The Big Picture: Pink Is Not The Problem

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Pink Is Not The Problem

MovieBob takes on the gender stereotyping our society dabbles in.

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Well, damn, haven't had a good chapter like this in a while.

Cheers to that.

Expanding on that tangent from Catching Fire are we?

Good episode though. I've been thinking something similar for a while but couldn't put it to words.

I almost thought he was going to get into My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for a moment there, since it ties into the fact that Lauren Faust created that show with the intent of showing that something "girly" doesn't automatically make it bad. Also, Bob's comments about "coded" characters is very similar to what the Nostalgia Chick said in her "Disney Needs More Gay" video, in that you can tell most villains are gay by being incredibly vain and feminine. It's strange, I never realized it until people like Lindsay (the Nostalgia Chick) and Bob pointed it out to me.

To me, this is a very well thought-out article about the female products. I this video is a lot better than the numerous discussions about gender separation I've seen on Youtube.

The thing about The Hunger Games is that it isn't coded Male and Female, but rather Rich and Poor. It's a commentary on our modern society. Just look at what the Rich are wearing, ffs. Those looks are straight from some designers runway. Butt ugly and expensive as fuck, but the rich still buy it because rich. Whilst the poor need to work their ass off to survive, having to fight against the system by the rich in the meantime.

A good and poignant episode, Bob. But now that you've done episodes about this and Brian, we really need you to get back to Marvel stuff :P

And I'm not just saying that to be facetious, I mean c'mon...you yourself pointed out we've got confirmation of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in The Avengers 2, despite being mutant characters with shared owned rights by Fox. This is kind of a big deal.

An even bigger deal...you were right about Miracleman. He's coming back into Marvel's lore. Angela really was mostly just a red herring. I honestly feel celebrating that comeback and your rightness in that matter deserves a bit more exploration into just who Miracleman is and what his future role in his new home at Marvel might be.

Fantastic episode Bob!

I can't wait for people to completely miss your point and call you out on things they basically made up so they have something to bitch about!

Mmm today episode remind me of this tumblr well news post of a Swedish Toy R Us catalogue or showing girls playing toy gunsand boys playing dolls-

http://weinryb.tumblr.com/post/36866571509/pingguo-swedish-toys-r-us-christmas-catalog

Bob had me right up until the Hunger Games then he lost me. While I agree with his commentary on Katniss, he's reading way to much into the Capital aesthetic which, as Ronack mentions, is about money, but also about time. One of the reasons why women are often characterised by items in the pink isle is because traditionally they've had the time to spend on these things when the men are out working. The point of the Capitol people is that the way they look would take a lot of time and a lot of money which the districts don't have.

Well said, Bob, well said. That coding has also been quite damaging to people like us transwomen, who are often demonized by those who either hate femininity itself or those who set their sights too broadly and catch it in the crossfire. I'm one that doesn't mind the pink aisle, and in some cases indulges in some of the things that are most prominent there, such as the makeup, gowns, hairstyles, perfumes, and other things. What the whole thing feels like is that my interests are becoming even more of a "forbidden fruit" than when I was a child, where I was bullied into submission and forced to hide such things. To say the least it's quite damaging.

This argument. I like it.

To use a more adult anecdote with a similar point, my mother chose to (largely, she still did a bit of part-time) give up her job and be a stay-at-home mother when she had me and my brother, and I often get the impression that a lot of people, both male and female, who laud themselves as 'feminists', look down their nose at that choice, thinking it to be regressive and preferring to dismiss it as being the result of some kind of societal indoctrination making her believe she didn't have a choice (something which, you'll have to trust me on this, my mother is waaaaaaaaaaayyy too intelligent to fall for).

So yeah, our family dynamic ended up looking fairly traditional and nuclear, but that was the choice my parents made and should be perfectly entitled to make, and it pisses me off no end when I feel people are turning their noses up at them because it's not progressive and unconventional enough for their 21st Century sensibilities, as if freedom of choice for women wasn't the whole point of feminism in the first place.

I don't agree with Bob on many of the things he says, but I applaud this recent presentation. Very well done.

