"The belief that boys shouldn’t be interested in girl things is the main reason there’s hardly anything decent for girls in animation — or almost any media for that matter. It’s a backwards, sexist, outdated attitude."
Mainly, the Double Standard
most people have regarding media: that women's entertainment should only be enjoyed by women with no crossover allowed
— despite it being okay for women to watch shows primarily marketed towards men
— keeping in mind most media is male-focused.
Not to mention the stigma that media specifically tailored for women is 100% guaranteed to be of inferior quality, no exceptions.
This line of thinking is very clear in most creators and executives' minds. Men and women could watch shows meant for men/starring a man, only women could like a female-centered, never mind "girly", show. Watching a girl show would be unmanly and be subject to ridicule. Just watch any show and the guy who's the more sensitive and caring
member of the cast is usually the Butt Monkey
Unfortunately, women-targeted entertainment has a reputation of being worse than other shows
. Common criticisms are that women's media is overly touchy-feely, simplistic, poorly-written, and shallow. This is mostly due to the aesthetics of the media (and not to mention a lot of it is fashion-based). The men can be the badass
heroes and problem solvers who go on quests
, but women don't do much except entangling themselves in their relationships and wallowing in a soup of hormonal emotions.
shows sport a variation, where the show itself doesn't have this problem as much but it's the merchandising that takes a hit. Showing off a Red Ranger
figure in the playground is cool
, showing off a Pink Ranger
figure is an invitation to get beaten up
. Or at least that's what toy companies think; even when the girls aren't dressed up in bright pink they'll just assume no boy will be interested in buying their stuff (and they don't even try getting girls to buy said stuff on the assumption that girls don't and won't
buy things like Power Ranger figures).
This attitude isn't as prevalent as it once was, but it's still rather pervasive. It's still taught at some film schools and since Most Writers Are Male
, they're going to go for what they think
is the greatest audience. The stigma is still entrenched not only in entertainment, but in Real Life
This may also be in play when women writers are encouraged to adopt a Moustache de Plume
, which may be seen as increasing their marketability in a male-oriented genre.
Compare Real Women Don't Wear Dresses
, What Do You Mean, It's Not For Little Girls?
, The Bechdel Test
, Double Standard
, The Smurfette Principle
, White Male Lead
, Race Lift
, Animation Age Ghetto
, Minority Show Ghetto
, Lifetime Movie of the Week
, Daytime Drama Queen
See also Real Men Wear Pink
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Anime and Manga
- Card Captor Sakura was a quintessential girls show, but when it was released for Kids' WB! the dub saw heavy edits to turn one of the male characters into a Protagonist along with Sakura, which included having half the episodes (mainly the ones without him) cut. Broadcasts outside the US aired the remaining episodes (save for two in Canada and the U.K.), thus clearly establishing Sakura as the protagonist.
- According to DiC's pitch reel for Sailor Moon, attempts to sell the show in America included informing networks that the dub was distributed by the studio that made Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, a show that earned fans of both genders despite its female leads, and also assuring the networks that, "boys will love the non-stop action!" Whether or not Sailor Moon has stayed in the ghetto after being Vindicated by History is unanswered. The series has its problems (and the North American dub didn't help), but its longevity and influence have taken it out of Acceptable Target territory.
- Males who enjoy Shoujo works are often looked at askance. Sometimes inverted with women that like Shonen being treated like they're all Yaoi Fangirls.
- Shoujo anime in general is subject to this.
- The Pretty Cure franchise is a notable exception of this, due to not only little girls liking the toys made from it, but the fact that is actually has non-stop action (like what Sailor Moon was initially pitched as above) to attract a real male audience. It's worked, as it's continuously amongst the top 10 highest rated TV shows in Japan.
- This was also an issue in Fox TV's ill-fated showing of Vision of Escaflowne. The first episode focused on Hitomi and her crushing on a schoolmate with all of the action-y stuff (featuring the male main character) at the end. So Fox (wanting the show to appeal to a young male demographic,) just cut out the girly stuff and began the series with the action stuff, forcing them to chop up and rearrange huge sections of the show to fit their viewing format.
- Wonder Woman has had this problem. She's supposed to be one of DC's Big Three superheroes next to Batman and Superman, but she hasn't had a live-action film yet though one has been announced for the upcoming DC Cinematic Universe. She hasn't had an animated series yet. (Batman has had plenty in recent years, and Superman got his own show, too). And the last time she's been out of the comics solo (besides an animated film) is the 70s live action series. The closest she's gotten to another franchise was a failed pilot in 2011 that was rather poorly received outside the industry (though no reason has officially been given for why they dropped it). There are some complications with Wonder Woman's creator's estate and DC Comics that have caused legal headaches when using Wonder Woman or any of her "sister" creations (like Troia and Cassie Sandmark), but even within the comics, she's never been on the same level of sales as Batman and Superman and suffers from slightly less Pop-Cultural Osmosis compared to the others (most people would instantly recognize the name "Wonder Woman" easily enough, but whereas you could casually mention other people and places from either Superman or Batman and still get a reaction, such as Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Gotham City, or The Joker. Mentioning people from Wondy's comics such as Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, Themyscira, or Veronica Cale would likely only result in blank stares.) The sad irony here is that Wonder Woman was created for girls, but for the specific purpose of having a female action hero who was equal to her male counterparts. But, apparently, being a literal Amazon still doesn't make you as "manly" as the most Badass Normal male hero.
- The same is true of DC Comics in general. It's very largely a 'boys club'. Of the initial 'New 52', a quick count shows 27 titles focussing on a male hero, 6 focussing on a female hero (3 of whom have 'Bat' or 'Super' in front of their name) and a number of team books which are predominantly male (with Birds of Prey being an exception and the flagship Justice League title being 85% male).
- Over at Marvel Comics, there are no female characters that are as well-known as Wonder Woman. The closest would either be Storm or Ms./Captain Marvel, the latter of whom only started getting a big promotional push in the past few years.
