The hidden meanings in kids’ movies | Colin Stokes | TEDxBeaconStreet

The hidden meanings in kids’ movies | Colin Stokes | TEDxBeaconStreet

Translator: Luis Javier Salvador
Reviewer: Elisabeth Buffard You know, my favorite part of being a dad is the movies I get to watch. I love sharing my favorite movies with my kids and when my daughter was four,
we got to watch “The Wizard of Oz” together. Totally dominated her imagination for months. Her favorite character was Glinda, of course. Gave a great excuse to wear
a sparkly dress and carry a wand. You know, you watch a movie enough times and you start to realize how unusual it is. Now, we live today and are raising our children in a kind of children’s fantasy
spectacular industrial complex. But “The Wizard of Oz” stood alone,
it did not start that trend. Forty years later was
when the trend really caught on with, interestingly, another movie
that featured a metal guy and a furry guy rescuing a girl by dressing up
as the enemy’s guards. (Laughter) Do you know what I’m talking about? (Laughter) Now, there’s a big difference
between these two movies, a couple of really big differences
between “The Wizard of Oz” and all the movies we watch today. One is there’s very little violence
in “The Wizard of Oz”. The monkeys are rather aggressive
as are the apple trees. But I think if “The Wizard of Oz”
were made today, the wizard would say, “Dorothy, you are the savior of Oz
that the prophecy foretold. Use your magic slippers to defeat the computer-generated armies
of the Wicked Witch.” That’s not how it happens. Another thing that is really unique
about “The Wizard of Oz” to me is that all of the most heroic and wise
and even villainous characters are female. Now, I started to notice this when I actually showed “Star Wars”
to my daughter, which was years later
and the situation was different. At that point, I also had a son. He was only 3 at the time. He was not invited to the screening.
He’s too young for that. But he was a second child and the level
of supervision had plummeted. (Laughter) So, he wandered in and it imprinted on him
like a mommy duck does to its duckling. Is he picking up on the fact that
there are only boys in the universe, except for Aunt Beru and, of course,
this princess who is really cool but who kind of waits around
through most of the movie so that she can award the hero with a medal and a wink to thank him
for saving the universe, which he does by the magic
that he was born with. Compare this to 1939 with “The Wizard of Oz”. How does Dorothy win her movie? By making friends with everybody
and being a leader. That’s kind of the world
I’d rather raise my kids in. Why is there so much force,
capital F Force, in the movies we have for our kids and so little Yellow Brick Road? I know from my own experience
that Princess Leia did not provide the adequate context that I could’ve used in navigating the adult world that is co-ed. (Laughter) You know, there was
a kind of first-kiss moment when I really expected
the credits to start rolling because that’s the end of the movie, right? I finished my quest, I got the girl,
why are you still standing there? (Laughter) The movies are very, very focused
on defeating the villain and getting your reward
and there’s not a lot of room for other relationships and other journeys. It’s almost as though if you’re a boy,
you are a dopey animal and if you are a girl,
you should bring your warrior costume. I mean, there are plenty of exceptions and I will defend the Disney princesses
in front of any of you. But they do send a message to boys.
The boys are not really the target audience. They’re doing a phenomenal job of teaching girls how to defend against the patriarchy, but they’re not necessarily showing boys how they’re supposed to defend
against the patriarchy. There are no models for them. And we also have some terrific women
who are writing new stories for our kids. And as three-dimensional and delightful
as Hermione and Katniss are, these are still war movies. And, of course, the most
successful studio of all time continues to crank out
classic after classic, every single one of them about
the journey of a boy, or a man, or two men who are friends,
or a man and his son or two men who are raising a little girl. Until, as many of you are thinking, this year, when they finally came out with Brave. I recommend it to all of you.
It’s on demand now. (Laughter) You remember what the critics said
when Brave came out? “Ahh, I can’t believe Pixar
made a princess movie”. Now, almost none of these movies
passed the Bechdel test. Alison Bechdel is a comic book artist
and back in the mid ’80s she recorded this conversation
she’d had with a friend, about assessing the movies that they saw. It’s very simple.
It’s just three questions you should ask, Is there more than one character
in the movie that is female who has lines? So, try to meet that bar.
(Laughter) And do these women talk to each other
at any point in the movie? (Laughter) And is their conversation about
something other than the guy that they both like? (Laughter) Right? Thank you. (Applause) Thank you very much. Two women who exist and talk
to each other about stuff. It does happen. I’ve seen it. So, let’s look at the numbers. 2011, the hundred most popular movies. How many of them do you think
actually have female protagonists? Eleven. But there is a number
that is greater than this, that’s going to bring this room down. Last year, the New York Times published
a study that the government had done. Here’s what it said. One out of five women in America say that they have been sexually assaulted
sometime in their lives. Now, I don’t think that’s the fault
of popular entertainment. I don’t think kids’ movies
have anything to do with that, but something is going wrong and when I hear that statistic, one of the things I think of is,
that’s a lot of sexual assailants. Who are these guys?
What are they learning? What are they failing to learn? Are they absorbing the story
that a male hero’s job is to defeat the villain with violence
and then collect the reward, which is a woman who has no friends
and doesn’t speak? Are we soaking up that story? You know, as a parent with the privilege
of raising a daughter, like all of you who are doing the same thing, we find this world
and this statistic very alarming and we want to prepare them. We have tools at our disposal like girl power
and we hope that that will help. But I got to wonder, is girl power going
to protect them if at the same time, actively or passively, we are training
our sons to maintain their boy power? And I’m talking mainly to the dads here. I think we have got to show our sons
a new definition of manhood. Now, the definition of manhood
is already turning upside down. I mean, you’ve read about
how the new economy is changing the roles of
caregiver and wage earner. They are throwing it up in the air. So, our sons are going to have
to find some way of adapting to this new relationship with each other. And I think we really have
to show them and model for them how a real man is someone who trusts
his sisters and respects them, and wants to be on their team,
and stands up against the real bad guys, who are the men who want
to abuse the women. And I think our job in the Netflix queue
is to look out for those movies that passed the Bechdel test,
if we can find them, and to seek out the heroines,
who are there, who show real courage, who bring people together and nudge
our sons to identify with those heroines, and to say, “I want to be on their team”, because they’re going to be on their team. When I asked my daughter who her favorite
character was in “Star Wars”, you know what she said? Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Glinda. What do these two have in common? I think these are the two people in the movie
who know more than anybody else and they love sharing their knowledge with other people to help them
reach their potential. They’re leaders. I like that kind of quest for my daughter, and I like that kind of quest for my son. I want more quests like that. I want fewer quests where my son is told,
“Go out and fight it alone” and more quests where he sees
that it’s his job to join a team, maybe a team led by women, to help other people become better
and be better people, like “The Wizard of Oz”. Thank you. (Applause)