Ronack:
The thing about The Hunger Games is that it isn't coded Male and Female, but rather Rich and Poor. It's a commentary on our modern society. Just look at what the Rich are wearing, ffs. Those looks are straight from some designers runway. Butt ugly and expensive as fuck, but the rich still buy it because rich. Whilst the poor need to work their ass off to survive, having to fight against the system by the rich in the meantime.

There are so many ways to juxtapose the dichotomy of rich and poor. In some countries they force feed women into obesity. In India it's so bad that the rich compete to build the most extravagant hotel towers that look right over the largest slums in the world. They try to bleach their skin white and chase little kids away from their fancy cars. Hell, even if you stick to the west, the rich are not flamboyant and effeminate. They're cold business people who wear designer suits. They do not follow runway fashion.

Essentially, the rich and poor dichotomy in the Hunger Games is pointing out the media industry as the villains. That makes no sense, because media types are not that rich. They barely make anything compared to the parent companies who own all of the media giants. Bob's right on the money, bro.

So survival and struggle and being oppressed is a Male code, while decadence, false masks, deceit and oppression is a Female code?

Intriguing..

I don't understand the rallying cry toward blurring the line and making everything grey. I have no problem with girls playing with boy toys and vice-versa. But there is nothing wrong with "coding" a female or male marketed toy to a certain set of colors. It's years of cultural evolution that really is harming no one.

MB202:
I almost thought he was going to get into My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for a moment there, since it ties into the fact that Lauren Faust created that show with the intent of showing that something "girly" doesn't automatically make it bad. Also, Bob's comments about "coded" characters is very similar to what the Nostalgia Chick said in her "Disney Needs More Gay" video, in that you can tell most villains are gay by being incredibly vain and feminine. It's strange, I never realized it until people like Lindsay (the Nostalgia Chick) and Bob pointed it out to me.

I'm really surprised he didn't mention ponies also, since I've heard that one reason they are starting to get rid of the pink isle is so that male bronies didn't feel weird looking for mlp stuff at toys R us. It's also really interesting how the mlp toys are packaged.
image
we have one of the standard sets, with even a pink Princess Celestia (ugh, CELESTIA ISN'T PINK DAMMIT) clearly aimed at the young girl age group.

image
but then we got something like the vinyl figures and their packaging is mostly black, aimed at an older male collectors market.

MB202:
I almost thought he was going to get into My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for a moment there, since it ties into the fact that Lauren Faust created that show with the intent of showing that something "girly" doesn't automatically make it bad. Also, Bob's comments about "coded" characters is very similar to what the Nostalgia Chick said in her "Disney Needs More Gay" video, in that you can tell most villains are gay by being incredibly vain and feminine. It's strange, I never realized it until people like Lindsay (the Nostalgia Chick) and Bob pointed it out to me.

I'm never sure if that's something against gay people or just how Americans see the British.

All the villains have British voices you know.

Personally only scar comes across as even remotely gay.

Excellent point, Bob. Being able to separate the problem (ingrained western gender stereotypes) with the symptom (the "pink aisle") is really important.

More interesting is how those steps are being made by some within the toy industry. For example, watch at the commercial below (currently the subject of a copyright lawsuit) and note how the advertisers both directly push back against the pink aisle concept (pink princesses and dolls) while not totally disposing of the one of its more defining traits (color aesthetic).

Yeah! If pink things were bad Pinkie Pie wouldn't be best pony.
okay I'll stop this now Hold on, no I wont. This is actually relevant.

This reminds me of a video (which wasn't a Big Picture but it was equally insightful and entertaining) about MLP being "The new manly" and whether that was the prevailing opinion because self proclaimed "masculine men" didn't want to admit they liked something feminine, or if it was a sign that barrier between the masculine and feminine distinctions is becoming more fuzzy, or if it was proof that the distinction between masculine and feminine is completely arbitrary.d

Personally I side with the second option. It's hard to deny that somethings are "masculine" and other things are "feminine" I mean hell I grew up in the 90's where the lighter the color was the more likely you'd get made fun of for playing with it.
The question shouldn't be "Is that for boys or girls?" it should be "Who likes it?"
Some things are cool, like the commercials that run during Legend of Kora are primarily for "girl's things" But LoK is an action show. So the line is already starting to blur, which is awesome.

