[Just for point of reference, Sara had this problem TWO Pixar movies ago, and they did not change since then. Here is what she had to say about UP]
Last night I saw Pixar's latest: "Up." As per usual it was not only beautifully crafted - making use of the 3D technology subtely with just a few moments that pop instead of over doing it - had a fully realized universe, with a rich and quirky character designs and colors that sang. Also, as per usual, the story was wonderfully made: heart-breaking, funny, bittersweet. They are getting better and better with crafting a story for children that does not pander, that is adult, but handled so that even the smallest viewers can follow. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Pixar, and I could go on and on about how well-done UP was, all the new elements they used without being flashy (male senior citzens as both the hero AND the villian? an overweight asian little boy whose weight and race are neither the subjects of jokes nor bludgeoning "messages," excellent both) and how I sobbed through many parts as my heartstrings were gently tugged. But I will stop here, everyone has either already seen and experienced these for themselves, or has read the many many reviews.
What I need to do now is plead. Please, Mr. Lasseter, please please please. At this point you and your company have made 10 films now some better than others, but all strikingly creative in their own way. and every last one of them focuses on a male protagonist, in some cases there are more than one protagonist, both male (Monster's Inc.). In the numerous worlds you've created and explored for us with along with your fellow men -- Brad Bird, Peter Docter, Andrew Stanton -- you've taken us from an anthill to a racetrack, from the toybox to a world populated by fantastic monsters and off into outer-space. Each time you give us something rich and wonderful but why can you do all that but not ever give us a female lead? it is not that females are lacking in Pixar's creations - there's jesse from Toy Story, mother and daughter in The Incredibles, and countless other girlfriends, wives, love interests. But they are given NOTHING to do. Even EVE, my favorite of all the Pixar characters, is just another 2-D rendering of a female: after strong introduction she spends the remainder of the movie running after and helping our male lead. (also, it is a bit shameful that in her introduction she is something at first to be feared and then to be conquered. not the most progressive view of womanhood...) Mr. Lasster you know your audiences are little boys AND LITTLE GIRLS. men AND WOMEN. We are here too. Just as we can identify with a Woody or a Carl, my husband would have no problems identifying with a story centered around Jesse (and not in the - oh look who needs rescuing type of way, either) and so would my brother, my father, my grandfather and my little nephew. As for Up: Ellie was a strong, brave little girl who grows up to get killed off in usual Disney format - kill the woman or make her disappear. Why couldn't Russell be an asian american LITTLE GIRL? not only would it mirror little ellie, and give her a future: in her generation little girls didn't often get the chance to be anything other than housewives, but in the 21st century there are many places and clubs for a funny tom boy to belong to, and a little female would have been a much sweeter character to form a bond with Carl, aching for his lost little ellie, and a much better foil. So why the hell doesn't she exist? It saddens and hurts me, that I company of talented artists and story tellers that I love as much as Pixar prevents me from loving them whole-heartedly. I am more than just a partner to my own creative quirky male spouse. I have adventures, thoughts, experiences of my own. As the other billion females on this planet. Please, give us something to do. Please tell our story too. I know I'll be written off as just another feminist woman having problems where there aren't any, except there are. Mr. Docter, your own little girl provided the voice of ellie. I'm sure you love her, I'm sure you find her to be fascinating, hilarious, curious and that you love her with all your heart. Don't you want her to go to your movies and find herself up there on screen as the main character? By that I mean, a female lead that gets the whole story arch and isn't reduced to either a photo on the wall or the support system for yet another boy? Unless your highest hopes for her are that she finds a nice boy to marry, which I highly doubt, why aren't you giving her that when you can? These things DO matter, and will to her as much as they do to me. I know this company was created by and is largely run by men, but that is not an excuse. If Miyazaki can make heartbreakingly beautiful stories centered around strong little girls and young adult women - movies that my male friends love just as much as I do - why can't you? For a better written, sweeter take on this please see Peter Sagal's letter after viewing "Horton Hears a Who."