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  1. I think this guy was talked into doing something like this, almost like there's a bigger agenda. "There needs to be more role models for boys." "I like the female warriors." Even throughout history, most of the warriors were men. He even said men are left to be the bumbling idiots. They stole the most important role from men. To fight for what is right, to believe in your cause and to be strong, with respect and honor. That's what men are supposed to do, that's what men want to do. But instead cry baby ass feminists don't like the way a protagonist in a movie isn't a woman. Oh fucking well, there are plenty. The Wizard of Oz, Moana, Etc. There are a fucking ton, now let the guys have a fucking go to learn a life lesson and how to be a badass , how to be strong, how to make a difference. Showing girls that they can wear armor and get knocked on their ass only to stop the antagonist with a spell doesn't prove shit. Quit being dicks, you wonder why your group is shrinking everyday, its because everyone can see past your bullshit agenda. You're way overexagerating how bad women have it. Go to the middle east and you'll learn. Everyone on America has it bad, my dad couldn't get a job for 3 years. Its not because of some "patriarchy". Its because life is unfair, life is hard, life sucks, but you have to push through it and make a difference. You have to be humble yet optimistic. That is the message movies need to portray to everyone. Not just to appease feminists feelings. We can have almighty badass male protagonists. I'm tired of watching movies with young woman who can kick some male warriors ass, or who is so essential to the kingdom everyone obeys and respects her. You're showing bullshit. Its not realistic, and here comes the feminist "Its just a movie relax" but if it's just a movie, then why are you so hell bent on making the protagonist female? Exactly… And I'm anti feminist, modern feminism means give me what I want and do what I say or else I'm going to scream rape. Which believe it or not happens. Look at Greece, they gave women more power than men and now the country has been flung into chaos because there aren't enough men to keep the population up. They're all locked away or moved to another country. I'm by no means saying women cannot do what men can, I'm just saying I'm sick and tired of seeing it, even women are tired of seeing it. Moana is one of my favorite movies, but we just trucking can't anymore. This fake feminism shit needs to come go an end, everyone needs to take a breather and relax. Just let someones story be told.

