E3 2015 Diversity Report – Ubisoft and Representation of Women


(BTW I’m so sorry, I meant to write this right after class and forgot til now)

So for our podcast Jessica, Kay and I talked about the representation of women in our favorite games, specifically diving into each of the games companies, and how diverse they really were. We did our best to find out how many people, and how many women specifically contributed to these games and to what capacity.

I talked about the problems within the Assassin’s Creed series but how I thought that the whole got turned around with the release of Syndicate. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate feature 2 main characters, 3 playable characters, 2 of which are women. Particularly, I was always a huge fan of Evie, and I feel like a lot of the women playing the game also felt a connection to her.

In my research I was looking for what Ubisoft as a company might have looked like in 2015. I came across this article published after E3 that year that talked about who was there to represent each company in their press conferences. In fact the title alludes to the fact the traditionally games have been an all-white boys club. Until now.

Many of the companies were seen as “trying too hard” by putting their women and people of color foward, and the article breaks each one of those down. I don’t think any of it is a bad thing but there is a line to be upheld. Just having a popular woman of color talk about the games, like Ubisoft did, doesn’t mean the company is actually diverse.

I did mention however in our podcast that Ubisoft is an incredibly international company, which leads me to believe that there is a lot of diversity, just in the span of having people all over the world.

It wasn’t until the end of the article that I realized Syndicate wasn’t the major release that year, still, leading up to it’s release was relevant.

Listen to our podcast here:

Body Image in Animation (Round 3)

My podcast team consisted of Amanda, Ashley and I. Our over all topic concerned body diversity amongst female characters in animated tv shows from the late 90s to early 2000’s. We discussed the lack of variety in terms of body shapes, as the proportions of most characters were either entirely unrealistic or fell into the “average” category, leaving out thinner or heavier characters.

Keeping our discussion in mind, I came across an article called, “Frozen in time: when will Disney’s heroines reflect real body shapes?” from the online news source, The Guardian. The article is a few years old, mainly commenting on the characters in Frozen. It’s basic claim is that Disney has perpetuated the same unrealistic standard of beauty with it’s princesses and has done no different with Anna and Elsa.

I’m sure Disney doesn’t set out with the sole goal of pushing idealized standards of beauty, but, film after film featuring female characters with the same type of “look” certainly sends a message as to what the preferred female looks like. Young girls then consume this message, and conclude that if they’re outside of the Disney “mold”, they’re not pretty.  Meanwhile mainstream media tells them their value lies in their attractiveness, thus creating insecurities within the person.

Personally, I think too much emphasis is placed on attractiveness in our culture. A human being’s worth is inherent and does not hinge on sexual appeal. Sexuality is simply one facet to a whole person. The article mentioned above quotes Disney animator, Lino DiSalvo, saying, “Historically speaking, animating female characters is really, really difficult, because they have to go through these range of emotions, but … you have to keep them pretty.” The quote clearly reveals an unrealistic expectation. Her attractiveness plays more importance than her ability to express emotion. Why must we always be concerned about the female character being pretty? Why must we strive for an unattainable perfection? Life itself is filled with it’s disappointments and struggles. It isn’t always pretty, and yet our representations of humans on screen must be perfect.

There have been positive steps forward with Disney. With the release of Moana, a princess with a significantly sturdier build has been added to the Disney line up.

Creators, including Disney, have a responsibility to put forth variety in their character designs and a diversity which reflects life. As creators we should be encouraged to look beyond the attractiveness of a character and create a multi dimensional person whose appearance mirrors the people we see in the world today.


Smith, Anna. “Frozen in time: when will Disney’s heroines reflect real body shapes?” The Guardian 28 Nov. 2013. web. 22 Feb. 2017

Lazy Town: Robbie Rotten was superhero number 1

For my podcast section, I’ll be talking about Lazy Town, and a theory I came up with after seeing the first episode.

The first thing I noticed was the sequence of heroes in the Lazy Town universe. The protagonist appears in the town, and is shocked with how much of a dump it is, with all the people dumb and fat and lazy. When she asks the mayor what he can do, he tells her to contact hero number 9. Right away, this means there are at least 8 other heroes like him. But what about when he shows up? It turns out number 9 isn’t the one who got the message, but his successor, number 10, named Sportacus.

We can never be sure what happened to hero number 9 without further research, but it does confirm that there is a line of heroes from the North Sea. But how does Robbie Rotten fit in? What makes him an ex-hero? His physical form. Robbie is strong, smart, and fast, much different than the puppets who make up most of the town. In fact, he’s significantly more similar to the active Sportacus than he is to the lazy puppets. This means they are highly likely to be cut from the same mold.

