Avatar the Last Airbender was one of the greatest cartoons I’ve ever seen. Not only did it have the action and amazing fight scenes of an anime, it also had the drama and character development a 90s kid like me loved. So when it was announced that the show would have a sequel series called Legend of Korra I was all for it. Avatar (the real one, not those blue people) was such an amazing show that I just knew that its sequel would be amazing too. It was. Legend of Korra had pretty much everything Avatar had in spades; plus it added a couple of really nice plot points like a sexual assault parallel and sexuality. I loved Korra, but apparently a lot of people didn’t. Even Nickelodeon (the channel that showed it) had some issues with the show and what it did, and I can’t help but wonder if any of that was connected to the fact that Korra, the bold, brave, powerful and vulnerable lead character, was a female.
SPOILER ALERT! It did. Plainly put: because Korra, an action show for boys, brought in so many girl viewers it became a huge problem financially and socially. You see television shows are either for boys/men or for girls/women. Period. It’s an interesting and well documented phenomenon that affects how shows are marketed and who the target audience is. Take a look at most of the shows on TV: “girl shows” have pretty colors and hot guys and fashion and feelings while the “boy shows” have manly men, fart jokes, explosions, and fight scenes. Television executives, showrunners, network executives and writers/producers do this to keep things separate, because its easier to market to stereotypical genders rather than actual people. In their minds, "If girls like it that means boys won’t! The two can’t EVER like the same thing!”, and since the TV execs who make these decisions find it easier to target men and boys (because they are mostly men) when they have a large female audience its much easier to cancel the show rather than try to figure out how to target both groups. It's also why you see commercials for cleaning products and stuff during shows like Scandal and on Lifetime and why during sports programs you see commercials for beer and trucks; they think this is what the gender watching likes and they think this is what the gender watching NEEDS to see. Everything is broken up by gender so having too many viewers of the opposite gender would confuse advertisers and the execs as to what to show. TV for kids is the same way; they can't buy makeup or a tool set but they will buy (or get others to buy) toys. Since it’s a proven fact (it’s not) that girls don’t buy “real toys” and only buy dolls and stuff that teaches them to be housewives, for these execs becoming too popular with girls will keep boys from watching AND will keep your toys from selling. Of course, all of this is utter foolishness and fuckery.
Regardless of these TV execs’ Leave it to Beaver ass opinions there are always going to be girls and women that love “boy stuff” and vice versa. Newsflash for the people still living in the 1950s: none of the stupid gender roles you try to push kids into is gonna force them all to act like that. Shows like Korra with a great female lead or like Teen Titans and Young Justice with great female supporting characters are actually much better than any of their gender segregated trash because they are able to appeal to wider audiences. Given that women make up JUST under half of the population it is foolish from a financial standpoint to ignore them so thoroughly, almost as foolish as it is to automatically think that girls and women just won't like or shouldn't like this stuff. Its another case of these ignorant gender roles; why haven't we learned that trying to force our unnatural (and yes, it IS unnatural to force people to like a certain activity, thing, or color because of what’s between their legs) stereotypes on children does nothing but harm them? It forces little boys to be hyper masculine "real men" that end up being fragile AF and forces little girls to be hated for no reason and be extra respectable people afraid to speak in public or have some interest outside of cooking for a man. It is an insult and an outright disservice to try to keep anyone from an interest just because of their gender, and it’s some BS I will not be a part of.
Because girls and women DO love this stuff. This past weekend I had a table at the Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo where I sold my novel about a bunch of superheroes. In the mind of some of these TV execs my book would probably be “boy stuff”, but I had quite a few women and girls come to my table interested in what I had to sell. One little girl in particular came to my table, fell in love with what was said about the book, and even called me out for not having any female heroes on the cover (I assured her that the next cover would feature female heroes). If I could have a bunch of girls and women at a shopping mall event in Decatur, GA telling me how much they loved this kind of "boy stuff" (not to mention my own nerdy and geeky female friends) then there HAS to be a market for it, and there should be a community that supports them. To deny those is to not only lose money but also to deny growing girls and grown women something they are truly interested in. Another girl came to my table a little later and despite being truly interested in the book and begging her father for a poster or a book, never got it. While I don’t know her father's exact reasoning for not buying his daughter any of my products I can’t help but think of the second girl’s father like one of these TV execs: someone determined to make their prejudices true by keeping girls (and women) from anything that is not “girly” enough.
It is a crime that should be punishable by law to cause such pointless division. The sadder thing is that this isn’t just with TV shows. It’s in books, in video games; hell it’s in education. People in high up positions have the same viewpoints as these TV execs and feel that boys have their own things and girls have theirs and ne’er the two shall meet. Its stupidly limiting to say that girls shouldn’t be able to enjoy “boy stuff” and vice versa not to mention stupidly damaging, and given what we know about gender roles in this day and age it should really come to an end. If the young boys who watched Korra at first are any indication, kids don't have the same ignorant biases we have when it comes to gender based issues until we try to force them. If the facts are to believed, then women love superheroes and comics and more women are going into STEM. Why, then, are we denying them that? Who keeps putting up these "no girls allowed" signs on certain activities and interests? Better question; where are they? I'd like to put a "no sexist idiots allowed" sign up to keep them out of wrecking good entertainment and destroying people's interests.
Do you think it's right that these shows in particular are targeted at specific audiences, and are cancelled if they don't reach (only) them? What "boy stuff" or "girl stuff" are you interested in that you shouldn't be (according to society)? Be sure to leave your comments, questions and concerns below and don't forget to like, share, and subscribe!