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what is this I don't even

Frozen‘s Head of Animation Says Animating Female Characters Is Hard, Because Ladies Are Really Emotional And Stuff


“Historically speaking, animating female characters are really, really difficult, ’cause they have to go through these range of emotions, but they’re very, very — you have to keep them pretty and they’re very sensitive to — you can get them off a model very quickly. So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough, and having them both in the scene and look very different if they’re echoing the same expression; that Elsa looking angry looks different from Anna (Kristen Bell) being angry.”

When I saw this quote circulating around Tumblr last night I assumed it was made up. Did Lino DiSalvo, Frozen‘s head of animation, really say that animating female characters is difficult because they’re so “sensitive” and “you have to keep them pretty”? Unlike male characters, who are far, far more stoic than we emotional womenfolk, amirite? But no. It appears that this is a legit thing that he actually said.

Look, I get that character design and animation are difficult. But why would male characters be so much easier to design than female characters? Why is it so tough to create female characters who don’t look alike? (So tough that Disney still has a hard time managing it.) No, really, I’m asking. Lino DiSalvo obviously knows more about animation than I do, so surely there’s some kernel of something in this statement that means it’s not solely a giant ball of sexist WTF-ery. Right? Right?!

(via: MovieViral, thanks to anon tipster)

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  • Anonymous

    No wonder it’s so hard to pass the Bechdel test!

  • Riley

    Because god forbid we have a female character who doesn’t fit the one type of “beauty” that qualifies for all women. Which actually doesn’t make sense, while Pixar skims of lady characters too at least all of them look different from each other. But the Disney princesses all have to look alike.

  • Uncumber

    Yeah, I bet it is really hard to animate female characters, if women and girls are only allowed to look a certain way in your mind. Fuck that guy.

  • Glitchy

    [headdesk]

    [headdesk]

    [headdesk]

    (sigh)

  • Charlie

    And any woman who doesn’t look perfect 24-7 must be an abomination right. Sometimes I hate being female.

  • Anonymous

    But…but…but…lots of complex emotions in Tangled? Two female leads? No? Do they not talk to anyone at Pixar?! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJ2FEbaTGr0

  • Joanna

    If your artistic talent is limited to only male characters then perhaps animation isn’t for you.

  • Anonymous

    Damnit. I was really hoping it’d be for a practical reason like “they have a lot more hair” or “big fancy skirts are hard, it’s why we don’t put too many capes on the men, capes are hard too!.”

  • Eva Marie Heater

    Like male characters DON’T have a similar range of emotions? Seriously?

  • http://sharqubus.tumblr.com George Trello

    What an unfortunate deuce-canoe. Imagine how horrible life must be to go through while thinking women are all exactly the same. Won’t someone think of this poor man! He put TWO WHOLE *animated* females in this movie and it was SO hard! Where’s his back-pat?!?

    Seriously though, fuck this dude.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    But guys you can make ugly. Apparently, you can’t to that to girls.

  • Isaiah Tanenbaum

    To be fair, drawing women IS actually harder than drawing men. Ask any political cartoonist, for instance, and they’ll tell you the same thing. There is a much greater latitude for convincing male characters, and the more stylized your animation style, the harder it gets to make women that are different from each other yet similar enough to appear to exist in the same universe.

    His use of “sensitive” here probably means that it’s easier for them to go off-model when stretching their faces during animation, as in they are more sensitive to not looking like themselves, not as in “they have more feelings”.

    It’s no excuse to not do it though. Be a freaking professional.

  • Isaiah Tanenbaum

    And seriously, that could have been phrased better. Yikes.

  • Anonymous

    On the flip side – did he just basically go on record as saying that their male characters are simplistic and non-emotive?

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    Yeah, wtf. Obviously making out like female characters are something different to your basic human being character is bad, but it’s totally worth commenting on the fact that implying male characters have no emotional range is equally harmful to storytelling. I’m guessing this is why the prince to be rescued has been removed from the whole thing. Emotions, or something. Only women have them amirite.

  • http://technicalluddite.com/ Hannele Kormano

    The other lead in Tangled is evil and therefore does not need to be pretty. Unless you mean Brave?

  • http://technicalluddite.com/ Hannele Kormano

    I’ve already given up on this movie for the friggin snowman.

  • Ashe

    It’s because women are worthless and uninteresting the moment they become unattractive to the average straight male viewer. And that’s scary.

    If a man were watching a movie with a female lead who spent 90% of the film staying within a comfortable emotional range and 10% making obnoxious, exaggerated faces, he would still be so distraught and filled with rage he’d likely slam his fist through the TV screen. Now imagine an entire movie with women showing the same squash-and-stretch wackiness that male characters do.

    Or a movie with more than two women with names talking about a subject other than a man.

    Think of the televisions!

  • Anthony Pizzo

    Yeah, but Rapunzel was designed by Glen Keane, who is clearly a wizard for being able to convey those complex emotions on women (and also no longer works for Disney).

  • Seth Brodbeck

    Do you think this is mostly about their faces? Because to be honest my first reaction to reading this was “of course you have trouble keeping your female characters on-model, most of them look like they’re missing several vital organs.” I’m not an artist, though.

    Maybe he’s just not used to looking at women’s faces while they’re emoting.

  • Jesse

    sorry, but that makes absolutely zero sense. Sounds like you’re thinking the same as this Frozen guy.

    Human beings are all the same. Period. There’s absolutely no logical reasoning behind saying women are harder to draw than men because THEY’RE THE SAME.

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    I don’t believe that’s an actual technical limitation, given that at a basic anatomical level women are just human beings and SHOULD be as subject to stylistic diversity as male characters are. The limitation making female characters ‘difficult’ here is not technical skill required, but a fear of making a female character who doesn’t look ‘feminine’. Hence, false assumptions like “they have to be pretty and attractive”, and “they have to be emotionally expressive”, and “they have to wear pretty clothes”.

    None of that is REQUIRED. It’s a limiting assumption animators are placing on themselves, and it’s extremely, extremely harmful to the goal of letting women be diverse characters in the media.

  • MamaKin

    *looks in mirror*

    Someone better tell Mother Nature she’s been f*cking up when designing us womenfolk, then. Last I checked, most of us aren’t the artistic ideal.

  • JMH

    Yep. Simplistic, non-emotive and even more identical looking than the girls are.
    *slow clap*

  • Ashe

    “There is a much greater latitude for convincing male characters, and the
    more stylized your animation style, the harder it gets to make women
    that are different from each other yet similar enough to appear to exist
    in the same universe.”

    Um, step away from the grocery store’s magazine rack and take a walk downtown. You’ll find that women show just as much physical variety as men do.

  • Sanjay Merchant

    I dunno. Maybe he could do CGI gay porn?

  • Jesse

    wow

  • tlh

    No. Just no. “Drawing women is harder” is not a fact. Just a limitation of your ability

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, that’s not the case at all. I have often found that drawing male characters was far more difficult than drawing female ones but you know why? Because I’m a female, so if I need a female model, she’s right in my mirror. So what’s maybe the problem he’s speaking to? Oh yeah, maybe hire more female animators, problem solved.

  • http://readingwatchinglookingandstuff.blogspot.com/ Janna

    This fake girl isn’t looking pretty enough while screaming in terror! Get the CGI botox!

  • Sanjay Merchant

    I dunno, I’ve seen some pretty extreme caricatures of people like Michelle Bachmann or Angela Merkel.

    But even if what you say is true, it’s still a matter of seeing maleness as the default, which, which leads us onto the silly logic that you’ve already somehow gone away from “real human” by drawing a woman, which means you can’t go too much farther or your poor, dimwitted audience might not understand what they’re looking at anymore.

    So insulting women AND the audience. Good times.

  • Eva Marie Heater

    Edna Mode: “NO capes!”

  • Margaret

    I was going to say the same. Whenever I took figure drawing classes I always preferred women because I could just draw quick, curvy lines. I found drawing men needed a bit more precision, at least for the models with more defined muscles. Doesn’t mean I was incapable of drawing them, I just had to spend a little more time.

  • Joanna

    Huh. I always found drawing dudes more difficult but only because I was so used to drawing women. But, you know, practice makes perfect and all that.

  • Eva Marie Heater

    Plus, political cartoonists don’t have very much practice because there are way too few female politicians.

  • WellYesYouMay

    That’s what I was thinking. I’ve done some long gown and hair building in SecondLife and I was thinking, “Well, those ARE hard.”
    Annnnnd then he spits this tripe out. Damn.

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    Point!

  • Ashe

    Going to negatively chime in and say that if someone’s artistic talent is limited to male characters, animation is the perfect field…

    At least, with film animation.

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    Even if you absolutely cannot bring yourself to draw women who are anything less than conventionally beautiful . . . FACE SHAPES. BONE STRUCTURE. COMPLEXION. ETHNICITY. SO MANY VARIABLES FOR DIVERSITY.

    I think this gif doing the rounds on tumblr explains pretty much why the animators are having trouble making their female characters look different (protip: it has nothing to do with them being wimmins):

    http://media.tumblr.com/502cec756f76056bb413d1116343ec07/tumblr_inline_mubt44Klku1qkhkx7.gif

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    At the very least, she isn’t worth telling any kind of story about. Obviously!

  • Eva Marie Heater

    That is the most depressing gif I’ve ever seen.

  • Ashe

    CALL ON ME

    ON ME

    CALL ON MEEEEE

    (sorry for the old-as-dirt internet meme, that is a very disappointing gif and I want to punch Hollywood)

  • Janelle S

    On the other hand, animating emotions on moose and woodland creatures? Totally easy.

  • Eva Marie Heater

    AWESOME POINT!!!

  • Ashe

    …Oh god. He pretty much implied exactly that.

    I’m going to go sit down and brood for a bit.

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    This point, while valid, makes me want to cry into a bucket of ice cream.

  • Anonymous

    The added difficulty comes from the many, many added expectations that society places on how females “must” look. Males are allowed to have a tremendous variety of appearances, but every female character has to be attractive along a very specific set of guidelines. And having variety within those guidelines is a lot harder, and tends to boil down to things like what color their hair is and whether or not they wear glasses.

    In unexpected relevance, check out this article on how one game company felt they could reuse male characters for different nations, but felt that their female characters had to be tailored for each audience.

    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-10/07/warface-joshua-howard

  • http://anna.balasi.com/ AnnaB

    Oh, yeah, cause angry women are just fugly, rite?

  • Anonymous

    Yup, it’s the ‘woman equals eyelashes and pouty lips’ that’s made equivalent to drawing, say, a bald guy, or a beardy guy, or a fat guy… every variation for (white) guys but only 1 for the whole of wimminess and non-whiteness. This artist should take some time to think about why he’s talking through his non-gender-specific orifice.

  • http://www.AllCoolThings.NET/ HERETICPRIMIE

    People…before you get your undies in a bunch, I think what Lino was trying to say is that “women express their emotions much more through body language, and that to really convey the effect without it getting redundant, it is difficult. This difficulty really increases when you have two female characters on screen feeling the same emotions because you have to try to figure out how to convey they are both angry, or scared, or happy without them having the same expressions. This would be true with male characters, but men are really not as expressive with body language, or at least in such a definitive way.”

    I kind of got what he was saying, I think that a lot of you kind of got it too, even if he didn’t say it so well.

  • Anonymous

    And God forbid an animated female character in a movie aimed at children be unattractive.

  • http://pontoonification.blogspot.com/ AverageDrafter

    Come on guys, he’s just talking about the differences in center of gravity!

  • Miss Cephalopod

    … not sure if you’re serious. If this is about facial animation, centre of gravity doesn’t even factor into it? And if you’re an animator worth your salt, you can handle trolls and fairies and cars and guys and *gasp* women. All with different centres of gravity.

  • Anonymous

    Regardless, Disney has a long history of very expressive male characters. So…?

  • Miss Cephalopod

    But men and women both express themselves through body language? I have yet to run into an animated male character that’s less expressive just based on the fact he’s male, and we’ve never learned any such thing in animation class. If anything, it’s often said men tend to be even more outwardly expressively gesturing, though how true that is is of course debatable.

  • Ashe

    Nah. If we can view twenty white men running around with distinctive designs and distinctive personalities and tell them apart, we can find subtleties in two women.

    Hey, Brave. Hey, Tangled. Hey there, Frozen.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Coming into a space full of feminist minded women, and speaking to them in a condescending manner, is a SURE FIRE way to getting yourself ignored. Why don’t you try that entrance again.

  • athenia45

    I have no idea what this dude is talking about.

    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/458/face1xq7.jpg/

  • Smilingswan

    Remember Daria? That show had several lead females, all of whom had distinct looks and emoted very well.

  • Anonymous

    *rainbow spinny wheel of death*

  • http://somedudenamedmilan.com/ Milan Harrison

    Animating anyone is hard. period.

  • Kait C

    As a person who regularly draws portraits of men and women, I feel a pressure to make the drawings of women look “pretty”. I’ve even had customers say “Ooh! I look like a disney princess!” And if you’re making cartoons for the masses (a la Disney) you’re going to make an attractive, young, female lead.

    You can make a male character make a crazy, hilarious, exaggerated expression pretty easily, because male cartoons often have exaggerated and funny features. But because the female character models for these movies are so “demure”, they can’t go as wild with their facial expressions, without distorting the 3d model.

