June 6, 2014

Gender Roles in Adventure Time

I’ll be the first 21 year old to admit her obsession with the children’s TV show, Adventure Time. It started off as finding the fart jokes and simple storylines amusing, something I would catch as I flipped through the channels. Not anymore. The addiction is real.

Now, this isn’t a blog post about the reasons why you should start watching this amazing show (though you should), it’s about the way that women characters are portrayed. Even with hyper-girly titles – Princess Bubblegum, Marceline the Vampire Queen, Lumpy Space Princess – traditional gender stereotypes are not the crutch of the writers. Female characters progress through the same character development as the male ones (protagonists Finn and Jake) and often take on leading roles in their own episodes. This is juxtaposed against other Cartoon Network shows which either have no female leads, or the female characters only serve to enhance the males. Not so in Ooh, the world where Adventure Time takes place.

Princess Bubblegum is the ruler of the Candy Kingdom, a city in Ooh. She’s a brilliant scientist, and without doubt the most logical and fair character in the series. She rules her kingdom in peace, and protects her citizens fiercely. Across Ooh, princesses rule over their kingdoms. It’s not even brought to the attention of the viewer, in a crass attempt to promote ‘feminism’. The beauty lies in the fact that it’s widely accepted, and no one questions it.

Lumpy Space Princess, aka LSP, is a personal heroine of mine. She’s dramatic and slightly delusional, but she’s full of self-confidence and needs no one to justify her beauty. Yes she’s a floating purple blob, but she takes independent woman to the next level when she runs away from home to join a pack of wolves.

Finally, there is little BMO. BMO is an androgynous computer with an ambiguous gender identity… and everyone is cool with that. Characters assign appropriate gender pronouns, and switch between them as BMO sees fit. Again, it’s beautiful because no one draws attention to these inherent aspects of a character’s personality.

Adventure Time is growing in popularity. The fact that gender roles are manipulated and contorted to fit into an equal society, and without it being thrown in the viewers’ faces, shows me society is moving in the right direction. Also, this quote happened, and I can guarantee that every viewer fully agreed with Jake in this moment.

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