On another of my increasingly frequent Tickld visits, I stumbled across this and decided to wing a surreptitious little post out of it
(Not all feminist finger-pointing this time, although she makes a good argument)
Here we see a child, the best kind of child, the kind of child discards her plastic princess idols disdainfully upon the floor, tugs at the hem of an adult’s jacket and points out the silly little things that lots of us accept as the norm.
Consider for a moment the glorious days of Cartoon Network. Some of the happiest days of my childhood were spent sprawled out on my grandparents’ sofa, indulging in the Sky TV I was cruelly denied at home. It only just occurred to me that the programmes themselves, were fine. Well, no. They were amazing. Absolutely totally awesome and cool and rad. But this delightfully fringed young woman suddenly reminded me of the ad-breaks.
Weren’t they just gender stereotypes served to us on a plate, garnished with promises of a better life after having purchased whatever crappy lump of overpriced, mass-produced plastic they were advertising?
It was all toys. Toys everywhere. Toys as far as the eye could see. But they’re all so distinctive. There is always an indisputable forcing of the product on a particular target audience and it nearly always goes like this: here is a toy only for boys, here is a toy only for girls.
Example: some sort of weird metal in the background with some sort of flashy miniature automobile thrust on an angular backdrop of harsh colours. And fire. Usually fire. A shouty, bordering-on-aggressive male voice yelling at the young viewer: YEAH. AWESOME. LOOK AT THESE EXPLOSIONS. THIS CAR TURNS INTO AN MACHETE, TURNS INTO MP5, TURNS INTO A TANK, TURNS INTO AN APACHE HELICOPTER. Welcome to a world of heroism, warmongering, power, “proper action and shit”. And nobody is allowed to cry.
Fourty-five seconds later, the scene transforms and manifests itself as a sugary, glittering, pink-and-purple chunderfest. We hear something like the ambient tones one encounters in a lift, and are presented with plastic babies with demonic eyes, ponies and arts ‘n’ crafts. Hello young ladies. Look! It’s your married life pre-made in plastic. We’ll even show you what kind of creative to be, isn’t that USEFUL?
It’s a load of bull. I defy you to remember a single unisex toy advertised back when we were nippers, or a boy playing with a teeny tiny plastic kitchen, or a girl mucking about with toy army paraphernalia. I don’t see what right advertising has to define our roles for us before we’ve even decided what they could possibly be, for the sake of dollaaah.
However, I have nothing against Playmobil. That shit is about as unisex as it comes.
This is why I love that this child exists. To question the things I was too immature to as young’un. Just something to think about.