It’s been a busy year at Let Toys Be Toys, full of tweeting & posting, organising events & meeting nice people, with the odd nerve-wracking radio appearance thrown in.
But amongst all that serious stuff there’s been a lot of silliness. During our forays into the gendered world of the toy industry we’ve come up against some gems of utter daftness, from pointlessly pinkified pens to insults that liken us to both Hitler and Marx in one fell swoop. We felt that such silliness should not go unrewarded. So we decided to honour it with the <drum roll please>
Let Toys Be Toys 2013 Silliness Awards…
The Most Needlessly Gendered Product Award
Now it goes without saying that we don’t think any toys should be gendered, but some marketing decisions are slightly more baffling than others. Take this Elmer the Elephant or this Gruffalo slipper, both characters much loved by boys and girls, yet both found in the ‘Boys’ aisle. Puzzling to say the least…..
But even we were surprised when Kinder Eggs jumped on the bandwagon and came up with the superbly original idea of pink and blue chocolate eggs.
After a slew of complaints they argued that they did not “promote [their] products as gender-specific” which must be why all the pink eggs gave birth to toys such as ponies and bracelets and all the blue eggs gave birth to things that go whizz. Not gender-specific, my ….
Ahem…. anyway we are pleased to announce that Kinder Surprise are the worthy winners of the Most Needlessly Gendered Product Award 2013, for taking the surprise out of Kinder Surprise and for proving that there is nothing that cannot be split up according to gender in the name of commercial profit.
The Most Pointlessly Pink Version of the Same Toy Award
Now there you were thinking that Jenga was just a fun game to be enjoyed by all members of the family. The concept of falling wooden blocks followed by laughter all round – it doesn’t get more universal than that.
But think again, my old-fashioned friend because there’s Jenga and there’s “Girl Talk Jenga”! This year’s runner up in The Most Pointlessly Pink Version of the Same Toy Award has bricks that are “pretty in pink” and questions like “What is your favourite clothing store?” and “Name someone you have a crush on right now”.
To be honest, the concept of adding questions to blocks isn’t necessarily a bad one but why oh why does it need to be just for girls?!
From inflatable pink orcas and Boutique monopoly to pink superman costumes and pink glue (we kid you not!) the idea of taking a regular product, giving it a pink makeover and selling it back to girls is so common that one wonders how girls will cope when they grow up and find out that the world is not covered in pastel pink.
Which brings us to this year’s worthy winner of The Most Pointlessly Pink Version of the Same Toy Award for taking not just the sea but pretty much the whole of the earth and painting it the colour of bubble-gum.
Ah yes, it’s the infamous globe, or as one follower called it “the globe, the goddamn pink globe”. We feel your pain, we really do!
The Funniest Insult Award
Oh my – where to start? Well the Daily Mail Comments Section would be a good place, for here we have been called all sorts, from PC-lovers to Marxists, from Feminazis to spineless liberals who are funded by the tax-payer (we wish!).
If you had just landed on earth you might be forgiven for thinking that we were single-handedly responsible for the downfall of western civilisation. Adelaide from Adelaide certainly thought so when she wrote:
“The cultural Marxist busy bodies are at it again undermining the traditional family culture in their objective to destroy one of human societies most fundamental bonds the family structure.”
Sheesh kebab! And we thought we were just campaigning about toys! Whilst the Daily Mail comments are reliably predictable there was one that we didn’t see coming: from blogger (and runner up in this prestigious category) Darragh Mowlds who said that we were “like the far-right of parenting groups”.
Yep, we’re still scratching our heads about that one!
But our Award for Funniest Insult goes to the hapless chap who penned this lovely comment and who kept us chuckling till the early hours of the morning:
“[this campaign] is a gimmick invented by quangos & adopted by middle class buffoons who live on Keynoir Salads!”
‘What’s Keynoir?’ you ask. A macro-economic policy? A posh way of pronouncing an African country? No, it is in fact that staple of every tree-hugging, vegetarian, leftie’s diet: Quinoa! Available from all good politically correct health food stores and as far as I know, not yet gendered.
The Straw man Argument (aka. Yes, that’s exactly what we said!) Award
If at any point in your lifetime you have publicly aligned yourself with anything remotely resembling a feminist viewpoint you will be quite familiar with the concept of the Straw man argument. The Straw man argument is designed to make the opponent look beyond foolish by attributing to them opinions that no rational person would actually believe.
The most popular Straw man argument against our campaign is that we are hell bent on insisting that all boys and girls are or should be EXACTLY the same. As Eilis O’Hanlan writes in what is possibly the most confused article ever written about the campaign:
‘The campaigners insist .. that you can change human nature by political will alone because, ultimately, differences between male and female are simply social conditioning, not based on anything inherent at all — but that seems naive at best. Girls and boys are different. They just are.’
It seems that the belief that people don’t have to be the same in order to enjoy the same opportunities is a bit too nuanced for our Eilis, as it is also for Johnnic from Bradley, who envisions a terrifying future of gender-neutral nonsense when he cries:
“what ever next, buying tampons for boys so they don’t feel left out?”
But whilst we sit here at LTBT HQ twiddling our moustaches and planning a world of “sexless clones” one thing concerns us: in the post revolution what will everybody wear? Thank goodness we have Madeleine Teahan, winner of this year’s Strawman Argument Award to give us the answer:
Because yes, that’s EXACTLY what we said!
Special Achievement Award for Outstanding Sexism
Usually sexism in our society creeps up on you like a silent ninja but sometimes it just hits you square in between the eyes and leaves you with your head on the keyboard whimpering “Why? Why? WHY?!” Such is the case for this year’s runner up in the Special Achievement Award for Outstanding Sexism which lays out bold and clear the different aspirations for the sexes.
“It is a fairly established part of children’s publishing that covers featuring girls are not appealing to boys, so we went with the image that gave the best opportunity to the book in the market”
Ah, that’s ok then!
But even such self-confessed sexism pales in comparison to this year’s winner of the Special Achievement Award for Outstanding Sexism: www.fridgemagic.com for taking that most basic of things: language, and dividing it into words appropriate for boys and girls, and then trying to give themselves gravitas by claiming “to compliment [ahem..sic] National Literacy Words”:
Words such as tiara, lipstick and jewels are of course crucial to every princess’s education whilst her future prince gallivants in the mud fighting monsters and scary spiders.
And that’s how we leave it at the end of 2013: that boys and girls are so different that they actually need different words. It seems that the only things that we have in common are bubbles and chocolate.
So here’s to bubbles and chocolate and a slightly less silly 2014!