It is hard to point out flaws in someone -- or, in this case, something -- that you love. But Pixar, I just have to ask you: Why can't one of your movies star a girl?
It's a point made in this blog for the Washington Post. "Toy Story," "Toy Story 2," "A Bug's Life," "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Cars," and now "Ratatouille." They're all great movies, and they all have male protagonists. Yes, Mr. Incredible has a wife, but as author Liz Kelly points out, the main character of the film is still the guy. Janeane Garofalo's character in "Ratatouille" gives a passionate (and funny) speech about why she's the only woman in the kitchen, but she's actually the only woman in the entire movie -- and that's including the rats. The space aliens in the short that precedes "Ratatouille" are green and blobby -- and yet even they still seem male. Why is that?
Don't get me wrong: I loved "Ratatouille," and I hate finding flaws in any of Pixar's work. I think they've brought animated movies to a whole new level -- they're smart, funny, beautifully animated, and appropriate for adults and kids alike. And I don't think their films are misogynistic -- or perpetrate gender stereotypes -- in the same way as classics like "Cinderella," "Sleeping Beauty" or "Beauty and the Beast." But that just makes Pixar's testosterone seem weirder.
Kelly suggests that perhaps the fact that the creators are themselves male has something to do with it. Maybe -- that reminds me of a time when I asked a writer from "The Daily Show" what percent of its writers were women and he responded, "Uh, I'd say it's 50 percent male and 50 percent not female." (It's long bothered me that Samantha Bee is the only female correspondent.) Or maybe there's some research out there showing that if you want a character to be universally appealing, it's better to make him male. But regardless, I'd like to suggest that for their next film (or perhaps the film after their next film, since there's a 2008 Pixar movie starring -- you guessed it -- a male robot) they consider giving the other sex a shot. The character wouldn't have to be a human -- she could be a robot, a rat, a toy, even an alien blob. But when kids looked up at that screen, they'd get the message that in the world of Pixar, girls can be blobs, too.