Monday, August 5, 2013

Girl Power, Bronies, and the Magical Land of Stereotype Marketing

Remember My Buddy?  The delightful doll with a delightful theme song that your delightful son can play with.  My Buddy could ride a big wheel, play in a tree house, or become a construction worker.  He could go anywhere you go--until the movie Child's Play.  Then My Buddy stayed locked in an upstairs linen closet (the one with the good towels that you only use when company comes) for 27 years.

The big deal about My Buddy before it served as inspiration to the movie that wrecked my childhood was that it was marketed to boys!  A doll for boys, how absurd! Boys like guns and sports stuff and Stretch Armstrong (which is an ACTION FIGURE, thank you very much).  The only reason Hasbro marketed My Buddy was to bring boys into the homosexual lifestyle.  Or at least that's what my friend's older brother told me, and he should know.  He flunked the 8th grade twice.

Outside the failed boy-doll experiment of 1985, the U.S. marketing establishment keeps to a boy/girl segregation system.  Girls toys should be pink and purple pastels.  Boys get red and yellow (suck it, blue).  Baby girl clothes get kittens, cupcakes and hearts.  Boy baby clothes get puppies, dinosaurs and trucks.  Girl cartoons offer talking animals and social lessons.  Boys get robots, violence and seizures.

Crossing over is strictly prohibited.  Ever try to give a boy a copy of The Hunger Games or the game Apples to Apples for a birthday present.  Hell no!  At best you get an eye-roll from the other parents. Most likely a big spit-wad in your cake.  Take your baby girl outside in a dinosaur sleeper and that's just cause for Child Protective Services.  Thank God Lego is finally allowing girls to dream about being architects and engineers by offering building block sets of pet shops and salons.

"I'm immune to such neanderthal thinking," you say.  Ever meet a Brony?  Bronies are boys and men who love the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic cartoon.  You might be marginally all right with a Brony IF you can justify why a guy would sit down and watch the magical adventures of Twilight Sparkles and her five pony friends.  Maybe he has a daughter or niece or sister that watches the show and maybe he just happens to be in the room and find the show tolerable?  But if he's 47 year old, single Hal from accounting, I bet you have second thoughts about letting your kids sit on his lap if he's Santa at the Christmas party.

I worry about The Princess (who, by the way, named herself that over my objections) getting too "girly."  Her fascination with the Disney princesses borders on fanatical, and every day she dresses herself and me in pretty jewelry and purses.  However, she stays at home with her slovenly father all day who is much too cheap for commercial TV, so I guess she just naturally gravitates towards cartoon royalty.  Either that or Disney secretly puts subliminal messages in her store-brand Cheerios that she really wants the Little People Cinderella Castle.  At least her favorite color is black.

But the problem remains.  Do we want Wal-Mart to dictate that only boys should buy Magic: the Gathering and girls must be the only ones into The Littlest Pet Shop?  Boys could like pets and girls could like a never-ending battle of good versus evil within the Planes of Shandalar.  I don't know the answer, and besides I'm too busy watch reruns of Jem to find out.  She's truly outrageous.  Truly, truly, truly outrageous.

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