You’ve probably heard about Lego’s sexist new Friends sets just for girls that hits stores next week. But do you know about the other new Legos coming out in 2012? The Journal Inquirer reports: “The Lego Group has inked a deal with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to create building sets based on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movie trilogy and two new films based on ‘The Hobbit,’ scheduled for release in 2012.”
Check out this link to the Journal Inquirer that pictures Lego’s new toy. It won’t let me copy the photo, but the Lego figs pictured look so much cooler than the Friends for girls and guess what: they’re all male.
Of course they are. That makes sense right? Think about “Lord of the Rings.” How many females were in that high grossing, Academy Award-winning series?
Other best-selling Lego sets are based on the “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars” movie series.
Do you see the sexism chain reaction here? (Serial reaction?) When girl characters are excluded from movies, they’re left out of the toys and branding on all kinds of kids clothing and products as well. Please take a look at Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing from Kids’ Movies in 2011. These movies predominantly star males, feature multiple males in the cast, and often highlight the names of males in their titles. This kind of blatant sexism repeatedly teaches kids that males are more important than females, and that’s a horrible lesson for both genders to learn.
Of course The Hobbit was a book long before it was a movie. J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic came out in 1937. But it’s Hollywood’s appropriation of the story that makes it massively popular with a new generation, grounding it in pop culture and inciting the creation of a slew of toys timed to hit stores around the same time the movie hits theaters.
Hollywood shows our kids animals who talk, rats who cook, toys who come to life, and singing lions who befriend warthogs. Is it too much to ask to see imaginary worlds where girls and boys get equal representation? How long do we have to wait?
Anyone see “Arthur Christmas” this year?
As long as Hollywood restricts female characters to a tiny minority in its films, it’s going to be challenging to convince toy companies to represent heroic females in their toys. It’s asking them to use a lot more imagination.
Of course, toy companies should be imaginative. Lego markets itself as a learning toy, one that is good for “fostering creative play.” It’s unfortunate that Lego chose to spend its time (4 years) and money “researching” the best way to copy Disney, finally coming out with a product that turns its once special toy into princess clones. Maybe Lego should do some real research on how to encourage girls to “foster creative play.” How?
Here’s one great idea from Nancy Gruver of New Moon Girls:
Here’s a suggestion, Lego: Take the four girls from the 4th Motor Team of Wisconsin who won the 2011 First Lego League North American open robotics challenge (the 1st all-girl team to win)! Here’s some video of them winning the N.A. competition. All this, and a little herstory about the first computer programmer Ada Lovelace, show how easy it is to encourage girls to do creative problem-solving with Legos – inspiration, pure and simple.
This winning team of girls should lead development of Lego’s next set for girls. I’m more than glad to help Lego learn how to share power with girls in developing great products for them without reducing to lowest-common-denominator stereotypes. It can be done and sustained, as we’ve done at New Moon Girls for nearly 20 years now.
What do you think, Lego?
PBG has started a petition against the Lego for girls sets that has over 2,000 signatures. Go to Change.org to sign.
People upset about the sexist sets are also going to Lego’s Facebook page and posting the 1981 pic shown below, asking Lego to bring beautiful back.