Finally, what makes Robbie Rotten hero number 1? First, he has clearly battled hero number 9 somehow, seeing as though he says “another one” upon seeing Sportacus’ blimp. Given the prior evidence, he’s likely an earlier hero, but number 1? Just listen to his obsession to that number in the aptly-titled song “We are Number One.” Not to mention when he says “another one,” it means he’s met multiple before, and has yet to be beaten.

Reaction to FlavorWire’s cartoon conspiracy article

10 Bizarre Kiddie Cartoon Conspiracy Theories

This article really spurred my imagination on this subject. A number of these are shows I watched when I was younger, and already recognized some of them. When I read about the Courage the Cowardly Dog conspiracy, I had already been thinking about that as I watched it as a child. I remember how my dog would bark at random people outside, even though they weren’t actually monsters, and tied that in to Courage’s constant fear of the unknown. This really got me excited for this project, and I had a lot of fun researching and coming up with conspiracy theories for other shows.

Giving a seemingly straight-forward show an additional level of plot to think of makes it even more interesting than it is at face value. This is why I enjoy cartoon conspiracies so much: even just thinking about them watching the show makes everything much more interesting than it at first appears.

Amazing World Of Gumball: The Simulation and The Reset theories

For my section of our conspiracy podcast I’ll be talking about a theory about The Amazing World of Gumball that involves how the reality of Elmore works.

Looking up similar theories came up with this Reddit post, which suggests that Elmore is a simulated reality (which, in animation terms, it pretty much is):


The theory that I would like to propose, which we’ll talk about more in detail during the podcast, is that, in order to prevent Elmore from devolving into total chaos on a regular basis, the creators of the world (in a real-world sense), reset the show’s reality often and erase characters and their memories from existence to preserve whatever sanity the town of Elmore might have left.

Family Guy Subliminal messages: Why Does Lois Griffin not live past 50?

Family Guy is filled with raunchy humor and slapstick comedy.  Despite this seemingly shallow layer of comedy, there is a much deeper underlying comedy that relies on subtle  hints and obscure references.  One of these instances is throughout the TV series Lois Griffin is fated to die at the age of fifty.  This is also interesting because in both main instances Lois dies as a result of child birth.  the first instance of this occurring is in the episode “Lethal Weapons”.  Stewie Griffin says the first act of violence he ever committed was planting a time bomb in Lois’s womb that is set to detonate on her 50th birthday.

Another example of this is in the episode “Quagmire Baby” when Peter Griffin talks about how Chris, one of their other children, was so large at birth the “rearranged” Lois’s organs during birth.  Lois concludes this conversation by  saying how the doctor said she shouldn’t expect to live much past 50.

I could not find any solid evidence as to why they kill Lois off at 50 or why it is involved with child birth, but often times people in creative job spaces create characters and situations based on what they have experienced and what their own life was like.  This leads me to believe that maybe one of the producers or writers of Family Guy might have had a  wife or mother who died around fifty because of some child birth complication.



Discussing what body image messages are being sent through animation

For Amy, Ashley and I’s podcast, we touched on many facets of body image representation and the problematic “normal” female image. In an article in Eating Weight Disord, Vol 10 titled “Thin is ‘in’ and stout is ‘out’: What animated cartoons tell viewers about body weight,” H. Klein and K.S. Shiffman provide insightful research and commentary covering three points: how prevalent is weight-related content in animated cartoons, has this prevalence changed over time, and what “types” of characteristics tend to be associated with being thinner-than normal or heavier-than-normal.

The results state that 88% of characters fell within the “normal” body range. Characters outside of the “normal” were more than twice as likely to be overweight than underweight (8.6%, and 3.4%, respectively). Females were more than four times as likely to be shown as underweight than men. Overweight characters were far less likely to be depicted as physically attractive than their normal-weight or underweight counterparts. Overweight characters were more than twice as apt to be shown as unintelligent as their normal-weight and underweight counterparts. Heavy characters were more likely to be shown to suffer from some type of physical disability when compared to their average-weight or thinner than-average counterparts. (113)

“The adverse effects of internalizing such messages about body weight have been shown in numerous studies that have linked them to problems like low self-esteem (23, 24), poor body image (25, 26), eating disorders (5, 27-29), and depression (25, 30), among others.” (114)

The study was incredibly thorough and provided much more information than I can discuss in one blog post, though the results speak for themselves. The positive representation, not just the inclusion, of overweight and underweight characters is incredibly important to the self esteem of younger viewers, which most cartoons are made for. Even cartoons not made for children usually end up being consumed by younger-than-intended audiences. Things like this are important to keep in mind, even when it’s easier to reach for a trope or stereotype.