  • re M

    It’s always been easier for me to draw females because I am one. I am my own best reference as I stare at myself in the mirror trying to get the right pose. And in my years in art school I noticed that guys draw guys (unless large breast are involved) and girls draw girls.
    We see a lot of guy characters because many in the industry are men and as I said before it’s easier to use yourself as a reference.

    But if you call yourself an artist in this industry you should be able to draw ANYTHING! You should be able to draw a camel crying on top of the Empire State Building with Obi Wan Kenobi as King Kong and not be freaked out by “emotions”, that’s just weird!

  • Isaiah Tanenbaum

    Thanks for saying what I was trying to say, but better. So yes, one solution would be a complete overhaul of animation style and education. That’s a much bigger problem than any one studio though.

  • Anonymous

    Uh, clearly nobody liked Daria, because the leads weren’t conventionally attractive. That’s why Beavis and Butthead got their own spinoff, after all. QED. ¬_¬

  • http://pontoonification.blogspot.com/ AverageDrafter

    No, not serious.

  • Anonymous

    Starting to feel sorry for male protagonists in animations. Apparently they are not allowed to have strong or complex feelings.
    Must suck.
    I think we need better animators for guys.

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    I keep thinking of super-stylised cartoons like Hey Arnold! which really struggled with a diverse cast of girls-

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-fomOjDHj8Qo/TeRpbyCftmI/AAAAAAAAATM/P4ZTjbIs-JY/s1600/Hey+Arnold+Girls.jpg

    Oh. Oh, never mind. But still, they couldn’t fit in any bigger girls to-

    http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120526201113/heyarnold/images/3/3e/%28Big_Patty%29.jpg

    Oh.

    Yep.

  • Smilingswan

    I thought Daria was a spinoff of B&B.

  • Anonymous

    That’s one element, for sure. I think there’s also a bit of: if you’re trying to draw caricatures… and you’re distilling a person down to their most basic physical characteristics… and you think that female is a basic characteristic… well, of course all your women will look the same. You’re using generic symbolic representations for their gender, and not actually observing their face.

    (I doubt that people with this problem do it intentionally, but it’s a surprisingly common Bad Art habit.)

  • Anonymous

    This is the second article I’ve read on The Mary Sue today with some Hollywood quote/description about female characters that makes me a little uncomfortable. The other was the description of Jeri Ryan’s character in Helix, a corporate COO, which describes her – first and foremost – as “beautiful,” as if that will/should have anything to do with her character or the tone of a show that is clearly meant to be scary. It’s sad to be reminded so constantly that all Hollywood cares about when it comes to women is looks. You can be a Chief Operating Officer…but just so long as you are smokin’ hot! Smart? Driven? Curious? Eh. But gotta have those looks.

    And how the hell are you not gonna let an animated character pull faces? That’s almost the entire point of cartoons – to watch them pull faces. I wanna see an Ice Princess pulling faces. Is that too much to ask for?

  • Anonymous

    (*Sarcasm mode fully in effect for above post.)

  • Anonymous

    I get what he’s saying, even if 1) he’s not saying it very well, or 2) he’s not calling out the patriarchal bullshit of it all.

    If you consider that he’s talking about the difficulty within a sexist industry/standard, then what he’s saying makes sense: Companies want to make films that portray women as “requiring” more emotions. Scripts dictate that women are always emotional and men are stoic. So an animator is going to face a script where the female character is always going to require a wider range of animated emotions, which is more intensive than the “machismo” of a male character who only exhibits a few emotions during the film.

    Likewise, an animator probably has to stick with the art design dictated by the company. An animator at Pixar is not an animator working on their own. So when you look at Disney or Pixar, you can see the way that characters look similar, particularly when they think they’ve tapped into a successful design for “pretty” heroines. This is why Disney princesses all look the same, sporting the same huge eye design and facial structure since The Little Mermaid (and retroactively applied to their earlier princesses for current merchandise). And when we see that Tangled and Frozen look ridiculously similar, we’re seeing that same convention being re-applied.

    The sexism is that the “pretty” standard is a convention. If two female characters use the same standard, then the animator has the task of using the art direction dictated by the company to create two distinctive female leads who are both “conventionally pretty”, who demonstrate the same emotions, but have to look distinctive. This also brings up the sexism of “evil =/= pretty”, which distinguishes male and female characters from protagonists by making them exaggerated in their features to make them less attractive: Middel Eastern groups protested Jafar and the guards being “more Middle Eastern” compared to Aladdin and Jasmine, Ursula being intentionally obese and ugly to contrast to Ariel, or Mother Gothel being darker and angular compared to Rapunzel. By comparison, look at how similar “pretty” Vanessa looks to Ariel (though she’s supposed to look similar, look at the design in general) or how Ariel’s good “pretty” sisters are all basically the same, minus hair style/color.

    Perhaps what he should be saying is that within sexist conventions where 1) female characters have to be “pretty” to be “good”, and 2) where the idea of “pretty” is singular and conventional rather than diverse, and 3) women are always written to be more emotional than men, you face these challenges. I don’t think that as an employee (even as head art director), he’s free to call this out, but it could also be that he’s finding himself bumping up against the glass window of sexism, but not recognizing it for what it is. It’d be nice to have someone in his position make this comment and link it to the actual over-arching problem (and have the courage to call it out for what it is).

  • Anonymous

    “Sir, Tom of Finland is on the line, he’d like a word…”

  • Sanjay Merchant

    Ouch. Industry-wide burn.

  • Smilingswan

    Ah, ok! :)

  • Anonymous

    It definitely is sad on the side of men. Is it SADDER? No. It most definitely is not. Yes, it sucks, but amplify that sucky feeling times ten, and now you get how this statement impacts women.

    What you’re missing is that, this man most certainly is concerned with animating his male characters, but women have been systematically degraded as being “overly emotional creatures,” so when women have emotions, they’re considered huge, annoying ordeals. Emotions in men are barely even noticed, because they’re all excused as perfectly normal behavior.

    Also, have you even seen Tangled, made by the same company? Please just look at a Google Image Search for “Flynn Rider” and then tell me again how limited male characters are in their range of emotions.

  • Kaley Tate

    This is ridiculous. If you actually look at the history of animation, it’s MEN that are considered difficult to animate, because they, for some reason, CAN’T be made as expressive or exaggerated as women or animals. That’s why all the early Disney movies are about princesses, animals, puppets, etc. The Prince from Snow White was notoriously difficult to animate– he had subplots planned, but they didn’t have the budget to animate him realistically, so they scrapped it. That’s why, when you DO see a man in an early Disney movie, he’s noticeably more cartoony than others– the Seven Dwarfs, Geppetto and Stromboli, the clowns in Dumbo, etc. Whoever said this is a liar who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  • Mohammed Al Qemzi

    Brilliant!

  • tsee

    I think it’s the opposite. They’re allowed to have strong and complex feelings; they’re also allowed to express them much more overtly, in ways that can potentially contort their expressions into something bordering on caricature.

    The industry standards that the people working on this and most other films are held to don’t allow for that same lenience to be given to female characters. Arguably, their emotions have to be telegraphed in much more subtle ways–again, not by the animators or even the animating department’s choice, but by the order of the people who, y’know, write their paycheques.

    Animating a huge range of emotion without distorting a character’s features is difficult. Doing the same for two separate and highly individualized characters, in the same scene–arguably even more so. I think that’s the point Mr. diSalvo was trying to make.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    I fully admit that I may have misinterpreted the way he meant “sensitive.” But the point still stands—why would animating emotion in female characters more difficult, when both male and female characters are are exactly the same in terms of realism?

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    Lead animators are ultimately industry leaders, so when an industry leader states these harmful assumptions as fact, it’s hard not to get riled up. For one thing, industry leaders stating things as fact only further ingrains these crappy expectations that limit the roles female characters are permitted to play in the media. Secondly, NOBODY is in a better position to question and thwart those expectations than an industry leader, so when they choose not to, and instead embrace it as no more than a technical design limitation, it’s another damning statement against them.

    I think the fact that he ~didn’t~ call it out as bullshit is important enough to warrant criticism. I don’t hate the guy, but I feel perfectly entitled to hate his opinion and his reinforcement of harmful, sexist tropes.

  • http://anna.balasi.com/ AnnaB

    Not to mention a snow man, that inherently should have no features because it is supposedly made of balls of snow.

  • Miss Cephalopod

    Thank goodness, sometimes it’s hard to tell online. :-)

  • Miss Cephalopod

    I agree with you on that Disney lead females tend to be very realistic and subtle, and therefore difficult to animate. A couple of months ago we were given an assignment with a couple of characters to choose from, out of all the cartoony and funkily proportioned ones I picked Alice because, hey, I draw cute girls all the time! Easy, right? NOPE. Faces like those of the Disney princesses are incredibly difficult to animate, just like Prince Philip or Prince Charming: because they’re so realistic.
    This is not the problem discussed here, though. Realistic characters are ALWAYS really difficult. The problem is that female characters are not given more other outlets – you get Prince Philip, but you also get Kuzco and the seven dwarves and Stromboli and Tony and Goofy and… The list goes on. But for every straight-faced girl, how many Ursulas or Cruellas do you get?

  • Anonymous

    I agree, since diSalvo is indeed the head of animation. But I get the feeling that the guy is right on the edge of getting it, but he just needs someone to point it out to him. He’s basically saying all the things that sexist tropes do to cause animators like him a headache, but not connecting it together. This seems like a different statement, where he’s saying that there’s a historical context and he’s recognizing that there’s some sort of outside pressure to make them emotional and conventionally pretty than, say, a guy who explains that women are emotional and should be pretty, and that’s why it’s harder to animate them. diSalvio seems to be getting that there’s something larger than him forcing these problems, which seems like a golden moment to show him how they don’t have to be problems if he can see where they’re coming from.

  • Fishbulb

    They’re trying to avoid sameface get the fuck over yourself.

  • Laura Truxillo

    “you have to keep them pretty”

    This is exactly true. Not, y’know, that you literally HAVE to. But that you’re “supposed” to. Female characters have to be pretty. Mother Gothel was probably the most not-pretty you can get. And because of that, they can’t emote with wacky-face the way male characters can. Which is one of myriad reasons that female characters very rarely get to be “the wacky one.” (The other main reason being, of course, that she’s already “the female one” so why does she need another modifier.)

    It’s just it’s the sort of thing you’d expect someone to say, then hear what they said out loud (or see it in print) and go, “Oh, wow, no. Maybe that’s not it. Maybe we shouldn’t.”

    Mainstream female character design, especially for movies, has a muuuuch more narrow set of standards.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Needs to be on a t-shirt.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Up above a lady animator said her piece, part of which was that animating men is easier for men AND women.

    I don’t animate, I just draw comics, but yeah, ladies are harder to draw if you want to keep them attractive. If you want them to have full lips, those lips don’t stretch as well into wacky expressions. Face scrunching, etc.

    But the bit about women better understanding the nuances of the faces–that’s bullcrap.

    A face is a face is a face. They have the same muscles in them. Animators translated those human expressions they learned from their own faces onto animals and inanimate objects all the time. There’s no “closer to the earth” crap that helps women to innately understand the mysteries of how woman-face moves.

    What it is? It’s fear. Fear that you’ll draw something unpretty when a character MUST be pretty.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Oh, she can be unattractive–so long as she’s the bad guy (or just is hilariously unattractive).

  • Laura Truxillo

    “women express their emotions much more through body language, and that
    to really convey the effect without it getting redundant, it is
    difficult”

    If that was what he’d been saying, it would be even more baloney. Body language is one of the easiest things to keep from being redundant. Everyone moves slightly differently, and many animators take that into account when designing characters. Body language and stance and expression are fantastic ways to differentiate your characters.

    Unless your characters have the same body type. And the same face. Then it’s hard.

  • Ross Van Loan

    Lino opens mouth, and inserts foot & leg up to mid-thigh!

  • http://jimmymcwicked.deviantart.com/ DCM

    this lino fellow is correct.

  • gleno

    If you want to understand what he was explaining from a technical standpoint, before leaping to judgment, I hope this helps:

    It may not have been worded the clearest way in the conversation he was having, but some of it is being misinterpreted.

    When he said the phrase “they’re very sensitive to,” he wasn’t talking about females being emotionally sensitive, as suggested above. He was saying the characters, as drawn, are sensitive — i.e., prone — to going off model. You have to read the full line: “they’re very sensitive to — you can get them off a model very quickly.”

    Anyway, here’s the gist: Male and female characters are generally caricatured in different ways to keep them appealing. (“Appealing” would probably be a clearer word than “pretty.”) Note he’s talking more about major characters than minor ones, which can get away with being quirkier looking before most audiences are turned off. Human male animated characters are generally caricatured with more angles, planes, and distances between features, while female ones are generally caricatured with more round shapes that are closer to each other. Because of these general design differences, you can get away with stretching and distorting the shapes in male faces more (and more irregularly) than in female faces before you go off model, losing consistency in the character design. It’s not always the case, but it is more often than not.

    DiSalvo didn’t say female characters are necessarily more emotional than male ones. I read it as him simply saying that the range of emotions a character must express is harder to push on female characters than on male ones because you can’t do as much with their faces easily, while keeping them both appealing and on-model. It’s much ado about geometry + what audiences find appealing.

  • http://jimmymcwicked.deviantart.com/ DCM

    excellent

  • gleno

    It also has to do with basic geometry, as noted in my prior comment. This isn’t obvious to most of us, but it is to most animators and character designers.

