Quick Hit: Rainbow Bratz

Okay, I realize I let Epic Posts on Rape Culture Week bleed over yesterday into what is obviously Childhood Toy Liposuction Week, but let’s get back on track.

Jezebel posted yesterday about the new look for Rainbow Brite toys, and it’ll surprise no one who knows what they did to Strawberry Shortcake, Angelina Ballerina, Care Bears, My Little Pony, etc.

Potential challenge for the ANTM short models season?

Potential challenge for the ANTM "short models" season?

“Modern” means all the baby fat is stripped away — and the sexiness is dialed up. Is it because figures like Rainbow Brite are now supposed to be aspirational, which means bringing them into line with beauty ideals? Has the “obesity epidemic” rhetoric sunk in so much that children can’t bear to look at a round-cheeked protagonist? Do animators just not know how to draw anything else?

Sadie at Jez says “I’m braced for a modernist Sylvanian Family housed in Frank Gehry.” I don’t foresee a change in architecture — I think the new Sylvanians will just look like this.

208 thoughts on “Quick Hit: Rainbow Bratz

  1. Depressing. I, I don’t even know what else to say. I like how they also look significantly taller than the original cartoons. It’s aimed towards girls who haven’t hit puberty yet so make them feel insecure about their height. Oh and huge fucking fail on making the colors on their outfits the only things that distinguish them from one another.

  2. I do have to defend My Little Ponies a tad. The third generation of ponies, 2003-2008, is pretty much shaped like the original eighties ponies. They’re smaller with proportionally bigger heads, but they’re still cute and chubby. The 2nd gen they had in the nineties was thin, but they did look like actual, existing horses.
    But I do digress. The ones that are in stores now are big-headed pseudo-anime creatures with bigger hooves than asses.

  3. Wierd. I had to go look up Rainbow Brite, she’s past my generation (We had Hollie Hobbie, who went from thin-ish to softsculpture to thin pre-teen again.) These look like the 10 year old girl in our family (well, she only has that much hair on a Really Good Day like today). Which considering the ‘new’ Rainbow Brite is supposed to be age 10, is somewhat comforting– how old are the loathsome Bratz supposed to be? These at least look younger, facially, than Baby Bratz, and certainly younger in the body than Bratz.

    (I once had the pleasure of moderating a panel in which Esther Friesner went off on the deep disturbingness of the fact that you change Bratz doll’s shoes by changing their feet. Barbie shoes, as she pointed out, were wierd and existed mostly for poking into unsuspecting parents’ feet when lost, but at least they didn’t involve removing body parts!)

  4. But I do digress. The ones that are in stores now are big-headed pseudo-anime creatures with bigger hooves than asses.

    I assumed you were exaggerating, but no! Agh!

  5. “Oh and huge fucking fail on making the colors on their outfits the only things that distinguish them from one another.”

    Don’t forget the hair colors and variations of pony-tails.

  6. Right. I don’t really care about Rainbow Brite, but if they slim down Tottoro, ( famously egg-shaped Japanese amine icon) I’m going to move to a cave and live as a hermit until everyone comes back to their senses.

  7. Angelina is a mouse and until now she had the body of a mouse. Now she is a strange mouse-human hybrid. Creepy really. Angelina mouse danced and did gymnastics as well as other activities. The old Angelina was a child with the problems, interests and activities of a child. The new one seems a bit older and her personality is defined by her appearance.

    I agree that the Bratz footwear thing is bizarre. In our house, Barbies loose their shoes almost immediately and are not missed. A Bratz without feet looks like her feet have been literally amutated and replaced with a stump.

  8. I don’t see how the new Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake are any “sexier” than the old ones. To me the characters just look a bit older and the art looks updated. Art styles do change over time, and I think little kids with enough media exposure could probably tell a twenty-five-year-old cartoon from a more current one. Given kids’ predilection for the Next New Thing (socially conditioned or not, I don’t know!), it seems reasonable to assume they might prefer something that looks newer. As to the characters’ age being increased in the new art, I don’t remember how old they were supposed to be in the original series =\ Does their redesign fit their supposed ages better? If not, then I’m more likely to call bullshit.

    The Care Bear, though, bothers me enormously. THEY’RE STUFFED BEARS. THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE CHUBBY. And not even remotely sexualized =( =(

  9. Sorry – Totoro, apparently. I’ll try for a linkhere

    Sorry if I’m unsuccessful with the link – gut if it does work, you can see why I’d be worried – T
    otoro’s pretty round!

  10. Ick. I loved Rainbow Bright as a kid! (I did get a kick out of the Jezebel’s noting that the plot was totally incomprehensible. I remember getting very frustrated when I was 3 or 4 at having to explain the Color Kids and such to my parents over and over again; it made sense to me!)

    I would like to know when they will be doing a She-Ra revival. She was already busty and “sexy” so she already is “modern” (according to the standards set by retailers), but she also kicked major ass. Where is my Sword of Protection?

  11. Are Lisa Frank’s characters safe? I’d hate to think of unicorns forced onto diets to get in shape for the ’10 school supply season.

    Slightly OT: My sister and I used to think the song “Lady Marmalade” was about Strawberry Shortcake’s friend Orange Marmalade and sang the song as such.

    oops.

  12. Now you know how we felt when Mike Bay ruined Transformers, twice.

    I resent the implication that we didn’t feel this keenly!

  13. The thing I’d really fear would be streamlined Weebles. They’d look kind of like short Lincoln logs.

    Oh, well. At least my nieces who are in the target age for this shit are just not that into dolls. They’d rather pay dress up or soccer or read. And they think their super-death-fat auntie is the coolest aunt ever. Of course, they’d also probably tell me I’m not fat … which would be a whole other post (or 3).

  14. Don’t worry Kimberley O, they won’t touch Totoro.

    I flipped out when they sexified the Power Puff Girls years ago. The Care Bears look awful – they’re supposed to be teddy bears, for Pete’s sake!

    It seems to me that when companies do this, they’re trying to appeal to a wider age range of girls. But the reason that might happen is that the girls are programmed at a very young age to think that the slim, sexy looking dolls are somehow better than the chubbier, more childlike toys. And that translates into the slimmer, “pretty” girls being better than the chubby ones.

  15. Are Lisa Frank’s characters safe? I’d hate to think of unicorns forced onto diets to get in shape for the ‘10 school supply season.

    Now I’m imagining the unicorn on the rhino’s poster on her own treadmill looking at a picture of a Bratz unicorn. Sigh. Well, apparently being a pastel-colored talking animal with magic tattoos is not awesome any more unless you’re skinny too, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

  16. A: Now you know how we felt when Mike Bay ruined Transformers, twice.

    FJ: I resent the implication that we didn’t feel this keenly!
    **************

    Nonsense, I know several women and they were only interested in their new bicurious crush Megan Fox. (Honestly, ladies, you could do better).

  17. Ow! Slicing and dicing my childhood! That stings! What did they DO to Rainbow Brite? She looks like some sherbet-colored sex kitten!
    WAH!!!! I’m not okay with this!

  18. The one that depresses me is Dora the Explorer, who has been completely changed. I thought there might be unpleasant changes in the offing when Diego appeared, because he didn’t seem necessary (my boys though Dora was cool and related to her no problem) unless the Nickelodeon powers-that-be were going to make Dora suddenly very girly, caring about hair and clothes instead of solving puzzles. And voilà, that’s exactly what they did.

  19. Fashions have changed on the one hand. Nostalgia is just that. I actually did wear pinafores as a kid; girls these days do not.

    But I don’t even recognize the new Strawberry Shortcake with her straight hair, invisible noise, and green eyes.

  20. And this is why my girls are being very carefully conditioned to think that cartoons made post-1989 are horrid. Well, sort of. At any rate they watch far more old stuff off Netflix instant than they ever have (or will) new stuff!

    My 8yo’s current obsession? Inspector Gadget. WIN! Even if Penny got horridly marginalized, at least she looks like an actual little girl.

  21. @sara l.

    Really? You don’t see how making the bodies less childlike and round and more adult and hourglass shaped is making them sexier? What about the more revealing outfits? What about faces with lipstick and eye make up? I think this is more than an artistic update.

  22. Gah. Okay, just looking at the one image of Rainbow Bright, which was the mainstay and primary show of my childhood, and while I’m not traumatized per se, I do find it upsetting. Where is my Shy Violet, who was essentially one of my childhood (cartoon) idols?

    What else are they going to take away from them other than the individualized appearances?

    This just makes me want to find all of the old stuff and watch it through and save it.

  23. I didn’t even watch any of those cartoons besides the Care Bears when I was a kid, but these still make me sad. The simple fact that all these characters are being redesigned instead of people coming up with NEW characters and concepts is irritating enough without the anti-fat, sexist BS added on.

    I really, really don’t intend to be all “What about teh menz?!” here, but I think it’s worth noting that little boys haven’t escaped from having their cartoon male role models sexed up and made more “masculine” (in the cases where the original cartoons weren’t already ridiculous caricatures of masculinity, that is). Consider the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which is what I was watching as a little girl, along with Inspector Gadget and Carmen Sandiego): old-school; new & improved (or not).

    Note the more angular faces and bulging muscles. There’s also Loonatics Unleashed, which is just…bad for everyone. And talk about slenderizing characters. Eesh.

    Another example of how systemic biases (toward hyper-sexuality, a homogenized beauty ideal, both of those directed most strongly at girls) hurt everyone.

  24. @ Kristin: I am right there with you about She-Ra. My sister and I had more She-Ra than anything else except My Little Pony and I’d love to see it in stores again.

    @ Snarkysmachine: I think Lisa Frank has already succumbed. I remember in the ’90s it was all about the rainbow lsd animals and now it seems to be all Bratz-style big headed girls.