  2. does this person know the yellow brick road refers to the "money" as in "follow the money" but means in our world follow the bricks of boulion. This answers most questions "who, what ,where, when , how and why" follow the gold and you have all your answers.

  3. The scariest part of tWoO to me, was the talking trees throwing apples at Dorothy and the Scarecrow. I nightmare about that scene long after.

  4. Plus none of the Disney movies' heros, male or female, have a mother. Always thought this is cos Walt didn't have one, but I could be wrong.

  5. I was trying to make a story with my 7 years old brother. I sugested to have two girls and one or two boys in the team. He said that he saw that there were always two boys and one girls so we should make that same thing…

    I wandered why he said that angrily. Then I realized I had done that same thing many times when I was younger. We imitate more things than we realize.

  6. The key is not to want one gender to be or feel, more like the other.  The key is for one gender to respect the qualities and abilities of the other, without judgment.

  7. Kill Bill was an awesome movie. Women were the aggressors. And at the end the abused, in every way, was a beautiful woman. 👍

  8. wow I would like to have him in my work place for a couple of months experience interacting with the women then lets see if he gives the same talk

  9. I feel the problem with most kids movies is that they are either targeting boys or girls, and not both. When you end up targeting one gender, you end up alienating and misrepresenting the other.

  10. Don’t think kids movies are to blame, but the parents letting kids watch movies that are not kids movies but what the parents are watching.

  11. Genrall concept is good. We as parents need to get back to creating our family culture based on our clearly chosen and defined values. I personally think boys and men are in a precarious spot right now. I am a mother to a son and I know he needs far more protection from society than my daughter.

  12. Get used to this kind of TED videos, guys. There will be plenty more on the way.
    The left will eventually hijack TED and turn it into more left wing propaganda. They probably already have progressive useful idiots censoring TED talks to make sure they promote leftist propaganda as we speak, just like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are all doing.
    Eventually TED will just become another completely biased site like others.

  13. I think mothers and fathers have plenty to teach sons about maleness, the use of kids films aside. Men can do so by setting an example to their boys on how to treat women, women can do so by avoiding negative stereotyping of men when they speak to or in front of their boys. I actually think negative stereotyping of men has a big impact on boys and girls. Children are sponges and they learn by example, picking up on everything that is said and isn't said. Both genders have a role to play in this.

  14. I disagree that Princess Leah just waits around to get rescued and pin a medal on the hero. She's the one who sends the message that sets everything in motion. She criticizes the rescue, mouths off to Darth Vader and if memory serves, doesn't she fire a weapon?

  15. Its realy easy: step 1 unlearn step 2 observe all and evrything step 3 your inner being do the rest, and your naturaly love peace and understanding

    Tip: check your diet and do some sport 😀

  16. This guy seems a little into his kids movies….just watch it and shut up. Don’t read into it so much.

  17. I'm progressive. But God. What a sickly sweet shot of liberalism into the vein. Now I know who killed star trek. And isn't Mon Mothma leader of the rebellion in star wars

  18. 2018 "Next Gen" – pick that one appart and set into context!
    Bonding with robots are fine – men are not, boys are non-personas, girls are invincable, A.I. is dangerous and awesome and so on…
    In 20 years the world will be a horrible place

  19. It's a bit disappointing that he didn't once show Mulan as a strong female character when he showed other Disney female protagonists. Maybe we should also not be limited to the Euro-centric depiction of female power and embrace other badass women just as eagerly from other cultures if we're indeed serious in our quest to teach our sons better and protect our girls.

