Boy Story: The Representation of Gender in Pixar Animation Studios’ Feature Films

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The purpose of this paper is to discuss the representation of gender and gender imbalance within Pixar Animation Studios’ feature films, focusing in particular on the analysis of Brave (Andrews and Chapman, 2012), in terms of marketing strategies and critical reception.

Since the release of Toy Story (Lasseter, 1995) 18 years ago, Pixar Animation Studios has become renowned for creating films that are both commercially successful and critically acclaimed. The studio has received numerous awards and has been at the forefront of cutting edge computer animation, developing software that is now an industry standard for CG animation and visual effects in live action filmmaking. However, the studio has recently been criticised for its lack of female presence and female perspective. Pixar has produced 14 feature films to-date, only one of which features a female protagonist. Not only are the remaining 13 told from a male point-of-view, they also feature a predominately male cast with female characters that serve merely as love interests or mother-figures for their male counterparts. Although Pixar presents strong-willed and determined female characters, in a range of roles, they are generally outnumbered by male characters at a ratio of 3:1 (Decker, 2010, 64).

Although Pixar has been commended in the past for subverting traditional Hollywood practices, this paper will suggest that, in this case, the studio clearly adheres to the industry standard where only 3% of animated films concern female-centred narratives (Gilsdorf, 2012). My paper will engage with Brave, which features Pixar’s first lead female character. As part of the Disney Princess Franchise, the Pixar princess will be compared with other Disney princesses in terms of critical reception, marketing and merchandise, in order to analyse the representation of gender in Pixar Animation Studios’ feature films.

Decker, Jonathan. The Portrayal of Gender in Disney-Pixar’s Animated Films: A Content Analysis of Gender-Role Variables in Pixar’s Ten Feature-Length Films from Toy Story (1995) to Up (2009). LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010.

Gilsdorf, Ethan. ‘Pixar’s new Brave is fuelled by girl power’. The Boston Globe. 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventBAFTSS - The Birkbeck Institute, University of London, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Apr 201426 Apr 2014


CountryUnited Kingdom

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