Here are a few holiday groans spotted this week. If you see an example of cultural presentation that conveys problematic gender or race messages, let me know!
Spotted in a church bulletin this week in an announcement for a youth group holiday party: “Girls bring sweet snacks; boys bring salty snacks.” That sets the tone for these stinkers toys . . .
We didn’t have to look much further than this Sunday’s ToysRUs circular this week. Here is the week’s winner, an ad for telescopes:
Notice that the pink telescope has a lower power than the others; apparently girls don’t need to see quite so far away. “Just look at the moon, honey.”
Now check out the ultimate gender-contrast in dolls for small kids. For girls we have the Bratz “Let’s Talk” doll, which my partner insisted be included because, he notes, “They accidentally put a belt on her instead of a skirt!”
An honorable mention this week is the outfit for the Liv Dolls called Liv’n Wild Animal Instincts dress. I don’t even care what it looks like; who thought up this name?! The product description for Liv dolls on Amazon instructs girls that “Outrageous makeovers, talking about boys, getting dolled up at the boutique or just chillin’ and laughing with your girls, you’ll never get bored in Liv world .”
Meanwhile, if you’re a boy, Target offers you the remote control missile-firing Walking Iron Man doll.
One online review of this doll notes that it’s sure to be a hit if your child is a fan of the film. Hmmm, the film is rated PG-13, but the doll is for “ages 4 and up.” The review goes on to describe “cool lights to intimidate his opponents,” “mighty phrases like ‘Target engaged,'” “authentic movie phrases,” and urges children to “practice firing at the targets so when the real fight goes down, you and your figure are ready.”
I mentioned this in my last post – the way toy companies tie toys for very young boys into violent media intended for older audiences. Another example are toys related to the Halo series of video games, including action figures and Lego/Mega Bloks sets. Halo is rated M for mature audiences over 17, so why are there Halo Lego sets for ages 7-14, like this “Exo-Force Gate Assault?”
In the US, we tend to rate protecting our kids from sex much more highly than protecting them from violence. Reviews of the Halo games on Christian Web sites praise its realistic battle scenes, while cautioning parents that there is a brief view of a naked behind not mentioned in the rating. One parent commented that they loved the game, but wouldn’t have bought it if s/he had known it contained swearing. A young person posted on Yahoos Answers “My parents won’t let me get it [Halo Reach] if it has sex and I will have to beg if it says strong language.” Upon hearing the reply, “100% definitely rated “M” but probably just for blood (and/or gore) and violence and maybe language or mild language.defininetly not sex or anything like that,” the original poster responds enthusiastically, “Thanks a lot. the link even showed that it was m for blood and violence so it looks like i will be playing halo reach for the next year or so.”
I don’t know what the Christmas season means for your family — it might be a solstice celebration of light in the midst of winter darkness, or it might be a purely secular family ritual of togetherness, or it might be related to the birth of a baby 2,000 years ago promised to be the Prince of Peace. In any case, how did we get from these festivals and traditions to joyfully preparing our boys to be soldiers?