Apr. 21st, 2015

anagramofbrat: (pissed aku)
Okay I need to rant for a minute. Apologies in advance if this rambles or ends up making no sense, I'm just... REALLY ANNOYED. About toys.

I was born about a year and change after Star Wars came out for the first time. That's long enough ago to remember when the very first movie only had a two word title. I was too young to catch the phenomenally better Empire Strikes Back (again, before episode numbers), but I remember being super excited about seing Return of the Jedi with my siblings when that came out. I have very clear memories of playing hard with my friends various related action figures, re-enacting the rebel attack on the Death Star with all the PEW PEW five-year-olds can wring out of their small bodies and zooming around the playground with tiny TIE fighters and X-wings clutched in grubby little hands. But sometimes we acted out other scenes with the action figures, which would often result in squabbles between the girls in my small group of kindergarten friends because we all wanted to be Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan.

Looking back, yes, it's rough that of the prominent characters throughout the three original movies only two were not both white and male. (Darth Vader does not count, just because you can't SEE his pasty scarred whiteness under that all black suit... never mind). Its not news that mainstream science fiction has a representation problem, and we're talking over 30 years ago here. Still we did have Leia. She never missed with a blaster, stood up to the Empire pretty much by herself for half the movie, and despite seeing her home planet obliterated by said Empire after hours? days? of torture, still had enough moxie in her to immediately sass the stormtrooper busting into her cell for his height. Sure she was the token lady in the ensemble, but she was also awesome. Sure, we fought over her figure because there weren't other girl characters to play and lets be real, none of us wanted to be the droids. But we also wanted to be Leia because we wanted to pew pew the hell out of some stormtroopers. She does that. Several times. Did I mention she's also a princess? Icing on the awesome cake.

Fast forward to now. We have another movie in the same cultural sphere about to be released: Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron. This movie has two women prominently featured taking names and kicking all of the ass - Black Widow and Scarlet Witch. But this time? there are no action figures of either woman for the current crop of five year old girls to even think about quarreling over. There were no Gamora or Nebula figures available for last year's Guardians of the Galaxy either. In fact, action figures of women are missing almost entirely from the increasingly segregated-by-gender toy aisles of Insert Department Store Here. Though there are aspects of her characterization and costuming that pander to teenage boys in need of eye candy, Black Widow is as much a part of the Avengers team as Cap or Tony or Thor or the big green dude punching things over there, and putting in just as much work for the team, if not more. Hell, Hawkeye was barely in the first Avengers movie and he still got toys.

I'll admit I was fully expecting this to happen, so it was with no surprise and a heavy amount of sighing that I instagrammed the Marvel section of the Target aisle, pointing out Widow's absence. In response on my facebook I got linked to an article on The Mary Sue positing Disney as the potential problem in this scenario. Seeing as Disney has the girls' market firmly cornered with the Princess line, it makes a sad sort of sense that they would use Marvel to corner the boys demographic as well. A rage-inducing sad sort of sense.

So here we are, Age of Ultron is about to come out and there is no Widow or Witch merch to be seen, and it's probably a little late to really do something about that. However another there's another huge franchise recently acquired by Disney with a higly anticipated movie on the horizon, which of course would be Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I am very very VERY afraid that once again there will be nothing associated with it either for girls or representing girls, and considering there are at least four female characters cast, that would be unacceptable on so many levels.

It says something when a woman is shown kicking ass and taking names on screen, possibly as much as her male counterparts, and yet she is not deemed worthy enough to stand with her team on merch, nor be represented by having her own toys. It says something insidious and nasty to the current crop of five year old girls who dont get an action figure to quarrel over or a hero of their own to wear on a shirt/backpack/whatever, for no other reason than "oh... boys won't buy it if there's a woman on it." I'm not at all happy about any of these messages, y'all... and I hate that this current generation of little girls are being cheated out of their "Leias" because they exist in universes marketed exclusively to boys.

Even if they happen to also be princesses.

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