Klein, H., & Shiffman, K. (2004). Thin is “in” and stout is “out”: What animated cartoons tell viewers about body weight. Eating Weight Disorders,10, 107-116.

An Interview of the Creator of The Cat Lady

Interview with Rem Michalski About The Cat Lady


If it weren’t for a certain Let’s Player, I would not have stumbled upon the hidden gem that is The Cat Lady. Interestingly, it seems the author of this article had exactly the same introduction. In this interview, Michalski talks about his journey through the development of his game. Surprisingly, he has no art or video game development background aside from his work on Downfall, which was his first game. Instead, he made the Cat Lady during his free time while working as a full-time nurse.  He worked by himself and was fortunate to have friends to compose music and find voice actors. He also admits that he made up the story as he went and is relieved that it somehow made sense in the end. The interviewer also asks him about his thoughts on the people posting let’s plays of his game, to which he responded that although it doesn’t boost game sales, the popularity helped him with Steam Greenlight. For his next project, he wants to make his game “even more Youtube friendly.”


This interview was a great insight into Michalski’s personality and process. Despite being a relatively obscure indie title, the Cat Lady is one of my favorite games. With the main character being a depressed woman in her 40s, whose one joy is going home to see her cats, it is truly a rare perspective that few video game developers would dare portray. Following her attempted suicide, she is granted immortality until she rids the world of five serial killers. Before researching the developer, I assumed that it was made by at least a handful of people, but to learn that he basically made it singlehandedly and alongside his medical career was shocking, to say the least. The story is a defining factor of the game, and it was funny to read how he simply made it up as he went. It was also interesting to hear his thoughts on let’s players, but it seems he thinks the boost in popularity is worth the exchange for a huge sell rate.

Simpsons Predictions and How the Writers



This short article looks at The Simpsons episode “Bart to the Future (2000) and the now famous line about Trump being president. The article looks at how people are now calling attention to it, with Trump’s own presidency just starting, as well as some insight on the episode from Dan Greaney, one of the episode’s writers. Greaney states how he doesn’t remember who pitched the idea, but rather how the line was used intentionally to paint a picture of where America was going.

I really enjoyed this article because it’s an opinion from the creator about their content and the reaction it has gained from the audience. I also felt that Greaney’s explanation on the line was interesting, as it shows how America has always been going towards this odd insanity, and it was so apparent that even people from the early 2000s could see the decline. I feel that the critique is still relevant today, as evident from The Simpsons having “predicted” Trump’s presidency. The Simpsons are meant to provide satire to help check the American people when things get out of hand. Even with knowing that, it’s good to see the writing team is intentional in these jokes, and how they impact the audience.

Conspiracy Theories in Animation: The Simpsons and Trump

When it came to researching conspiracy theories in animation, it seemed most appropriate to look into those associated with The Simpsons. This is because as I use social media on a daily basis, I always see some sort of joke about the show “predicting the future”. Topics range from the ebola outbreak to Lady Gaga’s Superbowl LI performance. But one that stood out because of our current political climate was the claim that The Simpson’s had predicted Trump’s presidency. In a Hollywood Reporter article, Simpsons writer Dan Greaney claims that the “Bart to the Future” episode was “a warning to America, […] pitched because it was consistent with the vision of America going insane” .

But Greaney is claiming too much credit. As early as the eighties, Trump appeared on Oprah and criticized U.S. foreign policy, but claimed he did not feel inclined to run for president. But his statements in the 90s and 2000s showed he changed his mind. It was never an outlandish idea to think that Trump would at least give it a try. While Trump actually becoming president was another story in our heads, we knew it was never exactly impossible.

Lest we forget, Trump has always been a key player in American pop culture. Comedy shows were always quick to make him the butt of a joke (even Hannah Montana). Because Trump has always been controversial, America has always loved to talk about him, so he has stayed relevant. With that controversy, we’re forced to accept the fact that he always has some sort of trick up his sleeve. Running for president was the only one he had left after a life of luxury- the man is bored!

Considering Trump’s own statements through the years and the fact that he has always been up to something, I see no reason to believe that The Simpsons predicted his presidency. As for Lady Gaga’s performance, I’ll have to do more research.