We should’ve seen it coming. After the #WheresNatasha and #WheresGamora campaigns – hashtags that called out the lack of female representation in the merchandise for Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy – WHY did anyone assume that Disney, toy manufacturers, or retailers would’ve learned their lesson for Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Were we that naïve? Did we just not want to admit what we all KNEW was going to happen? That, even though Daisy Ridley’s Rey was the LEAD CHARACTER in the whole damn film, she would be almost impossible to find on Force Awakens merchandise. Because that’s EXACTLY what happened. Hence the inevitable hashtag #WheresRey.
As a dad and as a rational human being with a soul and a shred of empathy, I AM FED UP. What else can we do?! How else can we shame manufacturers and retailers to stop pulling this shit?! At this point, all I can do is prepare my daughter for the worst. And maybe you should too. Because there is a LOT of potential for more of the same in 2016.
In my most recent fit of geek-dad rage, I put together this list of the most likely pop culture candidates that might disappoint, demean, and marginalize our daughters in the coming year. These are the movies, the big movies, that SHOULD KNOW better when it comes to gender issues, the movies that SHOULD KNOW that we want to see their major female characters represented in their merchandising and marketing. And yet… despite all that, we all kind of know they’re going to fuck it up.
Let me be clear – I WANT TO BE WRONG ABOUT THESE. I REALLY, REALLY DO. But seeing Rey treated so poorly has robbed me of any new hope when it comes to this kind of gender discrimination. Maybe this list will help preemptively shame these predictions into not happening. Maybe it won’t. All I know is that I don’t think we’ve seen the last #Wheres hashtag of 2016…
Prepare Your Daughters For These Probable Pop Culture Gender Marketing Fails in 2016:
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25)
Given the Batman v Superman title, it’s a little hard to fault Warner Brothers for not marketing Wonder Woman as much as the other two guys, but, keep in mind, this represents the first big-screen appearance of Wonder Woman EVER. Expectations are HIGH, particularly with young girls, and I’m nervous about Zack Snyder’s ability to deliver a strong, non-sexualized female heroine (Looking at you, Sucker Punch). And, yes, some early designs of a WW action figure have been released, but you KNOW they’re going to be hard to find. Get that #WheresWonderWoman hashtag ready…
(Also, if the movie ends with Batman and Superman bickering and Wonder Woman making a “Men… sheesh!” joke, I will not be held responsible for how much swearing will be unleashed in that movie theatre.)
Captain America: Civil War (May 6)
Disney and Marvel have never adequately responded to any of the #Wheres campaigns in the past. Black Widow has been marginalized in the merchandising for THREE movies so far, so why should we believe that they’ve finally learned their lesson for Civil War? Get ready to dust-off your #WheresNatasha tag. And, while I guess it’s nice to get Scarlet Witch back into the fold, it’s more than a little lame that each side of the Civil War conflict gets one token girl only. If that wasn’t bad enough, who wants to bet that, ostensibly, the most powerful woman in the current Marvel movie-verse, i.e. Stark Industries CEO Pepper Potts won’t even show up? The standalone Captain Marvel movie can NOT come fast enough, guys…