  25. SecondhandMoon,
    Aww, don’t hate on my Ninja Turtles! I love the 2003 series. :( Actually, in the case of the TMNT, I’d say it was more going for a “grittiness” of the original comic that was lost in the 1980′s cartoon. If you look at the 2007 CGI concepts of the boys in green (i.e., http://windyharbor.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/2007_teenage_mutant_ninja_turtles_008.jpg) they’re much ganglier and awkward-teenager-like. For whatever it’s worth.

    Although it’s entirely possible that there’s an anti-fat component to a lot of these updates, I would guess that the main motive behind these redesigns is to make the characters look older and “sexier,” as others have noted. Kids and teens wanting to be older than they are is nothing new–I remember reading Sweet Valley University when I was in junior high and high school and thinking, “Yes, this is what college will be like”–but I wonder if the age gap is widening? As in, before, middle schoolers wanted to be like high schoolers, but now, say, seven-year-olds want to be like college students?

    I doubt it means anything good, regardless.

  26. My childhood! My childhood! *weeps* I foresee many eBay auctions of vintage Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony, Care Bears, etc. products in the future.

    “I would like to know when they will be doing a She-Ra revival. She was already busty and “sexy” so she already is “modern” (according to the standards set by retailers), but she also kicked major ass. Where is my Sword of Protection?”

    Right on, Kristin! I didn’t get to watch many She-Ra cartoons- Mom was firmly anti-cartoon and limited TV time for me and my sister- but I loved She-Ra dolls and such. She was girly and she beat the bad guys with a great big sword! Awesome! (I was very much a girly girl.) Of all the cartoon characters of my youth, I really wanted to be She-Ra. My sister and I would play at sword fighting with those long cardboard tubes that come in rolls of wrapping paper, at least until Mom caught us.

  27. Electrogirl, there’s an entire category for vintage My Little Ponies on eBay. Hundreds of thousands of dollars exchange hands every day for small plastic pony toys. Most of it seems to come from my account.

  28. Going with the long, thin theme here… do you think they’ll remake Pillow People, but as bolster pillows? Or would they need to sex them up a little more than that, and give them hourglass figures, until they’re basically creepy stuffed dolls that you “sleep” on?

    :-/

    I made myself sad.

  29. Going with the long, thin theme here… do you think they’ll remake Pillow People, but as bolster pillows?
    Cabbage Patch kids will become Carrot Patch Kids…Or Brussels Spouts.

  30. None of this is part of my childhood, which is fine, I don’t have that “oh no, they are ruining my memories!” thing.

    But I’m really fucking pissed off that this shit is likely to be part of my daughters’ childhoods. They can’t hurt me much more with sexed up scrawny adolescents for my toddler self to relate to, but they are aiming this stuff at my kids, dammit.

    Perhaps it’s off to Button Moon after all.

  31. BLEGH! Phhhhhhhbbbbtttt! Everything is sexualized, and it is with unrealistic skinny images. And we wonder why our young girls are so messed up! Don’t even get me started on Halloween costumes. Can we please purchase a costume up WITHOUT looking like a trollop?

    btw, did you all catch the horrible jessica simpson cartoon earlier this week? good commentary about it here, couldn’t figure out where else to post it, sorry

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-10-14/stop-the-fat-jokes/

  32. Crap!
    My love of Rainbow Brite as a kid was one of the reasons that I became an animator.
    This rubbishy looking design has “network executive” written all over it.

    And what the crap have they done to Starlite?!? He looks like he’s made of rubber!

    If one of my students submitted a design like this – I’d be forced to be very sarcastic before failing it.

    Freaking awful.

  33. @Annie F, I’m mildly irritated about the Dora thing too. My three-year-olds are currently obsessed with Dora, and have recently started pretending that they *are* Dora or Boots, and trotting out the catch phrases whenever they’ve got a problem to solve. (My favorite is when they tell the dog, “Molly no swiping! Molly no swiping! Molly no swiping!”) They don’t do this to the same extent with any of the other shows they watch, and I think it’s because it’s so easy for them to identify Dora as a little kid just like themselves (as opposed to an anthropomorphized pig or octopus or whatever). I’m not sure they’d make the same connection with the sexy pre-teen Dora, and I know I wouldn’t want them to.

    Supposedly, the old Dora will remain, and ty’re just trotting out the new version to try to pick up school-age girls who think Dora is too babyish. I’m thinking, and hoping, that will backfire, because those decisions are more complex for kids than just the character’s appearance.

  34. I’m afraid all of these cartoons were past my time, so I don’t have issues due to my memories, I have issues because I think these “redesigns” or “reimaginings” or whatever they’re calling them are aesthetically displeasing. I especially dislike those new My Little Ponies – I casually collected a few of the ones that harkened back to the original cute designs, but these are just awful. I don’t want them in my house or on my shelves. Yuck.

    (I also have some vintage ones but have no idea if they’re even worth anything or even which ones they are….I bought them from Goodwill because they were cute and brightly colored. I like shinies.)

  35. @Goldie

    FOX’s pregame show has been a Sunday morning ritual for me for years, and while their humor has never been particularly classy, that cartoon last week was an incredible low even for their standards. What does it say about our society when a gorgeous woman who dares stop a grueling workout regime she adopted for a movie continues to be derided for returning to a more natural (and still very slim) weight nearly a year after the fact? Comparing her to massive linemen? Seriously? Ugh all around.

    On topic, I loved Rainbow Brite as a kid, and I wouldn’t have even recognized the new designs as such without being told. Really though, Dora the Explorer’s reimagining makes me the saddest. I liked her pudgy and adventurous!

  36. @cereselle –
    “Wasn’t Indigo black? Now she’s just kinda… she’s not even tan, really.”
    Yeah … the skinnifying isn’t the only “artistic adjustment” going on.
    *glowers*

    @snarkysmachine –
    “Slightly OT: My sister and I used to think the song “Lady Marmalade” was about Strawberry Shortcake’s friend Orange Marmalade and sang the song as such.

    oops.”

    Well, it could be argued …
    never mind.
    *cries with laughter*

  37. A recent toy purchase had an insert leaflet advertising Dora toys. Diego has binoculars, sticks, trees etc; Dora has long hair, hairbrushes, blah blah blah. It is to weep.

  38. Even if Penny got horridly marginalized, at least she looks like an actual little girl.

    Penny was the hero! Wasn’t she? Admittedly she had to delegate most of the physical action to her dog because she wasn’t so good at the ACTIONY parts of being a hero, but as a little girl I could relate to that….

    I was utterly baffled at the notion of the Inspector Gadget movies being actually about Inspector Gadget. No, no, Gadget’s just wandering around clueless, Penny solves all the cases! At least, that’s how I remmeber it…

  39. Oh, I didn’t even think that was Indigo, I thought it was the one who used to have glasses. I think you guys may be right, though.

  40. Blurg. This sucks. I wouldn’t mind if they were just “updating the art” as some people have suggested, but these companies are definitely slimming and sexualizing these children’s cartoons in a way that really creeps me out. Changing from a 2-D, hand-drawn look to a 3-D, computer generated style could be considered “updating the art”. But when all of these characters are getting slimmer, and sexier, with longer, sleeker hair, and more hip clothes, there is something more going on than just “updating”.

    @AnnieF – I was going to bring up Dora too. They completely changed her from a cute, adventurous little girl into a trying-to-be-sexy tween who wears leggings, and little flats and straightens her long, luscious hair. This image pretty well sums up her transformation.

    Why can’t children and children’s fictional playmates be chubby and snuggly and decidedly not sexy anymore? Especially the Care Bears. They are fucking STUFFED BEARS!!! They’re supposed to be “fat” (aka full of stuffing)! If you look at the two pictures on the link FJ posted, you can see that the difference isn’t just in Cheer Bear’s waistline. In the first (older) photo, she looks like a welcoming, snuggly friend who’s about to take you along on an adventure. In the second (newer) photo, she’s giggling and striking a demure pose as if she’s flirting with a boy bear. Jez….Can we please stop sexualizing cartoons of stuffed animals that are intended for young children????

  41. Cabbage Patch Dolls become Leeks or Scallions….

    I’m still having trouble wrapping my brain around a French dude who designs shoes for a plastic doll who has issues with her fat ankles….if you twist your ankle wearing one of his crazy shoes, it looks fat for a long time. It’s actually swollen. Unhealthy. Like his skinny heeled shoes are for your feet.

    Do we have to make our own toys now?

  42. Those new My Little Ponies are a major FAIL. As someone who love horses, I just want to take the poor things out back and put them out of their misery.

    And whoever fucked with Angelina Ballerina should be arrested.

  43. Seriously, I don’t feel like this art is updated at all. It looks terribly dated to me. I guess I also have a hatred of computer generated, or mostly created on computers ‘art.’ Which this is. I’m so excited that Disney is about to do an actual animated movie, not CGI hand drawn animation for the first time in like 5 years. Plus the lead is black, which made me really happy.

  44. Also, what the fuck is up with Dora and all the babies she comes with now? Everytime I go to target she’s always holding babies or some such shit. It’s been a while since I’ve seen anything to do with Dora, but I don’t remember any babies, did they just make them up so Dora could do what women do? Take care of babies, which would prevent her from having as many adventures?

  45. No, no, Gadget’s just wandering around clueless, Penny solves all the cases! At least, that’s how I remmeber it…

    That’s how I remember it, too – at least, Penny and Brain – and I was watching it as an adult.

  46. Savagewoman, thanks for the link! I’ve bookmarked it for when I can sit down and see if these ponies have names. (I have a couple of a knockoff brand that I like because they’re all glittery; I call them my My Little Phonies.)

