The Toxic Jungle from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind#18 Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki Background and Concept Art Series
To all of my female followers… what do you value or dislike in a female character depicted in a film, comic, game or story? What do you like seeing, and what bothers you or comes off as sexist? Do any of you even pay any mind to gender roles at all, so long as the character is likeable?
I’m bringing this up because I recently got into an interesting discussion about this, and it got me thinking. It started with this article detailing a rather controversial remark made by Hayao Miyazaki.
I know, that was my reaction, as well. Miyazaki? Sexist? The man who made leaps and bounds in how females were depicted in animation and other media? The guy who is utterly disgusted by the “moe” phenomenon that’s so massively popular in Japanese entertainment? Now, I’m not saying what he said couldn’t have been worded better, of course, but for someone, especially one from an older generation and a part of a culture that very well does have views on gender markedly different from other cultures, that so often shows women as such positive, proactive role models in his films to be called misogynistic… something’s not right, here.
A female friend brought this up on Facebook and was mortified by what she was reading, saying she had then and there lost a ton of respect for the man. Here was my response:
It’s misinterpretation. You can’t look at his films, all of the strong female roles in them, and say he’s a misogynist. Hell, he treats the women that work at the studio with the highest respect. What he was getting at is that less and less MALES are becoming animators - and, males being about half of the human populace, this means that not nearly as many people in general consider animation a field worth investing in.
He also later said this on his Twitter:
“I think it would be great to see a female animation director, but as far as Ghibli’s concerned, I can’t think of a single one for us. So what about newcomers? Well, I believe women are incredibly fast-learners and self-starters. If you look at men, even today, they develop much slower.”
It might be striking to see someone take gender differences into account at all, yes, but keep in mind this IS Japan we’re talking about. Gender roles are viewed in a much different way there - and, on top of that, Miyazaki is old, and probably has some old-fashioned views on things that persist. Considering this, I think his high respect for females and his insistence on depicting them as positive role models for BOTH sexes in his films is admirable.
Call me biased, considering Miyazaki has long been one of my idols, but… sometimes people just have different mindsets, due to cultural and generational factors, and we should really take such things into consideration before calling people out on their beliefs.
Anyway… this just got me thinking about gender roles in fiction in general. Why they are they way they are, why some of them have changed little, why some have changed drastically, what’s acceptable and unacceptable nowadays, and moreover what women, themselves, appreciate and are put off by.
So, I ask all you females, what clicks and doesn’t click with you? What’s your opinion on gender roles and how they’re depicted, and what do you want to change?
MIYAZAKI MiX III
Here’s the third MIYAZAKI MiX!
Having a lot of fun putting these together
so very, very inspiring. :D
All Characters Copyright © Studio Ghibli
Why yes, I do have a Ghibli obsession. :(