  • Anonymous

    There’s the explanation why I’m not going to get my “robber girl”! ;-) ;-) ;-)

  • Omegasama

    The more I find out about this movie, the less I want to see it.

  • Jamie Jeans

    God almighty, someone needs the Irate Grizzly Bear Army dropped on their arse for a good mauling for saying this stupid garbage.

  • Jamie Jeans

    And cripes almighty, imagine how hard it would have been had he actually had to animate a woman… OF COLOUR!!! >_<

    God damn it, what the hell is this idiot saying this kind of garbage?!

  • gleno

    Thank you. It’d be great if more people read more carefully and asked questions before rushing to assess and/or attack others. When we give others the benefit of the doubt and consider they probably know their field of expertise better than we do, we may learn something fascinating. I sure did, when I asked folks in feature animation about this.

    If I were writing somewhat influential blog posts, I’d certainly have done that first. Instead, I’m writing utterly non-influential blog comments lost at the bottom of the heap. Which is its own form of sad.

  • Ashe

    I read it the same way you did. The question I still asked afterwards was: why are women *required* to be appealing at all times while men can do literally whatever they want?

    This is why people are so pissed off. He’s acting as if limiting the range of what women can do is set in stone rather than a sociologically encouraged bias.

    There is no inherent physical quality in men and women that limit us in artistic interpretations. That’s just redundant media pushed by redundant people who have the power to frame their prejudices as facts.

  • Ashe

    “(The other main reason being, of course, that she’s already “the female one” so why does she need another modifier.)”

    I hate how true this is.

    So easily do I spot the Token Chick in many programs, films, shows and games I find, and wonder, “Hm. I wonder if her defining characteristics are sex appeal, the sassy supporting opinion, and HEART.”

  • gleno

    If interested, check out my comment about what he said. It’s easy to misread his meaning and leap to judgment since he could’ve worded it better, but there’s something more interesting to it from a technical standpoint, which isn’t obvious to those of us who aren’t experts in the craft.

  • AshVeridian

    Honestly, Im glad he said this.

    Because it finally proves what women have been saying about womens’ representation in media and art for so long. That pretty > everything else. Before a woman can be heroic, interesting, complex or just more than a mobile piece of cardboard, she MUST meet the standard of physical appeal, least she be discarded as a joke or villain (which is also starting to become a virtually non-existent thing as Evil is Sexy has become the norm).

  • Ashe

    Oh my god.

    EDNA MODE.

    A female character who was not designed as a Barbie off-shoot first. A female character with an unconventional design. A female character with BIG. EXAGGERATED. EXPRESSIONS.

    Who doesn’t go off-model. Her existence literally breaks his argument.

  • Ashe

    Beautifully worded.

  • Ashe

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/henriettabulkowski/henrietta-bulkowski

    Here you go! It recently surpassed its funding goal, but you can still support and donate in other ways.

    Stop-motion animated film with a female lead directed by a female animator.

    :D

  • AshVeridian

    Very strange and oddly specific example: the manga Bleach’s female protag is a very short, very petite teenage-equivalent girl with small breasts. The artist draws her as petite, but properly adult female proportions. Fanartists? She’s either drawn exactly like a little girl or she has giant tits that are waaaay off character model. Because drawing ‘women’ is pretty much regulated to Big Tits/Big Ass/Small Waist. Most artists literally dont understand the proportions that distinguish an adult woman from a child.

  • http://cainslatrani.blogspot.com/ Cain S. Latrani

    I’m a loss here. I really want to argue this, but I don’t know where to start.

    Because, I’m a writer. So, I don’t really have to put that whole… whatever he’s talking about… into my characters. They can look more or less how the reader imagines them.

    Except one I’m working with right now that’s in her 50′s, is missing a couple fingers, rides a dragon, who is kinda scared of her, and isn’t concerned with being ‘pretty’ cause she’s busy being a solider. I love her. I think she’s awesome. I could go on at length about her, if I didn’t stop myself.

    Which makes me wonder, am I alone in this? Am I the only guy out there trying to do unconventional things with female characters?

    Seriously, if there are others, please tell me. I’d like to read their work.

  • Anonymous

    This is true, but I think the Queen is supposed to be beautiful (whereas other villains are not so stated) and she’s a different kind of design, who emotes most notably once she turns into the crone. As for Maleficent, I think she’s a clearly differently designed character from the conventional beauty standard of Sleeping Beauty or Sleeping Beauty’s mother, the Queen. Those two are very similar. Maleficient is arguably beautiful, but given green skin and a much more angular face. Both of these also fall outside of the modern Disney feel, where I think these problems are more pronounced. You can see very clear differences in artistic style between the Golden Era films, versus the Modern Era films. From The Little Mermaid onward (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc.) the major franchise princesses start getting awfully cookie cutter, as do their villains.

  • kat

    Or occasionally a side character (per the Edna Mode example up above, but even then she’s a rare case)

  • gleno

    Well, as noted, *both* male and female lead characters are typically made to look appealing.

    The gender difference noted above was merely about it generally being easier to keep animated male characters looking both appealing and on-model, for the specific design reasons described above.

    As for the deeper sociological questions, they’re important, but quite apart from what this guy was discussing. (He was talking about working with the character designs animators are given.) Generally speaking, for better or worse, audiences tend to prefer and sympathize more with appealing-looking leads. There are exceptions of course, but the issue there is with human nature and, to a degree, culture – not so much with character designers. There have been interesting studies on this, having nothing to do with movies.

    While he didn’t say female characters have to be better looking than male characters for audiences to like them, that’s a worthy topic for dissection.

  • gleno

    Her (wonderful) character design allowed for freer animation. One of my all-time favorite characters! (And brilliantly voiced by Brad Bird.)

    She’s not a main/hero character, though, which seems to be what he’s talking about. And he’s talking about animation given the constraints of a design, not character design itself.

  • gleno

    DiSalvo was supervising animator on Disney’s Tangled. But as Anthony noted, the genius Glen Keane primarily designed Rapunzel and was lead animator on her.

  • Ashe

    Men are made to be appealing emotionally, on a personal level, or to tickle our funny bone. Women are made to be appealing the same way a print or decorative vase is made to be appealing-form before function.

    One standard is desirable and, most of the time, necessary for broad storytelling. One isn’t.

    (unless, say, it’s a plot point, but, hey, that’s still a trope reserved for women nonetheless)

  • Ashe

    He said ‘animating female characters’, which seemed pretty broad to me. From what I read here, he only mentioned the two female leads because all that apparent hard effort is even harder since you can’t delegate them to supporting/background status.

  • gleno

    We read it differently, which is fine; I’m just going by what seems to make the most sense, given his level of expertise in the field. And by what the animation folks I asked about it explained. I don’t know the guy at all, but I know many who work with him. None thinks he meant what has been suggested on this page. But perhaps he’ll elaborate. Until then, I’m not going to judge him negatively for comments that are open to interpretation.

  • gleno

    Whether that’s the case or not, it goes beyond what he was talking about.

    But remember, the designers of Tangled (for which he was supervising animator) worked for a long time specifically on making Flynn, the male lead, physically attractive. They kept running tests by women until there was sufficient ogling. (!) Prince Eric, the lead in Little Mermaid, was also designed to be a looker. Ditto Aladdin, Hans in Frozen, Tarzan, John Smith, most other prince leads, and so on. So it’s not entirely a double-standard.

    But sure, there are also some traditionally unattractive male leads (e.g., Quasimodo) whereas I can’t think of any such female leads. Vanellope, costar in Wreck-It Ralph, may be the most (delightfully) average/normal looking design.

    We can find similar percentages in live action movies. Whether the problem primarily lies with character designers and live action casting, or with society at large to whom they’re trying to sell tickets, is a broader question.

  • Uncumber

    I appreciate your technical perspective, and I’m relieved he wasn’t using “sensitive” in the common way. Geometrically speaking, I get what he’s saying. But the fact remains that the phenomenon he is describing is based on very limited, sexist views of what female characters should look like, and I believe he’s doing it in a sexist way. His word choices are very revealing. He’s not saying that characters with this particular face shape or this kind of lines or whatever are more difficult to animate; he’s saying *female* characters are more difficult to animate. There’s no distinction between the shape and the gender; he doesn’t have a different vision for what female characters can be. He’s saying “you have to keep them pretty.” Meaning pretty clearly that … well, they have to stay pretty. Which is fucked up and sexist. Maybe he’s not responsible for originating that standard, but he’s still espousing it. Maybe he’s just one guy in a huge misogynist system, but that doesn’t make what he’s saying any less messed up.

  • gleno

    Thanks, Uncumber. And I hear what you’re saying. In fairness, he’s not a character designer. And he may be speaking unclearly, with the mistaken assumption that the technical stuff is obvious to others. (One person I asked, I had to keep pressing her to elaborate on why it made sense to her; she’d assumed it was inherently obvious because she’s been working in the field for decades.) As for design conventions in caricatures of the genders – speaking mainly of lead characters – tests are often done, and test audiences respond to what works for them. I suspect audiences may be more to blame than character designers (or the final arbiters thereof), but I haven’t seen the results of tests and studies, and don’t really know.

  • Uncumber

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I don’t doubt it that character designers are catering to the audience’s perceived preferences here, though I do get the feeling that they tend to err on the conservative side of what folks are willing to tolerate ($$$). I’m not willing to let them off the hook, though. They’re in a position to address audience sexism by increasing the diversity of appearance in their characters, and they’re taking the coward’s way out. Again, $$$$. And that’s assuming that they even 1) know it’s a problem, and 2) want it to change.

  • Anonymous

    Does this face not say “emotional” to you? :O

    Seriously though, I would say that Daria has a decent range of character templates, despite it’s extremely minimalist animation. Daria’s head is an oval, Jane’s head is a triangle, Quin’s head is a heart. Meanwhile, Frozen’s two female leads look like palette swaps of each other. I know they’re sisters, but…

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    What the “must be pretty” message really pushes is the double standard – the coin with which a female character “purchases” her worth (deliberate phrasing) is her looks. She can’t contribute anything else to the story. Even if she’s doing something, her looks play a part in that action, IE distraction, seduction, charming; what have you.

    While a male can actually use attributes more meaningful than looks (and can be developed characteristics rather than someone “lucked out” through birth) to accomplish the story’s goals. The added fillip here is that women aren’t meant to develop either – they’re meant to stay pretty but learn useful skills? No sirree, just stay in your Ivory Tower and be an ornament.

    It’s a horribly flawed system and the “best” (and I use that term loosely) response so far is tokenization which is pretty much throwing a bone rather than redress of the system. There is simply no reason why women and men can’t have equal representation in media except through antiquated cultural bias. That equality requires not just numbers but in essence as well.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    Daria is a fantastic example. At least the show, Daria herself wasn’t that emotive by design, but compare Jane, who was quite emotive. The good thing is, pretty and emotive weren’t gender-based specifically – like Daria wasn’t terribly expressive and neither to a certain degree was Mack, but compare say, Brittany (possibly an ur-example of pretty and emotive) and Kevin (an extremely emotive male.) Probably the stylistic choice they used helped minimize animation costs but they could have pared it down even further by cutting emotions from the male cast and done what Frozen did, but they didn’t. Of course, this is why I recommend watching Daria as a great primer for tweens/teens everywhere. Well, one of the reasons!

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    Dead on – if he was really savvy, he could have even used it as an excuse and brought it to light – however, as you say, he should have just called it out for the right reasons. Someone needs to make a stand, someone needs to rebel but I think too many people are just considering the bottom line and worried that any form of controversy might cost them money … therefore they repeat what seemingly has always worked and what everyone else is doing. I think the same logic can be applied to the lack of innovation in a lot of media these days; fearful of making changes that matter in the industry for the sake of lesser profits.

    Of course, perhaps if they were more forward thinking, they could potentially change the system, come out ahead as a forerunner and make a heck of a lot more with a more satisfied audience. But no one seems to want to take the risk.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    The thing about it though, is that even in Western society, men are not meant to get emotional, it’s all about “men logical, women emotional” and that’s just a cultural lie. I am actually a pretty emotional guy while my girlfriend and many of my female friends are practical, pragmatic and logical.

    I can’t express emotions openly in my country (and I daresay a fair few countries in the Western world, like the US, are in the same boat) without being considered less of a man or just outright gay. Which is ironic, because my good gay mate is extremely logical (he and his partner are both engineers) and definitely is not overly emotional as the stereotype might express.

    So while I’m totally with you that men do have the same range of emotions, apparently we’re not allowed to either feel them in media or at best, express them. Because of cultural traditions and mores that bind us.

    However, saying all that, there’s no damn excuse to continue this lie in animation or use it as a flimsy pretext to screw over female characters.

  • Sara Green Williams

    Hey, now – we ladies have a really, really important role to play in the world. We must put all of our energy into making the gentlemen of the world not feel uncomfortable. It just upsets the whole balance.

    So remember, ladies – you smile when they tell you to smile, it makes you look prettier. You keep those pesky, unattractive opinions to yourselves, they might upset the fellas. And for god’s sake, make sure you batton down those hi-sterical emotional reactions you have all the time. All the while looking like you walked out of a Victoria’s Secret catalog.

    Lookin’ good, ladies – we’ll all git ourselves some fine husbands outta this!

