Tuesday, March 13, 2007

abby cadabby - article

i love news like this - reminders that there are certain staples of youth that are every bit as prevalent today as when we were kids!

sesame street is adding a new female character, the new york times reports. the interesting thing about this article is that the show was not only aiming to re-vamp the cast of characters (and monsters!), but also had to think about the implications of creating a new female role model for young viewers.

“If Cookie Monster was a female character,” said Carol-Lynn Parente, executive producer of the show, “she’d be accused of being anorexic or bulimic. There are a lot of things that come attached to female characters.” For example, said Deborah Aubert, associate director of national programs and training services at Girls, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy group. “It would be hard to have a female character with Elmo’s whimsy who didn’t also seem ditzy.”

what a great point. it truly is a delicate balance to create characters that are simultaneously fierce and feminine, and unafraid to be who they are, whether that means overly girlie or not girlie at all.

still though, i don't think it's a wrong move to design the type of character that they did - a frilly, flighty fairy, with pom-pom hair, batty eyelashes, and a cute button nose...admittedly a girlie girl. i think we're past the age of bra-burning and forced tomboyishness for the sake of rebellion, to where embracing being flirty and fun (all right, the muppet is 3 years old and not 'flirty,' i know, i'm just sayin'...) is good as long as it's truly you.

the other thing i find interesting when reading behind-the-scenes stuff about television and movies is that there are SO many things about the process that never even cross your mind as a viewer. after all, who knew things like this had to be considered:
Careful attention was paid too to how much eyelid would be visible; the more eyelid, the more vulnerable-looking the character. “Her eyes look up,” Mr. Geiss said. “They can look beseeching, and they can be sad as well as happy.”

the article goes on to mention that the new muppeteer who will be bringing abby to life plays the character as "enthusiastic, eager, occasionally bashful but never coy." wow! i wish i could accomplish that personality mix. ^_~

one last blogworthy note, raised by my friend hilarie in a letter to the editor:
To the Editor:

Re “A Girly-Girl Joins the ‘Sesame’ Boys” by Susan Dominus [Aug. 6]:

How disheartening that as the Sesame Workshop makes a much-needed improvement in its show’s gender representation — by introducing a new female Muppet, Abby Cadabby — one of its executives would disparage Lulu, an earlier attempt at a female character, by saying, “She wasn’t that attractive.” As unintentional as this counterpoint may have been, it indicates that the continued use of physical attractiveness as a measure of girls’ personal worth is still too prevalent in American society.

Hilarie A.

(full page found here). i gotta agree, folks. if the point is to teach girls to embrace who they are, and be who they want to be, is it really fair that the selling point of that role model is that she's "very, very pretty"?

mahna mahna.

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