Posts Tagged ‘Young Justice’

McDonald’s Toys LOVE To Reinforce Stereotypical Gender Roles

March 23, 2011

A lot of comic book sites have been commenting lately on McDonald’s line of Young Justice toys.  Currently, when you go to McDonald’s you get one of eight fun Young Justice figures.  Take a look:

They are, in order, Robin, Batman, Superboy, Superman, Aqualad, Black Manta, Kid Flash, and Captain Cold.  They look very cool, but there’s a problem.  They’re all boys.  The TV show features several female characters… Miss Martian and Artemis are regulars, while Black Canary is the team’s official trainer.  Furthermore, there are female villains, such as Cheshire.  There’s no lack of women in Young Justice, but they’ve been excluded here.  And in favour of some odd choices too… Superman’s barely ever in the show, Black Manta was only on once, and Captain Cold hasn’t even shown up yet.  Yet they got picked over female characters who are in EVERY episode. 

However, this is perfectly okay to the folks at McDonald’s… if you’re looking for a female toy, Young Justice is only half of the current line-up.  They also offer a delightful selection of Littlest Pet Shops toys, tiny little animals with stands you can decorate with flower stickers.  They look like this:

McDonald’s does this all the time.  They put out two lines of toys, one aimed at boys and one aimed at girls, that only serve to reinforce stereotypical concepts of gender.  The boy’s toys are always cars or trucks or superheroes, something actiony with moving parts and usually somehow associated with violence, while the girl’s toys are always dolls or cute animals, something they can cuddle or comb and generally nurture.  Plus, these toys are explicitly referred to in gendered terms.  The question is rarely “Do you want Young Justice or Littlest Pet Shop?”, but rather “Do you want the boy or the girl toy?”  And that’s just in the drive-thru… if they can see your kid, you’re getting the toy that matches their gender.

This is a problem.  Instead of getting to pick the toy they like the most, kids are bombarded with the idea that their gender must determine their preference.  When boys are constantly given toys referred to as “boys” toys, they start to think that a) this is what boys are supposed to like, b) boys aren’t allowed to like “girl” toys, and c) girls aren’t allowed to like “boy” toys (this all works vice versa with girls too, of course).  This sets up a paradigm where anyone acting outside of their proscribed gender roles becomes an object of scorn and ridicule.  As this seeps into their little brains, kids start to see everything through a gendered binary.  What starts out as toys, games, and activities, over time affects educational choices, careers, and household responsibilities.

And it’s all McDonald’s fault.

Well, not quite, but they do this ALL the damn time.  Observe:

These are the Marvel Heroes toys from 2010.  Not a female in the bunch, but there was an earlier line of Littlest Pet Shop toys available for the gals.  There are quite a few female Marvel heroes (Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, any number of X-women), but none of them made the cut here.

Also from 2010 is this selection of Batman: The Brave and the Bold toys.  They could have gone with Wonder Woman or Black Canary or Catwoman or Vixen or Batgirl, to name a few, but not so much.  There were, however, a lovely selection of My Little Pony figurines.

In 2009, McDonald’s had toys from the Spectacular Spider-Man TV show.  Gwen Stacey, Mary Jane Watson, and Black Cat were all options (I can understand them not doing an Aunt Mae… that’s a dull figure), but they went for Hello Kitty instead.

The Lego Batman game was all the rage in 2008, and so McDonald’s had this line of toys.  If you’ve played the game you know that not only are Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman heavily featured, they’re also SUPER handy because of their awesome double jump feature.  But McDonald’s had girls covered with some weird looking Wizard of Oz dolls.

Finally, in 2007 there was a series of Legion of Super Heroes figures.  The show featured Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, Emerald Empress, and several other female characters, but McDonald’s went with all boys.  Plus, of course, a cute Build-A-Bear doll.

Lest you think I’m picking on McDonald’s, lets take a quick gander at a few superhero related toys from other restaurants:

Burger King put out some figures for Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007, and lo and behold they included Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman. 

Previously, Burger King’s X-Men: The Last Stand toys had featured Storm AND Jean Grey (who dies five minutes into the damn movie!!).

Wendy’s 2005 Teen Titans Go! toys included a wristband, a Frisbee, and this cool clock, all of which included Raven and Starfire alongside their male teammates.

Finally, we are back to Burger King for their 2003 Justice League figures that featured Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl.

So, what the hell, McDonald’s??  Why do they love relegating kids’ preferences into tiny, stereotypical little boxes?  Are they patriarchal fiends trying to perpetuate the stereotypical concepts of gender that have subjugated women and kept men ruling the world for millennia?  Or, perhaps they’ve stumbled upon the most brilliant business model of all time.  Forcing children to deny their own desires and conform to a rigid concept of gender likely builds up feelings of loss and resentment.  And what does the Western world do with these unpleasant feelings?  We try to eat them away.  And where do we eat them away?  AT MCDONALD’S!!  They’re just raising the next generation of McDonald’s customers.

Whether they’re patriarchal jackasses or brilliant, malevolent businessmen, I am most definitely NOT loving this toy situation.

UPDATE: For more examples of McDonald’s ridiculousness, check out this post.


Dr. Fate, Klarion The Witch Boy, And Madame Xanadu On Young Justice

February 21, 2011

I am really digging Young Justice so far… it’s a good time.  The team is cool, and an interesting blend of versions of the characters.  In terms of current comics continuity, it’s all out of whack, but it’s building its own universe and I think it’s working for them.  Wally West is Kid Flash here, who was an original Teen Titan way back in the 1960s, while Superboy is a Superman clone from the modern version of the team (still no word on whether or not he’s half Lex Luthor, but I hope he is as that makes for good times).  Have they said that Robin is Dick Grayson yet?  He strikes me as more the Tim Drake sort, but I don’t remember it being specified.  The team works as a whole, and it’s a fun show.

