See All Topics

Home / Section: Animation

Disney’s Planes: a model of sexist attitudes in animation movies

I haven’t seen Disney’s Planes movie, but as a consumer of family animation movies, it’s not hard to grasp what Margot Magowan describes as blatantly sexist movie – slow planes being called “ladies”; female plane characters being objectified, the number of female characters a fraction of the males, etc.

When I saw the preview, I thought the plane who mocks the slow flyers by calling them “ladies,” was having a moment of arrogance. The movie would redeem him when he went through his transition. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. The sexist joke is his fantasy, the fantasy of a humble crop duster with a fear of heights who wishes he were a racer. The scene is sexism in fantasy world in sexism in fantasy world. Isn’t that meta? It’s the dream sequence of a “likeable” character. Can you imagine a hero making a racist joke and being likeable? In a movie for little kids? Yet, that’s how much sexism we have to wade through before females are allowed to win a race in animation.

Community Comments

#1 Carl Moore
August/21/2013
@ 9:18 pm

“The actual race in Planes is totally dominated by male competitors.” How shocking! You mean in real life the actual race is not dominated by male competitors?… This stuff is silly nonsense.
This feminist whine that animated movies for kids should reflect “progressive feminist” values is the kind of thing that gives feminism a bad name. Why? Because it’s silly overreach as usual.
The idea that animators see machines that race (airplanes, cars, dunebuggies, drag racers, etc.) as a male world isn’t an irrational sexist bias – it’s simply reality. Males – and especially boys – are by nature gung ho about machines to a degree that girls are not is obvious to anyone not wearing feminist blinders. That it’s necessary to point this out these days is a comment on the nuttiness of the feminist whiners who are constantly arguing that these natural differences are not natural but socially imposed. It’s B.S. Boys and girls are different from head to toe and always have been and always will be.

#2 Gerry Mooney
August/22/2013
@ 8:50 am

I think there’s a good point to be made about the bias in some animated films, but it’s a shame Margot chose to make this argument with “Planes”, which is clearly a lame excuse to extend the “Cars” franchise, which was lame to begin with. It’s really a shame to see what Disney/Pixar can churn out when they create without actual inspiration.

#3 Rich Diesslin
August/22/2013
@ 10:57 am

Rumor has it that most villains in Disney films have a large number of stereotypical famine characteristics. Not sure where I first heard that, but since I remembered it, it has to be true . Doing the Disney villain review in my mind it seems to apply to a great many of the male bad guys. If true it either reduces the argument to “meh, so what” or raises it to a whole new level.

#4 Gerry Mooney
August/23/2013
@ 7:50 am

Um, Rich, I assume you mean “feminine” characteristics? I don’t recall many who were starving, but I haven’t done a careful review :)

#5 Rich Diesslin
August/23/2013
@ 1:51 pm

Ha! So much for spell check and typing quickly! You are correct sir.

#6 David Hartford
August/31/2013
@ 4:06 pm

My daughter loves race cars, trucks and airplanes. I was looking forward to taking her to this film. But with all the reviews, saying how it demeans females, there is no way I’m going to let her see this.

Girls that see this kind of trash, feel bad about themselves. Boys that see this crap, think its okay to treat girls badly. These type of films just reinforce boys raping girls at high schools. This is where it starts.

Come on Disney, stop demeaning girls!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.