Movies

Dear Pixar, From All The Girls With Band-Aids On Their Knees

A scene from Pixar's Up

A scene from Pixar's Up Walt Disney Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Walt Disney Pictures

Dear Pixar,

This is not an angry letter. It is especially not an angry letter about Up, which I adored. I could have sat in the theater and watched it two more times in a row. I cried, but I also laughed so hard in places that it wore me out.

So I'm not complaining; I'm asking. I'm asking because I think so highly of you.

Please make a movie about a girl who is not a princess.

I'm counting on you, after the jump...

Of the ten movies you've released so far, ten of them have central characters who are boys or men, or who are anthropomorphized animals or robots or bugs who are voiced by and imagined as boys or men. These movies feature women and girls to varying degrees — The Incredibles, in particular — but the story is never "a girl and the things that happen to her," the way it's "a boy and what happens to him."

I want so much for girls to have a movie like Up that is about someone they can dress up as for Halloween, as Anika Noni Rose said about starring as the voice in The Princess And The Frog. Not a girl who's a side dish, but a girl who's the big draw.

And I'd really, really like it not to be a princess.

My understanding is that after the summer blockbusters of 2010 and 2011 — Toy Story 3 and Newt — you're planning The Bear And The Bow, a Christmastime fairy tale rather than a summer adventure. And your first one about a girl — way to go!

But why, oh why, does it have to be about a princess? Again?

Et tu, Pixar?

I have nothing against princesses. I have nothing against movies with princesses. But don't the Disney princesses pretty much have us covered? If we had to wait for your thirteenth movie for you to make one with a girl at the center, couldn't you have chosen something — something — for her to be that could compete with plucky robots and adventurous space toys?

Or more to the point, why couldn't your first female central character be as specifically drawn as the women and girls (and girl robots, etc.) you're already writing as secondary characters? Ratatouille has a chef! WALL-E has Eve! The Incredibles has superheroes!

And Up...oh, Up has Ellie, who I could have watched forever. Seen only in flashbacks to the main story, Ellie is warm and hilarious, ambitious and fearless, and then gone for most of the movie. She provides the engine for the story, in many ways, but it's an old man and a little boy who actually get to hit the gas.

I don't like to make movies political, especially kids' movies, if I can help it. Sometimes a princess is just a princess and should be taken as such.

At the same time, little Russell, in Up, is Asian-American, right? And that's not a big plot point; presumably, he just is because there's no particular reason he shouldn't be. You don't need him to be, but you don't need him not to be, either. It's not politics; it's just seeing the whole big world.

Well, the whole big world has a lot of little girls in it, too. And not all of them are princesses — and the ones who are princesses have plenty of movies to watch.

And even many of them who do aspire to be princesses are mixing their princess tendencies with all manner of other delicious things. Their tiaras fall off when they skin their knees running at top speed; they get fingerpaint on their pink dresses; they chip their front teeth chasing each other in plastic high-heeled shoes.

There's nothing wrong with the movies you're making; I'm sure your princess movie will be my favorite one ever. I'm just saying, keep them in mind, those girls in Band-Aids, because they want to see themselves on screen doing death-defying stunts, too. You're making some of my favorite movies in the whole world right now.

Please, please make one about a girl who isn't a princess.

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