  20. I don't feel attacked. I agree with many of the speaker's points, but a little gratitude to the patriarchy for creating and making possible the highest standard of living and the greatest extent of personal freedom in human history would be nice, and not too much to ask I think. In addition to all our material well-being, it is the patriarchy which created the very idea of human rights and civil rights, and extended the franchise to more ordinary people than ever before in human history.

    It's this extremist "all or nothing" thinking on both sides of the political spectrum, which has us in trouble. No ideology, like no religion, has a lock on good ideas and truth. Each idea and proposition has to be judged on its own merits, without appeals to heuristic shortcuts like ideology.

  21. Hmm. Well, here are my thoughts: Princess Leia is NOT a "weak female character". And, neither was her mother, Padme Amidala. She was top in her class in the Imperial Academy. An excellent pilot. And, not to mention, a leader/general of the Rebel Alliance. She was snarky towards Moff Tarkin on the Death Star. Even towards Vader. Another thing, it is pretty foolish to consider a fictional/movie character/s to be role models to our young children. Now, I have enjoyed reading the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and watching the Star Wars movies and books (self-proclaimed nerd and proud). In fact, I am an aspiring author of a Fantasy series. With three female protagonists. Mostly influenced by my own faith (Christianity). In terms of "strong female leads"/"good role models for children", real life examples, such as their mother's/father's/older siblings/s, should take precedence. However, films/books do have a certain appeal/attraction to them. But that also has to do with what the author/creator/director/artist has in mind when making that bit of film/art/manuscript. Seems to me that this all started back in 2017, with Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, and the Bill Cosby trials. I have had plenty of strong women in my life (my mother and grandmother in particular). I was mostly raised by my mother. And, believe you me, she is TOUGH. But she also taught me how to cook/clean/do laundry, as well as how to cut wood, build a fire, and how to use a gun. She was both mother and father to me for my whole life. Now, my father was there, too. Just not as much. He taught me how to swim. He taught me how to tie my shoes. He let me have a sip of his beer. However, circumstances made him leave the state and my mother had to shoulder the responsibility of raising me with my grandmother. My point is: everyone is different and are raised different. I could go on and on. But I'll end with this: respect each other. Treat each other as you would have them treat you. Peace.

  22. Seriously?? How about YOU raise your children and not leave the most important part of parenting to Hollywood.

  23. Change takes time, not overnight. Everyone who is saying that this is a great talk and things need to change. You are the change and you are the voice.

  24. Thank you Colin – an important presentation. The point that most struck me is that we do need more films or roles models for boys too. It's great that there is now an increasing number of gender aware movies (i.e pro girl/women power) but we still have a ways to go.

  25. Please do not use movies to educate your children because you are ineffectual in doing your job as a parent.

  26. Wait a minute…so all filmmakers should change the way they make movies because of this guy's kids? Just don't go see certain movies.

  27. While these observations may represent one of the hidden meanings embedded within kids movies, it is hardly the ONLY hidden meaning. What about the promotion of the military/industrial complex, was as the enduring, existential state, and (paradoxically?) female "empowerment" as a dimension of the war machine? It's not just GI Joe, but GI Jane too! Ladies, you too can both consume AND kill to the benefit of your friendly neighborhood manufacture of armaments. Because Girl Power! 🙂

  28. Every character is white, sooo I'm assuming none of this applies to minorities😂🤣😂🤣😂😂🤣🤣

  29. so this guy relies on movies to educate his children. He wants his son to be a weak man looking for a strong woman to lead him. Good luck with that. Women love weak needy men, NOT!

  30. Toy Story 3 made the cowgirl a central character and the most important and heartfelt one with the best song, IMO.

  31. Its really hard to find a movie about happy family in Hollywood. If they have argument they scream at each other or brake things.

  32. Star wars was written to be a story for little girls. Neither was Oz, they're just stories. Entertainment nothing more. We don't need to neuter everything, we just need more variety.

  33. He didn't even get into the 'Despicable Me' movies where they teach children that crime is fun and okay.

  34. Our daughters should be leaders and our sons should be followers, in teams led by women?
    I'm not so sure I agree with this.

  35. I'm sorry what patriarchy are you talking about how a bout the friken women in Islamic country's that can't drive

  36. This movie not marketed to small children and a story not for those children is sending a bad message to those small children

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