Sexism in kids’ films: Wreck-It Ralph

MV5BNzMxNTExOTkyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzEyNDc0OA@@._V1_SX214_We saw this for the second time today (paid full price when it came out, saw it for cheap at Kids AM today) and while it’s mostly pretty good, there was one thing that bothered me.

As with previous posts in this category, I’m assuming if you’re reading you’ll understand why these things are a problem and I don’t need to explain male gaze, objectification, gender stereotypes, etc., these posts are just a way of acknowledging/noting these issues within kids’ films. And also that if you do want to leave a comment saying I’m taking it too seriously, I should get a life/sense of humour/hobby, etc., I’m just gonna go ahead and ignore you.

HERE BE SPOILERS!

Well first of all there’s the fact that it’s another film with – and named for – a main male character, but I actually found Vanellope to be the star. Love her. I groaned when she’s discovered to be a princess, but almost cheered when she rejects this with the line “I’m thinking more along the lines of a constitutional democracy. President Vanellope Von Schweetz. Has a nice ring to it, don’cha think?”

The main thing that bugged me was the character of Calhoun, who is a sergeant in Hero’s Duty. She’s described in the Disney Wiki as “the tough-as-nails, take-charge leader who fights for humanity’s freedom.” Until, that is, Fix-It Felix rescues them both from a swamp and she’s suddenly making, as the film calls it “goo-goo eyes” at him. (It reminds me of a bit in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island when Josh Hutcherson’s character rescues the previously uninterested Vanessa Hudgins – when she falls off a giant bumblebee, no really – and you see her suddenly start to see him in A New Light.) Later, Felix calls Calhoun a “dynamite gal” and she flashes back to her previous lover calling her the same before their wedding is interrupted by a Cy-Bug.

“On the day of their wedding, Calhoun was too distracted by her ceremony to complete one of her highly important perimeter checks. The neglect caused one of the Cy-Bugs to break into the wedding chapel and devour Brad, killing him. The story left Calhoun with a hard heart until Felix came into her life and showed her the brighter side of things.”

Hmm.

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4 thoughts on “Sexism in kids’ films: Wreck-It Ralph

  1. I read a very interesting article about this film. Essentially Vanellope *was* the star, but was sidelined in marketing as it was deliberately marketed at boys. The thinking behind that was that girls will go to see a boy’s film, but boys won’t go to see a girl’s film. So to maximise their audience there’s not a whiff of pink on the posters, even though there’s plenty in the film.

    Future students of film and gender will have a lot to examine in Wreck It Ralph!

    1. Oh I hadn’t heard that, Joanne – thanks. Yes, that theory – girls will see boys’ films, but not vice versa – is so entrenched and it drives me mad. That’s why Tangled was renamed (was originally Rapunzel) and why the trailers for Brave played up the battle scenes. So tedious. And it’s the same with books.

      I do wish parents would question it though. Had a mum tell me recently “He won’t read a book with a main girl character, of course…” Er. Why not?

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