Is Hollywood Afraid Of Supporting Female Fans?

Hollywood claims to want female fans, but their actions don’t match their claims. “Women hold up half the sky,” according to a Chinese proverb, but the Hollywood establishment doesn’t seem to deem female fans — especially young female fans — as important as male fans.

According to Tech Times, Netflix is being urged to consider sponsoring a third season for Young Justice. Fans of Young Justice may remember that Kevin Smith interviewed Paul Dini about the cancellation on his podcast, Fatman on Batman, which was reported by The Mary Sue. Dini (in a profanity laden interview) claimed network executives did not want girls watching watching their shows, which is why both Young Justice and Tower Prep were cancelled.

“You know I hate being Mr. Sour Grapes here, but I’ll just lay it on the line: that’s the thing that got us cancelled on Tower Prep, honest-to-God was, it’s like, ‘we need boys, but we need girls right there, right one step behind the boys’—this is the network talking—’one step behind the boys, not as smart as the boys, not as interesting as boys, but right there.’ And then we began writing stories that got into the two girls’ back stories, and they were really interesting. And suddenly we had families and girls watching, and girls really became a big part of our audience, in sort of like they picked up that Harry Potter type of serialized way, which is what The Batman in boarding school [?] is really gonna kill. But, the Cartoon Network was saying, ‘F** no, we want the boys’ action, it’s boys’ action, this goofy boy humor we’ve gotta get that in there. And we can’t—’ and I’d say, but look at the numbers, we’ve got parents watching, with the families, and then when you break it down—’Yeah, but the—so many—we’ve got too many girls. We need more boys.”

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Writer/producer Paul Dini then explained to Kevin Smith that girls don’t buy superhero toys. Girls, once they get done comparing Hollywood executives, especially those in the tie-in merchandising departments, to the He-Man Woman-Hater’s Club, are wont to ask how they can purchase toys that are next to impossible to find.

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First, there were few depictions of Black Widow in Avengers toys. In Entertainment Weekly, Scarlett Johansson’s co-star Mark Ruffalo complained of the difficulty of finding Black Widow action figures to buy for his daughters and nieces. When even the Hulk himself can’t find something, that’s a sign there’s a problem. Black Widow was left out of toys, notebooks, valentines, even Campbell’s soup. Then Guardians of the Galaxy had a noticeable lack of Gamora toys. Business Insider reported the outrage by fans that Gamora was left off t-shirts; Women You Should Know demonstrated the difficulty of finding toys for young female fans.

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The same thing happened again with Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There was a decided lack of “girl toys,” especially action figures of Rey. Fans, adult and juvenile, male and female, took to social media to complain with the #WheresRey campaign.

The Mary Sue published a post by a former Marvel employee who requested to remain anonymous.

“While working at Marvel post-acquisition, I saw a deck circulated by Disney’s Brand Marketing team. I’m prohibited from sharing the slides, but the takeaway is that, unlike the actual demos, the desired demographics had no females in it whatsoever. I asked my supervisor why that was. Ever the pragmatist, he said, “That’s not why Disney bought us. They already have the girls’ market on lockdown.”

“I’d entered the comics industry because I was a comics fan. It hurt to see so plainly that to Disney, people like me didn’t matter. My demographic was already giving them money anyway, with Disney Princess purchases. Even now, there’s no incentive to make more Marvel merch for women, because we already buy Brave and Frozen products.”

Would Hollywood executives prefer to limit young female fans to these role models?

Female fans of superhero and science fiction movies, books, and TV shows don’t want to be tucked away in binders and forgotten. They want characters who are more than damsels in distress. There’s nothing wrong with princesses, but they shouldn’t be the only toys available. Parents want to find action figures and games for their sons and daughters. As the Washington Post pointed out, boys do play with female action figures/dolls and girls do play with spaceships. Perhaps Hollywood executives, instead of underestimating the spending power of female fans, should read the Washington Post. Or maybe, just maybe, they should actually talk to their fans.

[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]