    Something I’ve wondered about: as they push the sexualization of images younger and younger, what will they use to grab the attention of older kids and adults later on, because sexualized images will be old hat by then? And when things become commonplace, they become ignored, which is the last things advertisers and retailers want.

  47. Yes, yes, yes, that’s all very terrible and represents the death and desecration of all our collective childhoods, &c., but what’s really important is

    OMG!!!!! They still make the Sylvanian Families!!! OMG!!!!

    I had the *Mole.* The MOLE!!!

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2225/2407715442_9eea2e419c.jpg?v=0

    I used to carry him around in my pocket in college–COLLEGE–because he was just the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen IN THE ENTIRE WORLD and so was very good for relieving stress. Also, he was nicely fuzzy and pat-able.

  48. You can’t make Moomins skinny, can you? Please tell me they can’t take that away from me. I suppose they could just make Snufkin the main character…

  49. *clings to Abby Cadabby*

    (Yes I know the Muppets are on the Obesity Epidemic bandwagon with Cookie and his “sometimes food” stuff, but still. 3 year old fairy-in-training. She can float through the air! Eat that Elmo!)

    DRST

  50. Forestroad, or the Fillyjonk! (Yes, I’m very aware of the irony of choosing practically the only skinny Jansson character as my moniker. It was for other reasons. And I’m sick of it now.)

  51. Ack, Dora and the fuckin’ babies. It is so annoying. The Dora toys now lean heavily towards mermaids, princesses, “mommies,” and other super-duper girl-tastic stuff that has nothing to do with solving the puzzle and everything to do with caretaking and/or personal appearance. All the toys that are about skills like reading a map or finding one’s way? Those are Diego toys. Because girls only care about that stuff until they are tweens, and then they must adhere to cultural norms! Or else!

    Don’t mind me, I’ll be over here fuming.

  52. So we cry and lament that the kids are having sex at younger and younger ages, but we buy them sexy Rainbow Bright and Cut Turtles? This is a major fail in society and I am extremely sad to see one of my favorite childhood icons messed with like this. The updated popples were just tragic! Please stop stealing my childhood and repackaging it with teh sexy!!!

    Also, if I remember correctly, He-Man got caught up in a big legal battle, which is why he hasn’t been “modernized” so perhaps She-Ra is caught in the same mess. http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/252713/october-14-2009/the-obesity-epidemic—amy-farrell

    Two slightly OT bits here: When I was a kid, I had 1 Barbie and 1 Whitney doll (One of Barbie’s friends of color) and I had a She-Ra and a Princess Angelica action figure. So with no menfolk in my roster I saw no reason not to have the co-habiting together as a family. The She-Ra characters were smaller in size, so naturally they were the children and it was Barbie and Whitney’s job to take care of them. They both had suits so they both went out to work. This was all done before I had any real sense of sexuality or any ideas of gay v. straight so I’m feeling pretty good about myself remembering that. =)

    Secondly, did anyone else catch Stephen Colbert’s FA moment on the Colbert Report last night?

  53. I am disgusted. This was my favorite cartoon when I was young and they’ve RUINED it! The first Halloween that I remember I was Rainbow Brite. We have video of some little boy lifting up my hoop skirt while I was bobbing for apples. I think we were about 3…

  54. Oh, ick.

    It is certainly not just ‘updating the art’ to take characters (like Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake) who started out very rounded, child-proportioned, and wearing clothes appropriate for children, and giving them more grown-up proportions, adult-like figures, and clothes appropriate for a nightclub.

    Or fucking whitewashing them.

    It doesn’t matter how old they were ‘supposed’ to be when they were firmly and unambiguously portrayed as children, not even as old as pre-teen or tween or whatever term marketing has for it these days.

    To be fair to the Turtles (as pointed out a couple of times above), the new design is much closer to the original comic. I honestly have no idea how age appropriate that was, but I loved it more than the cartoon when I stumbled across it when I was 11 or so, and I loved that damned cartoon!

  55. The one with the glasses was Violet, and she had been my favorite, although I think it was only because I liked purple a lot as a kid (also liked Lala just because her coat was pretty). I had thought Indigo was originally supposed to be Arab? But I might have just assumed that when I was younger because her outfit was kind of… genie-like (or i-dream-of-jeannie-like). Anyway, it seems that that is indeed supposed to be white-Indigo in that new version. Apparently the new Rainbow only appreciates diversity in the colors her friends wear.

  56. The Care Bears don’t look like they could survive a winter hibernation. Maybe they are meant to be bears in early spring after they’ve lost half their body fat.

    Didn’t they slim down Cookie Monster too?

  57. I’m bringing my daughter up like my mum brought me up. Surrounded by soft furry plump animal toys and real-life animals that can be squeezed and cuddled and snuggled. I didn’t grow up wanting to be Barbie. I dreamed of growing up and becoming a cat. I want my daughter to grow up having so much fun and unconditional love from our pets that hard plastic and sexualised Barbies and Bratz and My Little Ponies are simply too boring for her to pay much attention to.

  58. Angelina Ballerina too? One of my daughter’s favorites. Do we really need to glam up and streamline a little rodent?
    Sheesh.

  59. Okay I admit to a slight Rainbow Brite love (just watched the Star Stealer movie with the hubby a week ago!) and am very disappointed not only in the slenderizing of the characters but in just how BAD the animation is. If you’re going to update the art to stay modern or revamp a series at least do it in ways that IMPROVE the viewing and not make it worse!! (I watched the little video on the hallmark website which seems to indicate that the girls we’re shown are Rainbow Brite, Tickled Pink and Moonglo (not Indigo, though the video didn’t give any indication that there WERE any other characters, aside from the new shiny horses). How incredibly pale and boring a “re-vamp” this is. Oh and in that video? Rainbow Brite does a complete Sailor Moon style outfit change…yet instead of seeming powerful the girls just seem to pose a lot in “display to male gaze” positions…very odd.

    On topic sort of: I am going as LaLa Orange and Adam D is going as Red Butler for Halloween. Here’s hoping the links worked!

  60. @The Other Caitlin: I don’t know if they slimmed down Cookie Monster, but they do make him eat less cookies now. He likes to talk about fruits and veggies and go crazy over those as well, and he distinguishes the difference between “Always Food” (healthy food), and “Sometimes Food” (cookies, junk food).

    @April D, Your Lala Orange costume? AWESOME.

  61. Re: My Little Ponies: What the sweet holy fuck? I can tell you right now, any child of mine is getting the vintage 80s ones we have in the garage, or some we scavenge off eBay. Neither the 90s nor the new ones are in ANY WAY OKAY. (I was a Ponies kid.)

    I will not look at the new Care Bears
    I will not look at the new Care Bears
    I will not look at the new Care Bears

    Electrogirl, there’s an entire category for vintage My Little Ponies on eBay.

    Awww, I found my happy place again.

  62. The one with the glasses was Violet, and she had been my favorite

    I think she was probably my favorite too, since I also had glasses that took up 60 percent of my facial real estate.

  63. I…looked at the new Care Bears. I really, really wish I hadn’t. That is horrible. They’re fat stuffed bears of happiness, love and morality, people! Leave them alone!

  64. You know, the idea that this is just some kind of “art evolution” is ridiculous to me. I remember being a kid and just loving the hell out of Popeye and Tom and Jerry and the Warner Brothers cartoons (not that those didn’t have their own set of problematic lessons for young ‘uns) and they were all SUPER OLD CARTOONS. And when they tried to “new” them up, me and my cohorts thought they were super-lame.

    I don’t think this is about the kids at all. I think it’s about who’s controlling media. And it just damn near made me puke up my vegan hot wings.

  65. This is how forward thinking my Mom was in the 70′s….she bought my 15 year old sister a Barbie with clothes and a carrying case because she felt that Barbie was “too mature” for her to play with at a younger age…..she had boobies and high heels ya know. I guess my mother thought that she would wait until my sister was developing her own boobies before she gave her a doll that had them herself. My sister never played with it because she felt she was too old for dolls. My brother and I used to strap her to his mini Evel Knievel motorcycle naked and zoom them off the roof. She didn’t last long…

    But that was my Mom….a feminist without even knowing it.

  66. I think it’s funny that they mention Sailor Moon in the Jezebel article, not only because I first heard about this Rainbow Brite nonsense from a Sailor Moon fan community (people pointing out the new similar attack/transformation sequences), but also because in Sailor Moon’s revisiting, she actually got FATTER (or, rather, not as tiny a waist).

    They reprinted the manga in Japan a couple years ago, and before the reprint Naoko Takeuchi (the creator) went back and touched up the art, with the biggest noticeable differences being 1)more realistic body proportions and 2)the addition of eyes in panels where they eyes had been left out. (I love 1, and am actually sad about 2. I thought the eye-less-ness was a neat style choice and looked badass).

    A good example of both changes can be see in this image (NEW on the left, OLD on the right) – http://i42.tinypic.com/nx81gx.png

    More comparisons can be seen here – http://community.livejournal.com/sailormoonfans/1976878.html

  67. Omg, I had ever Black Barbie made between 1980 and um…like two weeks ago. I had one named Christie and she had a boyfriend named Scott who had real hair (bad jherri curl) instead of painted on yellow fail like Ken.

    Slightly OT: My niece used to harass me to get her “Kelly” dolls (Barbie’s littler friend) and then complained about how the Brown ones always had something wrong with them or work to do! Like Maria had measles (and so my niece nicknamed her “Outbreak” Maria) and the other little brown one had to sell lemonade.

    I thought they were really cute!

  68. I’ve heard rumors that the creator of Sailor Moon originally *wanted* to make Usagi pudgy (along with clutzy, ditzy, unable to cook, and a sweet tooth the size of the eiffel tower, traits which she kept) but that the publishers insisted otherwise because nobody would buy it… May be apocryphal though.

