#WheresRey, Sexism and Feminism in Film

#WheresRey, Sexism and Feminism in Film

Hello Rebels, and welcome back to my life.

If something appears to be wrong with me—it is! I’m sick, so please pardon the deepness of my voice, my dampened enthusiasm and my inability to speak quite as quickly as I normally would.

Although I’m sure many of you will view those as vast improvements.

I got sick because yesterday I took my kids to Disneyland, and Disneyland, like any crowded place, is a cesspool for disease.

As we usually do at Disneyland, near the end of the day we told the kids they could all get one toy before we went home, and they wanted to go to the Star Wars store, so in we went.

Now I made a video a while back about going to see the new Star Wars film in theaters, and how I took my daughter to see it.

Rey is unquestionably her favorite character. She got a Rey poster and hung it in her room. She wants to be a Jedi when she grows up, because of Rey.

And the Star Wars store in Disneyland—Disneyland, the home of all things Disney, does not have a single Rey toy. Not a single one.

They have big, gigantic, 12” toys of Finn and Chewbacca and Kylo Ren—which, by the way, is what we ended up settling for with Dawn. She got the Kylo Ren toy, and she likes it and it’s gorgeous. It’s really well-made and just looks awesome.

And of course the store had BB-8. Luke got one of those. It rolls around on the floor and chirps when you talk to it. It’s great.

And they didn’t just have toys from the new movie. They had toys from all the movies, even prequels, and the Star Wars: Clone Wars TV show and the new Star Wars: Rebels TV show.

They had Yoda and Darth Vader and even freaking Wampas. WAMPAS.

But they didn’t have one. Single. Freaking. Rey toy.

Now I’m even close to the first person to talk about this. The hashtag #WheresRey was big on social media back in December, and is still being talked about now.

And I was definitely annoyed about it, and I talked about it a bit on social media, but now it’s really hit me where I live, and so yeah, I’m pissed off.

I just guess I thought that at Disneyland, of all places in the world, they might have a Rey toy so that my daughter’s perfect day at her favorite place in the world wasn’t ruined.

Now, before you jump in the comments about how this is a first-world problem—yes. Yes, it is, I completely acknowledge that. But guess what? It’s still a problem.

“Other people have it worse” is a completely invalid argument to anyone’s point. It’s the language abusers use: “This isn’t even that bad. Other people aren’t treated even this well.”

So if that’s what you’re thinking right now as you’re watching this, just stop. Don’t say it. Don’t make yourself look like that person.

Sexism on this level becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and it’s totally messed up. Companies think Star Wars toys are only for boys so they don’t make toys of the girl character EVEN THOUGH SHE’S THE MAIN CHARACTER OF THE FREAKING MOVIE

So of course no one buys Rey toys because they literally can’t. You can’t even get good Rey toys online.

The 12” Kylo Ren toy we bought for Dawn goes for $13.00 on Amazon.com right now, but a CRAPPY 6” Rey toy that has terrible reviews because of how awful it looks is FORTY FREAKING DOLLARS.

No, I don’t think that many parents are going to buy that toy for their kids when it’s awful and you’re charging twice as much for a figure half the size.

THIS. THIS is what people are complaining about when they complain about diversity in entertainment. They don’t make movies starring women or people of color because they think the audience doesn’t exist for that type of movie.

And even when that movie DOES finally get made and it’s LITERALLY THE BIGGEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME, they don’t provide it with the merchandising they do for other movies, and so they’re actively hampering it from becoming as big of a cultural phenomenon as all the other films in this franchise.

Yeah, the lack of Rey merchandising is just a SYMPTOM. And you can go on all you want about how the SYMPTOM is not the PROBLEM.

But in this case, the SYMPTOM helps PERPETUATE the problem. Because yeah, if you DON’T back up an entertainment franchise with merchandise that appeals to a certain market, that market WILL lose interest.

Media companies KNOW this. That’s WHY they merchandise in the first place.

So by actively EXCLUDING girls from the Star Wars universe, they’re shooting themselves in the foot AND letting down an entire generation of young girls who look up to Rey.

And the absolute worst part of all this is that I can’t do ANYTHING about it. Except for complain. Which I have now spent about four minutes doing. Loudly.

THIS is why there’s a movement to kick old white guys out of the Academy. THIS is why there’s a movement to diversify entertainment in general and filmmaking in particular, and make it so it’s not a bunch of white dudes running the show.

Because THEY are the people who don’t think there’s a problem in the first place. THERE IS. And what we’re talking about here is only ONE symptom of that problem.

Now there’s the excellent question that could be asked of, “Why am I complaining?” Because one day I, too, will be an old white guy, and can more easily get into a system that’s rigged for me to win.

But I already live in a system that’s rigged for me to win. It’s called America. And I don’t think so poorly of my own abilities that I think I need ANOTHER leg up in order to be a success.

But maybe the current leaders of the industry do. And maybe that’s why they’re clinging so desperately to the exclusiveness of their club—because they think they haven’t got the chops to be successful without it.

That’s it for today, Rebels. A special shoutout to my supporters on Patreon, who make my YouTube channel possible. If you want to be one of them, or if you want signed copies of my books, there are links in the description to both of those things.

Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you tomorrow. Byyye.

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.

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