With this announcement comes commentary, and a fellow fan, Rozgar, pointed me towards a Yahoo! Movies article by one
Conventional wisdom has it that children’s entertainment with a central male character can cross gender lines, while movies or TV shows with a central female character will appeal only to girls.
Though conventional, I would not describe this as “wisdom.” I dislike the idea that genders must exist separately and can only relate within a bubble. When I look through history, I see a combined efforts of men and women that shaped the world. Both have their strengths, and anyone who says a country or movement was founded by a single gender isn’t looking at the whole story.
Here’s what I hope Hasbro doesn’t do with the My Little Pony movie: I hope it doesn’t add a male lead character for the sole purpose of reeling in boys. There is no reason why boys can’t relate to the existing pony characters.
I am of two minds on this. Because yes, I do very much identify with Applejack’s values, Fluttershy’s timidity, Rarity’s need for creative expression, and so forth. And I want to emphasis Ms. Watkin’s use of the word, "solely". A male character brought in to be “the boy”. I too cannot stand token characters. If they are not vital to the story, they should not be eating up screen time. It’s why so many comedic sidekicks and useless love interests over cinema history have driven me batty.
Yet there is a second half to that entry that troubles me:
There is no reason why boys can’t relate to the existing pony characters.
Very true, but does that mean male characters needn't to be featured at all? This touches on an issue that’s become more and more prominent as I watch the show and the fandom: is there a place for male characters in this story?
It all comes back to this:
All six of the show’s main characters are female ponies. While a few notable supporting characters are male, the fictional nation of Equestria is predominantly populated by female ponies. For someone like me, who grew up watching ’80s cartoons with or token girls, this is very exciting.
This is the contradiction of the article, and the mentality that I’ve been noticing more and more: Ms. Watkins champions that male audience members can identify with female characters, yet she’s still counting characters by their gender. None of the ponies are “the girl”, yet she doesn’t seem eager to include a character who is “a boy.”
And I do understand the appeal of an all-girl show (with Spike). I grew up watching shows with one or two token female characters, and I can see why there’d be a desire to shift the dynamic and present a more diverse range of female characters so the audience can choose their favorites.
Does that exclude the option of a male character? I’ve seen commentary like this on the net. “A male can’t work with the Mane 6 because this is a girl’s show!”
I do not understand this fear that featuring a male character working alongside the Mane 6 will somehow undermine their status as likeable characters and role models. That somehow, the presence of a Y chromosome renders the double-X obsolete. Do we truly think so poorly of these characters? Worse still, do women really think so poorly of themselves?
Ms. Watkins goes on to use the heroines of Frozen as an example of a male demographic accepting female leads. I’m not as big a fan of her example because it sounds like we enjoyed Elsa and Anna in spite of the fact they are women. Rather, I think the entire audience liked Elsa, Anna, Hans, and even Olaf because they were all great characters.
And I hope My Little Pony the movie has great characters. Female or male, as long as I like them or love to hate them (like a good villain), I will be pleased.
They can even take a cue from Frozen's marketing department and emphasize humor and goofy sidekicks. Say hello to Spike the Dragon!
Didn’t we already say there shouldn’t be token characters? If Spike’s role is to be the butt of jokes once again, I’ll be very disappointed. Heck, he can be that one male character if he’s as supportive and positive as he was in Equestria Girls.
Featuring a male supporter of the Mane 6 is not a requirement, but what a positive message! To show that boys and girls can work together. That it’s not an all-or-nothing deal.
Because the little girls who watch this show, and the boys watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the like, are going to grow up and have to work together. I’d rather young men and women go into the world with their eyes open. You can cling to the cliques and celebrate single-sex gatherings, yet presenting a world where guys and girls never work together? That’s not just fantasy, that’s delusion. And potentially dangerous to the viewers.
So what are your thoughts? Would you like to see a stallion help out the Mane 6 in the movie, or perhaps work along side them in the show? Are the Mane 6 enough for the audience? Does a show aimed at girls even need to feature a male character?