@ Bob Pretty unfair to point at Hunger Games' villains but gloss over the main villain himself, Donald Sutherland as President Snow. Doubt anyone would accuse that lead villain of being feminine. Though he DOES keep a rose garden, I believe that carries entirely different literary allusions. It's like harping on Star Wars' villains and never mentioning Darth Vader.

Ronack:
The thing about The Hunger Games is that it isn't coded Male and Female, but rather Rich and Poor. It's a commentary on our modern society. Just look at what the Rich are wearing, ffs. Those looks are straight from some designers runway. Butt ugly and expensive as fuck, but the rich still buy it because rich. Whilst the poor need to work their ass off to survive, having to fight against the system by the rich in the meantime.

I believe what Bob is saying is that the visual shorthand used in The Hunger Games to denote who's good and who's bad is what is coded male and female. The rich people aren't simply wealthy, they demonstrate their place in society through dressing lavishly and preening endlessly. These would normally be considered feminine traits. It isn't that all the rich wear tons of makeup and do all the preening either, because there is a rich good guy, and while he's still dressed well, he's not wearing the makeup or engaging in the same pageantry as the other rich. If they had done him up to be both preening, vain, lavishly dressed and makeup wearing, AND still had him as a good guy, then the film would not have this problem.

Now I get that this was probably not at all intentional, and Bob seems to imply that as well, it's just that this is so ingrained into our ways of thinking that we fall back into this visual shorthand without even thinking about it. Preening, makeup wearing vanity (supposedly feminine traits)? Must be a bad guy.

EDIT: I want to add that I have not seen the Hunger Games movies, I am basing my explanation off of the information provided by Bob. If there is more to this visual shorthand than what Bob has said, then I could be wholly mistaken.

Good on ya, Bob. That was a thoughtful examination of the sneaky effects of gender and problems with some attempted rejections thereof on culture, without having to condemn one or the other as the 'bad' gender or the one that's the 'problem'. Very nice.

Very muddled episode, the main thing I took from it is that Bob has an extremely limited understanding of a very complex issue.

As much as I'd like to say Bob is right, he is kind of wrong about a few things. Gender tropes do sometimes actually exist. I'm a father of 2 sons, and across the street are 2 little girls. They all play together, but what I notice is that the boys have an increased interest in violence, especially competitive violence. The girls are more developed mentally which is to be expected as girls development faster mentally. As thus they tend to get tired of the endless wave of swords, guns, and the sheer obsession with violent character types (ninjas, soldiers, zombies, alien invaders, etc).

We have thousands of years of history of men rushing off to die meaningless deaths in supposedly "glorious" battle. Sure the female hero's pop up now and then but you don't see the ridiculous war hawking coming from females across history. Its proven fact that testosterone influences violent behavior, and assuming that the reason the "gun" aisle is for boys is purely based on societal gender constructions is a crock of shit. Genetics influence our development more then experience There is no way in hell that EVERY single little boy I know is out playing war because of cultural constructs. Its not true.

It's true in some of the above comments, and in fact, it reminds me that Luaren Faust has been at this trying to chip away at the problem for a while now. Subverting certain tropes while embracing others. MLP is surprisingly gender neutral with how it approaches much of its themes. The dress making episode, the wedding episode, and most importantly the princess episode were are smartly written and subverted a number of tropes. But at the same time, it's still a show about pastel ponies being sold to young kids. They redefined what it means to be a princess, while still having a princess toy out there. That's pretty laudable in my opinion.

