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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Moomins on the Riviera

Where Are the Women Moomins on the Riviera

The female characters adhere to gender stereotypes and maleness is the default. This cartoon is mired in the 1950s era of the comic strip it is based on.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +10

+10
Is there a female character with significant screen time who grows, changes, and/or learns something over the course of the story? (for an ensemble cast, or a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of women in authority]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -45

-5
Is femininity used as a joke (ie, a man crossdressing for humorous intent) in passing? [why this matters]
-20
In a way essential to the movie? [why this matters]


-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]


-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children? [why this matters]


-10
Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -15

Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

-10
The animation here is a clear example of maleness as neutral and femaleness as Other. The character called simply “Moomin” who speaks with a male voice and is treated as male by the story is an unadorned hippo-like creature. To distinguish the other such creatures from him, “Moominmamma” wears an apron and carries a purse and “Snorkmaiden” has golden tresses and wears an anklet (she also sometimes wears a bikini, and both Mama and Maiden sometimes wear evening dresses, even though they all otherwise go around naked). That “Moominpappa” is also visually distinguished by the fact that he wears a top hat does not negate the fact that in the world of this story, neutral, normal, baseline equals male. Just one tiny adornment on Moomin — maybe, say, a wristwatch — could have countered this.
-5
The female characters here are almost universally the most blatant and reductive stereotypes: one young woman thinks the pirates who kidnapped her, kept her tied up, and abandoned her to seemingly certain death when their ship was sinking are “manly”; another young woman is obsessed with fashion, film stars, and staring at herself in a mirror; the mother character is always making tea, gardening, and worrying about her son and husband.

TOTAL SCORE: -50

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes, three of five credited (Annina Enckell, Hanna Hemilä, Beata Harju) (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: With most of its female characters strictly adhering to outdated gender stereotypes and a visual design that depicts maleness as the default and femaleness as deviations from it, this cartoon, based on a 1950s comic strip, is very much a product of the time it was created in. Which doesn’t excuse the modern filmmakers, who adapted it without any apparent awareness of its issues or irony their depiction.


Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Moomins on the Riviera! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Moomins on the Riviera.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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where are the women

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