Does Pixar Have A Stereotype Problem ?


In many aspects, the release of Brave feels like this is exactly what fans have been craving for so long.

Following two films that expand on familiar worlds — Toy Story 3 in 2010 and  Cars 2 in 2011 — this is the first opportunity for a studio known for these unique characters to come up with a new cast of characters, since 'Up' in 2009, and it's also the first time a Pixar movie has featured a female lead. So why, exactly, does Brave bother the author of this article so much?

Brave is set in ancient Scotland with contests to win the heart of beauty, a naive father who loves his children and, of course, spells with unpredictable consequences.


The first time I watched the Brave trailer, the author found himself stunned with what he could see; innermost complains that this film represents a romanticized Scotland that never existed, a Scotland molded to the extreme. “Pixar should have known,” the author's heart continued to scream. “Is not their whole way of doing it is to break the mold and then create well-rounded characters?” Immediately after that thought, the author remembered that Ratatouille had idealized the Paris scene, loyal to the truth like Disneyland, and Cars 2 was sadly cliché about cars. Pixar has been doing this for years, and the author doesn't even realize it.

If it says that Pixar movies are nothing but universal appeal and forward thinking in their production would seem odd. The first two installments of Toy Story and Monsters Inc., films that are credited with making Pixar famous and firmly established in the industry that seek to break free from stereotypes. These movies teach us that cowboys can be cowards, astronauts are supposed to be fools rather than brag, and that monsters under the bed are just doing their job (and it's cute when you understand them). These three films — along with Finding Nemo that followed — make up the Pixar brand, and so it's no surprise that we've come to expect some higher level of tolerance and understanding from everyone stuff that comes from their performing arts incubator.

However, as Pixar has grown, so it has the amount of criticism that Pixar has faced for reverting to the unwelcome stereotypical culture of recent films. For example, The Incredibles sparked complaints not only about the Frozone character's portrayal of the "dark comedy savior" extremely but also because the critically-criticized presence of the sublime wife is full of clichés about attractive black women despite not actually being seen on film. Similar skepticism about racism emerged with Cars 2 (given that the film's use of teeth in the character design was influenced by racist motifs). Toy Story 3 was found guilty of both sexism and homophobia in its portrayal of Barbie and Ken (“Combining a homosexual with a misogynist, the Ken joke implies that the worst with a boy who can either be a girl or be gay,” vehemently lashed out at Ms. magazine). Wall-E received similar comments about the gender obsession manifested in the task assigned to the “male” and “female” robots.


These criticisms are harsher than the notion that Brave and Ratatouille represent outdated, unrealistic ideas about the setting; After all, that crime has a long-lasting connection throughout the animation genre and storytelling in general, especially fairy tales set in certain rural settings. And so far, it's probably a good coincidence that even the examples of racism and sexism in Cars 2, The Incredibles and Toy Story 3 are relatively felt if it is not exactly harmless. Perhaps this is the strength of the trusty Pixar franchise, but who really believes there's a real racist intent behind Ken's cryptic expression, or the gaping tooth design in Cars 2 says nothing other than trying to give the car a distinct personality? Despite this evidence, there is a temptation to believe that manifestations of such a stereotype are accidental, in part, that the animators and writers at Pixar were not "intentional".

The excuse "just an accidental coincidence!" becomes too unreliable when the story revolves around stereotypes. For example, showing the obesity in Wall-E, something Slate magazine reacted to when it came out in 2008: “Wall-E is an innovative and visually spectacular film, but The 'sarcasm' that this film portrays is a simple way of thinking," wrote Daniel Engber. “The film offers an analogy between obesity and environmental catastrophe, promoting the idea that Western culture sickens both people and the planet with the same disease of wealth… But this metaphor only works if you believe the same myths about overweight: Humans are weak, lazy, and stupid. Certainly, that's how Pixar portrays the future of humanity." The reinforcement of that stereotype cannot be waved away by accidental coincidence; this is essential for script development.

(Some think that Pixar has a problem with representing obesity in general; in the Children's Literature Association Quarterly article titled "Fat and the Land: Size Stereotyping in Pixar's Up" (rough translation: Obesity and the Wonderland: The stereotypical size in Pixar's Up), Kate Flynn argues that 2009's Up follows a similar trend as Wall-E, but to a lesser extent. Russell's character still resonates with a persistently problematic rendition of the 'fat boy.' Study Pixar's assertion that form is 'the essence of the character.' Ellie is drawn with a body." During the character's brief time on screen, Ellie initiates all activities with Carl. The script states that she is very active: she 'drives the train', 'stands with legs apart', and walks away repeating the word 'swear' in unexpected places, in contrast, when Carl first appeared as a young boy, his face and body were round, while Ellie's actions were sudden and unexpected, Carl's. turn over hard.")


Monsters Inc. and Toy Story may even set the bar too high in terms of Pixar's taste, or even perception, of stereotyping. Yes, these films gleefully pinch character expectations based on cultural norms and appearances, which, are the core of the whole story in each film. No “What if monsters aren't monsters?” there is no Monsters, Inc.; similarly, without Woody being the opposite of what you'd expect from a cowboy, then Toy Story would be… well, Small Soldiers. I don't know if Pixar actually has any interest in constantly going against the prevailing ideas in popular culture and society at large. The author suspects that the company wants to do both: innovate just enough to have the next great product, but not so much as to be shunned for lack of familiarity with the target audience. But at the heart of everything the studio does is the issue of whether the story is best served by the action in question. “Story is everything” is an unofficial slogan of Pixar — not only repeated in interviews with Pixar employees, but literally guiding the entire closed office in Emeryville, California — but, as “Pixar Story Rules” shows, there is nothing there that suggests a need to break any convention other than predictable storytelling.

Pixar's movies are constantly nostalgic, struggling with whether to shuffle and negate or stick to this wholeheartedly. On the first possibility side, you have Monsters, Inc., Ratatouille, and the Toy Story movies, all of which revolve around the notion that characters must rise above experiences. At the opposite extreme, The Incredibles and Cars both return to "traditional values". Wall-E does the same thing, except with ideas like "don't overeat and think about training". Carl in Up regains the joy of life and adventure that he lost after his wife died, this is like the character Marlin in Finding Nemo.


The Incredibles is a really good example of the fear of stereotyping. Looking at it objectively, it seems to be a surprisingly conservative film in terms of narrative and general theme; Not only does this movie teach us that, hey, people are nothing special, only this person is special, but the female characters in the film are sadly traditional. Even when Bob recovers the superhero gloves and Dash understands that sometimes people have to step back to let those little people feel good about themselves, Helen wonders about the sustainability of the family. And Violet remains enough confidence to make sure she could wear more colorful clothes of a pink shirt. Of course, since she was a girl and talked to pretty boys at school. This film gleefully celebrates stereotypical family values in a seemingly alarming, yet effective way. The Incredibles is not a story about fickle evolution, but about the characters staying true to themselves and rediscovering the power that it brings. After all, Superman is in favor of maintaining the status current.

It's confusing and runs counter to their past — it's been shown at times that misconceptions are coming back when from time to time, wishing things were the same — will no doubt permeate and upset both Pixar and its critics in the years to come. Just as Pixar's films can nudge familiar and outdated ideas that society struggles to change, the studio will latch on to other ideas — sometimes unintentionally, sometimes outright — if restored service is any scenario at hand. Sometimes, Pixar will try to do both at the same time: Watch Brave as the heroine who transcends the clichés of the passive, shy princess. After all, Pixar's relationship with cultural stereotypes is as complex and multidimensional as their movies. It may not make things like this easy to swallow.