messages about attractiveness, beauty, ability, aspiration, equality, popularity, race, intelligence, ethnicity, etc. No one at GDIGM is stating that everyone should be the same nor that all shows or movies have an equal number of every ethnic group or of both genders or happy endings or positive messages. We are also not saying that exagerration is unwarranted or inappropriate. But, let me state this case in other terms, 60 years ago, caricatures of particular ethnic groups were rather common in popular culture -- and in cartoons. They aren't now. Why? Is is just that people of certain ethnicities need to lighten up? Or is that as a culture, we decided, uh, hm, maybe that stuff isn't as funny as we thought or maybe it doesn't do us such good as a society. Was it censored? My guess is no -- one can create as much stereotyped portrayal as one wishes of particular ethnic groups; it just probably won't make it into a TV show aimed at kids, or one trying to sell a product to children.

The word "stereotype" gets used an awful lot by critics of entertainment, And yet, the "stereotype" or "cliche" is at the root of most entertainment, in that everything we find funny, sad or infuriating onscreen is so because we can usually relate it to some type of person or some situation we have encountered more than once in our own lives. Because of that, I challenge anybody to define by example what is and what isn't a "stereotype". While you may consider the portrayal of the black "Mammy" character of early cartoons as a negative "stereotype", it was a depiction rooted in real life at the time. By that same token, if today's cartoons were to satirize the gangsta' rappers in their baggy pants with the crotch down at their knees, would you call that a "stereotype", even though that image is so prevalent in our pop culture today?

This is one of the subjects we cartoonists find so infuriating - the suggestion that we must be first granted permission by the ultraliberals of the world as to how we portray people of various types in our shows. I personally think the way blacks have been drawn in the 1970's era "Fat Albert" and, more recently, "The Proud Family" is pretty good. In both cases, the character designers have come up with a series of distinct physical and personality types, all of which ring true as being studies of what black people really look and act like, only exaggerated for the purpose of humour. On the other hand, I deplore the bland depictions that are found in some preschool shows, where you wouldn't even know that they're black characters except for the skin colour - all the humour and eccentricity has been sucked out of them.

Yet, it is that latter variety that seem to get the blessing of white ultraliberals and black lobby groups, as those depictions are less likely to "offend". The problem is, they are also far less likely to entertain anyone. Likewise, the same ultraliberal criticisms seem to extend to the depiction of female characters in cartoons. And there's the rub...

GDIGMexdir said...

Doreen Spicer, one of the writers of the Proud Family, as well as the person upon whom Penny Proud is based, sits on our Advisory Board. She was also one of our speakers last Thursday.

One of the creators of Fat Albert, Gordon Berry, Ed.D. now of UCLA, spoke on one of our panels. Their bios are still up on our website along with anyone else that discussed these issues last week.

Again, what I do, or what you do think or believe, Pete, with all due respect, is irrelevant. Again, we are not the current target markets. Base any of your ideas in market research (hardly liberal or conservative but based in what drives a product), academic research, social research, market surveys (again, hardly liberal or conservative but based on product appeal), focus groups with kids (done extensively by the likes of everyone that creates products for kids be it PBS or Mattel), or, the actual opinions of real kids today (as does the Women's Foundation or even just the experiences brought up last week by young women on our panels), even in experience in working storyboarding or writing kids' content and dealing with studios, and then there is some room for true discussion beyond conjecture.

If you want to critique the research methodology as it is employed by the University of Southern California -- you can read the full article and examine that in the back of the article on GDIGM's website.

Pete Emslie said...

Hi Crystal,

I'm going to end my part of the debate here, as we could go around in circles. I would like to say, however, that I've enjoyed this discussion with you very much. Though I may not agree on many of the positions of The Geena Davis Institute, I really do appreciate you coming on here and confronting my criticisms head on. I believe that shows real integrity and class on your part, and you've certainly made some valid points in your argument. Please forgive me for having played devil's advocate and putting you on the spot a few times.

By the way, I'm including the link to my art website where you will find a certain caricature that may be of interest to you :)

http://members.shaw.ca/petemslie/emsliecaricatures.htm

By seeing what I do, I hope that you'll have a better understanding of my standpoint as a cartoonist/caricaturist and how I see the world of kids' entertainment. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Crystal said,

"It means that show business -- what a market dictates -- determines what most influences most young people."

If this is true, and I have no problem believing it, then your institute should focus on the REAL problem at hand: The heartbreaking lack of parenting going on in the world today.
There is no damaging idea so seductive that 'the media' can put out that the influence and teachings of a good parent can't combat.
So maybe instead of taking your statistics and trying to guilt-trip a bunch of cartoonists into feeling bad for caricaturing, maybe you should focus your attention on parents and ask them if they are aware of what their kids watch and ask them if they have given their kids the ability to watch something and be able to discern its value or lack thereof.
The responsibility of an individual child's wellbeing is entirely that of the child's parent(s). Parents need to let go of this notion that we're all out there to help them along in raising their offspring and groups like yours need to start pointing the finger back where it belongs and start holding parents accountable again.
But you won't do that. No one ever will. Society has evolved in such a way that you're simply not allowed to suggest that the ones at fault for the sorry state of youth in modern society are lousy parents.
Thanks to the complete lack of real interest parents show in their kids, the next several generations of Americans are going to be the most terrifyingly fragile, weak-willed and intellectually-stunted people the world has ever seen.
And it won't be because they saw some cartoons with small-waisted characters.

GDIGMExdir said...

GDIGM doesn't deal with cartoonists, but with animators. Those are, for the most part, different jobs and different people.

And, I guess no one involved in the media is a parent or civic-minded, huh? They don't feel any need to take on any responsibility for what they communicate?

Look, plenty of non-profits, government agencies, schools, and other programs focus on parenting and "morality." Just not this program.

Again, GDIGM doesn't focus on small waists; GDIGM focuses on complex portrayal. Go and read our website. Read the posts I listed here.

And, what a bleak outlook indeed that Anonymous gives for most Americans. Guess we should roll back the clock to an earlier America that was more literate, more tolerant, better-educated, more diverse, and more thoughtful than the current one. But, except, I guess we don't know when that would have been, huh? Not for most Americans, anyway.

Maybe Anonymous should be the one to start a program, since he/she seems to have plenty ideas of what is wrong with America, the world, and with groups like GDIGM.

Anyway, that is my last post on that topic. If anyone wants to ask direct questions to GDIGM, you can email them to:
info@thegeenadavisinstitute.org

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that you actually began your post by nitpicking the difference between 'cartoonist' and 'animator.' Trust me, no one here needs your schooling on that. It's irrelevant.
As for the state of American society, it seems polarized between the relatively bright and the incredibly stupid. But even the incredibly stupid don't need some watchdog group (and that's exactly what you are) to tell them that cartoons aren't real.
I could be much more optimistic about the future if it weren't for social 'sanitizers' like your organization who seem bent on making everything squeaky-clean, politically correct and completely bland, awful and boring.

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