- Black Widow made herself known to moviegoers by becoming the first female member of The Avengers, but has yet to star in her own picture. As of 2015, her only film appearances aside from The Avengers and its sequel, Age of Ultron, consist of playing supporting roles in Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, both of which have male leads. A Captain Marvel movie has been announced for Phase Three, though.
- A prime example of this would be the critically acclaimed and fairly successful pre-New 52 version of Batgirl, written by Bryan Q Miller, who at the time was new to the scene and as such didn't have a following that would help most books start off. The series is still recommended by comic book stores due to being fun and awesome, but its been reported that more than not, the book gets turned down because its 'a girl book'.
- Some Fan Fiction writers hypothesize that Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls is the reason why 'fanfiction' is considered to be so viscerally disgusting by so many people. It's worth observing that on this wiki, most of the fanfiction included in tropes lists is either adventure-based stuff often written by boys (Shinji and Warhammer 40k), or relationship-based stuff that's legendarily bad (My Immortal).
- This opinion has even been documented in academic analysis of Fan Fic by ethnographer Camille Bacon-Smith and MIT's Henry Jenkins. Jenkins goes as far to postulate in Textual Poachers that Fan Fic in general is a reaction on the part of a female audience trying to find their own pleasures in predominantly-male media.
Films — Animated
- The Princess and the Frog did okay at the box office for Disney, but not nearly as well as its reviews and hype suggested that it would. Disney determined that this trope was the reason and was rumored to completely shut down adapting fairy tales into movies. For the marketing of their "Rapunzel" adaptation the following year, they completely downplayed the fairy tale-ness of the movie, changed the title to the somewhat more comedic-sounding Tangled, put the male hero character front and center, and marketed it like a Dreamworks comedy film. The advertising brought a whole lot of backlash but paid off — Tangled went on to become Walt Disney Animation Studios' first movie since The Lion King to break the $200 million mark domestically.
- At least one Beauty and the Beast ad completely downplayed Belle's role and the romance (this one). However, that's only one of the six trailers included on the DVD and Blu-Ray, and the actual theatrical trailer made no bones about the movie being about a woman and a romance.
- In the early 2000s, Walt Disney Animation Studios started to make noticeably boy-oriented movies, featuring dinosaurs, emperors, pirates in space, and bears. Atlantis The Lost Empire had a princess in it, though it was more about adventure in undersea caverns than romance; Home on the Range had female animals as main protagonists but was the last 2-D animated film for five years and flopped badly. In fact, this whole run of films constitutes a major Dork Age for the company. Lilo & Stitch managed to avoid the ghetto for the most part, despite its female main characters, and was the most profitable Disney film of this period. However, this may be due to the marketing focusing exclusively on Stitch, a presumably-male alien.
- The Tinker Bell movies are often criticized as Disney's answer to Barbie, though advertising, the toys, and the movie covers can understandably lead people to this conclusion. In fact they were originally set to be a lot more girly than they are before John Lasseter stepped in.
- The original story treatment of Chicken Little had a female protagonist, but Michael Eisner suggested a movie about a male Chicken Little would appeal to more people. The final film became a black sheep of the Disney Animated Canon, though it seems hard to tell whether or not the original plan would have fared better.
- Some DVD sets of The Secret Of NIMH that include its direct-to-video sequel, Timmy to the Rescue, have a cover that does not feature Mrs. Brisby, the main character of the older and more beloved of the two movies. Instead, it has her son, Timothy, the central character of the sequel.
Films — Live-Action
- When The Princess Bride received a new 2-Disc DVD, fans could choose between two gender-specific covers: the pink "Buttercup Edition" with a cutesy synopsis on the back, or the aquamarine "Dread Pirate Edition" (seen above) with an action-packed synopsis. Later, the Blu-Ray came with a compromised cover: The bottom half featured Buttercup with Wesley, while the top had Buttercup with the Dread Pirate Roberts.
- Warner Bros. producer Jeff Robinov declared in 2007 that "we are no longer doing movies with women in the lead." This was after the poor box office reception of The Brave One (starring Jodie Foster) and The Invasion (starring Nicole Kidman). He even reportedly expressed that a male has to be the lead of every script in order to get broader audiences.
- In a more specific example, the combined under-performances off Catwoman and Elektra pretty much killed off female superhero movies, even as superhero movies became a huge, reliable box office draw a few years later. It took a massive push-back from fans (who frequently pointed out that those movies flopped not because the leads were female but because... well, they weren't all that good,) to get the studios to finally throw audiences a bone and announce Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel movies for their respective franchises. Interestingly, the revolt was from both women and men, who simply want good stories adapted to film, regardless of whether the lead is a white man.
- The first Twilight movie nearly experienced this. The idea that female moviegoers alone could turn a film into a blockbuster hit was considered so unthinkable that, when Paramount was adapting the movie, they tried to make it far more action-heavy (basically, a high school version of Underworld or Blade) in order to attract the male audience that they thought was necessary. This page goes into detail on the changes that would've been made. These plans were vetoed by Stephenie Meyer, leading to Summit's far more faithful adaptation.
- The ghetto, along with the huge popularity of actor Johnny Depp, is probably why the 2010 Alice in Wonderland 1) turned out to be an Actionized Sequel of sorts to the nonsense stories of its source material, and 2) focused its marketing campaign on Depp's Mad Hatter, although Alice is clearly the protagonist throughout the film.
- Oz: The Great and Powerful is a prequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that focuses on a male character in a universe primarily defined by female protagonists and power-wielders. And the guy, unlike the gals, can't even wield magic!
- Not exactly a Girl Show Ghetto, but falling into the Tangled and Frozen examples above, John Carter was originally titled A Princess of Mars, the title of the first John Carter story. But that was seen as too girly, and John Carter of Mars was too manly, so the result was a title that just tells the audience everything, doesn't it?
- Whiteout lost its second female lead because executives feared men would not go see a movie with two female leads. Carrie herself was turned into a much less dynamic character in order to give her male co-stars adequate supporting actions. This is ironic given the Les Yay subtext in the graphic novel and the Girl-on-Girl Is Hot trope, but perhaps they were worried about losing potential female audience members with too much Les Yay and no handsome male lead.
