There was a whole lot of internet hubbub just a few months ago regarding DC’s lack of female leads in their cinematic productions. Adults have been blogging, posting on message boards, often ranting about DC’s apparent non-interest in their female audience. However, one consumer apparently did the smart thing and took her complaint straight to the source. Rowan Hansen, age eleven, took it upon herself to write to DC requesting more female action figures and leading roles in movies and TV series.
While the letter’s wording sounds suspiciously like someone a little older may have helped Rowan with some of her rhetoric (the line which reads, “Marvel comics made a movie about a talking tree and a raccoon awesome…” sounds particularly suspect), and some of her facts aren’t quite as factual as one might like (she mentions that DC doesn’t have a Wonder Woman show, but in fact there was a Wonder Woman TV show at one time–although she isn’t old enough to remember it), her decision to write this letter does highlight an important fact about geek culture and capitalism writ large: voting with money is nice, but usually has slower and more indirect results than a direct request to a producer.
Sure it is all well and good to write blog posts decrying the sad lack of female roles in comic book movies and TV shows. Such internet commentary is probably at least partially responsible for Marvel’s dedication to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with its equally divided cast, and Agent Carter, featuring a female lead, but geeks cannot expect producers of entertainment to spend hours searching for blog posts and tweets that suggest viewer preferences. Writing them directly to request the type of entertainment we want is something that fans can easily do and all too often forget.
Rowan is, of course, not the first to write a company to request more female representation in their product. Last year, Charlotte Benjamin wrote to the LEGO company requesting more female LEGO figures with more real jobs. Her letter was answered with the production of the “Research Institute,” a LEGO Ideas set that included three female figures, a paleontologist, a chemist, and an astronomer. The set was so popular that it sold out quickly (not to worry, though, the set is available on eBay for just a little more than the original price).
Rowan got an answer from DC too. Not only did DC respond to her letter by telling her that a Wonder Woman movie and Supergirl TV show were in the works, but they even turned Rowan into her own superheroine! There was no word on when she can expect to see more female superhero action figures, although those will probably start showing up shortly before the Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice movie arrives.
Rowan and Charlotte both had great responses from the companies that they sent requests. While it can be frustrating to be a girl geek living in a boy geek’s world, it is important to remember that in many cases the lack of entertainment and media for the female audience is because of oversight, which can be corrected if brought to the attention of the correct people. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if the person bringing the attention is a cute little girl who loves comic books!