A letter to the smart, talented and awesome Tina Fey


Dear Ms. Fey,
Do you realize that over the course of more than 30 animated movies that Pixar and Dreamworks have created for children, there are precious few featuring a female protagonist? I found just one. The primary source of heroines in animated films seems to be  the stereotyped Disney princesses whose primary mission is to get married.
And now you arrive on the scene. Hot off your Sarah Palin-impersonation comic steamroller, and with the superb 30 Rock burning up the TV screens, you are at the height of your powers. So why are you playing third fiddle to a couple of been-there-done-that dudes in a derivative movie called Megamind? Why accept that place? You could have such a tremendous impact on the film industry and such a positive effect on all those girls yearning for a great character to adore. You are on a roll. Now is not the time to take a step backward. Demand better roles for yourself, Tina!
Look what Geena Davis has done. She didn’t want to play the First Lady or the baseball player’s girlfriend. She demanded, and got, better roles for herself. And then when she had children, the gender-uneven state of family films became glaringly obvious to her. So she launched the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to press the issue. Would you be surprised to learn that only about 30 percent of the speaking characters in family films are female? That’s what the institute found out.
The institute also found that those females are often stereotypes, and three times as likely as males to be shown with an unrealistically ideal body. Look at that picture. Look how tiny your character is next to the males. The many males. And note the exaggerated hourglass figure and wasp waist that she has. Only one female character, idealized body, and, alas, she plays the role of the love interest. Yes, she’s a smart cookie with a job and some pivotal scenes. But she’s not the hero. Her primary reason for existence is to be rescued and then fall for the hero, an all-too common role for females in children’s movies.
Hollywood doesn’t think that boys will see films about girls, so they create male heroes to maximize the audience. I think they are wrong – it’s just that the industry is not producing children’s movies written for a fully-wrought female protagonist with a story line that crosses gender interest lines. But the guys love you because you are so darn funny! The men will go to see your movies, and the boys will go to see your animated flicks…as long as you’re not playing a princess seeking a husband. You could be the breakthrough character that our girls need. Do it for yourself and do it for all of us. 
Your fan, 
Erin

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