It may not shock and awe quite like Phil Robertson’s GQ interview, but Kevin Smith did get some scandalous insider info out of Paul Dini during one of his Fatman on Batman podcasts this month. The admission that cartoon execs do not care about what their girl audience wants to see may initially sound like run-of-the-mill big business statistic speak, but the reality should resonate as a bit more troubling than that. Dini admits hearing many times networks saying they don’t want girls watching their shows because they don’t buy enough toys. As Smith argues in the interview, it’s sad that because of this, the shows are actually being veered away from them.
Smith says, in protest to the networks:
“Don’t be lazy and be like, ‘well I can’t sell a girl a toy.’ Sell ’em a T-shirt, man, sell them f***ing umbrella with the f***ing character on it, something like that.”
I am certainly not the sort of person to argue for some sort of government intervention here and I am the first one to advocate for a more free market system, so on one level I am trying to understand the cartoon networks’ position here. However, art and cartoons should not be strictly monetarily driven—when that happens, quality is imminently doomed. I have to say that the eleven year old me is outraged thinking that quality writing and animation was being pushed aside because I didn’t break/lose/blow up as many TMNT dolls as my brother.
Because Smith is right—girls do buy things (duh!)—lots of things. The executives’ point is just that the easier market is to the little boys who go through toys quickly and are more keen on collecting sets of things and breaking things. Animation companies who care more about making a quick buck have been around from the beginning and they are as forgettable and lamentable today as ever. Ask Disney, whose relatively recent Disney Princess line of merchandise has turned Disney’s Consumer Products Line from a $300 million industry in 2001 to a $3 billion gold mine in 2012. Princesses!
My soapbox moment is just to beg cartoon makers to refocus their energy on making quality animation and stories with the promise that our consumer driven children will find a way to give you our money—whatever their gender.
What are your thoughts? let us know in the comments below.