Cartoon Criticism Dictionary
(aka phrases I use here to describe very specific things)
Sameface Syndrome: when various female characters all have their faces designed according to the exact same formula, in a way that detracts from the story and is clearly done only to make them “beautiful.” Does not apply to stylistic choices, and does not mean that the characters literally all have the exact same face. Ex. The women in Frozen were designed with major Sameface Syndrome.
Keaneface: currently the most common female face in Western animation, consisting of a heart-shaped face with large eyes and a small, low-placed nose and mouth. Popularized (though not invented) by legendary Disney animator Glen Keane.Ex. Moana has a different body type, but she still definitely has some Keaneface going on.
Girly-Tomboy Compex: when all female characters in a movie or show can be defined as either “girly-girls” (typically feminine clothing and interests) or “tomboys” (actively rallying against feminine clothing and interests, and/or interested in “boy stuff”). Ex. GoGo Tomago and Honey Lemon are pretty much complete stereotypes! They really exemplify the Girly-Tomboy Complex.
Usagi Syndrome: when a female character is criticized for traits that are universally accepted in male characters, such as being annoying, lazy, or gluttonous. Named for the protagonist of Sailor Moon, Tsukino Usagi.Ex. The publisher told me that the protagonist of my novel was too immature for her age. I guess she got hit with Usagi Syndrome.
Girl Power Quota: the practice of having your female character(s) act tough throughout most of the film and/or save the male character(s) at least once, only to suddenly become helpless during the climax.Ex. How come that character who knows kung fu was suddenly incapacitated by someone grabbing her arm? Guess the writers hit their Girl Power Quota.
Strong Independent Woman™: also called the Strong Female Character™. Refers to a method of writing female characters where, instead of giving the character an actual personality, the writer instead makes them “strong” with shortcuts like making them needlessly violent, having them constantly sass others, decrying all typical feminine traits as “weak”, etc.Ex. I was excited that they decided to add a female character to the action hero team, but she was too much of a Strong Independent Woman™ to be interesting. The writers clearly don’t know what women are really like.
Historical Accuracy Fallacy: the claim that it is okay for a story to star mostly white characters because of historical accuracy, even though the story uses fantasy elements that are obviously not historically accurate, not to mention many historical time periods had more POC than we realize.Ex. I got an anon message saying that there shouldn’t be black people in How to Train Your Dragon because the vikings were white, but I guess they were still fine with the dragons! They fell right into the Historical Accuracy Fallacy.
Chipette Principle: making female characters who are essentially exactly the same as the male characters, except with gender signifiers like eyelashes, pronounced lips, the color pink somewhere on their person, or clothing. Coined by Lindsey Ellis. Ex. Classic Disney characters rely way too much on the Chipette Principle, what with Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck.
Feel free to suggest more!