Title

How Body, Heterosexuality and Patriarchal Entanglements Mark Non-human Characters as Male in CGI-animated Children's Films

Publication Date

2014

Document Type

Article

Abstract

The lead characters in the CGI-animated children’s films produced by Pixar and DreamWorks Animation are overwhelming male, and more often than not, they are not human. This simultaneously reflects a long history of anthropomorphization in animated storytelling and a breakaway from Disney’s princess-centric focus. Given these characters’ non-human status, how do animators map biological maleness and masculine gender norms onto these characters? This qualitative textual analysis of the studios’ films produced between roughly 2000 and 2010 suggests that these anthropomorphized characters were constructed as male and masculine through three textual strategies: codes of bodily masculinity, sexual masculinity, and social masculinity. The project considers the implication of these constructions of hegemonic masculinity for audiences of children, building on the premise that major global companies such as Pixar and DreamWorks are “teaching machines” and “agents of socialization,” teaching children the “right” way to conceptualize themselves and others.

Original Citation

Birthisel, J. (2014). How Body, Heterosexuality and Patriarchal Entanglements Mark Non-human Characters as Male in CGI-animated Children's Films. Journal of Children and Media, 8(4), 336-352. https://doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2014.960435