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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Big Hero 6

WATWbighero6

I wish the protagonist had been female, but at least there are lots of individualized women in supporting roles… most of them gender-blind to boot.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +2

-10
Could the protagonist have been female without significantly impacting the film as a whole? (for a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]


+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]
+2
Is she nonwhite? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +6

+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]
+1
More than one? [why this matters]


+2
Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]
+2
More than one? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -5

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


-3
Is a dead mother mentioned? [why this matters]
+3
Is a dead father also mentioned? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: +5

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

The inclusion of two women (and both of them people of color) in the superhero team may seem a small thing, but it instantly defeats the prevalent problem of the “token girl” among a team of guys [why this matters]. And by making one of the women traditionally “girly” (ie, she likes pink and wears high heels) and the other more of a tomboy, the film offers us a depiction of women with their own individual preferences and tastes… which is, sadly, a rare thing to see in film!

TOTAL SCORE: +8

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Women are so underrepresented onscreen that even in a story with a male protagonist and a male villain, simply sprinkling women — more than one! — among the supporting characters in gender-blind roles becomes a huge step in a positive direction. This movie could been seen as a template for ensuring that no movie pushes out women to an unrealistic degree (as so many of them do now).


Click here for the ranking of 2014’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Big Hero 6! 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 Big Hero 6.

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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