- This was proposed with the sequel to Aliens, with Hicks being the hero because it was assumed he'd attract both male and female viewers (also because executives weren't sure Sigourney Weaver would be available for another movie). Fortunately Ripley is so identified with the Alien series that any movie with them in is expected to have an Action Girl as a main character, even if it's not Ripley.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe is getting hit with this, merchandise-wise. The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy have two prominent female characters (Black Widow and Gamora respectively), they are barely featured in the movie's merchandise. It took four years since Iron Man 2 for Black Widow to get an solo action figure. She's missing in a lot of the group shots for The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron merch and barely present aside from a few toys. Gamora is absent in the GotG merch to the point where fans had to start a Twitter hashtag (#wheresgamora) to get Marvel to pay attention.
- Historical Fiction author Nancy Rue said at a workshop that the reason all of her protagonists are male is that girls will read "boy books" but boys won't read "girl books".
- This even extends to the authors themselves, as the many women who have used a Moustache de Plume can attest.
- J. K. Rowling was told to use initials by her publisher, who worried about this trope. In reality, Joane Rowling doesn't have a middle initial or name (the K is for "Kathleen", after her grandmother), and now her gender is common knowledge.
- The same goes for S.E. Hinton. In one interview, she said that she went by her initials because she thought no one would even want to publish The Outsiders if they knew it had been written by a woman.
- And Animorphs author K. A. Applegate.
- A lot of women watch Spike TV. In fact, one of the creators of Spike TV was FIRED because too many women were watching it. However, their view has softened as they're now actually courting women to watch Spike TV as the channel is shifting from the frat boy demographic.
- Lifetime and the Lifetime Movie Network are "television for women" that often convince many female and male viewers that female-directed media is lesser.
- A lot of Disney Channel's programming is aimed at girls. It got bad enough that Disney created a sister network (or should we say, brother network), Disney XD, because they couldn't get boys to watch the main Disney Channel's programming. Ironically, in 2009 it was discovered that more girls were watching Disney XD than boys.
- Strangely enough when Fox owned Fox Family, they tried the Disney XD strategy first with two different digital cable channels, the "Boyz Channel" and "Girlz Channel' in 2000. They were gone within a year due to pressure from outside groups that segregating networks based on sex was a bad idea, and cable providers didn't want to alienate anybody.
- Towards the fifth season of Charmed, the producers, in the hopes of drawing in more male viewers, started dressing the female leads in more revealing clothes and coming up with various episodes where the sisters would be transformed into magical creatures that would require a skimpy outfit. Alyssa Milano got the worst of it, becoming a mermaid, a genie, an Egyptian belly dancer, and dressing up as Lady Godiva. Rose McGowan was also turned into a wood nymph, and collectively the sisters became Greek goddesses and Valkyries. Hell, one episode had a witch stealing Phoebe's body and changing into a different skimpy outfit twice just because she wanted to show off. Before the eighth and final season, the actresses went to the producers and protested against the outfits. The sisters' clothing in that season is noticeably more modest, and it's new character Billie who becomes Ms. Fanservice.
- In an aversion, male and female fans openly dislike the show's sixth season because of how childish and girly it is.
- A combination inversion and example happened with Power Rangers. Originally, the creators tried to get girls to be interested in the show, by adapting some male characters from the Japanese original as females and selling fashion dolls of the female Rangers. Eventually though, it became clear that the show had far more appeal for boys, and the straight example came into play for the toys - since boys were thought to not be interested in playing with toys of the female heroes, said females only get a few basic figures in the toy line while the males get all kinds of special vehicles and power ups. This got to the point where, during the 2010 Re Cut of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, a vehicle clearly designed for the (female) Yellow Ranger was packed in with a figure of the (male) Green Ranger when the usual practice is to have a vehicle and its rider match.
- This has an interesting effect with shows in syndication. A lot of shows that were very gender-neutral during their original run can be put into reruns on networks that are considered exclusive to women (Network Decay aside, networks like Lifetime, Oxygen, and We have a long reputation of being solely for women.) A lot of shows that were gender neutral and incredibly popular with men and women, like Will and Grace, Frasier, and Roseanne, now have to overcome a stigma that they're shows for women.
- Stargate Atlantis is a weird example in that it was mostly marketed to young men, but it still attracted a significant Periphery Demographic of women. SyFy has a difficult time accepting that its scripted shows have a tendency to attract viewers in addition to/other than the ones they planned on, and Atlantis ended up getting cancelled to make way for Stargate Universe ... which then got a lot of flak for having significant elements of soap opera IN SPACE!
- In-universe example. In an episode of Friends Ross makes a comment about going to read a Superman comic and Monica immediately coughs "Wonder Woman" in an attempt to embarrass him.
- Happens in music quite often. Boy bands/Teen Idols (usually aimed at girls) usually end up gaining a huge Periphery Hatedom, with people sometimes literally sending death threats, but a Girl Group probably won't have as much of a problem, because of all of the fanservice.
- It helps that, in North America at least, girl groups tend to have a much shorter run, whereas pop idol soloists are often women. Hence: contractual purity and associated tropes. Male pop singers face backlash from A Man Is Not a Virgin and are expected to transition from "cute" to "adult" without losing their audience, much in the same way female pop idols are required to become Hotter and Sexier. It's then that double standards kick in, as the male musician who sheds his "cute" image will be praised, while women will be accused of relying on their body, abandoning their values, etc.
- Even outside the pop landscape, female-fronted music tends to garner less acclaim and recognition from critics than male-fronted music. This could probably be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that Most Critics Are Male.
- Taylor Swift, in particular, has been fighting a massive uphill battle to break out of this mold. In many respects, she's succeeded: her music is taken seriously by critics, she sells to a pretty wide audience, and her business savy has been praised by many. Nonetheless, she still has a pretty sizeable Hatedom, largely spurred on by the fact that she writes songs specifically aimed at young women.
- The Ladies Professional Wrestling Association's one PPV, LPWA Super Ladies Showdown on February 23, 1992, was held at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, MN. The sports facility, the Taylor Arena, has a capacity of 7200. The PPV only drew 400. This event, which featured Terri Power (Terri "Tori" Poch) winning the LPWA Title in the main event, was the LPWA's final show, as the company shut down soon after.
