Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sexing up Children's Movies

I just came back from watching Bedtime Stories. While I thought the movie was okay overall, it really annoyed me that the female character Adam Sandler attempts to save in all of his fantasy stories was a Barbie-doll type blonde heiress who looks young enough to be his daughter. Her sole purpose seemed to be to appear in every scene in an extremely sexy outfit in slow motion for male satisfaction. This might not have struck me as surprising if it weren't for the fact that this was a children's movie and they could have still kept her character virtually the same (pretty, princess type) without the overt sexualization. It's as if the men taking their children/nieces/nephews to the movie, need some type of reward. It's telling that there's no male equivalent. In fact, all of the male characters are buffoons (but they all get the pretty women). At the end of the film, Sandler amazingly discovers that the slightly older, bookish brunnette type is the "fairest of them all."

What also annoyed me about this (besides the fact that the whole idea centered around who was prettiest even though what was considered pretty might have changed a tiny bit) was that it gave into the sexy, dumb blonde vixen versus the nice, smart, pretty-but-not-very-sexy brunette dichotomy. It reminded me of when I first saw Beauty and the Beast as a kid. The three blondes were overtly sexy but dumb and shallow while Belle was modest but smart and kind. And the effects aren't lost on children. The two girls I took (one seven, the other ten) were arguing after the movie over who could "be" the pretty, blonde girl, with the seven year old brunette remarking that she's was actually blonde initially but her hair was dyed in the womb. Neither cared much about anything except the fact that one was more fashionable, "prettier" and therefore cooler. This in comparison with the seven year old boy in the film calling his fourth grade crush "hot" and the way the girls I work with constantly discuss the levels of prettiness of every female possible while totally ignoring the physical appearance of all males, makes me want to bang my head against a wall. A children's film should be about entertaining children, not giving men erections or depicting women in limited ways that will begin psychologically damaging them before they hit puberty.

Francesca Casamento is an active member of Younger Women's Taskforce (NYC Metro Chapter).


Anonymous said...

I think that the idea of that is pointless, not your response, the movies message, I find the hair isn't what it's about. Actualy I don't care who's "hotter". Although it's a proven fact darker haired people are more intellegent, but this doesn't mean they are smarter at all.

esk said...

I was going to comment on the issue at hand but I'm still agape after reading:

"with the seven year old brunette remarking that she was actually blonde initially but her hair was dyed in the womb."

Gotta love witty girls! :-)

Shannan said...

My 6 year old son was watching Scooby Doo on the Cartoon Network today and I was shocked by one of the commercials. I hate commercials anyways, but this one featured one of the Kardashian girls dressed in a skimpy outfit, breasts near falling from her shirt, lying on a BED, eating a salad with sensual movements. Although my son is trained to mute the commercials the message of this commmercial was still coming through loud and clear. As soon as I saw the first second I diverted his attention and luckily he did not see it. But I watched the whole thing over his shoulder and was disgusted. The Cartoon Network at 9 AM playing a commercial like this...shame on them. Can't we promote healthy eating without also promoting sex? I like what you all are doing here. You can visit my family at or my new writing space at


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