Astrid Deserved Better

If you’d been at DreamWorks Animation during the making of that movie, you might have heard that in the hallways–as I would excitedly start ranting about it to almost anyone…

So I wrote an article about the creative process in the animation industry – and while the final product got more focused on me than I’m comfortable with (my article title was “Astrid Deserved Better: The Quest For Better Female Animated Characters From Inside the Industry”), the main points – that people are trying and the business realities are a nightmare – are still there.

The final version trimmed quite a few examples of other people trying to move the medium forward, so here’s some of the shout-outs that got cut:

There’s a ton more that I am sure I’m forgetting to list, who have been here far longer than me and have worked far harder than me. I don’t want it to come across as I was the only one trying to improve the medium I love – I am far from it. RP is just another brick or two in a growing wall.

(special thanks to fictograph – who is manifesting the art she wants to see, and deserves all the support in the world – for holding my feet to the fire on this article.)

  • Purple Dave

    I’m of mixed feelings on this. It’s been a while, so I really don’t remember much about how Astrid is treated beyond that Hiccup is _always_ going to be just a little better at dragons while Astrid is _always_ going to be tougher in a fair fight. Could she have been treated better? Maybe. Again, can’t really argue that one without rewatching the movie first. But chieftain? I can’t agree with that. First of all, this is Hiccup’s story, not Astrid’s. It’s not that females don’t deserve great stories, but that the instant you say it’s okay for a female supporting character to overshadow the male protagonist just because she’s female, then you have to allow that it’s okay even when the genders are reversed or brand yourself a hypocrite.

    Now, as to the chieftain issue within the story, yes, Hiccup didn’t want the job. Astrid was never exactly challenging him for it at any point during the combined story (including the TV series). Rather, she was challenging him to succeed at it. Accepting his duty was part of his story. Hiccup was also the driving force that moved the entire community forward, and figuring out how to do so successfully was also part of his story. If you hand the job to anyone else, you basically affirm Hiccup as a failure (this is part of why I feel Skyfall is the weakest Daniel Craig Bond).

    No, the TV series had the luxury of shifting focus to any of any of the four other kids (or pretty much any other villager, for that matter), but the movies are pretty much locked onto Hiccup as the focal character, and not everyone gets to be chieftain. Brave and Frozen are proof that there are plenty of great stories waiting to be written about female characters without hijacking stories about male characters to get there.