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Where are All the Girl Characters At?

tangled, girl characters

One girl once in awhile just isn't enough.

I’ve moaned in these pages before about how my daughters don’t like going to the movies. One of those pre-mom fantasies I had about kids was that we’d spend every other Saturday in a dark theater, gorging on Hot Tamales and watching whatever age-(mostly)appropriate fare that was out there. But there’s hardly anything they want to see.

And, really, I can’t blame them. So few movies with interesting (or even passable) plots feature girls. My daughters are pretty cautious around princess-y stuff (they thought “Tangled” was iffy). And it won’t get much better as they get older. In fact, it’s getting worse.

The LA Times reports that females are dramatically underrepresented in the 100 top-rated movies of 2011.  Only 33 percent of the roles were played by women. Worse is that a paltry 11 percent of all  roles in those most acclaimed movies were clearly identifiable as protagonists. Remember, that’s in a year that featured a couple of big movies, like “Bridesmaids” and “The Help,” which had mostly female casts.  In 2002, a similar survey found that 16 percent of the protagonist roles went to women. Things are getting worse, in other words.

Those roles? Also kind of disappointing overall — for women in general and non-white women in particular. Here’s how Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, broke it down (from the LA Times):

…on average, female characters in last year’s films were younger than the male characters, less likely to be portrayed as leaders and more likely to be identified by their marital status. It said that 73% of the female characters were Caucasian, 8% African American, 5% Latina and 5% Asian (with the rest in smaller categories, including aliens and animals).

No wonder my kids would rather stay home and watch Netflix.

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