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    You know, the really disturbing part of your first paragraph is I know people in RL who pretty much roll on that logic. I daresay it’s more widespread than even I care to know (I don’t probe too hard because of my own rage right there at them.) I’m willing to assume that it’s way too widespread and in every industry. Each time there’s a plain woman in a major role I want to do a little cheer. (rare as it is)

    I must admit, it pained me when they started to add in half the characters to Game of Thrones from the book and they got terribly prettified. Especially Brienne – who in the books seems like she could curdle milk with her visage but in the TV series she’s actually quite pretty. While I think the actor who plays her is doing a good job, I keep wondering what their casting was doing – but I guess the network execs thought actually casting an ugly woman in an ugly role would lose them viewers? Sigh.

  • Sara Green Williams

    I want to put that on a sampler.

  • Sara Green Williams

    But don’t forget – we have to stay pretty while we have all of those complex emotions and deep character. That’s the part that’s sticking in my craw.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    Classic case for him of “keep your mouth shut and let people think you are an idiot than open it and remove all doubt.” Quantifying it just excavated his grave in *record* time.

  • Sara Green Williams

    You’re making me have emotions that won’t keep me pretty.

  • Ashe

    lmfao

  • Sara Green Williams

    Careful, you’ll get wrinkles!

  • Anonymous

    So basically we’re too emotional and we all look the same so it’s hard.

  • Ashe

    Wrinkles will immediately afford me villian or secondary character status

    :c

  • gleno

    Thanks, and thanks for your thoughtful comments too. I do think that being concerned about $$$ makes sense when you’re funding movies that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make and market. Greater risks are taken when less is at stake. When such expensive movies fail, there are often cutbacks on production, and many good, talented folks lose work. (As happened at Dreamworks Animation not long ago, after a couple films unfortunately did relatively poorly.)

    Do you think that making animated movies with unattractive lead female characters would really address – i.e., have any notable impact on – audience sexism? I’m not sure. I think an even more egregious form of sexism – promoting the notion that a woman’s greatest goal is to find a man – has been fought against (here and there) in the modern era of feature animation. I applaud that.

    BTW, a great example of a lead female Disney animated character who’s not traditionally “beautiful” is Lilo, of Lilo and Stitch. Great character, and great film.

  • Tegan Dumpleton

    Sadly, this really doesn’t surprise me. I don’t care how many people are excited about this movie. It looks terrible. The fact that we know more about the snowman then the main character or main villian is proof enough

  • Anonymous

    This is being blown way out of proportion. First of all, women are more emotional than men. It’s a biological fact. While it shouldn’t be used to perpetuate ancient stereotypes merely pointing out a difference in men and women cannot be considered sexist.

    Secondly, look at any typical male character compared to a female one. The men make wry smiles and scary battle faces and that’s about it.

    Third, this is Disney, people! They’ve been making animated movies for over 80 years fad of lay in their previous release is they manage to make a female lead show who wasn’t completely two-dimensional! Expecting them to be completely free of misogyny in a couple of years is like expecting a coma victim to run a marathon after he but wakes up.

    Yes the statement can be taken badly. Was it intended badly? I don’t think so.

    Lastly, then launching into a frenzy, complaining about everything that’s wrong with Disney is just proving how immature and inappropriate your arguments are. You may think you are feminists but you are not helping feminism at all. You ate only reforcing the stereotype that feminists

  • Janelle S

    Women are not more emotional than men. That is not a biological fact. Studies of facial expressions of emotions do not support the notion that women display emotions more often than men.

  • Anonymous

    Are prudish, frigid nannies with no hint of joy or sexual freedom that you so blatantly fight for. Sit down. Calm down

  • Anonymous

    How about the surge of hormones that women experience monthly which outwardly become apparent as outbursts of emotion.

  • gleno

    Oh, just remembered: a better example than Vanellope would be Lilo of Lilo and Stitch. Not traditionally “beautiful.” Great character, great film. Her sister’s boyfriend is the best looking (and least clothed) character in the film.

  • Ashe

    Men and women are social constructs and are actually not a real thing.

    Male and female are the terms you’re looking for if you’re going for biological facts. And even then, they are many variations on them in the human species. Differing testosterone and estrogen levels, hermaphrodites, hell, you haven’t even touched on transgender individuals.

    Look at all that variety you just swept into the generalization bucket.

  • Anonymous

    And male characters aren’t exaggerated to be more attractive to audiences? Grow up!

  • Anonymous

    Hah god luck getting a hermaphrodite into a Disney movie. You know I meant male and female. Just because you have a more detail understanding of technical vocabulary doesn’t make you automatically correct

  • Ashe

    “Just because you have a more detail understanding of technical vocabulary doesn’t make you automatically correct”

    You confessed that I understood something better than you, but tell I’m wrong because…because.

    So, do I get points for dealing with the troll, guys?

  • Ashe

    Oh, Lilo & Stitch is a brilliant movie. I’m honestly surprised we got it at all: it’s very, very unconventional and even raw at times.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not a too I’m a reasonable objector. I’m all for equality, but the comments here are just swinging sexism to the other extreme. I said you understood terminology more than I did, my point being that doesn’t mean you are right about the topic being discussed. If you can’t debate reasonably, don’t bother.

  • Ashe

    What can I say, I’m a sucker for bullshit.

    If you can’t get your terms right, your arguments are going to suffer. You didn’t know the difference between men/women and male/female. Now you’re saying that women are capable of sexism, when sexism is a systemic injustice ingrained in our society.

    Women don’t hold collective power to oppress men. Women can’t be sexist. They can be prejudiced, maybe discriminate, but can’t actually BE sexist.

    If you can’t get your vocabulary correct, don’t bother. Especially on a feminist site, c’mon, man.

  • Anonymous

    As further example of how you are all taking this to the opposite extreme, please note that he says “you have to keep them pretty”. He does not say “I want to keep them pretty” he does not point at Disney. More than likely he means the audience. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Just a glance at this website and I can see you spend a lot of time just jumping on the slightest implication of sexism. Good luck with that

  • Ashe

    Where is this world where men are constantly drawn to satisfy the straight woman gaze

    For I would much like to visit

  • gleno

    Bowz makes good points. Did you happen to catch my comment about this, which further explains the different geometries and design factors that logically support the gist of what DiSalvo said? Since you are genuinely curious, why not ask him – or other top feature animators? He may not have worded it elegantly, but there’s something technically accurate to what he said, which I found fascinating to learn. Never would have occurred to a non-artist/non-animator like me.

    To the prior comment: while CG animated characters are in some ways more “realistic” than those in traditional animation, human characters (among others) are still highly stylized caricatures.

  • Ashe

    Ah, yes. I think that’s actually what Hollywood views as plain. I think she’s gorgeous myself, but I know what they were thinking.

    ‘Ugly’ in Hollywood means ‘a notch or two below the Barbie model’. That’s why we get thin, average-height and angular featured actresses playing roles where they have GLASSES. Or FRIZZY HAIR. Or THEY TRIP SOMETIMES.

    Because that’s what qualifies for ugly.

    Brienne? They cast a tall woman with a strong jaw.

    What a fucking horse, amirite?

  • AshVeridian

    SOME male characters are exaggerated to be more attractive. SOME. There are loads of male characters that fall very short of the commercially attractive standard for men that are still heroes, sympathetic characters, get redemption or hero arcs, etc etc. Men can be skinny as a rail, fat and unkempt, short and stumpy, bedraggled and filthy and still be good, well-written, complex characters and still be ugly.

    But women? EVERY female character MUST be “pretty” in order to even exist as more than a punchline to a joke. Especially in a medium overwhelmingly populated by male creators and executives like animation. Commercial, feminine beauty is a demand, not an option.

  • gleno

    Agreed. Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois are amazing.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    And she’s a “horse” that non-airbrushed women have to *beat* to become average, at least perhaps in the views of men watching the show.

    Of course, the trick would be for women not to cater to such males but I daresay they are in the majority. I have to admit, the majority of the cast are somewhat pretty (male and female) so I guess at least there is equal opportunity eye-candy but it still doesn’t fix the problem, it just gives a dose to each gender.

    I think people in general should be de-prettified in media – it shouldn’t be a defining attribute. I mean, maybe we could have a measure of brain activity instead?

    “Whoa, baby, look at the ECG on that one.” “Awww yeah.”

  • chrissypants

    Exactly!! It’s more that unfortunately females, especially good looking ones have to be kept aesthetically pleasing to the audiences. I’m an animator myself, and animating both genders is hard PERIOD. However, unfortunately, even in my classes that were taught by both male and female prof’s, when it comes to female characters, they have to cry pretty, be sad pretty, etc. Otherwise that character might as well be a slapstick one. Take a look at Lottie from the Princess and the frog, she has some more slapsticky animation on her than Tiana. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

    I think people are reading this into it too much. NO WHERE did he say “uhh women are too emotional so yea that’s why we only have one girl.” He’s speaking about the differences in keeping them look pleasing to us the audience. When he’s talking about women being sensitive, I believe he’s referring to the character model that it’s very easy to make a very ugly face than an aesthetically pleasing face even if they’re both showing anger for example.

  • chrissypants

    Then that means you aren’t digging enough. Just go to tumblr and look at the frozen spoilers tag. The whole movie or at least the basic plot of it is already on there.

  • chrissypants

    Thank you! Finally someone that understands the meaning behind the quote. It’s not what he said that is meant to be msyoginistic (which it even isn’t because that would mean there would have to be a hatred for women) it’s the world we live in that needs to change the way we perceive the heroine of these stories.

  • gleno

    Fascinating that anyone would vote down a comment about being kinder, giving people the benefit of the doubt, and asking questions to learn something new.

    It’s almost as if anonymous comments sections on the internet don’t bring out the good in everyone!

  • Anonymous

    Actually, I gather the reason the casting call for Brienne worked out as it did was that this really tall, strong woman walked in and just *dominated* the room for her audition, and they were all blown away.

    In other words, in this (one, very specific) case, it was apparently less a matter of “we want to cast a pretty actress” and more “holy crap this woman is GOOD.”

    Unfortunately, your objection stands for… well, pretty much the rest of casting.

  • chrissypants

    Also look at Lottie from Princess and the Frog, she certainly isn’t a conventional looking female. She’s got a round face and when she was on screen she’d have the funniest expressions. However, she is deemed a comic relief character. http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m8x2rfdhvu1rsfpfeo3_250.jpg

  • chrissypants

    I think they vote down because they probably believe their opinion is not right. :

  • chrissypants

    Another one that is not so pretty would be Lottie from the Princess and the frog. But she is considered the wacky one compared to Tiana.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    I’m not denying she’s awesome – but she doesn’t really fit the character. The reason why Brienne is a knight is because no one wants to marry her. Because she’s ugly as hell and strong as an ox, but primarily the first one. In the book, she’s basically considered a walking joke of a woman (unfairly, of course) and she’s impossible to marry off as a result. That she has spirit isn’t necessarily a barrier to marriage in Westeros (although it doesn’t help – there are some pretty fiery ladies that still get married without being in the equivalent ‘bargain bin’) but that she, as a woman, has only one future and she can’t obtain it because she lacks in the looks department. So she forges her own future as a knight, even if males typically think she’s also a walking joke (until she smacks them down onto their armoured asses)

    She kinda illustrates a fish out of water who is trying to grow legs all the same and survive in a world where she doesn’t fit and no one wants her. Brienne’s actor? I would marry her in a heartbeat. I prefer my women with such level of personality anyway. I would have loved her in the cast playing a powerful role, but yeah, she misrepresents what Brienne stands for to me.

  • Ashe

    I wouldn’t say that Game of Thrones has equal opportunity eye candy-the men are just as pretty as the women, yes, but the women are constantly stripping, being fucked, sensually dancing, wearing titillating clothes, etc. The only active eye-candy I can remember from the men is a bath scene.

    Even the shirtless scenes I’m hesitant to count, as the camera doesn’t even view the men the same way it does the women. Blech.

    But, yes. It’d be great to see a wider variety of representation in the media. People are so interesting and colorful!

  • gleno

    But remember, Tyrion is supposed to be terribly ugly too, yet they cast a fairly handsome actor. So not sure this is sexist. More about casting brilliant actors, and perhaps a bit about audiences preferring watching better looking actors.

    Then again, some male characters who are supposed to be incredibly handsome were not cast as such.

  • gleno

    Well, in many cases yes, according to the feature animation artists I asked (both male and female). It has to do with certain design conventions of many male and female human characters that animators have to work with. At least, most lead characters. Human male animated characters tend to be caricatured with more angles, planes, and distances between features, while female ones tend to be caricatured with more round shapes that are closer to each other. Thus, an animator can get away with stretching and distorting the shapes in male faces more (and more irregularly) than in female faces before they go off model, losing consistency in the character design, and looking unappealing. It’s not always the case, but it is more often than not. It’s much ado about design, geometry, and what audiences seem to find appealing. Pretty fascinating.

    Plus woodland creatures are notoriously overemotional. Have you ever played poker with a moose?

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    I stand corrected, you’re totally right. I guess, I know this sounds odd, but I just skip over the naked girl scenes in my head and concentrate on the story. Maybe I truly am a geek at heart :P

    With the shirtless scenes, perhaps they need to have a director that appreciates the male form to show it off better? I mean, they’re probably trying to do something but not able to pull it off.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    Great comment, and I love your name. /salute

  • Anonymous

    You’ll have to forgive me if I completely disregard your argument since you haven’t bothered to counter any of the points I have raised. You have only nitpicked at my choice of vocabulary. You are aware that resorting to correct grammar is amongst the lowest forms of retort?