  69. @Jessikanesis, grrrr on Sometimes Food. I’d rather my children learn the alphabet first, thanks.

    I actually like how Yo Gabba Gabba handled the eat-your-veggies issue, though, with Party In My Tummy. I thought that was just the right note of promoting vegetable consumption without demonizing other foods or employing fat panic.

  70. Oh geez Kate. They’re toys, there’s nothing sexual about them. I suppose you think the new Dora toys are sexual too. Maybe they have less “baby fat” but come on I don’t see anything sexual at all. The skirts could be a little longer but oh well.

  71. 1. Those redone Popples freak me the fuck out. I mean, I’m upset about Strawberry Shortcake, and Rainbow Brite and all, but POPPLES WTF.

    2. I have my original Hugs and Tugs Carebears sitting right at the foot of my bed. They are fat and happy about it, if looking a bit worse for the wear of the last 25-ish years.

  72. jennyknopinski – I don’t see them as being more adult or hourglass shaped at ALL, but obviously YMMV. shrug. I give you the makeup, though, I didn’t notice that.

  73. @MinaL: A) Fillyjonk posted this, not Kate; B) your experience and/or perception of something is not gospel from on high that the rest of us have to consider incontrovertible fact.

  74. And I thought the discovery that people write Care Bears porn represented the greatest possible insult to my childhood – sexy Rainbow Brite?

    You know this is wierd in terms of how to approach telling kids that this stuff is awful, because you don’t want to come off all you damn kids get off my lawn, because then they won’t listen, but the problem is little girls are growing up thinking that the sexification of everything girlie is normal, and clearly that needs to be challenged. How are people handling this with their daughters/nieces/etc?

  75. It’s not even just the sexification I object to, so much as the adultification, which I consider separate-but-overlapping concepts. My daughters are preschoolers, and they just can’t relate to a Dora whose main interests are clothes and boys. My 8-year-old niece might be more capable of understanding that, but there are already plenty of interchangeable Barbies and Bratz and whatever out there to address that market segment. There aren’t many Doras for the preschool set, so yes, I dislike the attempts to age up one of the most beloved and best-written characters in kids’ TV.

  76. My son is 4 and we watch 20-50 year old cartoons and he can’t tell the difference. He knows quality though, The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a hit while Wow Wow Wubsy is quickly forgotten. We watch Inspector Gadget season 1 on Hulu and he adores it. Tom & Jerry are aces as is Curious George. Kids don’t need updates if the originals are quality stories and animation. I can’t remember if Rainbow Brite and Care Bears were any good. I suspect not since the books we’ve had passed down are terrible.

  77. *cries*
    I seriously wish they would leave my childhood toys alone. If they start messing with Cabbage Patch Dolls, I’m going to start a riot.

  78. Sorry it took me so long to address this, but I made a comment above about “Cut Turtles” which I knew had been explained previously and someone quickly corrected for me, which is cool, thanks for that. Then I thought about it and here’s what I think: Someone in the ’80s made a judgment call about how a children’s show about fighting turtles should be stylized and s/he decided that they should look like Turtles. Round shells with muscles in the arms and legs. Then they revived the cartoon (I never read the comics, so I’m not knowledgeable about this) and they decided that a show which was probably geared for approximately the same age group (maybe a bit older) should look like the original comics with characters that have defined muscles instead of round shells. This was a judgment call on someone’s part and I think in some way it can be equated to the sexying up of Rainbow Bright et al. because it has made them seem more mature.

    However, if it is geared to kids who are older than the original show, it is at least a shock to those of us who grew up loving round turtle shells to see those same heroes looking kind of scary and intimidating.

  79. The muscly Ninja Turtles were wierd. I came across them while channel surfing and it was a WTF moment just because it was so unexpected to see them with six packs. Buff turtles, what the hell?

    Doesn’t produce as instinctive a recoil for me as the sexed up female kids TV characters, though. I’m wondering though if that’s because I don’t tend to see very buff male bodies as particularly sexual, and if the buffed up turtles might read as sexed up to other people? In which case it might produce similar revulsion. Or not, because the societal implactions are different.

    Side note – the Ninja Turtles prompted one of my little teenage moments of feminist awakening! I was all, OK there’s a woman character…wait, why is there sort of flirtation between her and a bunch of giant turtles? Isn’t that a little, you know, yay bestiality? And then it dawned on me that culturally speaking you just can’t have a female character be around male characters without there being a sexual undercurrent unless she’s someone’s granny. It’s not allowed. And then I got good and pissed off.

  80. CassandraSays: I think I see the muscley Turtles less as sexy and more as a promotion of an ideal body image for little boys, which is ultimately what the Rainbow Bright thing is about to me as well.

    I think it’s also safe to say that most of the current TMNT audience (at least the age group the network has geared it towards) are not familiar with the original comics, but again, I could be wrong and I’m completely open to that fact.

  81. WHAT THE JESUS NO.

    Look, one of the few things I have of my beloved grandmother (who died way too young of a series of strokes) is a Rainbow Brite book and a tape she made of herself reading it. It was my most favorite thing as a kid. And now they are sexifying it. WHAT. I JUST. NO. LOTS OF CURSING.

    On the TMNT note, the recent CGI Turtles movie featured humans so stylized they looked like they were made out of toothpicks. It was scary.

  82. @CassandraSays -
    “Buff turtles, what the hell?”
    *snickers*
    Behind in our fanfic reading, are we?

    I’m sorry. It’s so horrible I’m past taking it seriously; I’ll break out in tears and screaming. I’m going to go play with Carmen Sandiego now. They’ll never get Carmen!

  83. You seem to really want to know.

    The original-original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a comic book made for more-or-less-adult comic book lovers who wanted to read a comic book that made fun of comic books. The cartoon show Turtles were cutsified, friendlier-looking versions of the ridiculous-yet-mean-looking Turtles.

  84. Thanks Grafton! I think now my main concern is what age group are the new/old Turtles aimed at? Are we encouraging young/pre-teen boys to get six packs? I know the idea is just fucking ridiculous and it’s getting late and my cough syrup is kicking in, but seriously. I may be taking this too far and am now heading to bed. Good night blog. =)

  85. Littlem – I ran across the site Weeping Cock, where I found Care Bear and Pokeman porn, at which point I decided that anything else from my childhood that had been turned into porn should be filed under “nyan nyah I can’t see you”. I mean have you seen some of it?

  86. I have no idea what they’re aimed at. The stills of the CGI Ninja Turtle movie I just looked at on IMDB make it appear to be aimed at LSD users. I don’t see the six-packs, though. I think boys have been encouraged to want to be all muscley since whenever, though — it was “He-Man” when I was seven or so.

    The sexualized girl’s toys are freaking me out. I had no idea. And I wonder if there’s anything about that isn’t like that, but still has that in-style whatever sort of thing to it. My niece is now old enough to want to have these kinds of mass-produced toys where every other girl has some from the set.

    Somewhat aside: Anybody remember the 80′s cartoon-show ‘Wildfire’ with the young girl who’s really a princess-in-exile and must save this parallel universe/fairyland that she travels to on the back of a giant talking purple horse?

  87. I don’t remember the giant purple talking horse, but all this sexed up cartoon business is making me long for the more innocent children’s TV of yore. I used to have a pillowcase with Dougal from The Magic Roundabout on it – please don’t let anyone try to sex up Dougal or give him abs of steel or I will be rather distressed.

    OK so there’s a limit to what they can do with a stoned sheep that has tank-style treads instead of legs, so it trundles along very slowly and not very menacingly.

    Actually I have a theory that all British children’s television programming during the 70s was produced by people who were on LSD. I mean there’s The Magic Roundabout, Bagpuss…

  88. Yeah, the original Turtles included some obvious parodies of the Dark ‘N’ Edgy Frank Miller School Of Comic-Booking… just to drive the point home, the goo that mutated them was from the canister that blinded Matt Murdock, which was actually depicted in the first issue of the comic.

    (Though I caught on to that right away, I’m ashamed to admit it took me over ten years to realize that “The Foot” was a parody of “The Hand”.)

  89. Why oh why can’t the makers of children’s products come up with new toys and characters and leave the old ones as they were?! Are people THAT devoid of creativity these days?

  90. I use to love the TMNT cartoon. I remember my dad mentioning that they kept improving my first girlfriend April O’Neil’s figure, I don’t think I figured out he’d meant till I was about 16.

  91. Someone’s put ‘Wildfire’ up on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07-i6Mp31Ss

    The picture quality is horrible. Now I’m compelled to watch them, just to see if they rock as much as I remember. They did have some amazing voice-talent and unless my memory fails utterly the girl heroine is way too busy saving a world and her dad to care about clothes or boys.

  92. They kind of remind me of lady lovely locks.

    I don’t think these rainbow brite dolls are overly sexualized as their bodies don’t seem to have breasts or hips or a smaller waist ratio. I know my lady lovely locks action figure had a completely flat chest. I’m more disturbed here by the lack of diversity. I want the glasses girl back. :(

  93. Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. At least they’ll never try to update Jem (my absolute favorite show as a kid, and partially to blame for weird hair colors in anime seeming natural to me). That show is so quintessentially 80s it’s impossible to update. Not that it could get much worse from the feminism angle, though (it’s a guilty pleasure, I can’t deny, but I realize how bad it is).

    Someone near the beginning worried about them slimming down Totoro, I can assure you that won’t happen as long as Hayao Miyazaki (the creator of Totoro) remains with us (knock on wood and cross my fingers). I did a report on him for my Japanese class in high school, and he’s a feminist himself (which is why most of his movies feature strong female main characters with the men serving as support). Most of these movies/shows from the 80s are owned by entertainment companies or other companies interested only in profit, but Studio Ghibli’s focus has always been on making great movies.

