Being a regular audience of the famous cartoon series Doraemon, and an earnest researcher of Barbie (both – the plastic as well as digital dolls), I have noticed an interesting aspect of the popular cartoon shows, aired on most of the kids’ entertainment channels. Even in 2014, by carefully scanning the most popular Bollywood films (For example, Chennai Express) or even the daily soaps (I am particularly referring to the popular Bengali serials), we can easily spot elements that project clear evidence of patriarchal domination in our society, or the people who want to revive the system!
For example, the main plot of Chennai Express revolves around the marriage of Deepika, as her father wants to forcibly marry her off to a man who is the ideal groom according to him. He wasn’t concerned about his daughter’s choice. The Indian Law permits any girl to marry the person of their choice once they are 18 years old. She could have easily asked for legal help in such a situation, but she didn’t!
Image Source: www.filmibeat.com
Liberty and equality in a Cartoon Series
On the contrary, I find it highly interesting that the plotline of a popular cartoon series is built on the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity! Consider the most popular cartoon series Doraemon, aired on Hungama TV and Disney Channel, for example. Even though it portrays the lead female protagonist, Shizuoka, to be a typical young girl of her age, it shows evidences of her ambitious nature, and her repressed desires.
In fact, in this series, a male protagonist does not stand for machismo. Nobita is a weak, fragile figure, who feels more comfortable in the company of women rather than boys of his age. This is because of his tender nature, and the whole point it makes is about individuality.
I would like to particularly refer to an episode, in which both Nobita and Shizuoka, being sick of their lives, exchange their bodies. Here, we find that Shizuoka, when turned into a boy (Nobita), runs madly, plays baseball, and climbs a tree (which she proclaims to be her long-awaited dream); while Nobita (after turning into Shizuoka) realizes the restrictions and limitations of a woman; how she is deprived of her freedom and rights, just because she is female!
This particular episode reminds me of what eminent psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud said about repressed desires; that women are not naturally passive, and in the pre-phallic phase, both boys and girls share the same qualities. It is only after they begin to realize, and learn about their ideal behavior that they turn into passive beings, while the men realize that they are superior and that they should be aggressive and dominant.
Freud says that because women are forcibly made to adapt, they do not give up their activeness or dominant characteristics completely, and this comes back in the form of repressed memory at times (mostly, when we identify ourselves with some male protagonists in movies).
In the same manner, there are several other realistic ideas that are related to the present scenario, which are depicted in these cartoons. Thanks to the makers of these cartoon series, we can now expect a better society, in the near future!
On the other hand, a popular daily soap tends to show a joint family (which is rare today), and the stereotypical role of an ideal wife! If you find a girl who is ambitious, and intelligent, then she must be evil, and should be condemned or possessed by some man to reform her. In today’s world, I find it pretty absurd that we enjoy these regressive and unrealistic programs, which are a slap in the face of our ideologies!