This was actually a really good point, I do dislike some of the more extremes of feminism when they end up crusading against anyone being even remotely traditionally feminine, usually with the justification that "no choice is made in a bubble and societal norms affect behavior." then basically saying no one can choose traditional femininity without being a weak and helpless victim. Though IMO women in myth are not "evil" or "bad" any more than men. Women usually take the role of innocent love interest, and even those that screw up (Eve, Pandora, the like) usually don't do it not because of malice, they do it because of naive ignorance. Women are treated more like children in more traditional gender views, they are to be protected, harming them is a major sin, they are innocent, they also can't be trusted, they need to have a adult male looking after them, they should be more subservient and not strong willed or rebellious. This doesn't mean traditionalists hate women, in much the same way we don't hate children, as a society, they just don't believe them capable. This is also why we end up with "women and children first" attitudes. Feminine behavior in men is associated with evil because it represents a mix of vanity and greed and a rejection of traditional value.

Ronack:
The thing about The Hunger Games is that it isn't coded Male and Female, but rather Rich and Poor. It's a commentary on our modern society. Just look at what the Rich are wearing, ffs. Those looks are straight from some designers runway. Butt ugly and expensive as fuck, but the rich still buy it because rich. Whilst the poor need to work their ass off to survive, having to fight against the system by the rich in the meantime.

Part of it just has to do with the difference between a book and a movie. Books are just text, with no visuals or actual voices to paint a picture. It's just the words, so the author is able to hammer home the point of "see how rich these people are? how spoiled and decadent they are?" a bit more blatantly. The fact that they are rich and corrupt is brought to light through the descriptions of the author. They can literally spell it out for you.

Film is a visual medium, so they can't just have the words "evil rich people" right up on the screen, and there's a limited time to get the point across. So how do they show that these people are not only rich, but also evil, and do so in a short amount of time? Big, frilly, extravagant clothes, make-up and girly voices, and they're often physically weak. These are the visual short hands for "corrupt rich person".

The question then becomes "Why is that?" Why is "man with frilly clothes and high pitched voice" the visual/audio shortcut for "corrupt rich person"? There are lots of ways to show extreme wealth. Being fat used to be one, because they could afford that much food while people were starving. Having lots of fancy technology is also another one. So why go to "girly-man" in so many cases? That's the point he was trying to go for.

wizzy555:

MB202:
I almost thought he was going to get into My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for a moment there, since it ties into the fact that Lauren Faust created that show with the intent of showing that something "girly" doesn't automatically make it bad. Also, Bob's comments about "coded" characters is very similar to what the Nostalgia Chick said in her "Disney Needs More Gay" video, in that you can tell most villains are gay by being incredibly vain and feminine. It's strange, I never realized it until people like Lindsay (the Nostalgia Chick) and Bob pointed it out to me.

I'm never sure if that's something against gay people or just how Americans see the British.

All the villains have British voices you know.

Personally only scar comes across as even remotely gay.

To be fair, the accent is used to make any character more exotic, good or bad guy, because it's a good way to make them seem foreign while still allowing the audience to understand what they are saying. This is also done with other accents in movies with a modern setting, like a Russian accent to denote bad or exotic. The most overwhelming use of British accents are reserved not so much for evil, but historical things. It seems like anything ever made about Rome has everyone speaking with a British accent.

I do think that the point was kind of misaimed here
I understand what Bob was trying to say certainly, but I think the idea is kind of flawed, the "traditional masculine vs traditional feminine" archetypes hold very little importance in real terms, the fact that we ASSOCIATE the "preening" etc with feminine characteristics is the problem

Masculinity in and of itself is not bound by any particular sense of "macho" behaviour, nor is femininity related to the worse aspects of female behaviour, I mean Im a grown bloke that loves MLP:FiM... Im also a frequently drunk 16st bouncer with a bloodlust that Anthony Hopkins would consider unnatural, I count all of those as positive characteristics in my personal worldview, which, possibly in part due to being male, I naturally associate with masculinity.

At the same time there is a lot of time I do witness males within my peer group acting in the fashion that this video would refer to as "feminine" and I have oftentimes made that association myself (doesn't help that one of them likes to dress like a girl in the first place), but it isn't the femininity that makes that a negative, it is a point that is embellished by the negative characteristics that we see expressed by the people, which is also massively wrong, the so-called "slapping a female skin on a masculine archetype" idea is completely, massively, absolutely and totally incorrect, what you have is a female character that expresses POSITIVE characteristics, that we, in society, have naturally associated with males, because of the gender roles we have reinforced.