    I wish I hadn’t looked at the Dora and Care Bear updates. Being forced to watch Dora when my 3 year old niece visited was ridiculously annoying, but I won’t deny that it was good for her (just, y’know, when you’re not 3 and don’t really like people under 8, it’s kind of like perpetual nails scraping across a blackboard, and holy fuck why does she YELL EVERYTHING AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS). Also, since when is a tween someone between five and eight? A tween is someone who is between young childhood and teenage years, which is middle school age, not elementary school! A tween is eight or nine to thirteen, not five to eight!

  94. What kind of rat’s ass mess would they make of Miss Piggy nowadays? I mean – as far as I’m concerned, she is the guiding light in a stormy sky, but probably some numbnut would want to make changes. Cue Miss Piggy’s Karate chop – HI-YAH!

  95. Heh… I just realised/remembered that in the UK, with the cuter turtles, we had them called ‘Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles’, not ‘Ninja’, because Ninja was considered too violent sounding… despite the fact they were cute pizza eating turtles and no one I knew had the foggiest what a Ninja actually was. The new ones seem to be TMNTs though, on TV here.

    Also I am now reliving my SECRET PAIN caused by the jealousy that my brother got bought TMHTs and I didn’t. Ok I was 3 years older and that might have made a difference, but we did both play with them. In fact we both played with my dolls and turtles at the same time. In fact the Sylvanians used to have a role too, and I distinctly remember my brother being jealous he never got Sylvanians (except some of the duplicate ones when you could save up washing powder tokens to get some cat ones in the post).

    So now I’m wondering, do the over-sexifying of ‘girl’ toys and the equivalent -isation (I was going to type bollocks-isation, but realised that might not really sound as I had intended!) make any difference to the way kids, especially siblings, play together? Because although my brother and I had ‘girl’ toys and ‘boy’ toys, when we were left alone to play, we mixed things up a lot. And fought about being allowed to play with each others toys… I guess we still had ideas about girl and boy toys but when we were making stories up that made it ok to swap about.

    But OMIGOD I still haven’t recovered from the INSANE JEALOUSY at all the cool lego stuff my brother got (the PIRATE SHIP!!!!) when all the lego that was ‘mine’ was the ‘shared’ basic blocks stuff. We still played with that together but my brother totally never let me forget I was playing with HIS toys. *Weeps*

  96. that should read ‘the equivalent -isation of ‘boy’ toys… bad fingers typing badly!

    Also, I would just like to note how incensed I always am that the aisle with all the cool toys in in our local Tesco is marked ‘Boys Toys’ (and has a blue tone to the flooring) and the rubbish ones are mostly located in the ‘Girls Toys’ section (pink, obv). Even toys which I had definitely considered to be more gender-neutral, like spirograph and etchy sketch type stuff has been separated off (or a pinkinated version made for girls). GRUMP.

    Ooh, and Cassandrasays — Magic Roundabout is French! Apparently the version with the English voiceovers bears no resemblance to the original stories in French because the people doing it didn’t know what they were/what was meant to be happening, so they made it up (which might account for the ‘on drugs’ aspect of it). Although, I have never understood why those stories would need drugs to come up with — I naively cling to the belief that maybe some people get to keep their kid-imaginations as they grow up, without the aid of drugs. I can’t tell you how aghast I was to learn of how everyone puts the Beatles’ creativity down to drugs, when all their songs made perfect sense to me as a kid :-).

  97. BUT RACHEL THEY’VE RUINED THOMAS THE TANK TOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ahem. Admittedly not in quite the same way but the new episodes are CRAP in comparison (bear with me, I only just found out the theme tune and many other things had changed). And WHAT THE FUCK IN THE FILM THE FAT CONTROLLER IS NOT FAT ANYMORE BUT HE IS THE FAT CONTROLLER SO HE NEEDS TO BE FAT SURELY.

    /crazy off

    Apols. I am not quite a train spotter but I LOVE steam engines and LOVE Thomas the Tank — the old theme tune is my phone ringtone. Which gets very funny looks out in public (I divide the reactions into cool people and confused people — the cool ones obviously are the ones who unconsciously start jigging along!)..

  98. I’ve heard rumors that the creator of Sailor Moon originally *wanted* to make Usagi pudgy (along with clutzy, ditzy, unable to cook, and a sweet tooth the size of the eiffel tower, traits which she kept)

    I love Naoko Takeuchi, and would absolutely believe this. I still remember her response when asked what the biggest difference between Anime Sailor Moon and Manga Sailor Moon was. It was, “The anime is written by men.”

    Which is just a shorter way of saying there’s more male gaze and overly gendered characterizations and motivations added, and more stereotypically feminine and masculine roles taken on in the Usagi/Mamoru relationship in particular.

    (The manga is so much better than the anime, though I love them both).

  99. Bah.

    I’ll be interested to see what they do to Murky Dismal, Rainbow Brite’s arch-nemesis though, he was short, fat, green and well, looked like Hitler.

  100. (Lurker here.)
    “So now I’m wondering, do the over-sexifying of ‘girl’ toys and the equivalent -isation (I was going to type bollocks-isation, but realised that might not really sound as I had intended!) make any difference to the way kids, especially siblings, play together?”
    On a related note, once when I was entertaining a distant relative’s daughter by playing dolls with her, and she only happened to have her one newly acquired Bratz doll handy, along with its accessories, so her character was the doll, and mine was represented by the doll’s sunglasses floating disembodied in the air. (Imaginative play will never die, right?) And the young lass decided her character was going to play a concert, but that my character couldn’t be onstage because (so sayeth the doll to the floating glasses): “You’re not sexy enough.”
    The girl was six, maybe seven at the time.
    I was literally unable to speak for a moment.
    *sob*

  101. Zenoodle,
    I hate, with a fiery passion, the labeling of certain toy aisles as “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys” too. Argh. In my family, I was allowed Ninja Turtles and Legos, but my brother was sadly deprived of the Barbies he longed for.

    Grafton,

    “I think boys have been encouraged to want to be all muscley since whenever, though — it was ‘He-Man’ when I was seven or so.”

    I think this is true. Certain comic book heroes have always had absurd proportions, though I think it creates more body image issues for women than for men due to cultural factors. I sense that the women in my life have had far more cultural messaging about what their bodies should (and shouldn’t) look like than I have as a man (now, as a TRANS man, that’s a different story …)

    I think Renegade Evolution had a guest post at Feministe about comic book heroes’ proportions not too long ago, as well?

    Also, just speaking for myself, I didn’t internalize the stereotypical “buff guy” physique as much as I did the stereotypical “thin, willowy gay guy” physique–which is one I’m not going to embody any more than the buff guy. *sigh*

  102. Nonsense, I know several women and they were only interested in their new bicurious crush Megan Fox. (Honestly, ladies, you could do better).

    @aleks Seriously? Did you seriously just imply that because “you know several women” whose interest was Megan Fox, every other woman’s interest in the Transformers movies must be Megan Fox as well? *headdesk* There are plenty of women out there who watched Transformers in the 80s and who are vastly annoyed at Michael Bay for what he’s done to them in those films.

    Women You Don’t Know =/= Just Like Women You Know.

    (Also. Megan Fox is awesome. And I have no “bicurious crush” on her.)

  103. I know there’s a lot of anti-Disney sentiment out there, but their preschool stuff is very good. I remember when Minnie and Daisy got a really annoying “hip” makeover back in the 90′s but that didn’t stick. Almost nothing on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (my daughters’ favorite) is gendered – Minnie likes to cook, but that’s presented as just a fun activity. She also only makes special treats/meals; she doesn’t do the daily cooking. Minnie and Daisy are also the only characters who have ongoing alternate identities: Minnie is a detective and Daisy is a secret spy.

    At the moment, my kids only watch Playhouse Disney and BabyFirstTV (which has newish programming but the production values are so terrible it all *looks* like it was produced in the 70′s).

  104. Modernizing Rainbow Brite is just wrong, and even more wrong is the way they went about it. Then, just to throw some salt on the wound, they’re trying to whitewash Indigo.

    Fucking hell.

    I already have a hard enough time trying to rationalize the Winx Club character designs. (You know, that show with the willowy fairies that go to high school and battle the willowy witches that got expelled from the witch high school?)

  105. I grew up on The Big Comfy Couch, Bill Nye, Reading Rainbow, Arthur, and The Magic Schoolbus, along with the standard Sesame Street and Barney. Please tell me they can’t mess those up. (Well. Besides how Sesame Street and Barney already are, but those were changed by the time I was in middle school and all of my classmates agreed it was totally bogus.)

    I have the urge to break into the Arthur theme song now….

  106. Reading Rainbow! I loved that show. X3 Not that I ever needed any enticement to read, of course… ;D

    OT, but I’m dealing with my first persistent troll over on my FA blog, so if anyone would like to pop over there to rip him a new one, you can be my guest (his current as-yet-undeleted comment is on the “Accepting What You Deserve” entry). I’d really rather not disable anonymous comments, but if he posts more then I may have to.

  107. I have Arthur and DW, though weirdly the stuffies are the same size! Sadly, no Francine or Muffy stuffies were ever produced.

