For some reason I felt compelled to check the animation gossip site CartoonBrew today and I really wished I hadn’t. An ex-student of mine referred to my class as “fucking bullshit” in an article on gender inequality in the animation industry. After all the time and effort I put into that class (and the extra hours spent staying after), I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to have my work falsely portrayed as something misogynistic and detrimental to women.
I made it very clear to Sabrina and to other students in my Story class at CalArts that what I was teaching had nothing to do with “masculine” story elements or “feminine” story elements. I did use “male” and “female” to describe the difference between the terms “linear” and “holistic”, but stated over and over again that this was a gross generalization intended to make it easier for early 20-somethings to understand a very complex theory of story.
Apparently I didn’t say it enough.
The fact that she says it was “a little hard to describe” only makes it clear to me that I didn’t do a good enough job explaining myself. Never once did I claim that linear storytelling and big external stakes were “for men”, while relationships and emotional storylines were “for women”. That’s a ludicrous assumption. And it’s disingenuous for someone to describe my class that way.
You can learn more about what Sabrina refers to as “fucking bullshit” on my site Narrative First. Of interest might be my article Female Main Characters Who Think Like Female Main Characters where I explain the difference between Main Characters who solve problems linearly and Main Characters who solve problems holistically. The title of the article is intended to be clickbait, but if you actually take the time to read it you will see that it has nothing to do with “masculine” or “feminine” story elements.
Instead, you will find that the article—and my classes at CalArts—were teaching a theoretical concept of narrative known as the Main Character’s Problem-Solving Style (Dramatica). This concept has nothing to do with gender bias, nothing to do with sexual preference, and nothing to do with masculine or feminine. It simply describes a technique of problem-solving present within the Main Character of a story.
Hopefully this clears up any confusion.