    My apologies though if my understanding of terms regularly used in conversation on feminist topics is not as knowledgable as yours. However, I don’t believe that makes my points any less valid. I am concerned with communicating precisely and not so much accurately. Yet my points are clear I think. If you are prepared to respond in a respectable manner I am open for discussion.

    Yet I fear you are not. I felt the need to comment here because the general opinions expressed are so extreme it is almost prejudiced against men, and that’s the problem. In a feminists pursuit of equality, they often go too far the other way. I see that here and I also see how close minded you have become. The need to attack only my grammar and not my arguments only furthers this belief.

    If I were the same I could have pointed out how you misused the term ‘troll’ since such a person seeks only to stir up trouble while I am here to address balance. I could also point out how you misunderstand sexism, saying that it is exclusively the prejudice against females, when any dictionary would tell you that it is only typically so, not exclusively.

    So thank you for wasting my time. If anyone is prepared to have a reasonable discussion not his topic with an open mind, and not a bigoted feminist one, then I am willing.

    In summary: Burn, sucker!

  • Anonymous

    At last, a reasonable response.

  • Anonymous

    Finally, a reasonable response. Thank you

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    You are right about Tyrion and I was a bit dismayed he wasn’t as ugly as in the books – however, his most undesirable marriageable quality was because he was a halfman rather than ugly. Westeros does indeed have this double standard for men and women. If Tyrion was merely ugly, his father would marry him off pretty neatly to someone and would work as an heir with his ability at statecraft. But no one wants to marry a dwarf. That probably crosses gender boundaries too – dwarves are considered cursed, like bastards. Be funny if GRRM hooks him up with Brienne later! Two technically unmarriageable people getting hitched.

    I think they were somewhat limited with the amount of short-statured actors. Peter Dinklage really does the job extremely well but yeah, they could have slapped some makeup on him as well to at least make him less attractive. I gave them a bit of a bye on it due to the actor pool available but then again, maybe ugly women don’t go into acting? If so, that’s a shame all by itself, because heaven knows we have some amazing ugly male actors out there with great stage presence. I know of some less than supermodel female actors out there who act well, but I’m not sure how common they are – they sure as hell aren’t common in media, so I assume if there are a ton, a lot are getting benched for prettier women (or their parts being written out altogether)

    I think with the “incredibly handsome” problem, it would have worked better to have more average and then you’d have someone moderately cute and they would stand out. When everyone is arguably pretty, it’s hard to have that. For example, while I can’t appreciate men’s beauty really, the actor for Loras seems to be … less cute than Jon Snow’s actor? As far as I’m aware, at least.

  • Anonymous

    No, that’s what qualifies as ugly for a character they make beautiful in the final act. If you need that its much easier to make a pretty girl ugly for a few scenes than it is to make an ugly girl pretty for the majority of the movie,

  • Ashe

    Poor man-creature. All of our rowdy opinions have got you spooked.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for validating my point. I’ll be off now. My home planet needs me. You know, Earth.

  • Ashe

    Good point. Glasses and frizzy hair, amongst other things, are easily altered ‘ugly’ traits.

    If I had a nickel for every time an ‘ugly’ girl got ‘prettyfied’ in a show or movie, I’d have enough to fund my own studio.

  • Anonymous

    No one wants to marry her… apart from the THREE betrothals that SHE Blew off before becoming a knight that is.

    They might play TV Brienne different from book Brienne I suppose. (I haven’t seen TV Brienne)

  • Miss Cephalopod

    I think the problem is with the word “appealing”. In my school, we’re taught that “appeal” is the vaguest of the twelve principles of animation. It doesn’t mean pretty or sexy or cute – it means that a character is something that you want to look at, that leads the eye around, that is interesting. Ursula, Madame Mim and Cruella De Ville are ultra-appealing, but they’re not lookers in the way the princesses are.
    That takes us back to the issue that for most female characters, appealing DOES equal prettiness because that’s how the design was pushed and deviating even slightly can destroy the appeal quickly. The goal should be to create more female characters with their appeal based on something else than prettiness. I think Lottie from PatF did very well in that regard, she was incredibly appealing because she was so interesting to look at. I feel like Tiana suffered again from the whole “needs to stay pretty at all times” thing, which is a shame because it’s her movie :-(

  • Mark Penrice

    More freely moving parts (often hair, and more often the ol’ secondary sexual characteristics) that make extra work for the animators because when the skeleton stops moving, the rest of them doesn’t, so they have to spend time both keeping track of that and drawing additional frames?

    (Hence a certain other, often skirting-bankrupcy japanese studio generally preferring female protagonists with bob-cuts or at least pigtails, plus what must be rather restrictive sports bras hidden underneath… Then again it might just be a sign that their director has a thing for tomboys built like blow-up dolls.)

    That’s the only even partway valid reason I can think of that would make it “more difficult”. Yer archetypal male character may as well be sculpted from plasticine for all the poorly damped resonances they display.

    After all teaching you how to draw character faces of all types with a very wide range of emotions is about page four in the typical “So you want to be a cartoonist?” (“for ages 5 to 8!”) kiddie activity book. I’m sure it’s actually part of the reason to animate things rather than using live actors in the first place, even…

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    Well, I think they put out those proposals purely for power, but I guess some guys would look beyond, like Roose Bolton marrying Fat Walda for the cash. I guess it depends on how pragmatic people are.

    But I daresay, power being equal, or chances being equal, she wouldn’t get a proper lookin.

  • Joanna

    Don’t talk about stuff you don’t understand. Makes you look like an idiot.

  • Janelle S

    Oh my. I’m not sure whether to address this seriously, or to just ignore you altogether.

    On the off chance that you are serious and well-meaning, no. If we are defining “emotions” as hormones – a novel argument, to be sure – then just no. And you do a disservice to both sexes to state that women are more “emotional” than men.

  • Anonymous

    “But why would male characters be so much easier to design than female characters?”

    Because they don’t think about women as people, but as a group.

  • Anonymous

    Because as we know, men don’t feel emotions. They just grunt and occasionally fart/shart.

  • myverysarcasm

    I somewhat disagree. Yes, Brienne is ugly in the books, but to me it always seemed more important that she’s tall. She towers over most men, and she cannot only kick their asses but she also looks strong and muscular enough to do it. She’s not a fiery but petite warrior lady like Mulan on OUAT – Brienne intimidates men by her sheer presence.
    That’s why Gwen works for me as Brienne. She might be too pretty, but she looks down on every character – especially Jaime – and she looks like a believable warrior in her armor.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    She does do a good job and I think she could be far worse cast, tis true – it’s a mild peeve. I think it’s a mixture of height, ugliness and strength all making her a relatively unwanted match – people are only going to pick her for the power and cash all the same. But as previously stated, pretty much everyone in the show is pretty so at least they did pick a good actor for her. Sometimes things cannot equate totally towards book translations, which is sometimes a good thing (some terrible book series have been made into better TV series, for example, often due to creative casting and alternative interpretations that are not strictly canon.)

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    You might enjoy ‘Curse of Chalion’, or more importantly, its sequel ‘Paladin of Souls’, both by Lois McMaster Bujold, in which the lead character is a middle-aged widowed aristocrat with zero combat prowess, and who has effectively been dismissed as mentally ill for decades of her life. She is an AMAZING character and I love her <3 She really embodies the whole 'strong female character doesn't mean PHYSICALLY strong' concept.

    But the first book in the series is equally good with plenty of excellent female characters. The lead is male . . . but he's an ex-soldier with a heart of gold suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, prone to breaking down in tears when people are kind to him, and gaaaah <3 Bujold writes such human characters defying so many crappy gender role conventions, it makes me gush.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Oh gosh, Lottie! So many reasons I loved her, but that was a big one–they let her be, well, grotesque, for lack of a better word, when they needed her to be. When it was funny. She had a wonderful, stretchy face. And it was a good balance on Tiana because Tiana played her emotions close, so they were animated totally differently.

  • Laura Truxillo

    And Edna was based on someone, so there’s that.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Yup yup. Don’t forget that the female character is usually doing the heavy-listing all-things-to-everyone as well, as the only good-and-central character. So she’s got to represent every woman.

    Seriously, they could’ve made the stupid snowman a stupid snowoman. Could’ve even gotten a few extra stupid jokes out of that.

  • Laura Truxillo

    “but it’s nothing the head of animation can change”

    He’s the head of animation. If anyone’s in a good position to push for a little bit of originality or a new direction, shouldn’t it be him?

    There are always preconceived rules of character design. And there are always exceptions to them because someone came along and pushed at them.

    I mean, “the designs are limiting” is the first thing I read into what he said. But he’s making new characters. They could try something new, just for kicks, every now and again. (And in terms of running the risk of a female character seeming too slapstick, well…there’s that stupid snowman…)

  • Laura Truxillo

    I think it’s because of this:

    ” It’d be great if more people read more carefully and asked questions before rushing to assess and/or attack others.”

    It sounds condescending as balls. Like you just assume that those of us who are mad *didn’t* carefully read and asses what he said, because if we had, we couldn’t *possibly* be mad.

    Except that it still is a pretty crappy situation, in terms of character design, it still doesn’t excuse the imbalance of female characters in a previously female-centered story (“well it’s hard” is NOT an excuse. Artist problems exist to be solved, and solving them creatively creates a better product.), and it just serves to highlight that except for once in a blue moon, Disney’s female characters have to fit a very very narrow range of standards in terms of body type and face, compared to male characters (which in turn, is a problem across the media board, and sucks).

    If you’re assuming that the folks who are mad are all mad because we think he said “wimmenfolks is sensitive,” then you’re not reading carefully yourself. Are some folks? Sure, probably. Most of us, though, I think are far more pissed off at being reminded about the “beauty standard” as it applies to media characters, while basically being told that one of the guys running it has no plans to push for originality. Because it’s hard.

  • Eva Marie Heater

    In this fascinating discussion, I’ve seen the the term “off model” used several times. I think I know what it means, but can someone with direct knowledge define it? That would be very helpful. It seems to be cartoon shop talk.

  • athenia45

    I never really thought Brienne was all that “ugly”–we hear that from the jerkwad dudes around her (Hi there Jamie!), so I really don’t trust their judgement.

  • Eva Marie Heater

    Can someone in the animation industry explain what “going off model” means? I think I know, but I’d like to hear it from a professional. This phrase has been used several times in this fascinating discussion (thank you all, btw!), but I’m not quite clear on what it actually means.

  • Anonymous

    They define a ‘model’ for the character (whether that’s a literal 3D model in a computer or a maquette or a series of reference drawings that show what a character looks like) and they strictly adhere to that model when animating the character. Even when they do severe deformation (for example in “Madagascar 2″) they keep certain aspects of the character the same to ensure recognisability (for example the pentagonal shape of Alex’s mane in that film). When they say the character is ‘off model’ they mean that it has been deformed beyond acceptable parameters and no longer sufficiently recognises the reference model.

  • Uncumber

    I do think it’s troubling if $$$ is the primary driving force behind creative decisions. Sure, they have to make films that people want to see, but movies that lack a cohesive, creative vision and instead cater to what the audience supposedly “wants” tend to be wretched, soulless drivel.

    I think your example of Lilo as a character who breaks the mold is really important – she IS a great character, it IS a great film, and people love her. Which shows that if you have a good story and good characters, you don’t have to make the main character “pretty.” It gives the lie to the notion that audiences will reject female characters who don’t look a certain way.

    To answer your question about whether movies with “unattractive” lead female characters would have an impact on sexism at large, I would ask you the reverse: Do you think that the current reality, an endless stream of movies featuring lead female characters who fit into a very narrow definition of what is attractive, has a negative impact – i.e. increases or supports – audience sexism? I don’t really want to rehash the problem of representation here, because so many people have said it better than I could and at much greater length. Succinctly, I do think that showing female characters with diverse appearances would support a culture in which women are not expected to conform to a very narrow standard of beauty and femininity.

  • Brian Wrestler

    Historically speaking men in Disney animation are very limited. They show up at the end and give a kiss. The female characters carry the movies. But since it’s animation, there is a certain amount of generalization in appearance. So the difficulty in animating female characters lies in that. If the queen is angry at the princess, and likewise the princess is angry at the queen, the artist has to create signature emotions for each character, or the faces will look alike and be less interesting. I think this comment, out of context, is being taken as a sexist commentary on the film industry, rather than a technical comment about specifically Disney animations.

  • http://wpmututorials.com Andrea_R

    Can we bring back the greats like Carol Burnett? She’s the first woman who taught me you could be funny and not have to try and be pretty at the same time.

  • Glitchy

    It means that the character is drawn in such a way that it looks far too different from the established look.

  • http://www.AllCoolThings.NET/ HERETICPRIMIE

    I don’t care where this is, or who reads this. Truth is truth.

    And I did speak in a condescending manner. I spoke clearly because I don’t think the animator did.

    Maybe if more “feminists” tried bridging gaps instead of looking for a fight, then men and women would be happier, together, but then that’s the problem, isn’t? A lot of you don’t want that.

    You, and all of the women that think like you are Stalinist feminists.

