But why must so many toys for girls – even those that encourage outside play – be marketed as something pretty?
Who wouldn’t want to be like Katniss Everdeen? Strong, kind and tough, the heroine of the Hunger Games trilogy wields a bow and arrow so brilliantly she beats all comers and foments a revolution. Boys and girls alike love her, which helped make the first film of the series a global hit last year.
Here, at last, is a brilliant role-model for tweenage girls: one who wouldn’t be seen dead in a princess outfit in case it hindered her ability to run for her life, nor the sort of “and then my clothes fell off” fashion of so many computer-generated heroines (RIP Lara Croft). Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Katniss, refused to lose weight for the part and has spoken of the need for “strong and healthy” examples for young fans. In an interview on Newsnight last night the Oscar-winning actor said: “Kate Moss running towards you with a bow and arrow wouldn’t be scary.”
So imagine the scene as a group of toy manufacturers meet to discuss how best to capitalise on the latest movie in the franchise – Catching Fire, out 21 November, just in time for the Christmas gift guides. There are official badges and games and figures, of course, but what about the girls who really want to ape Katniss and wield a bow and arrow? And how about the parents who would love to buy toys that encourage outdoor play, rather than the makeup ranges and handbags that seem to start screaming at our daughters earlier and earlier?
Eureka, said the brains at Hasbro: let’s produce the Nerf Rebelle range of toy weaponry for the “ultimate in girl-power outdoor play”. The items – called the Pink Crush Blaster, the Guardian Crossbow and, yes, the Heartbreaker Bow – all come in pink, with prettily patterned soft darts.
OK, so the Heartbreaker Bow isn’t marketed directly at Hunger Games fans – partly because Hasbro didn’t win the franchise rights, I suppose – but I can’t think of many other reasons for the launch of a bow and arrow for girls this year. In a promotional video, a saleswoman dressed remarkably like Katniss shows off her target practice and speaks of accessories that allow girls to create an avatar. “You can play with the hair and face and shoes and clothes,” she says, happily. People, crossbows are meant to help you survive, not look good on a catwalk.
Abi Moore, the founder of Pinkstinks, the campaign that managed to get Hamleys to stop branding beauty products and ironing boards with pink for girls while leaving the construction toys and outdoor games for the boyfolk, is also disappointed. “We are desperate for decent female characters in film. Then one comes along and you get this. What’s so disappointing is that it has to be done in a pinkified, prettified way. It’s overly feminised. Not that there’s anything wrong with being feminine, but there’s more than one way to be a girl. It isn’t all about being pink and pretty.”
That’s the problem. I’ve got nothing against pink per se, and I’m happy to see it having a bit of a fashion moment for grownups. I’m tired of pointing out that pink was the colour of masculinity a long time ago – that there’s nothing inherently feminine, or inherently problematic, about the colour. I also think that, in some ways, Hasbro should be praised for producing a toy for an “outdoor girl”, rather than the makeup, jewellery, dolls and tea sets that sit them down inside the house. At last we have a female screen hero with the body of someone you could bump into in the supermarket and an aesthetic that suggests substance over style. But Hasbro appears to have taken this new type of girl hero and given her a marketing treatment that feels distinctly out of date – one that depends on being attractive, even when wielding a crossbow.
Both of my daughters want the “pink bow and arrow for girls” for Christmas – even the six-year-old, who isn’t allowed to watch the films. Their older brother is dismissive, pointing out that a version marketed to boys – or, as he calls it, “the black one” – does more. Katniss, their hero, would agree with him.
Trump’s Labor Department wants to ‘weaponize’ right-wing discrimination and bigotry
Just in case you wanted to believe that the Trump administration isn’t on a campaign to trample rights for Americans, here comes the Labor Department to shove a grapefruit in your face.
Labor officials have made public a new rule—no Congress, needed, thank you—to allow companies contracting with the federal government who are “religion-exercising organizations” to ignore federal laws protecting the rights of gays, transsexuals, and who knows who else in hiring or workplace practices. Religious employers and companies with “closely held” religious ties now will be shielded from claims of bias in court or other law enforcement actions, says the rule.
Trump warns media ‘treading in very dangerous territory’ for reporting bad poll numbers
President Donald Trump hurled new warnings at the news media for reporting damaging stories and negative poll numbers.
The president's approval rating was measured at 43 percent by two new surveys by NBC/Wall Street Journal and Fox News, and polls continue to show him losing to various Democratic challengers.
Trump insisted Monday that his "new internal polls" show the strongest support he's had so far, and also complained that unfair media coverage kept his approval ratings low -- and he retweeted those claims with a new threat against the media.
The LameStream Media is far beyond Fake News, they are treading in very dangerous territory! https://t.co/J60JgSFhcx
Trump unleashes bizarre stream of gobbledygook when reporter asks him to describe his health care plan
President Donald Trump has vowed multiple times over the past two-and-a-half years to unveil his own replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, but so far no actual plan has come to light.
As noted by CNN fact checker Daniel Dale, Trump was asked by a reporter in New Hampshire this week to describe his health care plan, and the president responded with a stream of gobbledygook.
"So, we have a great plan coming out," the president began when asked about his plan. "It's going to be -- if we can take back the House because we're not going to get the Democrats to vote for it, because they're doing Medicare for all, which is going to take away your freedom, take away your doctors, take away everything that you should be able to have, and most importantly, it's going to take away -- we have 180 million people right now that have private insurance and they love it, and all of that's going to be taken away. It's absolute craziness."