Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Daddy, I Want to be a Slutty Lollipop Princess!

This post is dedicated to Hasbro, who in its most recent incarnation of Dungeons & Dragons, asked children (among others) to:

Think about how your character does or does not conform to the broader culture's expectations of sex, gender, and sexual behavior.

The slutty lollipop princess image is from Hasbro's current (2013) version of the classic game Candy Land (for ages 3+):


"Daddy, I Want to be a Slutty Lollipop Princess!"
"No son, not until you're potty trained."

Okay, that conversation never happened. But this one did:

"Daddy, She's pretty."
"You think so?"
"Yes."

My daughter wasn't referring to Princess Lolly (above), but rather, the current Candy Land's Princess Frostine:

"But Lydia, look at her eyes. Don't you think her eyes are a bit far apart and her lips are a bit weird?"
"She's pretty."
"She injected a chemical into her lips with a needle. It's called Collagen and it's poisonous."
"Oh."
"She'll die horribly from the poison and other people will then take her toys."
"I understand. Dad, can I have her magic wand?"
"Yes, I'll buy you one tomorrow at Target."

Okay, so the second half of that conversation never happened either (though my daughter does indeed possess a magic wand that I bought for her at Target). But the first half did.

Now to be serious:

Implicitly offering Lolly and Frostine as role models for 3-year-old girls (aimed at the mass-market suburban toy store crowd) while simultaneously hectoring older kids and adults about sexual and gender stereotypes (in the manner of the most humorless and ideologically puritanical sociology textbook) is about the most cynical thing I've seen in a long time.

Okay, I've seen a lot of cynical things recently, but still.

As some of you know, I can be fairly accurately characterized as a social conservative. A close friend--a social liberal--agreed with me about Lolly and Frostine (liberal feminists and, say, conservative Christians can unite on that, I think), but she made the point that Hasbro is a large company, different people are responsible for writing different games, etc. etc.

Not good enough.

There are people in the company that vet all these games concerning these sorts of issues.

Tailoring the message is a cynical calculation. Nothing more and nothing less.

Hasbro is beneath contempt.

10 comments:

  1. Yeah, that Princess Frostine looks like a Brats doll. LOL

    Weirdly enough, I have no issue with any of this. Mostly because I grew-up in that enviroment, but from a male prospective. Back in the '80s, boyhood idles were big, strong manly-men like Conan, Rambo, Mr. T, He-Man, and the countless other '80s action movie characters and fantasy beefcake pin-up art that was so prevalent back then. Back then, I took it all seriously, but as I got older, I look back on it with amusement.

    The funny thing is, that to a young mind, one see esthetics in extremes. To boys, its Barbarians and Commandos, while to girls, its Princesses and Fashion Models. This is understandable, as they are wish-fulfillment characters — boys tend to desire physical empowerment, while girls tend to desire love and attention, and yet, their are those who defies those expectations. A young child acts on their innate feelings and desires without much forethought. So when they see something they like, they don't ask themselves why they like it... They just do, and no force on earth could change their opinion about it.

    I also see the issue of the topic a silly, as RPGs are by their vary nature, escapist fantasies. RPGs allow one to play an imaginary character who can embody any or all of one's personal desires, even if it "does not conform to the broader culture's expectations of sex, gender, and sexual behavior." And that degree of shameless self-indulgence extends not just to all those jerk-ass Conan-clones, mopey/moody Drizzt-clones, and the so-called (and not-so) "special, unique snowflakes" (Bella Swan-clones), but also to little girls who wish they could be a beautiful fairy princess, despite the fact that everyone else see her image of a "beautiful fairy princess" as looking like something that is more built-up than a tacky-looking custom street racer — giant surfboard spoilers, overly obstructing supercharger and all!

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    1. Good and interesting points, though I would take issue with a few of them. I think you're right that we should not necessarily impose our adult conception of "tackiness" on our children, who may be looking at things through more innocent eyes--if that makes sense.

