Horton Hears a Who has stirred up some discussion following a recent NPR piece -- Gender Inequity in 'Whoville'. After taking his daughters to see Horton, Peter Sagal wonders why if the mayor has 96 daughters and one son, it’s the son who saves the day.
“In a new subplot added by the filmmakers, the mayor of Whoville has 96 daughters. He has one son. Guess who gets all his attention? Guess who saves the day? Go ahead, think about it, I'll wait.”
“And there's this — not only does the movie end with father and son embracing, while the 96 daughters are, I guess, playing in a well, somewhere, but the son earns his father's love by saving the world. Boys get to save the world, and girls get to stand there and say, I knew you could do it. How did they know he could do it? Maybe because they watched every other movie ever made?”
Some might say, ‘relax, it’s a children’s movie based on a Dr. Seuss book, for pete’s sake.”
But why does the girl rarely save the day in children’s movies? Take a minute to think about it. The Disney princesses: Waiting to be rescued. If I recall correctly the Little Mermaid had to give up being a mermaid for her true love (although in the original fairy tale, she dies). If woman aren’t helpless, they’re the wicked stepmother, or the deceased/ murdered/ eaten mother. Bambi’s mother? Shot. Little Nemo’s mom? Eaten.
Another recent movie, The Bee Movie, starred Jerry Seinfeld as a male honey bee. However, apparently the honey bees that do the duties of the hive – collecting honey, etc. – are typically female bees.
Sweeping aside those issues is there enough grist in Horton Hears a Who for a movie? Why not create entirely new stories instead of mining the children’s cannon for fodder.
There are great kids movies out there that are fun and creative. Movies like The Incredibles where the entire family saves the day. And there are the wonderful movies of Studio Ghibil, in which strong young girls get to save the day too. If you want to show your daughters, and sons, imaginative movies with beautiful animation, I’d recommend Spirited Away, Howl’s
In Hollywood Hives, the Males Rule, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/13/science/13angi.html?_r=3&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=sloginhttp://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/13/science/13angi.html?_r=3&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
Gender Inequality in Whoville, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89318829