    …It’s a simple message, the comes from your heart. Believe in yourself (believe in yourself) is the place to start and I say HEY (hey)…

  108. “My little girl is sticking to Thomas the Tank Engine” ???!!???
    Have they changed the plots on Thomas now? After looking into them several years ago I swore I would never let a child of mine near them, because the only cool characters were guys and it was all 19th c. guy stuff…

  109. Just Some Trans Guy — do you also get fiery rages in bookshops with massive displays of those ‘books for boys’ and ‘books for girls’ displays. I erupted in unchecked rage when I got to the checkout in Waterstones last Xmas to be presented with the option of buying ‘The Dangerous Book For Boys’ for a bit cheaper ‘in case you’ve got any boys, big or little, left to shop for’. I normally keep my cantankerous rages to myself for later (often spewing them onto FB or at my boyfriend in the form of long rants!) but it was too much — maybe it was the Xmas shopping hell I had been in all day. Raaarrrghhhhh!!!!

    Apparently, there is a ‘version’ of it for girls (but it’s the ‘Daring’ not the ‘Dangerous’ book — I’d certainly feel shortchanged!), but as this article I just found notes, it seems to be more of an afterthought. Whywhywhy can’t there be a cool ‘fun and faux-dangereux stuff for all kids’ book?! I think I was a really lucky kid, because despite not getting as much cool lego as my brother, I had a wonderful supply of books. My grandparents ran an antique shop and had a little second hand books sideline that ran from a covered passage outside. They would put all the kids books they got in into a humongous box and all the grandchildren were allowed to rummage and have what we liked. There were a lot of quite old (if I’d kept them probably valuable now!) books which were pretty stereotypically gendered (eg ‘what shall I do today? for girls) but I got to read whatever I wanted, and don’t remember ever not being allowed (or even ever not thinking I shouldn’t be allowed) to read the ‘boy’ books. In fact I think I had some early feminist moments when I got annoyed at there being perfectly good books for any kid being labelled for boys… oh how sad that then I believed it was just because they were old fashioned and that it wouldn’t be the case for ‘new books’… sigh.

    I guess my family just encouraged reading in general as a good thing and I was super lucky to have a regularly replenished/unending supply of things to read! Maybe that reading is and has always been really important to me is why I had my uber explosion in the bookshop and stomped out?!

  110. Jenne — I just thought of that, re Thomas. It’s funny, because now thinking about it I, maybe Clarence and Annabel were the only regular female characters… but I don’t know, as a little (and now theoretically ‘growed up’) girl I still LOVE the old episodes… Until now I’d just sort of had an ‘oh they just happen to be all boy engines’ thought in the back of my head. From memory, I don’t think there are any very openly sexist or misogynistic undertones to any of the stories, it’s more just inherent-in-the-system-esque stuff of all the trains being boys (which obviously isn’t ideal, but still, at least there’s no sissy engine that’s pink with frills on… are there?… unless they’ve put some in the new version which has the crap music?). I’d be interested to know how many girls LOVE Thomas (actually my fave engine was James because he’s naughty) and whether they’re discouraged from it as they get older, or start to associate blue things with boys, or something. Hmmm. Choo-chooooo!

  111. Okay, so if the boys aren’t being too badly affected, then I’ll get over that.

    I LOVED the Magic Roundabout when I was a kid and I never had any idea what was happening.

    @Leely: As you well know (hi!) my beef with Disney has always come down to the Straight-to-DVD market reusing the Disney films of my childhood and being ridiculous. The Little Mermaid, all those Cinderella sequals, etc. My fingers are crossed that they never ever make a sequel to Sleeping Beauty.

    I have to wonder if Disney got the ball rolling on the re-vamping of all of these ’80s cartoons. Probably not, but it’s quite the coincidence.

  112. @aleks Um. Really? Because there was no indication that you were joking. Smilies can be an indication. As are parentheticals stating that you are, in fact, just kidding. Otherwise telling people who call you on stereotyping women that you’re “just joking” and asking them to “call off the DoWs” (whatever the DoWs might be; apparently I’m not up on the latest acronyms) kind of smacks like telling them that they’re humorless feminists who can’t take a joke.

    In all seriousness, I don’t know you. You really might have been joking! You really may not have intended to imply that I’m a humorless feminist(tm)! Which is why stating right up front that you’re just joking would be helpful, because I have this policy of taking what people I don’t know say at face value unless they’re standing right in front of me and laughing.

    (This comment brought to you by teh intarwebs, stripping typed words of all nonverbal nuance since whenever Al Gore invented the first tubes for us to send messages through.)

  113. So, they age Dora six years without letting her put on any weight. Wonderful. The original outline was extremely sexualized, and this one is only in grownup shoes and outfit leaving no trace of activity or adventure. I think “new Dora” actually looks more like a very thin 8th grader than a ten year old. Close enough to sexualized for me. They’re selling teen life to 5-8 year olds (who incidentally, did not used to be tweens – tweens were 8-12) like they used to sell adulthood to teens.

    When I was ten I built forts in the woods with chicken wire and lumber scared up from the neighbors. I climbed trees to read for lazy hours of peace and solitude, and rode my bike or went swimming with my brothers and friends. I camped in the backyard and climbed out on the roof and jumped off our crank-up camper yelling. I rolled down the lawn in summer and sledded in winter. I jumped from barn lofts into oats and made leaf piles then jumped in them. I used a stethoscope to figure out the combination on the “pop room” lock and biked to seven eleven. I wore tee shirts and overalls and good supportive sneakers, except for summer when I went barefoot until thorns couldn’t poke through my callouses. Those overall pockets were a portable museum for my rock and string and bottle cap collections. It was the age of adventure. The world wasn’t any safer, but it was more free and joyful for kids. Even for a kid as damaged and betrayed by abuse as I was.

    There’s plenty of adventure out there for a realistically ten year old Dora. She’s just not equipped to participate – no backpack, no map, no battered compass or cheap binoculars or magnifying glass for fossils.

    It makes me even sadder than I am angry.

  114. This is awful. Just, seriously plain awful.

    I should not have read the comments here, though, because POPPLES? SERIOUSLY? THEY WERE POPPLES! I legitimately got tears in my eyes after seeing that link.

    *cries*

  115. A recent toy purchase had an insert leaflet advertising Dora toys. Diego has binoculars, sticks, trees etc; Dora has long hair, hairbrushes, blah blah blah.

    *epic sigh* Why do dolls have to come with accessories at all? Why can’t the accessories be sold separately so you can choose which ones you and/or your kid actually prefer instead of what the marketing teams think they SHOULD prefer?

    Just Some Trans Guy: I actually liked the TMNT movie, which surprised me. I haven’t watched the new cartoon so I can’t comment on it as a whole, but I do think the new character designs are interesting in the context of all these other disturbing redesigns.

  116. Some Trans Guy: “I sense that the women in my life have had far more cultural messaging about what their bodies should (and shouldn’t) look like than I have as a man (now, as a TRANS man, that’s a different story …)”

    I’d guess so. Or at least, it seems that the cultural messaging that women receive includes the notion that how their bodies look is of paramount importance, and the range of acceptable types is just about long enough to cross a T.

    ‘The Dangerous Book for Boys’ is deliberately old-fashioned. An effect that could just as easily been accomplished by making it ‘for young ladies and young gentlemen’ but anyway. New, yet not modern.

  117. @Sarah B: It’s been a while since I saw it, and I didn’t have my feminist glasses on at the time, but I remember the second Little Mermaid being actually really good.

  118. “Out of curiosity, did anyone else have popples? (Oh, God, they’ve already been “revamped” http://www.popplespopp.com/ )”

    Popples. Fucking POPPLES?!

    Popples need sexing up? Really?

    They don’tjust make these characters look slimmer, sexier and more grown up… notice howmuch more the gender expression is exxagerated? The girls in ALL of these are posing like some godsawful pinup. Wrists holding hands up and to the side, knees together, hip and knee cocked, head cocked, pout. They look like utterly submissive dolls who’re intended more to please some imagined fetish for preteen sexy furries than like aspirational toys for young women. Not a lick of personality in any of the new versions.

  119. Zendoodle,

    “Just Some Trans Guy — do you also get fiery rages in bookshops with massive displays of those ‘books for boys’ and ‘books for girls’ displays.”

    Why, yes! Yes, I do! Because that is also angry-making. (Says the guy who lovingly collected Sweet Valley books, back in the day.)

    SecondhandMoon,

    “Just Some Trans Guy: I actually liked the TMNT movie, which surprised me. I haven’t watched the new cartoon so I can’t comment on it as a whole, but I do think the new character designs are interesting in the context of all these other disturbing redesigns.”

    I liked it too. :) Really, I just had to say something, as TMNT is my One True Fandom. And yeah, I definitely agree that it’s interesting–I think all these redesigns are occurring because of a variety of factors, all different but all influenced by sexism and fat-hate. There’s a sociology paper in here somewhere.

  120. @slythwolf – That may be so, and I think I saw it a reeeeeally long time ago as well, but the subsequent movies that have come out since then…well, I’m not so sure about. I have a very long rant about this whole topic, but I’m not sure it belongs here. Mainly, I understand that this is all from my adult perspective and not from that of the target audience which is 4-10 year olds (or something like that).

  121. OH GOD!

    The original popples:

    PC Popple, Party Popple, Pancake, Puzzle, Prize, Puffball, Pretty Bit, Potato Chip and Putter.

    The new popples:

    Kissypop, Prettypop, Happypop and Monsterpop. Want to guess which one is the boy?

  122. Grafton, twas me mentioned the Dangerous Book for Boys. I realise it’s deliberately old fashioned, and I realise also it’s the sort of old fashioned that makes it look like some of the genuinely old books I used to have (and ignore the ‘for boys’ aspect of). What makes me mad is that despite the intervening time between publishings, it is still considered ok (whether as a ‘this is a normal book’ or ‘this is a gimmicky nostalgia book oh-ho how funny’ — not *even* sure there’s that much difference underneath it all, still uses sexist notions to sell, grrr). I’m worried it’s geared partly at people who wish they could undo certain aspects of feminism and hark back to a mythical ‘halcyon’ time ‘when boys were boys and girls were girls’. What maddens me further is that the girl book was an afterthought, is less dangerous (presumably!), that they’ve divided up male/female ways to be dnagerous or daring or whatever… and that the same range includes books in the same kind of vein about ‘mothers’ etc etc. In fact it makes me so mad I started to consider trying to invent leaflets to strew about the displays if I could get away with it, but sadly a combination of lack of computer talent and the worry I’d get banned from the bookshop entirely (the only one in the town — I would not survive!) meant I didn’t. Oh and the overwhelming feeling of pointlessness (must remember about teaspoons though). Wagh!