- My Little Pony was meant to be aimed at both boys and girls but quickly lost its neutrality. For well over 20 years it was strictly seen as only for girls between 5 and 12, and the decent sized mostly female collectors fanbase. G4 broke out of the ghetto but it's unknown how future gens will fair.
- Video games may perhaps be the hardest one to have been hit by the ghetto, mainly due to many of the founders of the video game being male. This extended itself to the sheer idea that while a girl could play a game, she could never program one. This assumption was considered true until 1989, when the very first video game companies with female programmers started appearing and begun programming video games.
- This trope is the reason Panel de Pon was brought over to the West as Dolled-Up Installment Tetris Attack - Nintendo assumed male gamers wouldn't want to play a cutesy game with a primarily female cast of mainly fairies. They seem to have changed their minds on this recently, however, as characters from PDP have appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl in sticker form even in the American and European releases. They have not, however, broken out of this trope enough to give the fairy characters any more widespread exposure.
- When Faria was localized for American gamers, the box art was reworked so that nobody would recognize the hero as female. Even the manual went out of its way to hide this fact, despite still telling in-depth the actual plot of the game. However, not only does this make a nice plot twist out of the reveal of the hero's gender, but a later twist proves she's really a man after all.
- Many gaming review sites/magazines refuse to cover games that are openly aimed at girls. If you're a parent looking to buy something cute for a young female gamer you can have a difficult time telling the difference between games that truly are terrible and games that are simply dismissed because they are girly.
- The (Western) game industry is notorious for refusing to break out of the idea that all gamers are 18-25 year old heterosexual white men, at least if you're planning on making a non-casual title. Activision infamously told a studio pitching a game set in Hong Kong with an Asian female lead to "lose the chick, they don't sell." A.J. Glasser once noted in an editorial for Kotaku that the only role presented for women in Modern Warfare 2 were NPCs who are all immediately gunned down. There were no speaking parts for women in the entire game, despite earlier Call of Duty games actually remembering once in a while that there are in fact women who serve in the military. She also pointed out a culture gap between Japanese games, which tend to frequently have female leads or supporting casts but also greatly objectify them as a trade-off, and Western games, which frequently just leave women out entirely.
- Averted in Call of Duty: Ghosts where you fight female soldiers during the campaign and can even choose between the genders on multiplayer. This was largely thanks to the fact that many top Call Of Duty pro-gamers are actually female.
- This story made the rounds in late 2011, in which a young boy was threatened with actual violence by his father for wanting to buy Mirror's Edge. Entirely because, well, it must be a girl's game, it has a woman on the cover!
- Similarly, 2K took a lot of flak for not featuring Elizabeth on the cover of Bioshock Infinite, when Ken Levine implied that this trope was the reason why. Similarly, Naughty Dog was pressured to move Ellie to the background or completely off the cover of The Last of Us due to this trope, but the dev team held firm.
- This trope and the confusion between light novels and visual novels (the latter has gameplay, the former doesn't) likely contribute to a significant amount of Periphery Hatedom for visual novel games and their players. Visual novels that have become successful, such as Ace Attorney and Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, will immediately attract a flock of players who insist that the games aren't actually visual novels, because visual novel games are a "girl" thing. Ironically, the two most successful visual novel franchises are centered on male playable characters.
- This is horribly ironic, given that visual novels more prominently fall under All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles. It's hard to see how Fate/stay night can be considered a girl thing.
- On the other hand - considerable amount of women (some surveys put it at around 40%) ARE interested in porn, but with almost all of it being shamelessly targeted towards men, they probably have a huge problem finding something to their tastes. Visual Novels, on the other hand, notoriously elevate Porn with Plot to actually decent stories, partially BECAUSE they apply romantic girly novel standards to them. What about numerous H-game Visual Novels getting "clean" rereleases/sequels because plot was good enough.
- This is a proposed reason for why Um Jammer Lammy sold poorly when its prequel Parappa The Rapper sold well, despite Um Jammer Lammy generally being considered the superior game. Um Jammer Lammy has a female main character, and the cover showed only female characters (despite Parappa also being a playable character after clearing the story as Lammy).
- The Casio Loopy can be seen as a testament to this trope, as it was completely marketed towards female gamers and never went on to target actual male audiences.
- It also shows the trope in full-effect as people believe that the console flopped because it was targeted towards girls instead of being marketed towards boys (you know, like any other console).
- Humongous Entertainment almost made a series of games starring a character named Miss Hap, but Executive Meddling from Infogrames caused the project to get shelved due to their lack of faith in a female protagonist. Especially ridiculous when you remember the fact that the very same company had another series with a female protagonist that was doing just fine.
- This trope is why the creators of Kameo: Elements Of Power went to great pains to hide the fact that you are essentially a fairy princess defending her kingdom from her sorceress sister, hiding her wings as much as humanly possible (and her actual body when you start delving into gameplay) and muting the colors of her clothes, among other things.
- Now, of course, everyone knows that Samus is a Girl, but back in the late '80s the manual for the original Metroid deliberately tricks the reader into thinking she is male, even going so far as to refer to her with "he" and "him"; the reveal of her actual sex was supposed to be a Twist Ending. Apparently, it was assumed no one would buy the game about the badass running around a distant planet in super-powered armor, gunning down aliens right and left, if they knew the protagonist was a woman. However, it's been averted since then, as even with the knowledge of her gender the games generally don't treat her any differently and she's still popular as a power-armored, alien-gunning badass and spawned Japanese sci-fi games with a playable female character (even if in the end the trend only lasted like a month or three).
- This trope is one of the reasons why Final Fantasy X-2 has such a vocal hatedom. The game not only focuses mainly on two of FFX's three female leads (plus a new girl named "Paine") but also has a decidedly lighter and more bubblegummy tone than the rather dark and somber X, which many perceive as a blatant attempt to draw more women to the Final Fantasy seriesnote
- Compared to the show, which was basically He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) with female main characters, the original She Ra Princess Of Power toyline was far more Barbie-esque. Catra was portrayed as the Big Bad in the toyline while in the show, she was a subordinate to Hordak, who had previously been sold as a Masters of the Universe toy, and was portrayed as the show's Big Bad. This was all supposedly because Mattel didn't think girls would play with a Hordak toy, nor would boys play with a toy of a female She-Ra character.
