Friday, December 18, 2015

Toys are from Mars, Women are from Venus

The internet is buzzing about the newest Star Wars movie. Don't worry, I promise I won't reveal anything plot-wise in this post, so all I'll say is that I liked it and it fits solidly into the greater universe while introducing fascinating new characters.

One of these new characters is Rey. You've undoubtedly already seen her in the trailer and floating around a lot of the promotional materials, including this poster:

She even carries a big stick. Don't get on her bad side...

Rey is obviously the center of the film. The poster places her as the focal point, so you don't have to see the movie to know she is a big deal.

So why isn't she on the shelves? Where are her promotional toys and t-shirts?

If back in 1977 you had gone hunting for a Luke Skywalker action figure and not found one, you would have been disappointed. If you had found Leia, Han, Chewbacca, Vader, and Obi-Wan action figures in a set without Luke, you would have been frustrated. If you had searched high and low to present your kids with a Luke action figure in time for Christmas and come up empty, you might have even sent a letter to Lucasfilm asking where you could find and purchase a Luke Skywalker action figure.

Hey look, the main character!

This is 2015, and although you may not have heard much about it yet, the shoppers are not silent on the matter. A quick twitter search of the hashtag #WheresRey pulls up hundreds if not thousands of tweets, most focused around a set sold at Target that includes 4 major characters and 2 minor ones, leaving out Rey and Captain Phasma--the two main characters played by women.

Literally all they had to do was paint that Stormtrooper silver.
And not exclude the main character.

The message between the movie and the merchandise is contradictory. The movie makes it clear that women are invited and a vital part of the Resistance, while the merchandisers seem to think that women and toys don't mix. Toys are for boys, they tell us. Girls don't like action; they prefer fantasy.

We've been asking for toy equality for years now, merchandisers. The market is here. My 8-year-old cousin has already fallen head over heels for Rey and everything Rey related, even before seeing the movie (I'll have to find out how much more she loves Rey after seeing the movie). My friend's 10-year-old daughter saw the movie this morning and is reeling with excitement over the role that Rey plays. She can see herself as a hero now, but her mom is scrambling to find a Rey figure for her girl to play with in time for Christmas.

She's literally leading the action! How thick can these people be?!

Women make up half the population. We buy a lot of things. It's even a sad trope played out in all the movies we've seen for years. So where is our marketing?

Where are our toys?