  123. Keeks, why WHY did you have to subject me to that?

    You know what horses I loved as a kid? Shire horses. The TANK of horses. THOSE THINGS DON’T EVENHAVE KNEES THAT BEND RIGHT.

    The fact that anyonethought those would sell shows how far removed most marketing depts are from reality when it comes to stuff-for-girls. This, combined with Marvel’srecent “merchandise for females!” and “costumes for females” is a pretty clear evidence that marketing thought processes are like…

    “We need to make a product for boys. What sort of things did I like as a child?”
    “We need to make a product for girls. What are girls supposed to like?”

  124. Unfortunately, a sad truism of librarianship is that girls will read ‘boy’s books’ but boys won’t read ‘girls’ books’ or even books with a female main character except under protest (as in school, and sometimes not even then). This is completely maddening to most librarians and school teachers, but it’s something one has to work around (see http://www.guysread.com/ ) if you want them to read.

    The Dangerous Book for Boys. Well, it’s really a screwy object to be sure, but even screwier is the fact that they published a Girls book. I mean, really. Everyone knows that in that vintage of book all the good stuff is in the Boys’ book. It’s why Girl Scouts was so lame. (Boys go snow camping. Girls learn 7 types of weaving. Ergh. I joined 4-H which at least let us choose something useful based on our interests not our gender). (Then again, the girl scout’s magazine has stuff about dating etc. er.. what?)

    I read some of the Thomas stories and was appalled; I also saw something about the ‘female’ engine and she was a Whiny Princess. Perhaps they’ve improved her.

  125. @Jenne When I was a child in Australia in the 1980s, we had girl guides (like girl scouts) and boy scouts. I was a girl guide and we did go camping (since I didn’t know any boy scouts I have no idea if we went as often as they did, but I went with my mother all the time anyway so I guess I didn’t care).

    Interestingly, nowadays the boy scouts are now just called scouts and they take both boys and girls together in the same troop. The girl guides still exist but they are weakened because so many families are sending their daughters to scouts instead.

  126. I think they should have just published the same book with the same content with a choice of two covers – The Dangerous Book for Boys or The Dangerous Book for Girls. In the same way that you could buy Harry Potter with an adult or children’s cover.

  127. @Zenoodle I remember as an eight-year-old I was pretty adamant that toys should not be separated into boys and girls toys. So much so that when I ran a lucky dip at the local market, I didn’t separate the toys at all. I may have taken it too far though because I rather upset a six-year-old boy when I refused to let him return the plastic flower bracelet he’d ‘won’ in my lucky-dip. A mutual friend eventually persuaded me to let him return it and take another prize. I later saw lucky dips that had ‘boys’, ‘girls’ and ‘open’ sections and maybe I would have been better off taking that approach. But, yanno, I was only eight.

  128. BTW, have you noticed that Fisher Price now makes a girl’s (pink) version of some of its INFANT AND TODDLER TOYS?! From, say “Back to Basics” or Lillian Vernon I’d expect that, but Fisher Price? Pink Block sets?! Pink Stacking Rings? ARGGHHH….

  129. CassandraSays – I’m glad someone else mentioned Bagpuss. I was worried to hear someone was planning on remaking it, because I thought, you know, a character who’s explicitly addressed as ‘old fat furry catpuss’…I was awaiting the dreadful prospect of seeing him slimmed down in CGI. Pleased to hear that the son of the late Oliver Postgate has vetoed those plans (although there may apparently still be a spinoff involving the Marvelous Mechanical Mice).

    And, on remakes that don’t quite suck, I was also happy to note that the recent Pooh ‘sequel’ Return to the Hundred Acre Wood – while I haven’t read it, so can’t vouch for the writing – does at least feature illustrations fairly similar to the old Ernest Shepard style, with a Pooh who’s still nice and fat. I’d like to think that there’s still something of a taboo on tampering with the look of the really classic characters.

    The whole Rainbow/Dora/Strawberry thing though…eek. I wasn’t into girlie stuff that much as a kid – more interested in fiddling with my brother’s old Meccano and Lego sets (when your brother has left home by the time you’re six, you don’t have to argue over them – joy!), digging stuff out of the garden, making dens and reading books about dinosaurs. I can imagine myself being into the old Dora, had she been around then, but the new one is ghastly.

  130. Havoc, not sure if you’ve been around the last week, but aleks has been cracking us up all over the place in the last few posts. I totally get what you’re saying — sarcasm doesn’t always play online — but aleks is a Known Funny Person here.

  131. Hi Zenoodle. I knew it wasn’t trans guy who’d written about the ‘Dangerous Book’ and had just tacked that on there. Sorry.

    I’ve never been kicked out of the bookstore for sticking leaflets in the books. Probably I wasn’t seen.

    Jenne: “a sad truism of librarianship is that girls will read ‘boy’s books’ but boys won’t read ‘girls’ books’ or even books with a female main character except under protest”

    Maybe I just didn’t notice myself getting lambasted for it, but really? Jean Craighead George. I thought that ‘My Side of the Mountain’ inspired one to get to ‘Julie of the Wolves’… How saw if it’s not so.

  132. SM, shouldn’t we at least consider the possibility that she’s right and I’m really just a rude crude uncool dude, and in seeing my posts as sarcastic witticisms you’re observing depths that don’t really exist? Perhaps you’re an unreasonably humorous feminist.

  133. *tries not to barf*

    Jesus H. Flying Spaghetti Monster, Esq.

    I remember when the Ponies, Strawberry Shortcake, et al were aimed at 6-year olds and looked cute, pudgy, and SOMEWHAT INDIVIDUALLY recognizable.

    OTOH this just reflects the trend of some folks dressing their 5-year-old girls in halter tops and minis to look like little pole dancers.

    Wonder when they’ll come out with “Comfortable Body Image CEO of a Fortune 500 Barbie?”

  134. @Jenne what you experience in Girl Scouts depends entirely on your leaders and what they are willing to do. I learned to do auto-maintenance, fix toilets, leave-no-trace camping, budgeting, fun science stuff (I don’t think I will ever get tired of growing salt crystals!), camped a ton and travelled a lot. I was a scout from 1982 to 1995 (and have been a leader for several years but am not currently).

    And yes the Girl Scout material talks about dating for older girls, it is usually in a respect yourself and make smart choices way which I think is highly relevant and useful to Cadette, Senior and Ambassador scouts, especially those who come from families that don’t talk about such things and get all of their information from media and peers.

    I am the eldest of three and my brother (the middle) and sister and I all played with all of each others toys at times, even the ones we were “too old” for like little sis’ Fischer Price kitchen she got at around age 4 or 5 (so we were 7/8 9/10 when she got it). But my brother never got dolls and I never got GI Joes or Transformers even though I played with his as much as he did (in fact at age 5 or so I was convinced I was going to marry Optimus Prime)!

    Little sis was a Rainbow Brite fanatic so I saw a lot of it. I cannot believe what theyve done to a toy that was marketed in my opinion to the 4-8 year old crowd.

  135. You know, I just have to say that I don’t think this genderization of toys, and sexualization of toys, is the Invisible Hand of the Market and just Giving People WHat They Want. It is in actuality a HUGE backlash against whatever Feminist gains have been made in our Patriarchal society. I remember during the primaries thinking, “This SHIT they are throwing at HRC would NEVER have flown in the SEVENTIES for crying out loud, and that was forty years ago!”

    This all seems to me like an actual DECISION, somewhere, to get the females back in the their place, and lets start with the babies, cause that’s what the Feminists did, they started with their kids.

    Other than not BUY this Toy Garbage, I mean really it seems like Toy Pornography to me, what can we do? Because it is sick and disgusting, and not to mention actually Very Unhealthy, to convince 6 year olds that they should resemble fifteen year olds.

  136. The stills of the CGI Ninja Turtle movie I just looked at on IMDB make it appear to be aimed at LSD users.

    Ahahahaa!

    Yuk yuk yuk. My little girl is sticking to Thomas the Tank Engine as long as possible!

    I am told (I don’t remember) that I was OBSESSED with trains/ Thomas the Tank Engine as a 2-3-4 year old. OBSESSED. Apparently I had videos and a bedcover (I remember the bedcover) and I used to read books about trains and/or insist they be read to me and I used to insist on going on the train at every possible opportunity (which wasn’t often, since the train station was nowhere near my house). Later I moved on to dinosaurs. I was so cool.

    Zenoodle, I can’t heaaaaaar you. I’m sure Thomas the Tank Engine is fiiiiine. Lalalala.

    Apparently the version with the English voiceovers bears no resemblance to the original stories in French because the people doing it didn’t know what they were/what was meant to be happening, so they made it up

    Really? Cause that would make so much stuff make sense.

    Graphite, that is heartbreaking.

    Perhaps you’re an unreasonably humorous feminist.

    Lololol. I want “unreasonably humorous feminist” on my gravestone.

  137. Hey, interesting coincidence. On “My Friends Tigger and Pooh” this morning, Pooh got stuck in a hollow log and had to stop eating honey until he slimmed down enough to get out. But as soon as he did, everyone celebrated that he could go back to eating all the honey he wants.