  • BloodtheObliterator

    This is taken out of context. Disney has always had a strict guideline for their female characters, they’re always pretty. You never see one pull a weird face unless they’re a side character. It’s classic disney. Lets not all pile on this guy because he’s speaking the rules of animation disney created.

    Ridiculous how you people jump on every opportunity to object to perceived sexism.

    The female characters have to display a range of emotions without breaking their appeal, if you look through the entire disney catalog, it never strays from this.

  • kat

    Or even two people (some sources say Edith Head, others say Linda Hunt); both fabulously unique women.

  • Jamie Jeans

    Men in many mediums are IDEALIZED, not sexualized. This animator may have used the word pretty, but he meant sexialized.

    There is a distinct difference!

  • http://thescienceofobsession.tumblr.com/ R.O.U.S.

    Interesting, ridiculous, and sounds about right up Disney’s alley.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I hate that I have to explain this to you, but here it goes.

    Women are not more emotional, or irrational, when they are suffering from PMS.

    We are angered, or made happy, by the same things that anger us or make us happy, when we are not PMSing.

    What is different, when we are suffering from PMS, is that we are hurting. We are agitated.

    What it means, is that we no longer have the tolerance or patience to accept the shit that angers us. Which means that instead of swallowing that shit and moving on, we are now telling you about it.

    It doesn’t mean that you leaving your socks on the floor didn’t make us mad last week, it’s just that this week, with headaches, cramps and backaches, WE DON’T FEEL LIKE PICKING UP YOUR SHIT COULD YOU ACT LIKE AN ADULT AND DO IT YOURSELF!

  • BloodtheObliterator

    Well imagine what they’re doing. These disney princesses aren’t characters, they’re products waiting to happen. They’re on lunch boxes, placemats, shirts, napkins, you name it. It’s about keeping them on model so you can keep the branding strong. Sure you could animate them doing exaggerated expressions, but that would break the style and threaten the brand of it all.

    Sometimes it isn’t necessarily about sexism. It’s about legality. You don’t see them twisting the McDonalds logo up into a popcicle stick, or Coke using another red other than the exact Coke red. This same reason applies to why Belle never looks insane or Ariel chops all her hair off and goes butch. Sure that’d make them interesting, but it sure as hell would be a branding nightmare.

  • http://thescienceofobsession.tumblr.com/ R.O.U.S.

    From a branding perspective, yes, it makes sense. It’s just too bad that branding/retail are so heavily tied into character development for storytelling, though. It’s the ultimate sellout. Not that I blame Disney for being about the bottom line, that’s how you run a successful company, but it’s still disappointing as a consumer. These are actually characters that little girls look up to, outside of being cultural icons, and a little believability and realistic characterization would go a long way to making them more meaningful. Instead, it’s kept strictly commercial.

  • Laura Truxillo

    So…wait. If women’s faces are more emotionally descriptive, and then it’s easier to make emotions (what with them having more range). Or you can say that women having to stay within a range of “pretty” makes them have LESS emotionally descriptive faces, which would make it harder to animate emotions.

    Either way, if we’re using the “what we see every day” argument, then it’s false, because men’s faces are just as capable and expressive as women’s faces are. Same muscles underneath and everything. No one gender is inherently better at having expression. (If anything, though, judging by the wide range of types among leading men and the fact that they don’t have to be “pretty” while emoting, men on screen would tend to have more expressive faces. Not necessarily in everyday life, though.)

    He is talking about his craft. And he is talking about how female characters are worked with in his craft–and they’re extremely limited.

  • Laura Truxillo

    So here’s a list of the Disney animated theatrical releases: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Disney_theatrical_animated_features

    Going with just the hand animated movies and leaving aside anthology films like Three Caballeros and anything tied up in another property/tv show or that Disney served as a distributor only for (like Winnie the Pooh or the Miyazaki stuff)…

    Ten of their main animated movies have a female lead, seventeen have a male lead, ten have mixed leads (but seven of those ten are animal movies like 101 Dalmatians, Dumbo, and Bambi). Of the female lead movies, only three of them feature male characters in the limited capacity you described (Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty). It’s very rare, even in a female-lead movie, for the named female characters to outnumber the male characters (only one off the top of my head, is Sleeping Beauty, and in that one, at least, the Prince did get to do some cool stuff. Beauty and the Beast may have come close.)

    Just throwing that out there. Most Disney Princess’s have their princesses in pretty significant, character-filled roles. And most of the side-characters are male.

  • BloodtheObliterator

    Exactly. Which is why Pixar is good at circumventing that branding-only sort of viewpoint, somehow. Look at movies like The Incredibles or Toy Story. They express emotions through the characters the way they want- there’s little to no compromise. It’s a Disney problem. I’m just angry at seeing people mad at this Animator guy for basically showing what’s wrong with Disney, albeit poorly, the guy’s quote is obviously one of someone who isn’t great at public speaking.

  • Lesley

    Here’s some context that explains why it actually is really hard to animate female characters. It’s interesting reading.
    http://seananmcguire.tumblr.com/post/63514909297/animating-female-characters-are-extremely

  • Anonymous

    The emotion thing aside, it is entirely possible that he didn’t mean “pretty” as in “sexy”, but rather artistically pretty, as in not weird-looking and off-model. That kind of phrasing is used frequently in animation. I work on CG for cars, and the final render is referred to as the “beauty” render.

  • Jerk Douglas

    If you weren’t completely ignorant of the artform you’d know exactly what he’s saying. You ask any animator and they’ll say the exact same fucking thing. It’s not a personal jab at women, it’s a requirement of the artform and a factor of capturing a visible identifiable archetypal feminine essence within the restrictions of the medium. But this man is not a speech writer and describing personal philosophy on art is very difficult and involves lots of irrational thinking. So get a life you fun killing witch.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Lin Beifong.

    (She’s the characters, the writer and Michael Konietzko and Bryan De Martino, creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I thought the same way, and someone challenged me one time to describe what made her so “ugly” and aside from a description of horse teeth and an ill fitting dress, there aren’t any.

    The projection that Brienne is ugly comes from all the assholes who say so, not from any accurate picture we’re given of her.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Gendry did several nice shirtless scenes, but his character is supposed to be underage, so I feel bad for looking.

  • athenia45

    I think Brienne’s actress evokes this picture very well even if her features are more “pretty.”

    http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Brienne_of_Tarth

  • Eliot Hochberg

    If you’ve ever tried drawing hands or faces, men do tend to be easier to get accurately than women. This i believe is because we perceive men as being more angular, and straight lines are easier to draw than curves.

    Another way to look at it:

    http://youtu.be/clYo2WfFkzE

    If I were to make all people stick figures, then they would all be equal. But they aren’t, so automatically it’s more challenging no matter the gender.

    Since our society expects more emotions from women than from men, that also plays into this. If you only need two or three faces to express men’s emotions and ten for a woman, that’s simply more work by volume.

    Finally, in my experience, it’s as easy to draw a man as it is to draw what most observers would call an image of an ugly woman. Drawing a pretty women is harder than either. Get the proportions off just a little on an image of a man, and you still have a man. Do the same for a woman and you get criticized

  • Guy

    Designers have to manipulate their audiences to relate to the story. Hate society if you wish, but as designers, we have to leave isms at the door and look at human nature objectively, so we can take advantage of it to engineer an enjoyable movie. Its just a job. Of course, a designer could choose not to, we call that anti-aesthetic when done intentionally, otherwise, its just a bad movie with bad characters and you, the audience, will find it offensive just the same.

    An example of a design problem; A simplified well proportioned drawing of a face with large eyes is immediately recognized by humans as youthful and beautiful, it’s that human baby instinct. Every line and hard angle we draw on the face adds years of age and reduced attractiveness. Since Disney wants a main character to be likable to the masses (no one wants to deal with with an bad character for 120 minutes) and since, as a society, we uphold the concepts of youth and beauty to be a good thing, to simplify the protagonists features, especially in the face, is to inform the audience of a characters nature. Sadly, another design problem occurs when we simplify, we are also reducing the uniqueness of a character (how many combinations of simple eyes and hair are there?). It thus becomes a challenge for a designer to differentiate between two similar “good” characters. The designer could solve that problem by refusing to simplify, but then the character reads differently at first glance, and a plethora of other tactics and plot devices must be used to change the audiences inherent opinions, aka more design problems.

    Keep in mind that this is just ONE of the many physical and behavioral aspects of a character that are subject to human and societal preconceived, often subconscious, notions. Designers have to deal with these things, and it is “hard”. Dont take it out on the designer, she was being honest about her job in dealing with us, the viewer. You’re better off blaming both nature and society.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    She does.

    Plus, I will walk over hot coals for Gwendolyn Christie. That woman is incredible.

    (Fun Fact! She did a stage performance with Tom Hiddleston once. Powdered wig era stuff. There is a gifset of her dragging him around by his ear. BEST CROSSOVER EVER)

  • Anonymous

    Disney’s frozen head said what now?

  • Miss Cephalopod

    I’m surrounded by animators all day long and today we had a good laugh at this quote in class, prompting one guy to call it the “ridiculous quote of the year”.

    No, we won’t say the same thing. It’s goddamn bullshit.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    Of course, this is the nature of GRRM’s writing – we’re seeing it from specific perspectives each chapter. What is real is very subjective as well.

    Three betrothals notwithstanding, her dance card was not exactly filled. I choose to think she was ugly purely to highlight the unfair society of Westeros where women are made purely ornamental for the most part. It’s Cersei’s lament too – she is intelligent and pretty awesome at getting things done, but she isn’t treated seriously for the most part unless she can channel her power through a male. Perhaps somewhat ironically, her beauty works against her just as Brienne’s lack of beauty works against her too. It’s mostly about how superficial women are treated in Westeros rather than their inherent attributes. I see GRRM, in making Brienne seen as ugly or unattractive, highlight the position of being an ugly or perhaps just unattractive in a world where looks seem to mean everything in case of a woman. Holding up a mirror up to life? Very much so, unfortunately.

  • http://jimmymcwicked.deviantart.com/ DCM

    ‘in class’?

  • Miss Cephalopod

    I’m attending animation school and surrounded both by fellow students and working professionals (all teachers are guest teachers, plus lots of studios within spitting distance of the school) all day. This quote came up when somebody from a nearby studio dropped by during a lecture break.

  • gleno

    To clarify, I meant “appealing” as in good/pleasant looking, rather than merely interesting looking. Yours is a fine definition as well, but not the one I meant. For lead characters, audiences tend to be most drawn (no pun, honest) to those that are good/pleasant looking – whether male or female. Sadly, that’s true in real life too. Studies suggest that better looking people are more often than not viewed as more empathetic and even trustworthy. That’s an unfortunate aspect of human nature, but character designers aren’t to blame.

  • gleno

    Laura, it seems you misread what I wrote. Please let me try to explain more clearly. I did not say or suggest the “sensitive” line was the one (or even main) thing that any (much less all) mad folks were bothered about.

    There’s nothing condescending whatsoever about wishing people would give a person the benefit of the doubt and ask him what he meant, or ask equally qualified experts about it, before judging and attacking him. (BTW, for another person here: teachers and fellow students aren’t equally qualified.) I did just that before forming an opinion about what he said, and I learned something fascinating. But here, a bunch of people are saying things like “fuck that guy” and using pretty nasty language about him. That is condescending. That’s all I was responding to. And I was making a joke about the tone of online comments sections.

    You covered “read carefully” but not “ask questions.” Yet based on the original blog post and many comments, it’s pretty evident neither was done by many folks.

    > “Except that it still is a pretty crappy situation, in terms of character design”

    Whether or not that’s true, he’s not responsible for character design. That’s a complex process with many hands involved, primarily the character designer and directors, on up.

    > “it still doesn’t excuse the imbalance of female characters in a previously female-centered story”

    Could you elaborate? What imbalance? If you’re referring to what he said about making their acting look different, he didn’t say they didn’t achieve that in the animation, only that it was more of a challenge to do so. Or if you’re referring to the cast breakdown and story, that’s irrelevant to him (he’s not a writer; animators don’t even sit in on story meetings). Or are you referring to something else? What “excuse” are you talking about? Excuse for what?

    > “except for once in a blue moon, Disney’s female characters have to fit a very very narrow range of standards in terms of body type and face”

    But that has nothing to do with what he was saying about the technical constraints of animating such characters, given their designs. Body type and face are aspects of character design. He’s talking about animation. These are different things.

    You’re putting words in his mouth when you say he “has no plans to push for originality” “because it’s hard.” He said it’s hard to animate these characters while keeping them both on-model and looking good. There are valid reasons for that. All he described was the challenge, not a failure to meet it.

    There are arguably legitimate gripes about the designs of characters – and more to the point, with what audiences tend to respond to most positively. But that has little to do with what he was saying. If one reads carefully and considers his expertise.

  • chrissypants

    Also, there are certain predetermined neutral faces on characters. Like a basic happy face, angry, sad, etc so they can’t go too far off those models with only subtle changes from the neutral face.

  • http://jimmymcwicked.deviantart.com/ DCM

    i wouldn’t listen to anyone at your school if they can’t realize the challenge DiSalvo describes – that some characters are handled differently in animation than others by nature of their design. a male character will usually have a bit of leeway in the amount an expression may be distorted while still being on model, where a female character will have less. yet you don’t want the limitations of a design to restrict the expressions/emotions needed for the character to act, creating a challenge. apparently in the case of the movie DiSalvo is talking about, there are scenes where two female characters are together. the goal is to have these characters react in ways that are not identical to each other, therefore doubling the challenge of the animation. perhaps your school is happy enough to arm you with a knowledge of Flash or Toon Boom rather than have instructors who have real knowledge and experience in animation.

