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

Comics creator Paul Dini did a guest appearance on Kevin Smith's podcast "Fatman on Batman" podcast, and talked, in part, about the gender considerations of execs in new animation/superhero kids' show design, Vi transcribed the relevant piece, in which Dini recounts conversations he's had with execs who insist that they don't want any girl fans of their shows, because girls don't buy toys. And to keep girls from watching the shows, they make sure that girls are always presented as sidekicks, "one step behind the boys." It's absolutely infuriating.

DINI: "They're all for boys 'we do not want the girls', I mean, I've heard executives say this, you know, not Ryan(?) but at other places, saying like, 'We do not want girls watching this show."

SMITH: "WHY? That's 51% of the population."

DINI: "They. Do. Not. Buy. Toys. The girls buy different toys. The girls may watch the show -- "

SMITH: "So you can sell them T-shirts if they don't-- I disagree, A, I think girls buy toys as well, I mean not as many as f***ing boys do, but, B, sell them something else, man! 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. But if it's not a toy, there's something else you could sell 'em! Like, just because you can't figure out your job, don't kill chances of, like, something that's gonna reach an audi -- that's just so self-defeating, when people go, like… these are the same fuckers who go, like, 'Oh, girls don't read comics, girls aren't into comics.' It's all self-fulfilling prophecies. They just make it that way, by going like, 'I can't sell 'em a toy, what's the point?'

DINI: "That's the thing, you know I hate being Mr. Sour Grapes here, but I'll just lay it on the line: that's the thing that got us cancelled on Tower Prep, honest-to-God was, like, 'we need boys, but we need girls right there, right one step behind the boys' -- this is the network talking -- 'one step behind the boys, not as smart as the boys, not as interesting as the boys, but right there.' And then we began writing stories that got into the two girls' back stories, and they were really interesting. And suddenly we had families and girls watching, and girls really became a big part of our audience, in sort of like they picked up that Harry Potter type of serialized way, which is what The Batman and [indistinct]'s really gonna kill. But, the Cartoon Network was saying, 'F***, no, we want the boys' action, it's boys' action, this goofy boy humor we've gotta get that in there. And we can't -- ' and I'd say, but look at the numbers, we've got parents watching, with the families, and then when you break it down -- 'Yeah, but the -- so many -- we've got too many girls. We need more boys.'"

SMITH: "That's heart-breaking."

DINI: "And then that's why they cancelled us, and they put on a show called Level Up, which is, you know, goofy nerds fighting CG monsters. It's like, 'We don't want the girls because the girls won't buy toys.' We had a whole… we had a whole, a merchandise line for Tower Prep that they s***canned before it ever got off the launching pad, because it's like, 'Boys, boys, boys. Boys buy the little spinny tops, they but the action figures, girls buy princesses, we're not selling princesses.'"

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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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'.

  5. 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?

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