A cool part of Young Justice building its own universe is that it can borrow things from the DC universe now and historically and do new things with it.  Take, for example, three of this week’s guest stars.  First up was Madame Xanadu, who is a master sorceress from Arthurian times normally, but here is a New Orleans psychic:

But instead of a master sorceress, she tries to fake out Kent Nelson with wind machines and a table on hydraulics.  And she had a cool New Orleans accent… I hope she comes back.  And I think she will, as she wasn’t particularly integral to the show.  Any fake psychic would have worked, so maybe there’s a bigger plan there.

Dr. Fate was pretty much his usual self, as you can see from his appearance:

They went old school with it, though, with the original World War II, Justice Societying Kent Nelson.  Outside of the helmet, Nelson is now over a hundred years old, his life apparently prolonged by all his magical interactions.

Finally, they had Klarion the Witch Boy, who looks pretty much like he always does:

But who they’ve changed into a Lord of Chaos and arch-rival of Nabu (the Lord of Order who lives in the Helmet of Fate).  He still has Teekl, though, which is fun… here his pet cat serves as his familiar that keeps him linked to the Earthly plane.  He teamed up with Abra Kadabra but, as you may have already surmised, Abra Kadabra is silly and we don’t really need to talk about him.

I like tweaked mythology… it’s fun when people mix it up.  The changes have worked well for the female members of the team too… it looks like the Martians haven’t been wiped out in the Young Justice universe, so Miss Martian is carefree and funny instead of somber and, you know, alone in the universe.  And Artemis seems nothing like Green Arrow’s current protégé, Speedy… it sounds like she might be Cheshire’s daughter, which is total continuity chaos if you’re familiar with the DC universe at all.  But it makes Artemis bad ass and mysterious. 

Young Justice has been great so far, and I heartily recommend that you all check it out.  Though apparently it’s not new next week, so good timing me.  It’s back on March 4th, so check it out then!!

Young Justice Review

November 27, 2010

The new Young Justice cartoon premiered last night on the Cartoon Network and, like pretty much every cartoon DC puts out, it was really good.  The show isn’t set in the continuity of past shows like Justice League, Teen Titans, or The Batman.  Instead, it establishes its own universe with new versions of the characters and new voice actors.  Here is an impressively long preview:

The episode begins with Batman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Green Arrow bringing their sidekicks (Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Speedy) to Justice League headquarters for the first time.  The young heroes assume they are going to become full, participating members, but instead they are relegated to the building’s lobby.  An irate Speedy storms off (to do some heroin, I first thought, but then I remembered this was a kid’s show), but the remaining lads decide to take some initiative and investigate a fire at Cadmus Labs.  Things, of course, get crazy, and they end up fighting a mind-controlled Guardian, freeing Superboy (a clone of the Man of Steel), and then taking down Blockbuster.  Having proved themselves, they get their own headquarters, with Red Tornado and Black Canary as guardians and Batman giving them missions.  The boys also got a new female member, Miss Martian, the Martian Manhunter’s niece, and the stage is now set for their further adventures.

Young Justice’s premiere was crazy fun.  There were lots of good fights in Cadmus, with everyone using their particular skills.  Robin has gadgets, Kid Flash has speed, Aqualad has super-strength and cool water powers, and Superboy has a series of intermittent abilities (he hasn’t quite gotten the hang of everything yet).  The varied skills give each character something different to do, making it a solid team show.

All of the characters are well done, mostly rooted in the comics but also containing new elements.  Robin is Dick Grayson, although his costume is basically Tim Drake’s, and he is a fun, wise-cracking computer hacker.  Kid Flash is Wally West, and his costume is a slight variation on the usual Kid Flash outfit, and he is sort of sarcastic and not yet in full control of his speed powers.  Aqualad is Kaldur’ahm, and he resembles the new Aqualad in Brightest Day.  So far he seems to be the strong, silent type.  Superboy, Speedy, and Miss Martian aren’t very fleshed out yet, and I don’t think that Speedy will be on the team initially, but they were all well done and seemed like their comic book versions.

The voice casting is excellent, and suits all of the characters well.  Even Batman is good.  Now, ideally Kevin Conroy would ALWAYS play Batman, even in live action flicks (I think Christian Bale should be dubbed with Kevin Conroy’s voice), but Bruce Greenwood does a great job, which was a pleasant surprise. 

I really enjoyed the premiere, and was bummed when I remembered that the show doesn’t start to air regularly until January.  It was a fantastic beginning to the series, and there is a great deal of potential for it to get even better.  What I liked best was the introduction of The Light, the weird, secretive villain(s) who ran Cadmus.  The show will likely be far more episodic than serialized, but The Light provides a Big Bad for the series that they can reference sporadically throughout the season and build up to an epic confrontation for the finale.

As always, I had my eye out for Wonder Woman, and she appeared near the end of the show with a group of other heroes.  She had no lines, but closely resembled her comic book self.  Here is a somewhat blurry screen grab:

Apparently there were some legal troubles in getting Wonder Girl for the show, but those have been resolved and she may be introduced later in the season.  Artemis is shown in all the promotional images, but exactly who she is (Artemis is an Amazon in current continuity) remains to be seen.  If Wonder Girl does show up later on, I assume it will be Donna Troy, given that Robin is Dick Grayson and Kid Flash is Wally West.  They seem to be going old school.

All in all, Young Justice was a crazy fun show, and I am jazzed for the season to start properly.  Look for it this January on the Cartoon Network (or, if you are in Canada like me, I assume it will be on Teletoon… whatever you do, don’t download it… that would be wrong… SO wrong).

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