It has happened again. You are disappointed, yet not surprised. Another cartoon with a compelling story arc and beautiful characters has been canceled. Many shows aimed at boys have been canceled or treated less fairly than others over the past few years.
For example, Legend of Korra, a show with a strong female lead, was removed from T.V. viewing and instead put up to air on the Nickelodeon website only. Producers have claimed that it was because the show didn’t get enough views per airing, but as many fans pointed out, it was ridiculous of them to expect many views when the network didn’t advertise any new episodes in the first place.
An interview with Bryan Konietzko, co-creator of Legend of Korra revealed the stigma that media producers hold about shows aimed towards girls, versus ones directed towards boys.
“Some Nickelodeon executives were worried […] about backing an animated action show with a female lead character. Conventional TV wisdom has it that girls will watch shows about boys, but boys won’t watch shows about girls,” Konietzko said.
Later screening tests revealed that boys didn’t care whether Korra was a girl or not; they just thought she was cool.
Young Justice, a show about a ragtag group of teenage superheroes is another show that fell trap to this phenomenon. This show featured many strong characters of both genders who had compelling story arcs.
An interview with Paul Dini, who has worked on multiple animated superhero shows, stated the reason why Warner Bros eventually decide to close the curtains on this well-loved cartoon.
“[The network told us that] ‘we need boys [as viewers], but we need girls right there, […] one step behind the boys, not as smart as the boys, not as interesting as boys, but right there,” Dini said.
As Dini and the other producers began writing the story and getting deep into the girls’ backstories, their progress was halted by the network.
“Cartoon Network was saying, ‘[…] No, we want the boys’ action, it’s boys’ action, this goofy boy humor we’ve gotta get that in there. […] We’ve got too many girls. We need more boys,’” Dini said.
Companies just want to make more profit, so they fall back onto the same childish, nonsensical humor that they believe appeals to the young demographic. What they don’t realize is that children can grasp deep concepts that are presented in such shows.
There is also a belief that girls don’t buy as much merchandise as boys. The reason is most likely because there are never any merchandise made of female characters-– only male ones. How are children supposed to feel when they see the whole Justice League on the racks, and only one single action figure of Wonder woman to “cater to the females?”
Meanwhile, shows like My Little Pony blow up and are celebrated, by both boys and girls, regardless of age. The reason for this is because whereas boy shows emphasize heavily on action and mindless humor, while girl shows advocate life lessons such as kindness and self-empowerment. These shows simultaneously provide more substance for the viewer to reflect on instead of capitalizing off brainless entertainment. Girl’s shows focus on building character in a society where girls are shunned and ridiculed for being themselves. The only place for them to learn these lessons is to ingrain it into them at a young age.
Ever since the popularity of My Little Pony blew became apparent, its general internet presence has been taken over by “bronies.” The show has captured the attention of males way older than the intended demographic. And yet, the producers response to this was to embrace and cater to them.
For example, the show has made shout-outs to bronies to engage them and acknowledge this huge part of their fanbase.
Media needs to expand their boundaries and learn to take risks. Many shows take the safe route and use the same tried formula to making shows, leading to mediocre, mind-numbing entertainment at best. This is especially apparent when they use age-old stereotypes, such as girls only liking traditionally soft subjects and boys liking violent topics, in order to justify their preconceived notions about younger age groups.
Already, newer generations prove themselves to be different from their precedents. Children look past the intended demographics that media halsdgfjksjg to and instead watch whatever catches their interest. Time will tell if there will come a day where corporate companies look past their greed and ignorance to air shows with strong storylines regardless of the amount of revenue in comparison to other shows. A network’s priority should be to provide the audience with the content they truly desire.