- Even though The Powerpuff Girls earned fans both male and female, creator Craig McCracken noticed that by the time the show reached its third season, it had spawned a disconcerting amount of girls-only merchandise. When Cartoon Network asked him to helm a Film Of The Series, he decided to bring Powerpuff Girls back to its action-packed, "whoopass" roots. The Darker and Edgier product received mixed reviews and made less money than any other movie of its year.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender got hit with the merchandising version; with no female action figures even though girls made up a good half of the cast. What made this even more jarring was that male characters who only appeared in a few episodes, like Jet, got action figures, but Katara, an Action Girl and a member of the MAIN CAST (appearing in all episodes except "Zuko Alone") never got one, neither did Toph, (also a main character from the second season onward) despite being more of a tomboy, nor the hero killing villainess Azula, even though her brother Zuko and his less Bad Ass rival Zhao did get figures.
- When the toy company asked the creators to write in more "cooler" costumes for the characters (read: easier to make gimmicks for), they responded by completely trolling the company with having Aang trying on a ridiculous set of armor for 5 seconds, and then having him wear campy Animesque outfits in a Dream Sequence. No toys were made.
- This came back to bite them hard when The Legend of Korra came out, as it completely lacks any sort of toyline.
- Robot Chicken demonstrates how Sex and the City can gain the male audience.
- In The Simpsons episode "Bart's Friend Falls In Love", Milhouse takes his girlfriend to the treehouse. When she asks if Bart has any girl comics for her to read, Bart says he doesn't but his sister has a wide collection of crappy comics.
- Disney Channel commissioned Phineas and Ferb, despite various worries about it, because they needed a show to attract young boys. Considering Disney's female-targeted fare currently doesn't seem to be doing nearly as well, it's just another example of this trope in action.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic strives to please both genders, but it's not the case for the toys. In particular, store owners requested the original Princess Celestia toy to be pure pink, since they think it would sell better to little girls than if she stayed white.
- The other series count too. While the shows typically are quite popular it's almost always toward girls within the 2-to-11 year old age range. The series typically has no merchandise aimed at boys.
- One of the common fan theories about the introduction of a new, pink alicorn princess (Cadence) in the show was that Hasbro could have a pink princess character to sell that kind of toy, and yet allow Celestia toys to be show-accurate white.
- In-universe, one episode of Family Guy features Lois dragging Peter to a Chick Flick, which he thinks might turn him gay. However, he quite enjoys it (and several others), and decides to make a chick flick of his own. It...doesn't turn out well.
- It took decades for Transformers to get an action figure for Arcee, one of the most prevalent characters in the long-running franchise.
- Likewise, she was hardly in the Michael Bay movies at all.
- Ironically, her limited screen time didn't stop a whole bunch of toys being released during the course of both sequels, despite her being in only the second. She even got one for the first movie, which she wasn't in! This seems to have put an end to the stigma of female character figures, at least for Transformers.
- DC Super Friends: made to advertise a new toyline, and featured the rather bizarre omission of Wonder Woman... and any trace of any female DC comics member. This was because that since it was made to advertise a toy line, it was assumed that no boy would play with (or purchase) a female action figure, and thus, found no need to include a female Superhero in the program.
- In the wake of the cancellations of Young Justice and other shows, Paul Dini was on Kevin Smith's podcast and revealed that Cartoon Network cancelled them since too many girls watched and girls don't buy action figures. During the interview Smith brings up the Fridge Logic of "why don't they figure out something else to sell girls?" Summary here and full podcast here.
- Somewhat inverted with Ben 10: Alien Force. The original show, despite having a female major character, it attracted a mostly male fanbase, so the sequel series gave also more spotlight for Gwen and added a love story between her and Kevin to try to appeal more to both genders, and although it got more girls to the show, it's still mostly preferred by boys, so the third sequel, Ben 10: Omniverse put Gwen and Kevin on a bus an focused in the wacky adevntures of Ben and his male alien partner, Ruk.
Breaking Out of the Ghetto:
- As discussed here, Fairy Tales as a whole tend to invert this trope hard. Fairy tales with a female protagonist, like "Cinderella" or "Snow White", tend be much more popular and iconic than stories with a male hero.
- Another good way to transcend the ghetto is to create a capable action heroine, but then have her go on all her adventures in the skimpiest clothing imaginable. Then both women and men will watch, but men (presumably) for all the "wrong" reasons.
- One explanation posited is that men feel less moral dissonance seeing a "strong" woman killed, raped, or otherwise endangered. This also ties to cultural norms regarding sexuality and horror movie tropes — the most promiscuous girl will die first and the virgin will live, etc. It can be difficult to impossible to separate the cause and effect of cultural norms, since the majority of media produced won't feature capable action heroines, and the works that do are created with the knowledge that these works are the minority and creators risk never finding an audience if they push too hard, so there's an incentive for defaulting to a male hero. If a work that does feature a female action protagonist flops, the fact that it was centered around a woman may not be the reason for its demise. Women may prefer works with compelling characters regardless of gender (since women are conditioned not to expect leading female characters) over a show in which The Chick is the protagonist. Suffice it to say, it's complicated.
Anime and Manga
- Hayao Miyazaki's frequent use of female protagonists hasn't stopped his movies from earning critical acclaim.
- The Chis Sweet Home and Chi's New Address manga and anime features a female kitten as its the main protagonist, but the series appeals to both male and female viewers as opposed to coming off across as a "girls' show". In fact, it was originally a Seinen manga/anime targeted at men ages 18-40. Also, neither the main character nor the other female characters, (Alice, Mike, Tama, Hana, Yohei's mom) is preoccupied with fashion or boys.
- While Shoujo anime usually falls into the ghetto, Shoujo manga often averts this trope - Sailor Moon was the best selling graphic novel in Spring 2012.
