Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Boy Toys -- A Tribute WTF of the month

The Cliterature Blog often has WTF posts, so I thought I'd do one of my own, but it's more a grumpy old man flailing his fists at the world pointlessly.

The cable cartoon channels have become more and more advert heavy of late, and as we let our daughter watch Dora the Explorer in the mornings we are getting bombarded with adverts for kid's toys.

There is a strong gender divide evident in the ads. The 'girl toys' are all about caring, sharing, and "being you". Babies to feed, burp and change. Sick animals to care for. Clothes to colour, wear and share. Oh, and they are all pink. So much pink.

But the toys for boys. Well, obviously they are more about action, mayhem, cars, spaceships and monsters.

There's nothing unexpected about that. Disappointing maybe, but not unexpected.

The part that has me waving my grumpy fists in the air is that a number of these ads contain bad behaviour by the boys in the ads. The two links are examples. They imply that part of the 'fun' of playing with the toy is being obnoxious to others. They make such behaviour not only acceptable, but expected. It becomes part of the play experience ...

Buy this toy and annoy.

It's okay ... we've showed you how to do it. Spray the girl next door with fake dinosaur acid. Taunt your brother after you give him a hot-wheeled beat down.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying these kids are doing anything more than being kids. These things happen. Kids taunt, slime and spray others. My girl does it all the time. In real life the play is not as clear-cut along gender lines as it is in the adverts.

But why are the girls in these ads always the victims?

I know the answer. Sales. Gender differentiation is important in product branding, etc. But I can't help despise this ad-sanction one-sided gender-biased play.

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