Friday, December 14

Transgendered Characters in Children's Popular Culture

I thought it would be fun to analyze the transgendered, probably the best known ones in popular culture, more specifically the ones in Children movies and video games.
The most popular and best known is Birdo. Initially an opponent, Birdo first appeared in the Japanese game Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic and the remade Super Mario Bros. 2. The American one was made from it because the Japanese sequel was deemed 'too hard' by the American game makers and it later become the 'Lost Levels.' While the American Super Mario Bros. 2 was called Super Mario USA in Japan. Birdo later appeared in Wario's Woods as Toad's ally and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars as a boss character. All types of Birdo can shoot eggs from his snout. In later games such as Mario Tennis, Birdo's personal icon is its bow ribbon. As of Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, the individual Birdo character started wearing a diamond ring. However, in Super Mario Strikers, all Birdos wear diamond rings.

Here is the infamous picture of the original NES version manual of Super Mario Bros. 2. Mistakenly named Ostro in the credits and manual. In Birdo's biography of the Super Mario Bros. 2 instruction booklet, it reads "He thinks he's a girl and he spits eggs from his mouth. He'd rather be called Birdetta." Contrary to popular belief, this is not the result of a poor translation. In Japan, Catherine was always male, despite the feminine name. In later American translations, Birdo was referred to as a female character. Recently, in the Mario Strikers Charged official website, Birdo is again referred to as 'he. ' "This hard-hitting power player lands some of the biggest bone-rattling hits ever seen on the Strikers field. Birdo's shooting is also feared by most goalkeepers, as he can score at will. His Extreme Egg can beat any goalie, resulting in quick goals." - Birdo's biography, Mario Strikers Charged Football official website.

Birdo made his first playable appearance in Mario Tennis for Nintendo 64 as Yoshi's default playing partner. Funny enough is the picture above from Mario Tennis. Since then, Birdo appears as a playable character in several Mario sports titles and in the Mario Party series. Despite Nintendo's tries, many gamers categorize Birdo as the first full Male to Female transsexual in the video game universe. Fans also question if Birdo is a friend or enemy, since now Birdo is treated in friendly terms.

Big Bad Wolf from Shrek
A mixture of the Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, and the Wolf in The Three Little Pigs, he is a friendly misunderstood crossdresser whom the Fairy Godmother unaffectionately refers to as "some gender confused wolf." He appears to still be wearing Lil Red's grandmother's clothes and is apparently on good terms with the three little pigs. In Far Far Away Idol, he sings "Hungry Like the Wolf". In recent "Shrek The Halls," he shows off a sarcastic attitude.

I don't think he is just him being a crossdresser. In the first one, at Shrek and Fiona's wedding, a knight cries and the Wolf consoles him and kind of cuddles next to him. I don't know if this is because the producers confused him with a female wolf and actually intended him to be male to female transgender. This depiction, along with some other concerns, raised rage of some conservative groups who objected the film's sexual content. However, these concerns were widely ridiculed in the media. I find it refreshing that there is a transgender character in such a popular children's movie series.

Another video game transgender is Shiek, a.k.a. Zelda in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Zelda passes herself off as a Sheikah known as Sheik. With voice muffled and face concealed, the character is basically unrecognizable as Zelda. The players had no reason to associate Sheik’s voice with Zelda’s because of no proper voice acting. When Link arrives at the Temple of Time near the end of the game, Sheik uses the Triforce of Wisdom to change back into Zelda. It is assumed, in this case, that she uses her magical skills (as a Sage) to change her skin tone, hair length, eye color, etc. This is all supported by the Sheik trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee. It is presumed she changes her voice as well as her build and her clothing; in addition, a voice actress is heard when in pain in both Ocarina and Super Smash Bros. Melee, adding to the belief that she may have imitated a deep voice as Sheik. When Link encounters Princess Ruto in the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time she asks Link to thank Sheik for saving her and refers to Sheik as "him". It is unknown, however, if Ruto was actually aware of Sheik's dual-identity.