WARNING: REALLY LONG POST WITH A LOT OF PICTURES
In this post I wanted to discuss some of the issues I had with this particular advertisement. They are as follows:
- The juxtaposition of the male and female characters
- The posing and color association of the female characters
- The juxtaposition of racialized perceptions of femininity
First let’s talk about not only placement but also the pose of the male and female characters…
Here are Wasabi and Fredzilla in action poses. Both of these guys look like they mean business and they’re ready to go. You have Fredzilla posed as if he’a about to jump into the fray, eyes focused on some far off target. As for Wasabi, he’s almost looking directly at the viewer, and has a confident look on his face.
These guys are ready for whatever they’re up against.
Now, let’s look at our heroines…
Compared to Wasabi and Fred, Honey and Gogo don’t seem that ready for battle. Sure, they’re decked out in their costumes, but neither look particularly ready to face a foe. Honey looks like she just bumped into an old friend and Gogo is giving us bedroom eyes.
Either way, there is a stark difference between the poses for the male and female characters. And it honestly makes no sense. Remember when those leaked posters for the movie came out? All the characters were in action poses.
So why now in this newer image that’s debuted closer to the film’s release date, are the female characters static and coy rather than poised and ready for battle?
This reminds me of a piece of art that I saw when The Avengers was coming out:
Granted, they got a little better with Black Widow’s presentation closer to the release (though there was this), but the problem is the same: all the male characters are poised and ready for battle, but then we have our heroine with her back to us. Not a very threatening pose. Granted, while Black Widow still does have some level of preparedness in the picture, we all know why her body’s faced away from us: T&A.
While this is not what’s explicitly going on in the Big Hero 6 poster (to some degree), it’s still suspicious. The fact that there is an obvious gender segregation in the image, as well as the deliberate differences in their poses that makes me suspicious. The imagery is still very evocative of gendered modern day advertising (as well as the posing of female characters in comics). To put imagery like this in advertising for a family film seems like they’re trying to jump start the kids early on the typical imagery they’re going to see in comic books.
Now let’s move on to color association. As we know, colors tend to be gendered in American culture. This is especially evidenced in things made for children: boys are given deep shades of red, green, blue, and of course, black. Girls on the other hand, are mainly given pink with some spattering of purple, yellow, blue and green (usually light hues and pastels).
There’s obviously crossovers with these colors, but for the most part, children are brought up with the belief that there are “boy” and “girl” colors (I legit had a boy who refused to use purple glitter because it was “a girl color”; ironically he had no problem with the glitter itself as long as it wasn’t “girly”).
There’s a similar thing going on here: Wasabi and Fred are green and blue. Gogo and Honey are yellow and pink (whereas Hiro is purple and Baymax is red). This obviously has some callbacks to the Power Rangers, where the two female rangers were represented mainly by yellow and pink while the male rangers had every other color (not to mention that in both instances the white girl=pink and the Asian girl=yellow).
It’s also strange because Honey Lemon’s original color scheme in the comics was black and red, not pink.
I guess they added some white to that red along with her character.
Now I’m going to go back to my point about the posing of the female characters. But now we’re going to contrast Honey to Gogo.
Compared to Gogo, Honey’s whole appearance is very subdued. Her pose, costume, and colors are a lot more girlish/feminine and modest (especially with the costume having a skirt).
As for Gogo, this is the infamous boobs-and-butt pose. And it’s name is just what it implies: the breasts and butt must both be present in the shot. Otherwise we 1) won’t know the character is a woman, 2) make sure that fan service is always present
wouldn’t want us to confuse female characters for people, right?, and 3) the anatomy must be deformed in order to make this pose happen.
It’s especially apparent because her costume is basically a leotard with some body armor thrown on. Don’t think I’m bashing the costumes; it’s way more modest compared to the original:
But really, why pose her this way? It’s already bad enough to pose a female character like this to begin with, but in the advertising for what is essentially a family film?
And of course, there are the unfortunate racial connotations… With Disney, we’re all very used to images of virginal, innocent white women (Rapunzel, Anna, Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White, etc.) as well as sexualized portrayals of women of color (Jasmine, Pocahontas, Esmeralda). The thing with is that we’ve never had them shown together. Like I said before, Honey’s pose and demeanor are friendly and non-threatening. Even her costume offers her body more coverage. Meanwhile, Gogo’s giving us bed-room eyes and curving her spine so we can see her wonderfully curved backside (and a little G-rated boob action).
This advertisement threw me off from the get-go. I’m really hoping this is isn’t going to be reflective of the movie and is just a one-off ad. Despite all of its issues (whitewashing, Westernization, etc.) I’m still looking forward to it. But I would be lying if I said that this image didn’t sour me a little.