Subversive Masculinity in Children's Animation: Hey Arnold, Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Loud House

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Sales, Kristen Leigh Jauniece
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Middle Tennessee State University
Many existing studies of gender and gender representation in children’s animated media focus on women. These studies tend to focus on breaking down and analyzing the strict binaries of the representation of female characters. Studies of masculinity are often limited to a discussion of toxic male behaviors, with masculinity relegated to a point of contention instead of a basis of study. Using hegemonic masculinity as a theoretical framework, this thesis examines the representation of masculinity in three characters in children’s animated media—Arnold from Hey Arnold, Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Lincoln from The Loud House. Each of these characters subverts hegemonic or toxic masculinity. This thesis examines how each character does so. Using frame theory, the thesis will examine both what is said and what is not said within each character’s narrative. This thesis also analyzes what is seen within the narrative of the series that makes the characters’ depictions of masculinity subversive or not, including what the characters don’t do as well as what they do.