- Sailor Moon, even though the show is sometimes thought of as the female answer to Dragon Ball Z, does maintain a fairly large male fan following, including male fans who don't watch it for the short skirts.
- As a Swedish fan-site puts it: "Saying people only watch Sailor Moon for the short skirts is like saying people watch Pippi Longstockings for the violence."
- There are several non-Shojo anime with female protagonists that are very popular in the US with both genders, including Ghost in the Shell, Slayers, and Black Lagoon. Shows such as Noir and Madlax count as well.
- In Slayers' case, other than making jokes about her rather small breasts, Lina Inverse's gender is hardly acknowledged at all.
- The Pretty Cure franchise is set on averting this despite occasionally throwing in girly stuff like characters who like fashion, being balanced out by the action and the solid Character Development. The fact that older guys like it and appreciate the shows' merits certainly helps.
- While shojo anime are stuck in the ghetto josei, adult women, geared anime tend to gain quite a bit of popularity. Series like Bunny Drop, Chihayafuru, Princess Jellyfish, Eden of the East, Karneval, Honey and Clover, Michiko to Hatchin, Sakamichi No Apollon, and Pet Shop of Horrors have all had varying degrees of acclaim. Josei anime are still rather rare though.
Films — Animated
- Chicken Run appealed to male and female viewers equally despite its female protagonist, the hen, Ginger. That said, Rocky took up a lot of the advertising — guess who's most prominent on the DVD cover◊ — in part because he was voiced by Mel Gibson, the one "name" actor in the film for North American audiences.
- Coraline received an exorbitant amount of critical praise. It also managed to make more money than some people probably expected-not only did it star a girl, but it also seemed rather surreal, and came out during the Dump Months. The advertisers didn't even need to make any of the male characters overshadow Coraline to attract people.
- Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure has become a cult hit for Generation X-ers and Generation Y-ers of both sexes, despite roughly half the protagonist characters being female (with the male lead mostly reduced to a condescending "sidekick" role) and almost all of the antagonist characters being male. And of course, the basic story is more than a little indebted to Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz - two other tales that have always been popular with both female and male audiences despite having a female lead.
- Brave was actually expected to bomb due entirely to its female lead supposedly driving away boys and men and analysts notably lowered their expectations for its box office despite being a Pixar film. They were forced to eat crow when Brave was number one at the box office and performed within the normal box office for any Pixar film. The film would go on to rake in several awards during the 2012-2013 award season, most notably the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
- It seems that the Disney marketing team was similarly nervous about Frozen, judging by the fact that the advertisements seemed to focus almost entirely on the two male Plucky Comic Relief side-kicks, and not the sisters the film was actually about. However, the film was hugely successful at the box office, and well received by critics. And like Brave, it earned a lot of awards including Best Animated Feature from the Oscars.
Films — Live-Action
- Bridesmaids' aversion of this trope was a major factor in its success. A lot of the reviews praised it for being a female-centric comedy that wasn't a Strictly Formula rom-com, and apparently, a lot of female moviegoers agreed.
- Female writers at Slate.com and other sites practically begged readers to buy tickets to convince studio execs to greenlight more female-driven scripts.
- The Hunger Games received good reviews and hefty box office returns. In what the business calls a "four-quadrant" success (meaning it's popular with teen girls, teen boys, adult men and adult women), some 40% of opening-weekend viewers were guys. Its sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, Part 1, became the #1 highest-grossing movies of their respective years, in terms of the North American box office.note
- Similarly, while Snow White & the Huntsman didn't get the good reviews, it did rake in the box office for a female-led action film and it demonstrated a larger crossover potential in its audience. Notably, however, much of the advertising campaign downplayed Snow White in favor of the Huntsman to try and attract an audience outside the Twilight crowd. Even so, the one-two punch of these two films have been reported to have Hollywood genuinely considering female-starring action films again.
- Mean Girls got good reviews and a sizable male fandom. The Fanservice didn't hurt, including the acreage of leg shown in marketing. Nor did teenage Lindsay Lohan as the protagonist hurt.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe narrowly averts the ghetto. The ensemble films still play to the Smurfette Principle, but the women are strong enough characters to stand out on their own. The Thor franchise in particular actually really depends on female audiences. And Marvel has announced a Captain Marvel film with Carol Danvers as the lead character. On the television side, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has three breakout female characters as part of the cast and Agent Carter was the Smurfette Breakout of Captain America: The First Avenger and headlines her own series.
- Little House on the Prairie. It doesn't hurt that Laura is the most tomboyish of the three Ingalls daughters.
- The Wizard of Oz not only has a female lead, but also has many female strong characters and remains as one of the most popular and beloved fantasy books ever written, having a very succesful film adaptation which is still well liked by modern viewers, disregard of their gender.
- The Hunger Games is a young adult series with a female lead that sold well and got very positive reviews. However, it has also received significant backlash from the Twilight Hatedom that sees it as a Follow the Leader... Somehow...
- It's less Insane Troll Logic and more a literal case of judging a book by it's cover. Stephenie Meyer made a positive remark about how she enjoyed The Hunger Games, and the publishers put that remark on the book's first-edition cover to help boost sales. It worked, but both the Fan Dumb and the Hate Dumb latched onto that one remark and assumed that The Hunger Games was written in the same vein as Twilight. Meanwhile, those who read The Hunger Games and its sequels on its own merits roll their eyes and wonder when all of the fuss will die down.
- The Poppy Cat children's books and TV series does not come across as girly or hyperfeminine even though it features a female main protagonist.
- Honor Harrington is a sci-fi military series centering on a female starship commander. Of course, Honor is very tomboyish, particularly in the early books, and learning to embrace her femininity is a major part of her character arc in the first three books. The major story arc of the books would arguably play out the same except for a few key points (particularly the plotlines involving the male-dominated Protectorate of Grayson) if Honor were a male character.
- The works of Tamora Pierce (The Tortall Universe and Circle of Magic) are both popular young adult fantasy novels with predominantly female main characters (only one of the ten main characters is a boy), and a heavy emphasis on gender issues.
