“Something was gained and lost when marketers and video producers began exploiting little girls as a separate market. Little girls found themselves in a ghettoized culture that no self-respecting boy would take interest in; but for once girls were not required to cross over, to take on an ambiguous identification with a group of male characters (120).”-Ellen Seiter
In animation the Pink Ghetto refers to the segregation of female protagonists to a pink washed world of gender stereotypes -if not in their original material, then in all of their marketing and character based products. The Pink Ghetto speaks to the still held belief that “female targeting” animation is only valuable to female viewers. While “male targeting” animation is for everyone.
To give an example, an article from the Los Angeles Times looks at how, Tangled, originally titled Rapunzel went through numerous rewrites. When the Princess and the Frog was released, official statement was that part of the reason the movie had done so poorly was because it had been judged by its title (making it more difficult to bring in the young male viewership). By changing the name to the gender neutral Tangled, and having the initial trailers focus heavily on the male lead Disney tried to reach a wider audience.
Ed Catmull president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios said they changed the movie’s name because, “Some people might assume it’s a fairy tale for girls when it’s not. We make movies to be appreciated and loved by everybody.”
But sometimes girls become an incidental part of that “everybody”, good for buying princess products, but not for being heroes that male viewers might look up to or admire. Of the sixteen characters in Tangled that have both a name (or descriptor) and lines only three are female, a character titled Little Girl, who never has a conversation with our protagonist, the villainous Mother Gothal, and Rapunzel herself.
The Pink Ghetto is where I will post articles, studies, and links about the history of gender in animation, and the way gender stereotypes manifest in children’s media today.
Gender Ratio Study (2008-2012)
Part 1: All Voiced Characters
Part 2: All Top Billed Characters
Part 3: Main Characters and Love Interests
Raw Data: Part 1
Raw Data: Part 2
Disney Race and Gender Data
Fact Check: Ony 13 Female Protagonists
Shezow and Gender Binary: Part 1
Disney Channel Toon Gender Ration 1990s