There’s been a lot of chatter over the last few days about a new cartoon series for kids named SheZow. It’s attracted a heap of both praise and criticism for it’s controversial premise: a male kid transforms into a very feminine looking super hero. Personally, I think this is brilliant.
Reinforcement of stereotypical gender roles is something that irks the hell out of me. I’ve talked before about how the lack of female super heroes in mainstream movies is an issue, and how cartoons are no different. There’s a generation of kids who are getting the wrong message. It’s a generation who are being told super heroes are for boys. Meanwhile the rest of society are subtly, and occasionally overtly, telling boys that being feminine is wrong. Which is bullshit, it’s horrible damaging messages that are absolutely everywhere. Shezow is here to say actually, being a girl is kick ass.
I was a little concerned when I first heard about the show. It sounds like a premise that’d be easy to exploit for cheap laughs, at the expense of both genders. Instead after actually seeing the show I’m ecstatic to say it doesn’t do that at all. Once things get going protagonist Guy is perfectly happy to transform into SheZow when needed and even shows enthusiasm at how cool aspects of the transformation are. This is precisely what kids should be seeing. Boys are finally being told there’s nothing embarrassing about being feminine. It’s a message that can contribute to them feeling more comfortable expressing desire towards traditionally feminine activities. Furthermore, it teaches a respect of women by challenging the notion that femininity is somehow wrong and an undesired quality.
Series creator Obie Scott Wade has talked about the potential for developing the idea further in future seasons. Meanwhile I worry that the show may not get another season if it continues to be attacked as it has been. If the negative outweighs the positive then it might be too controversial to keep going. Criticisms have been fired at it accusing it of being unsuitable for children. Which is a ludicrous claim. Children are bombarded with messages from adverts, movies, TV shows and even comic books about what it means to be a boy or a girl. A TV show like SheZow that challenges that notion, with a positive message, deserves praise and attention.
I think one of the positive byproducts of the show is the idea that being a girl isn’t gross. Boys tend to think that girls have cooties, but here’s a boy wearing girls clothes and he becomes powerful because of it. – Obi Scott Wade speaking to CBR.
SheZow has just started airing in the US and is coming soon to the UK. I sincerely hope the show finds an audience. After airing late last year in Australia it received positive feedback, so if all goes well SheZow won’t be going anywhere.