Monday, November 7, 2016

Representation

I was looking at an article earlier about the importance of representation (of any group beyond just white people, specifically white males). And it was interesting, because the latest Star Wars movie was mentioned multiple times. There was a picture of a boy holding a Finn doll. There was a mention of the fact that they didn't write Finn or Rey as any specific skin color, but they were careful while casting.

And it occurs to me that while representation (especially of minorities) in media is important, we also need to not ignore the importance of representing all the main characters when it comes to merchandise.

I know that there are plenty of tags on twitter asking about where Rey (Star Wars), Black Widow (Avengers), and Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy) are. And that is a good question. Why do manufacturers seem to ignore the female characters (All three of whom actually stayed clothed for the movies they have been in and were all major characters in the movies. Rey was pretty much the star of Star Wars:The Force Awakens.) when creating merchandise for children/collectors?

The sad reality is that the manufacturers are not the ones skipping characters. Or at least, not the ones physically making the merchandise. It's some executive somewhere who decided that they didn't need to represent all the characters in the toys, because they were marketing them to boys and why would boys want to play with a female character? (A flawed thought process, as I'm sure many of those boys would want all the characters, even if some of them happen to be female)

We do need to have more representation of minorities in movies and on TV shows. We need to not shy away from casting someone who may not be Hollywood's version of pretty, but who brings the character to life. We need writers to write strong characters and casting to cast the best actor or actress, regardless of the color of their skin. We should be ashamed that in 2016 we are uncomfortable with the idea of seeing people on TV or in movies who aren't pretty (whether they can act or not).

But we also need those executives to be held accountable for the lack of representation in merchandising. Why are they randomly comfortable with cutting their revenues sharply by not offering the merchandise that all children (and most collectors, I'm sure) want to have.

(I will admit that on my most recent walk around a Walmart, I did see some superhero shirts in the women's section and not just female superheroes. That was awesome, and a step towards understanding that women are interested in buying clothes that represent their interest in traditionally masculine things.)

Come on, random executives. I thought you wanted to make as much money as possible! Make some female action figures/merchandise to go with the males of the cast. Do it as a test, if nothing else.
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