Before you read this, I just wanted to apologize for writing about tween television twice this month. Sorry 'bout that. Don't worry, I swear it won't happen every week! Anyway...
The other day as I was "researching" Disney and Nickelodeon's Magic Tween TV formula, Lil' Lilith and I got into an indepth discussion about some of
our her favorite TV shows and channels. We realized that we had no idea what the hell Disney XD was supposed to be about. If you don't have a kid, you probably have never even heard of that channel, but we she watches it all the time.
The four main channels that Lil' Lilith watches (not including LOGO because we love our gays) are Nickelodeon, TeenNick, Disney and Disney XD. The intended difference between Nick and TeenNick was pretty easy to decipher just by the name, but I couldn't figure out what this whole XD thing was about. Allegedly the "XD" stands for "Xtreme Digital" and is marketed to tween and teen boys. Yep, that's right. Disney XD = Disney-for-boys.
You might be wondering, why is there no Disney-for-girls? Well apparently regular Disney is Disney-for-girls. At least that's what some people think.
According to a recent piece from LA Times, some people think that tween TV is skewed toward girls:
Has there ever been a better moment for tween girls? "Hannah Montana" and "Wizards of Waverly Place" reign on the Disney Channel. Tween idol Taylor Swift rules the radio. There are even tween girls in the White House. Since mega-successes like "High School Musical," Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers showed execs the way, pop culture has been flooded with tween girl entertainment. And yet another promising series about a cool teen girl, "Victorious," debuts on Nickelodeon on Saturday.
But what about the boys? Some parents are asking whether the TV landscape has undergone a tween gender shift that leaves boys in the lurch.
Nick and Disney executives on the other hand claim instead that boys' tastes are changing (including choosing to watch more relationship-based shows rather than just action-based ones) and they just don't have a problem relating to strong female leads. As much as I hate to defend Nick and Disney execs, I think they have a point on this one.
For a long time there were very few empowering young female role models on TV. According to a 2008 study by the International Central Institute for Youth and Education Television (IZI) only 32% of all main characters in children’s television were female. (The ratio of male to female characters in animated shows - including when the main character was non-human - was 87:13 male-to-female.) For years, children's literature has also had a disproportionate amount of male and female lead protagonists, forcing girls to be able to relate to strong male leads. Now that times have changed (it's definitely not perfect, but it's better) can't we expect boys to be able to watch female characters on TV?