Basically, strength, skill and other so called masculine traits are not that, they are merely positive

The traits and behaviours we associate with femininity are not all negative, but the ones we pick out as being negative, are not necessarily feminine traits, merely negative ones that we have attributed to femininity, which is wrong.

To use an example that a lot of people will be familiar with, look at the differences between Ser Loras Tyrell and Renly Baratheon in Game of Thrones, both gay men, both possess traits which society would consider "effeminate", but the one that is roundly a worse person overall is certainly Renly, who is more of a scheming and indeed "preening" sod than his lover Loras, who is certainly possessed of the same effeminate nature of Renly, but instead has much more positive traits, bravery, loyalty, and, lest we forget, being absolutely consumed by blood rage when Renly was taken from him

Or for a straight and gender flipped example, compare Brienne of Tarth to Petyr "littlefinger" Baelish...
Brienne isn't "Masculine", she has the positive traits we associate with masculinity
Petyr is just the worst sort of person... like really, really bad

CymbaIine:
Very muddled episode, the main thing I took from it is that Bob has an extremely limited understanding of a very complex issue.

Care to expand your statement?

Wait, there is a Nintendo promotional commercial which has Mario looking up Peach's dress?

MB202:
I almost thought he was going to get into My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for a moment there, since it ties into the fact that Lauren Faust created that show with the intent of showing that something "girly" doesn't automatically make it bad.

Funnily enough, it was Powerpuff Girls where I first noticed this problem. Remember this guy?

image

Even back in the 90s, that one was blatant enough to rub me the wrong way.

[sees title] Oh good...another episode where "I get bashed over the head by Bob's White Knighting..."

[watches ep] huh, that was actually a good ep, which is what I generally expect from Bob (love you Bob!)

I think the issue is so loaded and oft-debated, I've become fatigued with the very mention of it. Which is sad, considering that there's plenty of quality content and discussion to be had. It's just difficult to trawl through the usually toxic stuff to see that.

My problem with toys is that any Creative Kit Toys are marketed towards girls.

They have girls on the packaging.
They use colours that society associates with femininity.
Products created with kits are associated with femininity (soaps, candles, chocolates, flower-things, make-up).

Any kits that deal with 'Workshop Craft' like carpentry are advertised towards [B]BOYS[/b].

I suppose manufacturers think they'll lose money if they break society expectations.

(When I was young, I used to envy my sister's creative kits. I never got STICKERGLORE or things like that. The only thing I did get was to do with woodwork, and I hated that).

Wow, that was more thought out and even handed than your usual take of gender issues.

The thing with coding is how much we see what we want to see, meaning so much can be in our heads as a knee-jerk reaction to someone looking or acting like us (or things we have sympathy for) portrayed as the bad guy. I mean, we got a good laugh when Fox called The Muppets anti-oil, or anti-business, and such, but are we really any different if we start looking for the hidden meaning of a character in way too much makeup, especially if it blinds us to more obvious metaphors. I mean, there may have been some of what you say in 300 (as Frank Miller's nuts and doesn't have the best rack record on the subject) but at the same time, it's one guy leading the charge to a lost cause, versus the guy at the back of a legion trying to get the other guy to tell him how awesome he is for doing....well, nothing. Hunger games was the same deal: the unwashed, hard working Lower districts against the districts removed from any form of work or sacrifice. Complaining about its "coding" kind of tries to sweep away context we don't like, in this case, how we do live in a society of hair creams, cosmetics, bling, surgery, toys, etc, some some that hardly work in the salt mines, while others go hungry on 12 hour work days. Don't like the allegation that your tiny bottle of skin cream could feed someone for a month: find something to invalidate it.

The pink aisle won't go away, if for no other reason that stores separate stuff by type and genres, but for roles to truly break down, we need people to quit propping them up with their complaints about them, or overly championing their dismissal. Only then will these old norms have been truly broken.

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