SheZow Bends Gender, Enrages One Million Moms
BY Savas Abadsidis
July 08 2013 4:00 AM ET
One Million Moms, a group of Christian morality crusaders, has set its latest target on a cartoon that premiered last month on the Hub Network. It features a 12-year-old boy who uses a magic ring from his dead aunt and the phrase "You go girl!" to transform into a crime-fighting female superhero named SheZow.
One Million Moms called Hub Network's decision to air SheZow an "attempt by the gay, lesbian and transgender community to indoctrinate our children into accepting their lifestyles." The so-called million moms (whose Facebook friends actually number fewer than 60,000) went on to declare, "The media is determined to pollute the minds of our children and there is no better way to desensitize them than through a cartoon program. Everyone knows children are drawn to animated shows; both boys and girls love superheroes. This character especially will appeal to both boys and girls since the superhero represents both genders by cross-dressing and being transgendered."
That's pretty loaded language for an otherwise innocuous show that doesn't actually star a character who identifies as trans.
SheZow's premise is not unlike the myriad superhero tropes that have come before it. And although the show is highly entertaining, it breaks little ground in terms of radical gender expression. Out of superhero garb, the show's protagonist literally goes by the name "Guy."
While the show might not be particularly radical, the progressiveness of SheZow's inclusion in the Hub's lineup is somewhat notable. A cursory look at the history of how animated shows have portrayed trans or gender-nonconforming characters reveals them to be almost nonexistent.
Every once in a while, Bugs Bunny slightly bent gender and donned drag, but without getting highly speculative about the gender or sexuality of some Disney villains, there’s little proof animated characters outside the gender binary actually exist.
"I set out to create a comedy in SheZow, not a political statement," says creator Obie Scott Wade. "While the character of Guy does learn many things about himself by becoming SheZow, the main focus is on responsibility and less on gender."
"The SheZow mythology is a classic hero's journey," explains Wade. "It's about the conflict surrounding an ordinary slacker who is suddenly forced to save the world, but with a unique story element that adds a lot of comedy."
Indeed, the show is not unlike many classic superhero stories — it's all about wish fulfillment and magical secrets.
"SheZow is an idea that started for me when I was a kid," says Wade. "Beginning at age 5, I dreamed of making my own TV show about somebody with a magic secret. I was profoundly inspired by classic TV shows like Bewitched."