The Smurfette Principle: A Popular Media Phenomenon
By Youssef Sourgo
You have certainly had the opportunity to read or watch The Smurfs. The Smurfs was “a Belgium comic and television franchise centered on a group of small blue creatures.” In order to understand the “Smurfette Principle,” it’s necessary to watch at least one episode of The Smurfs which features Smurfette. Smurfette, the only female Smurf, is now used as an analogy for female characters who exists alongside a large number of male characters. This recurring phenomenon in countless fictional and cinematic works has been the subject of heated debates, and has even proved to perpetuate dangerous stereotypes about women in general. The website TV Tropes defines a “trope” as “a common pattern of recognizable attributes in a character that conveys information to the audience.” For example,the trope “Halas” can sometimes communicate offensive stereotypes to the audience, which is the case with the trope discussed in this article: the Smurfette Principle. Katha Pollitt, the American feminist poet, essayist and critic who coined the phrase “Smurfette principle,” wrote an article about it for the New York Times. In it, Katha expresses her disturbance by the incessant production of movies and shows that are either basically all-male, or featuring one female amongst a majority of male cast members. Worse, according to Katha, this female is portrayed as being superficial or fulfilling an almost ornamental function. One contemporary example of a movie in which the Smurfette trope is demonstrated at its utmost is the blockbuster Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The blog Feminist Frequency has a series of videos exploring and criticizing gender representations and messages in popular culture. The blog’s author, Anita Sarkeesian, a Canadian-American media critic, calls the movie “one of the most sexist and racist films I’ve ever seen.” Female robots’ characters are clearly underdeveloped, contrary to male...
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