In this paper we chose to focus on the analysis of gender representation in preschool cartoons available in Italy on the Netflix database. In the current hybrid media system (Chadwik 2013), media representations define an increasingly central field of study and research from the point of view of consumption (Cherney, Dempsey 2010). This becomes even more important when we turn to the analysis of the offer targeted at minors (Leaper at al. 2002; Coyne at al. 2014), which, in addition to an entertainment function, can fulfil an educational one (Forge, Phemister 1987) and could advance a mediated construction of reality (Gerding, Signorielli 2013; Hunting et al. 2018). Preschool animation series, proposing a reality that is often oversimplified because it is intended to be immediately accessible, often use cross-stereotyped representations (Walsh, Leaper 2020). What seems to be achieved would not simply be a more or less recurring frame, but a specific gaze, a toon gaze, explicitly referring to a type of male gaze (Mulvey 1975; Devereaux 1990; Mulvey 2005; Sassatelli 2011; Oliver 2017) under which representations are still processed, even in children’s products. Based on these considerations, the male gaze was considered as an interpretative category with the aim of understanding whether any recurrent modes of representation could be considered the result of a preserved male centrality and dominance (Bourdieu 1998). In this perspective, our contribution, an evolution of a preliminary investigation (Ciofalo, et al. 2021), examines the results of a quantitative-qualitative research based on the analysis of the characters of the first season of six animated series fully available on the Netflix Italy database: Pocoyo (2005 – present), PJ Masks (2018 – present), Octonauts (2010–2012), 44 Gatti (2018–2021), RoboCar Poli (2011 – present), Ricky Zoom (2019 – present). The chosen series are characterized by a form of choral protagonism and selected on the basis of both popularity and representation, focusing on humans, animals and machines. The characters and the narrative units underwent a content analysis as an inquiry through a survey. The analysis was conducted on 156 episodes in which the aesthetic and ethical-behavioral traits of the four main characters were analyzed for each individual episode. The data were analyzed by comparing the traditional characteristics of the stereotyped genres with those of the characters in the animated series, focusing the attention on those figures whose features might ease forms of identification and emulation by young viewers. The emerged data highlight three main trends: on the aesthetic level, stereotyped representations seem to persist resulting; on the ethical-behavioral level, female characters, especially protagonists and antagonists, frequently assume characteristics that may refer to those traditionally associated with masculinity, meanwhile male characters, especially protagonists and antagonists, rarely approach the categorical sphere of the feminine; lastly, a codified binarism in gender representation is still maintained, which leaves no gap for other forms of identity representation.

The “Toon gaze”. Representation of gender stereotypes in children’s animation tv series

Ciofalo Giovanni;Leonzi Silvia;Quercia Grazia;Tedeschi Laura
2022

Abstract

In this paper we chose to focus on the analysis of gender representation in preschool cartoons available in Italy on the Netflix database. In the current hybrid media system (Chadwik 2013), media representations define an increasingly central field of study and research from the point of view of consumption (Cherney, Dempsey 2010). This becomes even more important when we turn to the analysis of the offer targeted at minors (Leaper at al. 2002; Coyne at al. 2014), which, in addition to an entertainment function, can fulfil an educational one (Forge, Phemister 1987) and could advance a mediated construction of reality (Gerding, Signorielli 2013; Hunting et al. 2018). Preschool animation series, proposing a reality that is often oversimplified because it is intended to be immediately accessible, often use cross-stereotyped representations (Walsh, Leaper 2020). What seems to be achieved would not simply be a more or less recurring frame, but a specific gaze, a toon gaze, explicitly referring to a type of male gaze (Mulvey 1975; Devereaux 1990; Mulvey 2005; Sassatelli 2011; Oliver 2017) under which representations are still processed, even in children’s products. Based on these considerations, the male gaze was considered as an interpretative category with the aim of understanding whether any recurrent modes of representation could be considered the result of a preserved male centrality and dominance (Bourdieu 1998). In this perspective, our contribution, an evolution of a preliminary investigation (Ciofalo, et al. 2021), examines the results of a quantitative-qualitative research based on the analysis of the characters of the first season of six animated series fully available on the Netflix Italy database: Pocoyo (2005 – present), PJ Masks (2018 – present), Octonauts (2010–2012), 44 Gatti (2018–2021), RoboCar Poli (2011 – present), Ricky Zoom (2019 – present). The chosen series are characterized by a form of choral protagonism and selected on the basis of both popularity and representation, focusing on humans, animals and machines. The characters and the narrative units underwent a content analysis as an inquiry through a survey. The analysis was conducted on 156 episodes in which the aesthetic and ethical-behavioral traits of the four main characters were analyzed for each individual episode. The data were analyzed by comparing the traditional characteristics of the stereotyped genres with those of the characters in the animated series, focusing the attention on those figures whose features might ease forms of identification and emulation by young viewers. The emerged data highlight three main trends: on the aesthetic level, stereotyped representations seem to persist resulting; on the ethical-behavioral level, female characters, especially protagonists and antagonists, frequently assume characteristics that may refer to those traditionally associated with masculinity, meanwhile male characters, especially protagonists and antagonists, rarely approach the categorical sphere of the feminine; lastly, a codified binarism in gender representation is still maintained, which leaves no gap for other forms of identity representation.
978-80-908364-2-6
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1657690
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