Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Comics are for Boys: Take-Away Message

The previous post was more of a rant than an analysis. I'm just going to clarify why marketing movies to boys  is more than just a consumerist desire for more products.

Hunger Games Barbie
Available online only. 

Marketing movies to only [White Anglo Protestant] boys discourages girls [and other races] from participating America's most important cultural activities. Television, video games, magazines, and other media remain below theater movies in the cultural hierarchy. Excluding females from the silver screen implies they lack a capacity, whether that be intellectual, social, or etc, that would otherwise make them equal to males and allow them to also become 'Good'* Americans.

For example: Spider-Man, an astronaut, is a hero and role model. The movie suggests that living well means shouldering responsibility and using whatever powers you have to help yourself and others. Not a bad message. But only boys can 'become' (buy) Spider-Man and have super-powers and save the city. That's a bad message.

Now, people can argue that girls won't want Spider-Man toys. That's a lie, but fine. At any rate, plenty of female centered movies could easily churn out products marketed to girls. See previous post. It's not the content I'm angered/saddened by, its the system that the message perpetuates.

It is easy to adapt television shows
into preexisting girl-toys, but not movies! Lies.

The point is, American society sees males as the ultimate keeper of our culture. Selling products to boys too young to see the movie allows the young boys to feel included in the patriarchal structure. Once initiated into such a system, they grow up seeing themselves as powerful and responsible individuals that can choose and follow the American Dream, just like Spider-Man.

This does not happen for girls. Girl toys rarely come from movies, and then only G-rated. The toys for 9-15yr old girls look remarkably like those for younger girls or like plastic versions of 16+ year old interests (jewlry etc). Meaning: girls cannot participate in the cultural transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. The limitations allow little exploration of who a girl can become and deny them super-heroines to look up to in awe. The message in such marketing casts females as lesser than males, and therefore powerless and not responsible for their well being. Consequently, women should not/do not peruse the American Dream but support the someone who is.

We can talk about equality in adult-terms of voting or the workplace or sexuality, but this sexual dimorphism happens before we become aware of its effects on our lives. American culture tells us how American should live, what makes us U.S. To ignore how culture effects children is to be a zombie: ignorant and irresponsible, mindlessly consuming what is given to you. By all means, follow the patriarchal system if that's what you believe. There are biological differences between boys and girls after all. What I want is the equal opportunity for girls to actively participate in their own American Dream.


*'Good' in the Aristotelian sense of eudaimonia, or living well.

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