A Guy Named Goo (aguynamedgoo) wrote,
A Guy Named Goo

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Ranty Panties: Mattel and Sexism

Okay, as you folks around here know, I'm both ambivalent toward the ongoing Pleasant Company vs. Mattel war, and not terribly likely to jump on the feminism steed and ride into battle crying "sexism!" the whole way. So when I'm climbing on the Internet to cry "MATTEL IS SEXIST", you gotta know I have serious, irrefutable proof.

Okay, aside from AG dolls, some of you know my major love is action figures (I consider my gashapon collection to be an extension of that). Whenever I am really into something, before I jump into making a doll of a character, first thing I do is shop around for action figures and and usually get a handful of them for whatever my interest is. Right now that interest is Avatar: the Last Airbender, a Nickelodeon show that just wrapped up, and the action figures are largely discontinued and hard to find.

So I'm poking through various websites and online stores looking for an action figure of Katara, a female main character who has been in the show since the first episode, and isn't a token female character, either. Her actions in the first episode were the catalyst of the entire series. She's a master of her particular ability, usually very level-headed and practical (to the point that yes, sometimes other characters see her as a nag), an all around competent, well-rounded female character.

There's not a single action figure of her.

Thinking this had to be a mistake, I poked around more and more and more. I quickly realized there are no action figures of any female characters, not even the microscopic "figures" in the mini-sets. Not the female main villain of two seasons, not the other strong female main character introduced in the second season, none. These are characters shown in almost every episode after their introduction. Instead you've got figures of male characters who were in a handful of episodes, two of a character who has a speaking role in only three episodes.

Guess who is responsible for the toy line? You guessed it: Mattel.

As it turns out, I wasn't the only one to notice and feel angry at the lack of female characters. Several even sent them letters, including a woman who wanted a chance to buy the female characters for her son so he didn't have to use his sister's dolls to play the female characters all the time. Here is the form letter they were sending out in response to it as of middle of last year:


Two things:

1.) "Katara's increased role on the show"? As I stated before, she's been a main character since the very first episode. The only way she could become more important is if she were the title character.

2.) Obviously, they were lying about releasing a figure of her, because it's mid-to-late 2008, the show is over, and there still isn't one, and it seems that Mattel is done with that line, not even making figures for characters beyond the first season (which aired in '05, BTW).

I know the show runners aren't responsible for this because they've stated in interviews since the show began the reason they created Katara and the other strong female characters was to show the boys in the target demographic of the show that girls could be just as cool as the male characters. There's even an episode in the first season devoted to showing kids sexism is bad and girls are just as awesome as boys. Mattel's form letter even seems to acknowledge they are responsible for which figures are released when and for whatever reason, they decided not to release any of the female characters.

So that's my long-ass rant for the day. I'm going to go shake my fist angrily at Mattel for a little while (I'd send them a letter, but with the toy line apparently a done deal, I'd probably just get a form letter about them no longer developing any figures for it at all) and then do something relaxing.

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