    DiSalvo’s comment had absolutely NOTHING to do with having or supporting some sexist attitude. this blog entry is a massively ignorant and irresponsible attempt to build a straw man and build up an agenda. there ARE plenty of actual misogynistic things to write about and deal with, but sorry, this ain’t one.

  • gleno

    Of course, there’s a wide gap between lacking a creative vision on a film overall, and what lead characters look like.

    I have no idea if there would be an impact on sexism at large. It’d certainly be great if that happened. Or perhaps audiences just wouldn’t flock to movies that aren’t “cast” the way that appeals to them. I don’t know. I’d guess that partly it depends on the sort of story it is. Lilo and Stitch is a far cry from a princess movie. (Which they’d stop making if audiences didn’t flock to them. But at least their characters have been shifting, if not so much their good looks.)

  • gleno

    Of course, there’s a wide gap between lacking a creative vision on a film overall, and what lead characters look like.

    I have no idea if there would be an impact on sexism at large. It’d certainly be great if that happened. Or perhaps audiences just wouldn’t flock to movies that aren’t “cast” the way that appeals to them. I don’t know. I’d guess that partly it depends on the sort of story it is. Lilo and Stitch is a far cry from a princess movie. (Which they’d stop making if audiences didn’t flock to them. But at least their characters have been shifting, if not so much their good looks.)

  • gleno

    Thank you very much, Bino. If only I had a blog. (Then I could procrastinate even more effectively than I have been! :) )

  • gleno

    Thank you very much, Bino. If only I had a blog. (Then I could procrastinate even more effectively than I have been! :) )

  • Christopher LaHaise

    Now, see, if the guy actually explained it this way, it might have passed the smell test. As it stands, he didn’t say this, and it sounds pretty damn bad.

  • Miss Cephalopod

    My current teacher has been in the animation industry for thirty years and spent the majority at Disney (Bolt) and Dreamworks (Prince of Egypt, El Dorado, Sinbad). I trust what he has to say – he may have his own opinion, but the mere fact that he vehemently disagrees with the statement goes to show that it’s not a single, unified opinion among Disney animators. Most other teachers have also had careers at Pixar, Dreamworks, Warner Bros. Animation, Marvel and other places. Richard Williams was involved in creating the curriculum and used to come to teach master classes sometimes when he was younger, Andreas Deja also dropped by once or twice. We’re a small, but very dedicated and well-connected school. (Flash is touched upon briefly, but we start learning entirely on paper before we switch to digital 2D (TVP) after half a year, then in 2nd year Maya.)

    The thing that’s being discussed as problematic is not that some models are more difficult to animate than others. That’s a given. Prince Philip is also hard to animate because he’s so straight-faced. The thing we’re complaining about is that more male character are allowed to NOT be straight-faced and not be pretty all the time. There’s nothing wrong with a female character having subtle, difficult features to animate. There’s everything wrong if that’s stated as a given for all female characters.

  • Ashe

    Agreed. Mirage was meant to be very attractive, cool and collected, and STILL had some extreme expressions.

    (being strangled for betrayal, for one)

    That movie just did its female characters right, really.

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  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    And I forgot Kya, another woman who’s age can be estimated in her 40′s, who is apparently unmarried with no children.

  • moonglaive

    So, that’s the explanation for why they’re pretty much using the same model for Anna and Rapunzel then? Not much for innovation in the industry, are they?

  • gleno

    Sure, he didn’t speak very clearly, and didn’t elaborate on things that may have been obvious to him. I had to keep asking those experts I asked to explain more clearly, because they thought it was obvious too. It’s hard for many artists to put into words what they understand intuitively. I’m not saying I know exactly what he really meant in full, but I absolutely give him the benefit of the doubt. I know I’m at times a poor speaker when I’m interviewed about my own creative fields, often wording things poorly and imprecisely, failing to explain what I mean. I have much sympathy for other creative folks in casual interviews.

  • BloodtheObliterator

    Animating emotions on a crazier non-ideal-non-main character is easier for sure (I’m an animator). If you have a female model that’s supposed to constantly match rigid guidelines due to say, branding, it’s harder than being able to let loose with a moose character or something else.

    Everyone’s taking this from a sexist perspective when it’s really more about branding and the idealization of main characters. Most male and female main characters don’t let loose with their facial expressions. Look at say, Aladdin or pretty much the entire human cast of Pocahontas. The males AND females are both rigid and nonemotional so they dont stray from looking like some print on the side of a lunchbox.

  • gleno

    No, of course that’s not an explanation for any similarities between the models you see. Your comment and many others here are (understandably) based on a mistaken assumption about how feature animation works.

    But I don’t mean that as a dig at all, because it’s not your fault – there’s no reason for you to know… unless you work in feature animation or read or watch much about how films are made.

    You and others seem to think this guy is the character designer. He’s not. He’s an animator. They’re different departments. He spoke about some of the challenges of animating characters. But character *design* is primarily the job of the lead character designer, along with the directors. Production designers and art directors and others have influence, and final okays are from on high. But it’s very rare that an animator will design characters. E.g., grand master animator Glen Keane had much influence on Rapunzel’s design early on – but remember, he was also originally the director of the film and it was originally his project. Very rare indeed.

    I hope that helps explain things better.

  • gleno

    As for why there are some similar motifs in many character designs, I think it’d be most useful to seek interviews with designers and directors on this. Or ask some, if you can track any down. You many find there are some interesting reasons, and that it’s not due to a dearth of creative minds.

  • Elena

    capturing a visible identifiable archetypal feminine essence

    This. This is the problem. You are reducing women (or at least female characters) to only one archetype.

    Plz go watch Claymore or Attack on Titan or something.

  • Elena

    capturing a visible identifiable archetypal feminine essence

    This. This is the problem. You are reducing women (or at least female characters) to only one archetype.

    Plz go watch Claymore or Attack on Titan or something.

  • Elena

    See Off Model at TV Tropes or QUALITY at LURKMORE for plenty of examples.

    The “Meduka Meguca” parody threads are also excellent for showcasing the distressing quality of off model frames (in this case, of the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica) but I’m afraid it won’t make a lot of sense if you haven’t seen the anime.

  • gleno

    Very well put. Since so many people here are interested enough in the topic to write about it, hopefully they’ll find that both interesting and enlightening.

    Since comments here can only just scratch the surface, hopefully it inspires people to dig in and do more research on feature animation character design… read books (both on feature animation design in general, and the “art of” books for specific movies), watch interviews, even reach out to some designers and directors – but not to animators (like DiSalvo is), since they’re not in charge of design.

    A great deal of thought and work goes into the design process on major films. Some are more successful than others, to be sure. But I’ve come to understand the logic behind some of the common aspects I used to scoff at (like big eyes, which you mention). I’ve seen comparative tests that showed why some things work better than others.

    It is indeed about both nature and society, as you say.

  • http://jimmymcwicked.deviantart.com/ DCM

    arbitrary comment. has nothing to do with my singular point.

    thanks for the effort though.

  • Ashe

    Oh, that was sarcasm.

    I don’t believe men are truly as awful as the media expects them to be. It’s just that the truly awful ones are constantly catered to and held as the standard.

  • Anonymous

    Carol occasionally still does comedy, actually.

  • http://blog.mommyrotten.com/ Mommy Rotten

    If you’re an animator who can’t animate a female face emoting (or else it’s really, really hard for you!) then maybe, you just kind of suck at your job? Just throwing that out there.

  • Anonymous

    I think when he says, “Historically speaking,” that those remarks can be taken about animating women in general, until this point in time.

    It is also implied that men are different by speaking exclusively about women. Without the distinction of female the quote sounds almost nonsensical, especially when you get to the part, “So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough..”

    He says say it’s difficult to keep women [as compared to men] pretty while being emotive-and they what gets them off model very quickly. At the heart of it, it’s a rather ambiguous statement. Is it because women must stay pretty? Is it because they’re more emotive? Why is it really, really difficult for professional animators to animate female characters?

    I think the comments about stoicism are clearly sarcastic commentary, but not necessarily as unfounded a claim as you make it out to be. You are ignoring some pretty specifically gendered language in the quote to make this comment to be strictly about keeping characters on model while they emote.

  • Alex Printz

    As an animator, I’ll try to give an answer.

    Mixing traditional feminine/sexy traits in with animating has always been incredibly difficult, even more so with broad emotion. It’s like piling more and more expectations onto the animators that each require a certain skill set and understanding; layers and layers of thought that can become overwhelming and competitive in single frames/drawings, and even more so when they move . Then you have to try and to balance them out. When you try to have pinup girls doing everything it complicates the matter much much more, simply from a character design standpoint.

    Historically, disney has only had a few people who could ever do their princesses; Walt Disney actually had to lure Grim Natwick from NY to CA just to animate Snow White, because there was no one else capable at the time. Similar situations for lots of female characters. So, as an animator, it’s sad to see this quote being blown up, simply because it was said for the wrong audience.

    This is a technical complaint, not a character complaint. He’s complaining because he’s realized how much skill goes into pulling off this type of animation expectation that the company wanted, not that women are more emotional and more difficult.

    If people should be getting up in arms, it should be because Disney still wants to do princess films to begin with, not that the animators are having a hard time meeting the company’s expectation.

  • Kamil Kukowski

    “In other words, in this (one, very specific) case, it was apparently
    less a matter of “we want to cast a pretty actress” and more “holy crap
    this woman is GOOD.”

    They succeded in achieving both. And you may argue with this opinion of mine, but it would be like trying to flog the sea

  • Kamil Kukowski

    erm…. one name comes to my mind… Lucy Lawless… you know anyone that wanted to turn the other way when Xena was aired?

  • Kamil Kukowski

    I know this guy works in the industry, but…. is he retarded?

  • Anonymous

    Nope. I’m not going to hunt down and watch a YouTube video to prove that one set of comments he’s made are not consistent with another set of comments he’s made. I’m not judging the man. I’m responding to the above article. But thanks for reminding me what year it is – I forgot.

  • http://jimmymcwicked.deviantart.com/ DCM

    no, he’s not retarded. read what the industry people below have said and educate yourself. the retarded are the ones who have no idea of the context of his comment and have jumped to an ignorant small-minded conclusion. as you did. you, my friend, are one of the retarded.

  • Kamil Kukowski

    http://media.tumblr.com/502cec756f76056bb413d1116343ec07/tumblr_inline_mubt44Klku1qkhkx7.gif oh please tell me how difficult it is to copy-paste a character model from a previous movie. What i called retarded is the apparent fear of trying to do something outside the comphort zone.

  • http://jimmymcwicked.deviantart.com/ DCM

    ignorant.

  • Jerk Douglas

    Yes, and they won’t say this kind of thing to you because you sound like someone who would complain about it and try to get them fired.

    I’m an animator, I work with them, and I also understand the myriad paths the mind has to travel to make sense of a creative task. And you’re wrong.

  • Nell Webbish

    And you managed to discuss all of that without mentioning gender once … which was pretty much the point.

  • Miss Cephalopod

    Way to make assumptions about me. But sure, I’m a complete asshole that will try to get my teachers fired. *nod nod*

  • gleno

    Since you brought up the animation genius Deja as a defense of the reliability of your school, I would urge you to ask your teacher to go ahead and ask Deja himself for his thoughts. Because I did just that. I asked several of the very best working animators. It was a private conversation among friends, so it’d be inappropriate to share here. But suffice to say, your teacher stands to learn something useful, and pass it on to you and your fellow students.

  • gleno

    Again, he may simply have meant “pretty” as in “looking good.” I think he just worded it a bit sloppily, and people overreacted. Thanks in part to articles like this one that jumped on it without first asking the guy what he really meant, or asking top animators if it made any sense to them. His underlying points about character design, animation and audience expectation are absolutely valid. I’ve now asked several of the top working animators (among the superstars of animation) about it. They’ve all agreed, he may not have worded it the best or clearest way for a lay audience, but he was right. Best explained in detail by a well-spoken animator.

    BTW, look for some of the YouTube videos of the directors of Tangled talking about how they came up with the lead male character’s look. They kept having groups of women rate his sexiness until they settled on the best looking character design. One of many examples. So this isn’t entirely limited to one gender. It’s just harder to keep leading female designs looking good than leading male designs. We could delve into audience expectations of how heroes and heroines should look. But that’s really about the audience.

  • gleno

    And to be clearer, “looking good” is not always or merely about “sexiness” (as it was in large part for this male character). Being “appealing” and being “sexy” (i.e., beautiful or handsome) are not the same thing. Attractiveness often plays some part in appealing design of lead characters, but visual appeal is about much more. This animator may have used the word “pretty,” but people got too hung up on it in just one sense.

  • gleno

    Very sorry for the delay, I hadn’t checked the page for new comments.

    Typically, they work mainly with the directors, who are the final arbiters (along with animation studio heads, depending on how hands-on they are). There’s also usually some degree of interaction and give and take among various departments as the story develops.

    Regarding comic books, remember, they’re very different beasts from mainstream animated feature movies, in that they appeal to different audiences – both in terms of demographics and size. Comic books are also relatively cheap to create, with a relatively small staff, compared to animated feature films. So comic books don’t have to appeal to nearly as wide a base to be profitable. They can be far edgier and take greater risks. In comparison.

