Dear Entertainment Industry,
My daughter wants a pair of Batman underwear without a pink Batman logo. It turns out that 3 year old girls cannot have this. I do not recall the issue of Batman where he runs around with a pink logo on his chest so I am not sure why you would put it on my daughter’s underwear. So please just make cool Batman underwear for little girls so I can give you money. Because, as it currently stands, I am going to make her Batman underwear myself (and with my artistic ability it is going to be more like “Rorschach Test” underwear).
This is a microcosm of a much larger issue. Throughout the years there has been a line in the sand between toys for girls and toys for boys. Boys have an iron grip on the dinosaur, comic book, vehicle, science, and action figure market. Girls get princesses, pink versions of some boys stuff, cooking toys, dolls, and cleaning supplies. This has been documented many times, and although it is slowly changing, we really should be further ahead than we are.
So, entertainment industry, I am asking you to change. Now, I don’t expect you to change based on any major swing of morality, or a sense of obligation to the American public to convey a positive message. I don’t expect that at all. We get it, you have proven time and time again that gender roles can only be bent temporarily in mass media. I am not naive enough to think you are doing any of this for some sort of greater good. I am asking you to change, because your current marketing is fiscally irresponsible.
Let’s take two of the highest grossing movies of all time as an example (very minor spoilers follow). The Avengers and Star Wars: The Force Awakens were absolutely huge at the box office, and smashed records domestically and globally. Last I checked, I’m pretty sure we had to invent new numbers for the amount of money Star Wars has made so far. Both of these films feature strong female protagonists who are every bit as cool, tough, and necessary as their male counterparts (in the case of Star Wars, probably more so).
Not only have you created these characters that are by all accounts a roaring success, you have opened the door to a segment of the audience that did not used to watch these films in large numbers. For the first time that I can remember, large numbers of young girls are into Star Wars and Comic Books. You did it, entertainment industry. You absolutely did it, you got young girls to like historically male dominated intellectual property… now stop squandering it.
When The Avengers and Star Wars came out respectively there was an avalanche of merchandise. Toys, games, backpacks, costumes, etc. However, there are two glaring omissions. First, is The Avengers… Scarlett Johansson (who’s name I spelled so wrong the first time, that Google could barely help me) as Black Widow was functionally absent. There is even a tumblr dedicated to all the stuff she is not in here.
Second, and most recently is Star Wars. Arguably the main character of the movie Rey, and certainly a major spoke in the wheel of the Star Wars Universe to come, is largely missing from merchandise. I won’t say it is non-existent, because there is definitely merchandise with her on it, but compared to Finn, Po, and Kylo Ren it is far harder to come by. This is despite the fact that Po is not a main character at all. In fairness Disney, you seem to have more Rey in the newest wave of collectibles, and I am hoping this was the plan all along. However, the cynic in me sees it more reactive than proactive.
In short, I do not understand this. You people already did all the legwork, you made great films, and you didn’t write soft female leads. You managed to dodge making either of them seem forced or just there to buck trend. They are both well developed characters that girls can get behind. This is all good stuff, and I applaud you (sappy and completely unneeded love sub-plot for Black Widow in Avengers 2 aside).
You’ve taken great strides to break down the gender walls that you spent the last 100 years building, and making it cool for young girls to like comics and Star Wars. Now, please let them have the toys and other merchandise to go with it. So, I implore you, since you won’t do it for any altruistic reason, do it for the reason you exist in the first place.
To generate heaping piles of cash…
A Fiscally Concerned Dad.