- While her female characters have never been much of an issue, J.K. Rowling was infamously told by her publisher that she had to use her initials because no one would buy books by a female author. Oh, how wrong they were.
- Rhiannon Frater has made it her life's mission to try and open doors in the Zombie Apocalypse genre for women.
- Shana Festa, author of the Time Of Death and At Hell's Gates series, runs the The Bookie Monster website. The Bookie Monster has reviewed hundreds of independent horror novels, many by women, which lack typical romantic content. Due to the website's expansive following, she's been credited with helping break women horror authors out of the "paranormal romance ghetto" so to speak.
- Clarissa Explains It All was groundbreaking not only in its content, but because it finally disproved the common (at the time) thinking for children's television — that boys would NOT watch a show starring a girl. Nickelodeon proved everyone wrong by making Clarissa — a smart, funny, free-thinking girl, who wasn't very tomboyish — the lead character and one of the most recognizable characters in that time period. Much of Nickelodeon's future programming, from The Secret World of Alex Mack to iCarly, has had similar "girly girls" in the lead roles, and also pushed tons of girls' merchandise in the pink aisles of toy stores — all without sacrificing boy viewers.
- Melissa Joan Hart's follow-up series, Sabrina the Teenage Witch was even more successful in that regard, having smart and funny female leads, running for 7 years and having almost equal popularity in both male and female demographics.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a successful, well-regarded TV show that had a female lead and, for a time, a majority female cast. Its fanbase includes a good mix of males and females.
- After iCarly generally avoided the ghetto, Nickelodeon figured out a way to completely smash it. Have a equal male/female cast and make the female cast the hottest teenage girls they could find wearing as little clothing as it can get away with.
- Austin & Ally averted the ghetto by using an equal cast of two guys and two girls, giving both the male and female lead important roles and singing time, making Ally an Adorkable nerdy girly girl and Austin a cute Power blonde to attract both male and female viewers with eye candy. You can take the viewpoint that the show is slightly shifted towards girls because Ally is just slightly more of the lead character due to Ally's music store being where the majority of the plot takes place and that it was Ally the audience was introduced to first. Not to mention, the show is more a vehicle for Ross Lynch than Laura Marano, thus why the Double Billing is not used in the opening credits.
- PBS Kids Sprout hasn't suffered for having female hosts for its "Super Sproutlet Show" and "Good Night Show" programming blocks, and the channel's mascot is Chica the (puppet) chicken, who interacts with both male and female emcees in the channel's signature "Sunny Side Up Show" live block. Her own series, The Chica Show, launched in 2012; her dress-up adventures therein have her in roles varying from princess to ringmaster to pirate to Wild West sheriff. (The secondary lead, Kelly, is also female.)
- That's So Raven always managed to attract a decent male audience, although a lot of its supporting cast was male.
- Orange Is The New Black is a shining aversion. It's set in a women's prison, and has an almost entirely female cast, but it's currently the most popular original show in Netflix's history; alongside House of Cards (US), it essentially built the streaming service's reputation for exemplary original programming.
- Punky Brewster was another show whose female lead attracted a healthy audience of children from both genders.
- TNA Impact Wrestling's women's division typically draws stronger ratings than most other quarter hours on the show, despite most of the women being amongst the lowest paid talent, though TNA has recently allowed the contracts of many members of its female roster to expire.
- Wendi Richter's partnership with Cyndi Lauper helped kickstart the "Rock N Wrestling Connection" and brought wrestling to mainstream success. This helped draw in both male and female viewers, judging from the crowd reaction to the match at the first WrestleMania.
- In 2003 while critics were slating the WWE product as a whole, the women's division was arguably at its peak and nearly all the women's matches on PPV that year were praised as being the high points of disappointing shows. Both male and female fans have spoken up about how much they enjoyed the feud between Trish Stratus and Victoria which involved various hardcore matches. Also, Lita and Trish Stratus's match in the main event of Raw earned a 3.4 in the ratings department, falling in line with the show's average. Trish Stratus's retirement match at Unforgiven 2006 was also highly received by fans and critics being called match of the night.
- WWE has attempted to break the 'Diva' mold with some talent signings in the past year or so, signing the former TNA Knockouts Champion Awesome Kong, aka Kharma and the highly regarded Sara Del Rey. However, Kharma debuted, destroyed half the existing female roster outside of wrestling any actual matches, got pregnant, reappeared as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble but then left the company after it transpired that she had miscarried her child. Additionally, Del Rey has yet to debut with the company, being signed as a trainer.
- The reality show Total Divas. Despite centering around the female WWE employees, the show has been a hit with high ratings for its debut episode and re-runs. It appears to have plenty of male viewers too, maybe due to also featuring top WWE stars John Cena and Daniel Bryan.
- In fact, the success of Total Divas has had an incredible effect on the main show. In an act of corporate synergy (and something of an Author's Saving Throw to avoid alienating people who come to Raw through Total Divas,) they decided to fold the story-lines of the show over onto Raw, thereby giving a large numbers of their Divas a level of depth and dimension they didn't have before. Normally, there's usually only one Divas match and storyline per show, if that (usually some type of multi-Diva tag match with little buildup to simply use as many of them as possible.) However, the Divas are now threaded through the show all up and down the card. Alongside the standard Divas Championship between AJ and Paige, there's also the storyline of the Funkadactyls imploding (seemingly pulling Natalya and Alicia Fox into its orbit,) Summer Rae and Layla being hilarious villains to Fandango (especially after the Unfortunate Implications of both of them fighting over him as Women Scorned was ditched and they instead team up to be a permanent Spanner in the Works, ) and the feud between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella even closed out an episode of RAW. The women's wrestling blog Diva Dirt believes women in WWE have finally hit the promised land.
- The NXT Women's division has really broken out of it. Due to proper investment by the writers and getting actual time for matches, most of the NXT Divas have been very well received. The likes of Paige, Emma and Bayley have become very popular with fans - male and female. The women's division is consistently praised as one of the highlights of NXT.
- After the Trope Naming reveal at the end of the first game, the Metroid series left the ghetto behind and its protagonist Samus Aran has become famous for being a badass bounty hunter for whom her gender is largely a nonissue.
