It’s not very often that a mainstream animated film features a biracial, female lead, but DreamWorks Animation’s Home does just that.
The move is a first for the studio, and one that I truly hope proves successful at the box office, because society needs this type of representation. As an ’80s kid, I didn’t see many brown faces in sci-fi and fantasy movies besides those belonging to warmongering Klingons. But that’s a conversation for another day.
Home centers on the relationship between Tip, a curly-topped bi-racial teenager, and Oh, a friendly alien invader. Let me reiterate: One of Home’s leads is a biracial female. I emphasize the racial aspect not just because its rare to see. There’s another angle to this, one that kills the importance of having such a character appear on the silver screen.
Occasional television spots are the only reason I know that Home has a biracial lead character. Every bus ad, taxi ad, and billboard that I’ve spotted while walking New York City’s streets have either highlighted Oh, or Oh paired with…Tip’s pet cat. I’ve yet to see a brown face and curls on any non-television marketing materials.
This saddens and infuriates me.
I recognize that these types of movies often push the manic alien/robot/magical/cutesy creature for merchandising purposes, but giving Tip less banner and billboard love than her cat screams “we have no faith that this will fly in certain markets.” I have no hard evidence to support this; it’s speculation based on what I know about business and a portion of the American populace. The recent Annie remake apparently suffered similar marketing ills.
If DreamWorks Animation is tossing Tip into the background to court people who may be uncomfortable with the very idea of the character’s existence, it’s making a huge mistake. A company shouldn’t spend millions to bring a character to life only to partially bury it, especially when the character has the potential to touch millions of people of all shades.
DreamWorks Animation knows Tip’s importance. Play to the right audience.
Image courtesy of Dreamworks Animation