      This perhaps neither here nor there, but when I was a child, GI Joe was a 98 pound weakling. Without clothes, he looked gawky and almost undernourished. What was cool about him were, well, his accessories--the frogman outfit with the spear gun, the combat fatigue set with the "portable telephone", even the fancy dress Marine outfit with the little plastic black shoes, and so on. I don't remember wanting to be GI Joe. I just wanted to have him act out my imaginary dramas. Er, okay, so I wanted to dress him up.

      If I hear any snickering from you, Raul, you're a dead man. :)

      I actually think the slide from the "normal' GI Joe with accessories to the Rambo-like GI Joe with impossible pectorals parallels the slide from OD&D characters to, say, 4e characters. And I don't think that's very healthy either. But I'll stop now before I get even more pretentious.

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    2. Wha? Hey, no...that wasn't me... oh, look, a bird! ;)

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  2. "Weirdly enough, I have no issue with any of this. Mostly because I grew-up in that enviroment, but from a male prospective."

    Then, it seems, that the cultural Marxists have won.

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    1. Yeah, though at this point I wouldn't say it's the cultural Marxists per se that are behind it. In a depressing but I suppose exquisite sort of irony, they're just dupes of something else or rather someone else that I think we both know well. And he does seem to winning (though of course he'll never win in the end).

      On a lighter note. Raul, have you ever heard the Mick Jagger interview (I wish I knew how to find it on the web) where he talks about why he left the LSE? After I heard him say "Mahhhk-sist" I was never able to hear anything but that in my head whenever I saw the word. :)

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    2. I had never known that bit of trivia about Mick Jagger. That is fascinating indeed. Heh, I'd love to hear him say that word. I'd be tempted to pronounce it similarly just to mock it. That reminds me, have you ever seen that animated film, Rock'n'Rule? The lead villain reminds me of Mick.

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  3. Ummmm at risk of ignoring all the deep social implications of this could it just be that the artists now doing the majority of main stream illustrations are all manga fans? Sorry but I am thinking the artwork by Hasboro is probably done by junior to possibly mid level employees in the 25 to 30 year old range. 10 years ago maybe a little more is when the explosion of Manga hit the US so it would be about right. Or another way to look at it watch what is on TV as entertainment for that age range (or say Frozen as an example for movie) while better dressed it isn't all that different a character. And if you are waxing nostalgic for the Candyland you grew up with I suggest comparing its artwork to any of the Hanna Barbara figures. Just a thought. And not an excuse I may add somebody should be watching this stuff at corporate but Google "the Birds Barbie" I kid you not such a thing made it all the way to production prototype before a normal person went can you possibly be that stupid? Okay I don't know actually how the plug got pulled exactly but I hope that is what happened.

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  4. I'm not an expert by any means. I have no reason to think that Manga per se is evil. But the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that it has had a bad influence. If that makes sense.

    In the interests of truth: As I discovered tonight, in Target they sell two versions of Candy Land. The two slutty girls are on the cover of the 'Princess' version. The other (and cheaper version) has an annoyingly tacky and busy cover, but without those two offenders. From my quick readings of the blogs and their visual samples, Lolly--the pink-stockinged tart--nevertheless appears on the inside board of the second one. (No, I'm not springing even $8.99 to verify that.)

    The original 1949 board features two 'normal' looking kids (circa 1949) but no other people. There is only a road meandering though 'Candy Land', featuring ice cream swamps and forests made out of, well, candy. Interestingly it's that version I remember. But I'm not THAT old. Perhaps it was my mother's copy.

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  5. "She'll die horribly from the poison and other people will then take her toys."
    "I understand. Dad, can I have her magic wand?"

    "You can loot the body after she dies: roll for initiative!"

    (personally, I have already explained to my 6 years-old daughter that princesses who are too much concerned about their look are the first ones to be fed to the dragons)

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    1. Didn't see your comment until now, porphyre77. I greatly approve of your teaching method.

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