Paul Dini explains why execs don't want girls watching their superhero shows


The obvious exception seems like it would be Korra, but I don’t know a) how the Officially Determined By Official Methods gender demographics break down b) what sort of merchandising they have for the series. Still, I think for Christmas I’m going to request that all of my female friends buy Korra toys, or books, or burn down the headquarters of Cartoon Network.


Korra is from Nickelodeon


Rumor has it that Korra was even questioned by the execs and it wasn’t until test screenings full of young boys liked it that it got to go forward.


Did anyone ever see the Fox dubbing of the Vision of Escaflowne?

background: Vision of Escaflowne is a near-perfect ‘shoujo-shonen’ mix. That is, the main character is a girl, and as the series progresses, you don’t know a) who she’s going to end up with, and b) which giant robots with swords are going to fight which other giant robots with swords. I loved it, and the VHS tapes are just waiting for my son to get old enough

the Fox dub: what Paul Dini describes. It wasn’t just a dub, they recut every episode with the following maxim in mind: boys, boys, boys. Prime example: they edited the series so that the main character was a boy. Like, a different character from the actual real main character. It turned the show into a mess, as you can imagine.

These people are still in the business. Feh!


Oh, for fuck’s sake . . . I don’t have kids, much less daughters, but I feel like tracking down these guys (I assume) and keying their douche-mobiles. Or air-brushing a princess on the hood.


I don’t get why it matters if girls buy nothing. How does it cut into boys sales if girls who buy nothing are watching?


Although Dini’s work has been primarily with CN, the problem, at least as it’s presented here, seems more like a cross-network problem than something limited to CN. Also, Cartoon Network had Teen Titans, in which the two main female characters were pretty front-and-center. Again, don’t know viewer demographics/merchandising stuff at all, just sayin’.


this is awesome and another great reason to love cartoon network.

So is this why Level Up is such a utter and total catastrophe of a show?




Opportunity cost. The show is just an extended ad for the merchandise, if you waste time on characters that appeal to the non-merch-buying portion of your audience, then (to the bean counters) that is wasted air time that could have been better spent targeting the spend thrift audience.


Because, clearly, if girls are interested, you are wasting valuable boy brain programming time with stuff that interests girls, creating a merchandising opportunity cost. Figuring that into our spreadsheet here it forecasts a potential downturn of BURN CARTOON NETWORK, BURN.


Oh. Damn.

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“I don’t get why it matters if girls buy nothing. How does it cut into boys sales if girls who buy nothing are watching?”

You’re not thinking like an executive. If Girls aren’t monetizing while watching my Boy shows, that’s just stealing time that the Girls could be monetizing watching Princess shows.

But, you say, you could learn to monetize Girls who watch Boy shows!

(At the point, the exec has already wandered off to yacht polo, or somesuch, but if they exec was still around,) "Disaster! I’d need to find a toy company that sells Boy toys, Girl Toys, and Girls-Who-Watch-Boys-Shows toys. My head hurts already.

And then my proper Girls shows are going to take a ratings hit because I fragmented my audience in these strange, unnatural ways. Get security up here! And bring me another caviar pop-tart!


On the season 1 blu-ray for the Legend of Korra, on one of the commentary tracks creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko address this. They said they were strongly discouraged of having a female lead character and were even given charts with various demographics from execs trying to prove that only animated shows with male leads are successful. They basically say that if it wasn’t for the success of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the clout that it gave them, they would have never been able to push head with the Legend of Korra.

Also going back several years, they say this aversion of girl audiences is one of the main reasons that Joss Whedon’s animated version of Buffy The Vampire never got off the ground.


This is interesting. We’ve got an example of corporate executives consciously, deliberately pushing gender stereotypes for marketing purposes, and that part of this has to do with market differentiation and segmentation.

I’m also suspecting that parents are more willing to buy luxuries on impulse for boys than for girls. I wonder if anyone’s got statistics to support or refute that.


Wait… so, the reason they killed Spectacular Spiderman and Young Justice, two of the best written and plotted superhero cartoons in decades, is because… too many girls were watching them?

How on Earth does these people get hired and keep their jobs?


Isn’t it possible boys for what ever reason in larger numbers actually buy more expensive toys? If so, I do not see the problem. Every product has a market. Despite what the PC crowd wants to sell us, there are real differences between the sexes.


I wonder how much the US tariff schedule plays into this. Toys are one of the few things that can be imported into the US without any import duties whatsoever, whereas just about everything else is going to incur a tariff. I don’t know if that makes a difference on margins for licensed products, but perhaps it is part of the reason those execs don’t simply branch out into different merchandising options. Then again, it could make no difference at all, and they could just be spectacularly lazy.