    > “Are these character designs driven by the perceived ‘market’ for ‘beauty’?”

    No. Certainly not directly. There’s a difference between being appealing and being beautiful. E.g., the lead female character in the upcoming Frozen is not what many might call conventionally beautiful, but she is what many might consider an appealing design. Sure, attractiveness partly plays into that, but they’re not the same thing.

    I don’t recall if there are any good books that cover this in detail, but there may be. Perhaps start with some of the books about Disney animation… “The Art of Walt Disney” is a good one. Also, some of the art books for individual films, from all the animation studios, may have good sections on character design.

  • Miss Cephalopod

    I’m sorry, but you’ll have to at least disclose to me the top secret mystical magical information of WHAT I am supposed to pass on. You have simply said that my teachers are wrong without addressing any of the actual arguments.

    There are two basic arguments being had here:

    1. Subtle characters like Rapunzel, Elza, as well as other more realistic characters (other Disney princesses) are difficult to animate because of their subtlety. This applies to male and female, because subtle is subtle – a subtle male character who has to stay very close to
    a certain level of prettiness all the time requires the same care as a female character with the same requirements.

    2. Female characters always have to be pretty, all the time, no matter what kind of emotional shit they’re going through. No mention that this applies only to a certain kind (aka the subtle Rapunzel type) of female character.

    Statement 1 I will shout from the rooftops forever if it makes you happy, because I fully agree. Subtlety is fucking HARD.

    Statement 2 I will never agree with because it’s sexist bullshit and patently untrue. Sexist bullshit because I as a girl feel degraded being told that I have to be pretty no matter what’s happening to me and how I feel on the inside, even blubbering tears and white-hot rage have to be pretty. Fuck that. Also untrue because hey, look at Cruella and Ursula and Madame Mim, all really awesome female characters Disney has done that are NOT pretty. This invalidates the blanket statement that 2 applies to all female characters. (Which is the way it was originally
    stated.)

    Please do share, because it’s hard for me to argue with “Hey, I don’t know WHAT your thoughts are, but I guess you’re right because you told me you are!”

  • Miss Cephalopod

    Sigh, I had a really long reply typed out but apparently it disappeared after I posted it. Here we go again.

    I think you’re being a bit cheap here – “hey, you’re wrong, I won’t tell you what exactly you’re wrong about, but tell all your friends!” This is no way to lead an argument.

    Basically there are two points of argument here:

    1. Subtle/delicate characters are hard to animate because it’s easy to go off-model. This applies to Rapunzel, Elsa, Prince Charming, etc. Usually fairly realistic or pretty characters.

    2. Female characters in general always have to stay pretty, no matter what emotional hardship they’re going through.

    As for statement 1., I agree with it whole-heartedly and hand out leaflets saying “subtle characters are hard to animate well” for the rest of my life if it makes you happy.

    Statement 2., however, is the blanket statement I have an issue with and no, I will never agree. If the statement had been “pretty/subtle female characters need to stay pretty/subtle”, cool. That’s fine. But female characters in general? Nope, sorry. I happen to identify as female and I reserve the right of being offended when my gender is expected to be pretty even when blubbering tears or roaring rage are more appropriate to expressing inner turmoil. It’s also a strange statement to make because there has been a number of female characters that are NOT pretty/subtle, such as Cruella DeVille, Ursula, Mama Odie, Madame Medusa etc.

    I’m not a hateful person by nature and I like giving the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that DiSalvo meant to say those things about female characters of the Rapunzel/Elsa/pretty princess mold but could have phrased it better. As it is, I can only take at face value what he said, which is not cool.

    You don’t have to tell me how much sugar you had in your coffee when talking this over with your animator colleagues/friends, but it would be nice to at least offer up some words towards how I am wrong instead of just saying, “My knowledgable friend knows more than you and he says you’re wrong about a thing.” That’s cool, I want to learn more, but tell me what exactly that thing is at least?

  • Miss Cephalopod

    Eh, for some reason Disqus doesn’t Show my Posts, even though I’ve posted the same Thing three times now. Let’s try again.

    Sigh,
    I had a really long reply typed out but apparently it disappeared
    after I posted it. Here we go again.

    I
    think you’re being a bit cheap here – “hey, you’re wrong, I
    won’t tell you what exactly you’re wrong about, but tell all your
    friends!” This is no way to lead an argument.

    Basically
    there are two points of argument here:

    1.
    Subtle/delicate characters are hard to animate because it’s easy to
    go off-model. This applies to Rapunzel, Elsa, Prince Charming, etc.
    Usually fairly realistic or pretty characters.

    2.
    Female characters in general always have to stay pretty, no matter
    what emotional hardship they’re going through.

    As
    for statement 1., I agree with it whole-heartedly and hand out
    leaflets saying “subtle characters are hard to animate well”
    for the rest of my life if it makes you happy.

    Statement
    2., however, is the blanket statement I have an issue with and no, I
    will never agree. If the statement had been “pretty/subtle
    female characters need to stay pretty/subtle”, cool. That’s
    fine. But female characters in general? Nope, sorry. I happen to
    identify as female and I reserve the right of being offended when my
    gender is expected to be pretty even when blubbering tears or roaring
    rage are more appropriate to expressing inner turmoil. It’s also a
    strange statement to make because there has been a number of female
    characters that are NOT pretty/subtle, such as Cruella DeVille,
    Ursula, Mama Odie, Madame Medusa etc.

    I’m
    not a hateful person by nature and I like giving the benefit of the
    doubt. I want to believe that DiSalvo meant to say those things about
    female characters of the Rapunzel/Elsa/pretty princess mold but could
    have phrased it better. As it is, I can only take at face value what
    he said, which is not cool.

    You
    don’t have to tell me how much sugar you had in your coffee when
    talking this over with your animator colleagues/friends, but it would
    be nice to at least offer up some words towards how I am wrong
    instead of just saying, “My knowledgable friend knows more than
    you and he says you’re wrong about a thing.” That’s cool, I want
    to learn more, but tell me what exactly that thing is at least?

  • gleno

    No worry, you don’t come off as hateful at all. You’re clearly thoughtful. I don’t think you’re giving him the benefit of the doubt though, but that’s your choice.

    I’m not sure what you meant by your characterizations of what I said, but I do apologize if it wasn’t clear. It’s just a simple point: Using the names of experts in a field as evidence of the validity of
    opinions coming from an institution may not be so compelling if those
    experts actually have opposing opinions. You said your teacher vehemently disagreed with DiSalvo, so I suggested your teacher may find it interesting to ask Deja (among others you’d mentioned) what they think. Again, I’m not going to quote him or any of them here because as I said, it was a private conversation and that’d be disrespectful. But I thought the gist was kinda obvious from what I said. I suppose I can share the general, collective gist from what they all said, without getting into details: it was almost entirely in agreement with the analyses I’ve already shared here. Just a few finer points.

  • gleno

    (I replied to the repeat above. Disqus does that sometimes; you did a good job of remembering what you wrote!)

  • gleno

    (I replied to the repeat below. Disqus does that sometimes; you did a good job of remembering what you wrote!)

  • gleno

    Yep. And when people see the film they’ll finally understand that he definitely didn’t mean they have to always be “pretty” in the sense of beautiful, but in the sense of looking appealing and on model — because there ARE scenes in which they’re decidedly not “pretty” in the former sense. The most obvious is a hilarious scene showing Anna, the heroine, looking positively unattractive: terribly messed up hair, goofy/dopey face, drool spilling out of her mouth… the works. So the film itself puts this misunderstanding to rest.

  • gleno

    Even though they haven’t actually done that many genuine princess films, they still do them because audiences love them, and because it’s the studio’s legacy/tradition. The fairy tale castle is the center of their theme parks after all. It’s part of Disney’s identity. However, they have been updating them for the modern era, and I think Frozen does a particularly clever job of turning the old cliches on their head–such as love at first sight, a princess needing a prince to save her, etc.

  • gleno

    BTW, when you finally see the film I think you’ll better understand that he definitely didn’t mean they have to always be “pretty” in the sense of beautiful, but in the sense of looking appealing and on model — because there ARE scenes in which they’re decidedly not “pretty” in the former
    sense. The most obvious is a hilarious scene showing Anna, the heroine, looking positively unattractive: terribly messed up hair, goofy/dopey face, drool spilling out of her mouth… the works. So the film itself should put this misunderstanding to rest. :)

  • Caravelle

    Having seen the movie I think I appreciate much more what DiSalvo was saying. I know I was really impressed with Frozen‘s animation and had a vague feeling it had vastly improved over Tangled‘s. I’m not any kind of professional so I can’t back this feeling up with examples, but I think going off-model is part of it. I was really bothered in Tangled with the scenes where she throws her head back, rises her arms in the air with the camera spinning around her; mainly when she first leaves the tower in the reprise of “When will my life begin”, but also during the song in the bad-guy bar. In those scenes she suddenly went from looking like herself, to looking like some freakishly proportioned doll that looked like her. I got less bothered by it over rewatches but I thought the character was a bit off-model in those scenes.

    Compare those with Elsa in the “Let it go” sequence :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Zh-0dRS-4U
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moSFlvxnbgk
    Her face goes through all those different recognizable emotions and she’s articulating the song and the camera is panning everywhere but she always looks completely like herself. It is incredibly well-done and I have no doubt it was hard to do. And if the difficulty of keeping two female characters looking pretty and distinct in every expression (because of course in animation “pretty” is extremely close to, and sometimes exactly the same as, “bland”) made them try that much harder I can’t complain about the results.

    I think it must be harder to do in CG than 2-D animation, because when I looked at compilations of other Disney movies there were tons of moments where the faces did weird stuff… But maybe it’s less shocking in 2-D because it’s more stylized to begin with, the brain is already filling in so much it can ignore higher levels of sloppiness.

  • Caravelle

    Wow, if you think that’s copy-paste then you haven’t seen actual copy-pasting, and God knows Disney has examples to offer. If you want to complain that they’re all young, white and conventionally attractive females then that’s valid. But beyond those points they do, in fact, look quite distinct. They don’t even have the same expression in those clips ! Not that you can easily tell given how cunningly it switches between them too fast to see anything beyond “young, white and pretty”.

    The differences are even starker when they’re shown in profile (the two sisters have a totally different nose and overall shape face from Rapunzel).

  • Mike Sauer

    Based on your reaction below…I feel like he’s not really far off the mark…And though what he said should NOT be taken as sexism…It’s like, your reaction kind of proves what he’s saying. If he were saying it the way you’re taking it.
    Hopefully that makes sense..

    “When I saw this quote circulating around Tumblr last night I assumed it was made up. Did Lino DiSalvo, Frozen‘s head of animation, really say that animating female characters is difficult because they’re so “sensitive” and “you have to keep them pretty”?”

    “Look, I get that character design and animation are difficult. But why would male characters be so much easier to design than female characters? Why is it so tough to create female characters who don’t look alike? (So tough that Disney still has a hard time managing it.) No, really, I’m asking. Lino DiSalvo obviously knows more about animation than I do, so surely there’s some kernel of something in this statement that means it’s not solely a giant ball of sexist WTF-ery. Right? Right?!”

    And uh, idk. Maybe because he’s male, and maybe it’s easier for a male to pose a male character? Naturally? I really don’t think this is anything to get worked up about. Relax.

  • Evie

    We are all aware that this is part of Disney’s plan for these characters. *That* is sexist, and so are all the dudes who argue that it’s just fine.

  • Evie

    That’s funny, I hadn’t noticed that women’s faces were “more emotionally descriptive” in general, although I had noticed a tendency among American men to put on very stoic faces.

  • Evie

    Yup, And if a woman points out the generalizations that are being made about women as a group, she’s accused of creating them.

  • Sara Newton

    Stoic means to not show emotions. It doesn’t mean they don’t have them. You seem to be confused. If what you say is true then it’s obviously because men hide their emotions more and don’t deal with them. So when something tragic happens they don’t know what to do and some commit suicide. It’s sad but simple.

    I wouldn’t normally comment like this but given the nature of responses on this site and the fact you are trawling through months old comments to respond to arguments I have to wonder about your motive. This site is very hostile. You should open up and be accepting of different people then you might actually achieve your goal of equality, not close yourselves off and bitterly separate yourselves, attacking anyone who slightly disagrees with you on even insubstantial points. I aim this last paragraph at everyone who frequents this site.

  • Mike Sauer

    Probably because he didn’t expect people like you to read so much into it. For heaven’s sake, if he were sexist, the main character wouldn’t be a female! BOTH main characters are female! The movie is fantastic and is one of my favorite Disney movies now.

    I left this comment 2 months ago. Please don’t reawaken this useless debate.

    While I’m at it now…if you read every word of my comment, I said it proves what he’s saying – IF HE WERE SAYING IT THAT WAY. Which he is NOT. It was kind of a joke. But forget it.

  • Sara Newton

    Who said it was someone else’s post? I will say that judging by the number of your comments you must visit this site regularly so I bunched you in the regulars group. I had something to say to everybody in response to this conversation so I addressed everybody rather than try to reply to every post.

  • Sieben Stern

    I can’t stand disney movies, but the fairy ones are really charming. When i watched the first one i was shocked it was so much better than expected.
    I watched the pirate one tonight, with hiddleston as hook! ^u^