- The Nancy Drew PC Games run into the same problems of most "girl games," namely a lack of recognition from gaming journalism. However, that hasn't stopped them from being incredibly successful with male and female audiences (being one of the only surviving point-and-click adventures games still around probably helps), winning lots of praise for being just plain good and for getting girls interested in gaming and technology.
- The Tomb Raider franchise has always been popular with men, although it has also been criticized for protagonist Lara Croft's unrealistic body dimensions.
- The last point was averted with the Tomb Raider Game from 2013, which features a younger (und thus less busty) version of the main character.
- Averted by Ms. Pac-Man, which is the most successful arcade game ever made, and is universally recognized as an Even Better Sequel to the original Pac-Man (which is a classic in its own right). The fact that it has a female protagonist doesn't seem to bother male gamers; like the original, it's made to appeal to gamers of all ages and genders.
- You'd be forgiven to think that Touhou is a girly variant of old-school 2d shooters which usually feature tanks, airplanes or space ships because instead of these it features little girls and lasers. However the games are improbably popular with both females and males because almost much all characters are some form of Badass.
- The phenomenon of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic breaking out of the ghetto is referenced in the "Pony Time" episode of commodoreHUSTLE. Matt is already a fan, and is trying to convince the rest of the crew (four late-20s men and one late-20s Tom Boy) to give it a shot.
Matt: Lauren Faust is a straight-up genius of our modern age.
Graham: OK, I grant you the show looks very cute, but... it is a kids' show. You know that, right?
Yeah, a girly
kids' show, for girls and kids and kid girls
- Then, when they find out many of their fans are Bronies, they decide to do some research into the show to see what makes it popular. When Kathleen joins, she is not initially impressed, and comes up with "My Little Bear: Mauling is Magic"
Kathleen: It's way better than My Little Pony. That's for girls.
Paul: You're a girl.
- After watching the whole thing, it turns out that they all like it. However, they refuse to let Matt have the satisfaction of being right, even when he comes in and almost catches them watching it.
James: We will keep this our dark little secret.
Matt: What dark little secret?
Everyone else: *stammering* Nothing, nothing, nothing at all.
Matt: *incredulous* Whatcha guys watching?
Everyone else: *stammers frantically, trying to hide the screen* Oh, uh...
Everyone else: Yeah, porn!
Kathleen: Dirty, dirty, filthy porn.
Matt: Again? Jesus Christ, guys! *leaves*
Everyone else: *breathes sigh of relief*
- Almost all Barbie media is stuck firmly in the ghetto however Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse is an exception. Despite it's very pink, very feminine look with the only human males being Camp Straight and a majority female cast it gained quite a bit of popularity due to being a witty Affectionate Self Parody.
- RWBY focuses on female characters than male ones but one of the most success animated web series and it's created by a late male animator.
- The Powerpuff Girls was another cartoon that was able to avoid the Girl Show Ghetto and attract an audience of both genders. The show stars three girls with a bright pastel color palette, but the main reason why it averts the ghetto is, well, they whoop ass.
- Lisa Simpson. She managed to be both quirky and vaguely nerdy (jazz music, Beat poetry, etc.) and unabashedly "girly" (her love of ponies and "Malibu Stacy" dolls). A very good example of an animated female character whom boys could not only like, but identify with.
- She Ra Princess Of Power was an interesting case. She-Ra was meant to basically be the Distaff Counterpart of He-Man, but despite having a female lead and a brighter color palette the tone wasn't all that different from its predecessor, especially since the series has Hordak (technically a MOTU character) as the lead villain, whereas the toyline has Catra as the Big Bad. So it basically attracted most of the same audience that He-Man did, despite trying to be a girl's show. A girl who wasn't into He-Man probably wouldn't be into She-Ra either, but a boy who liked He-Man would usually like She-Ra too (unless scared off by the fact that it was supposed to be for girls).
- Jem was also popular with male viewers but aimed at females. This is probably due to a mix of action-packed plotlines, mild fanservice...and initially debuting on the same show as Inhumanoids, ROBOTIX, and Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines.
- Even though one of the two main protagonists is female, Cow and Chicken avoids the Girl Show Ghetto nicely and attract an audience of both genders. Though Cow's gender is a bit of a different example, since she's voiced by a male.
- The two breakout characters of Bob's Burgers, Louise and Tina, are both female, yet if anything the show is much more popular with men than women.
- Daria has a tendency to focus on its female characters more often than the male ones, but quite a few boys and men like it, too.
- Kim Possible stars a well-renowned Action Girl with an incompetent male sidekick, yet managed to gain a rather large fanbase. This included male viewers.
- Although Avatar: The Last Airbender had a problem with the merchandising (noted above), the show itself was an aversion, as the cast's gender ratio became weighted in favor of females during the second season without losing its male audience - in fact, most of the girls became fan favorites. This encouraged the creators to go ahead and put a girl as the main character of the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, which absolutely nobody in the fanbase has a problem with. The creators admit that when first selling Korra Nick execs didn't want to greenlight it for this very reason. An interview said that when brought before a test audience of boys they "didn't care that Korra was a girl. They just thought she was awesome."
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a huge male following (who call themselves "Bronies"), most of whom had to be cajoled to watch it first because of this very reason, but eventually became hooked. Not only is it a show about magical ponies, but there are six female main characters and one male character. In fact, the Girl Show Ghetto trope was defied by Lauren Faust, as shown in the page quote, who purposefully had the goal of making it appealing to not just little girls, but older viewers as well, including older males. Judging by the massive male fanbase, it would seem she succeeded.
- The utter ridiculousness of the ghetto is brilliantly lampshaded here.
- Pepper Ann had more focus given to the female characters than the male ones (though they had plenty of focus, too), but there are several male fans of the series.
- Although merchandising for Dora the Explorer is almost completely aimed toward girls, the show is liked by young girls and boys alike, the spin off Go, Diego, Go! was created to sell toys for boys, but both shows are edutainment adventure cartoons where the protagonists genders are downplayed or even hardly acknowledged.