    Does anyone remember the Smartees dolls? My husband and I saw them in stores in the early 00′s but never managed to actually buy them before they disappeared (this was long before we had kids).

  138. @CassandraySays –

    I deliberately do NOT go there.
    I’m more of a fanficrants kind of girl (although some of the mutations there probably also would also make me blush if there weren’t also a gander, by virtue of posters’ descriptions, of the leaking minds that originally create them).

  139. also @CassandraSays (must! read! faster!) –

    “Actually I have a theory that all British children’s television programming during the 70s was produced by people who were on LSD. I mean there’s The Magic Roundabout, Bagpuss…”

    Not just the Brits.
    I’m a fool for Nick-at-Nite reruns, and then I follow up at YouTube, and once I got a gander of what came out of Sid and Marty Krofft Studios, I had to wonder what mixed substances were originally going into Sid and Marty Krofft Studios.

    The Bugaboos? The Banana Splits? H.R. Puf’N’Stuf?
    You can’t make it up. If it weren’t so hilarious, I’d be scared.

  140. Bunny Mazonas – That’s actually a good point. For a lot of the revamped and sexified kids characters it’s not just changed body shape, clothing etc that’s bothering me – it’s the body language, which you’re right, has been altered to make it 100% Male Gaze Approved. I’m actually wondering if a generation of animators raised with porn culture invading the mainstream may actually not know how to draw female characters any other way.

    On a related note, someone upthread mentioned Miyazaki as feminist (and he is). That’s always been one of the most striking things about his style, to me, is that pretty much none of the female characters have Male Gaze Approved body language, they just move like normal people. Take a look at the mom in Ponyo to see what I mean (and also Ponyo herself, who’s OMG actually child shaped! Well, when she’s not fish shaped).

    Also since we seem to have a few manga and anime fans in the house can I put in a plug for Satoshi Kon as far as anime dudes who can do female characters in such a way that you won’t make you want to track them down so you can knee them in the nuts? I’d put him on the list of men who Get It based on Paranoia Agent alone.

  141. littlem – Yeah, the seventies were apparently a magical time where they were piping LDS into the water supply right along with chlorine, judging by the children’s programming. Almost all of it is just deliciously wierd. Actually I’d argue that that was a good thing for kids growing up – it beats the hell out of the current lessons-in-being-appropriately-gendered programming kids seem to be getting now.

    I hear you on the fanfic. See, I like Weeping Cock because it’s full of people going “what the hell? what kind of crazy person wrote this? oh, my eyes”, which reassured me that everyone has not in fact lost their minds. I initially found that site while looking for info on a band I like, which led me to a post in which they were mocking a fanfic involving demons and tentacle rape, the tentacles apparently belonging to a member of the band. Which led me to another post mocking a fanfic in which the godfather of gothic lolita is being sexually harrassed by his household appliances. Conclusion – human beings are very strange creatures.

    (PS You’re funny. You should email me if you’re ever going to be in San Francisco so we can go out for a drink.)

  142. @Leely – re Pooh – Again? – he was doing that stuck in a tree, no honey, out of the tree, back to honey thing when I was a kid! I like Pooh.

  143. KMTBERRY: Absolutely. This ‘trend’ is not an accident, not in a million years.

    I was in a toy store not too long ago with my sister who was looking for something; while she was deciding I went over and looked at the dolls. Not a single old-fashioned looking doll there. You know, what I’d call a doll, a toy, like a rag doll, or something that actually looked like A LITTLE GIRL, in maybe a ruffly calico dress. Every last one of them was sexed up.

    And then my head just about exploded and I ended up treating my sister to a twenty minute rant because I caught a look at the Bratz babies. (I think that’s what they were called). Baby dolls, and clearly meant to be infants, with the big made-up eyes, in, get this, lingerie. LINGERIE!! OMG Feminist brain matter everywhere, cleanup in aisle six all right. Right there, that’s how it boils down.

    I think I’m going to have to make a bunch of old-fashioned dolls for my Etsy shop. This is out of control.

    Emily: I KNOW!!

  144. CassandraSays: OMG Yes Satoshi Kon! I was a bit bothered by his treatment of a fat person in Paprika (very stereotypical, an enormously fat man who spent a lot of time stuffing his face, at least when he wasn’t brilliantly inventing machinery), but yeah his women tend to be pretty awesome and realistic. Also Tokyo Godfathers is the best damn Christmas movie EVER.

    Re: Miyazaki being a feminist, I remember that one of the sources I read said that the most concrete thing he did for women was when the Studio Ghibli headquarters was built, he went out of his way to make sure that the women’s executive bathrooms would be just as nice (even a little bit nicer) than the men’s. Apparently this is a big thing in Japanese culture, but I don’t know enough about it to expand on it (plus it was lo, these many years ago). But he’s done a whole lot of awesome stuff just by telling the stories he does too. <3 The only reason I didn't adore Ponyo as much as most of his movies was because I don't like small children, which is entirely my bias and doesn't reflect on him (or the movie itself) one bit. And I still thought the Sea Goddess and the mom (whose name escapes me because I only saw it once) were awesome in their own ways.

  145. Tokyo Godfathers is brilliant. Perfect Christmas movie. RE The fat character in Paprika, it made me squirm too, but didn’t surprise me given the context. I work with a lot of Japanese bands when they come to the US (if one has been here in the past 18 months chances are I’ve interviewed them), and having had that experience, the attitude towards fat in Japanese culture is just way more extreme than even the most extreme stuff you see here. Interestingly enough it now seems to be getting worse for men than for women, at least young men – government stats there say the thinnest group by BMI are young men, which totally matches my anecdata. I keep seeing slim but not terribly thin female staff and girlfriends and shockingly skinny men, almost every one of whom is permanently on a diet. Not sure what’s going on there, but given the context the treatment of the character in Paprika didn’t surprise me, though it was a shame since it’s Kon and I know he can do better.

    RE Ponyo, yeah, it was too kid-oriented for me too, but honestly, given Baby Bratz in lingerie I’m kind of happy to see anything aimed at little kids that’s actually age-appropriate.

  146. I’m kind of caught in a curious in-between land here- I’m too old for the modernized versions and too young for the old versions (I’m 17). I personally found the old ones to be more aesthetically pleasing and just plain cuter- I think that the new ones look like bad Lisa Frank rip-offs! However, I sympathize, because I have already gone through this with a favorite toy- does anyone else remember Polly Pockets? Tiny cute dolls that came with amazingly detailed house-compact things? I played with the old-style ones all through the ’90s, and then they decided to “update” the brand. Suddenly the Polly Pockets were huge, relatively speaking- they went from 1/2 inch mini-dolls with no discernible sexualized features to 4-inch dolls with boobs and long blonde ponytails. When I was in Toys ‘R Us and saw the updated ones, I almost started to cry. A lot of the old ones had fun “adventure” themes in the play sets, while the new ones were- you guessed it- primarily “hair styling/cooking/traditional wimmenz place” type of stuff. If they want to update a classic toy line, why don’t they look at Little Kiddles? I played with the ’60s ones that belonged to my mom and the ’90s reissue, and they were basically the same- cute little completely nonsexualized dolls with disproportionately big heads. The only thing they “updated” was the color scheme- the new dolls had prettier pinks, yellows, greens, and purples rather than the weird ’60s colors. In short, an update done right.

    On a different note, like a lot of other commenters, I am so frustrated by the seperation of toys for boys and girls- and I say this someone who loved getting dolls as a little girl and still loves them today. When I was six, my aunt got my older brother an Erector set and me a “girl” lego set- you used it to build a baby stroller and park to wheel your baby around in. And the bricks were pink and white. Barf. When I got home, I dumped it and went off to build spaceships with my brother using the Erector set. I used real legos to build things like towering metropolises with my brother- I didn’t need any stupid baby park. The whole concept of having a separate set to “appeal” to girls made me mad then and it makes me mad now- what, girls aren’t allowed to like building things for the sake of building things, you have to put a baby in it for them to want to buy a building set? Grrrrrr. When I was a little girl, I would have much rather had a set of, say, the Star Wars or Batman legos that they offer today than the baby set any day, and I think I’m far from the only one. I love my parents so much for not ever pressuring my brother and I into normative gender roles- they just smiled proudly when my interior-design-loving brother showed them how he had rearranged the furniture in my dollhouses and I proved myself to be a master slot car racer.

  147. @littlem:
    “The Bugaboos? The Banana Splits? H.R. Puf’N’Stuf?
    You can’t make it up. If it weren’t so hilarious, I’d be scared.”
    Oh, God. Do not mention the Bananna Splits or I will have nightmares. I stumbled upon it on Boomerang one day while channel surfing, and those things TRAUMATIZED me! They are so freaking creepy and unnatural looking! My mom said “Oh, I remember this! I used to watch it as a kid!” and watched with me for a minute. I had to turn it off because it was creeping me out so badly, and I actually did have a nightmare wherein the characters chased me with butcher knives sing-songing their stupid theme song all the while. I think you could make that show into a horror movie without too much trouble!

  148. Miyazaki’s work is a wonderful, lovely calm oasis in the sea of shit kids have to wade through right now. I LOVE his films.

    That, and the Avatar series. I just love female heroes that rescue themselves full-stop, but when they do it by turning their ARMPIT SWEAT into a weapon? I am in love.

    As for legos and “girls” vs “boys” toys, I think I was spoiled. My Uncle was 12 when I was born, and the whole family lived in the same house, so most of my childhood toys were awesome handmedowns. I had his lego sets, Hulk Hogan action figures with RealWrestling Moves, dinosaurs and the raggediest ancient bears. I was also the only new child born for like, 11 years, so all the men in my family bought cool toys that they could play with for me. That said, I still hated the distinction made in shops. It just annoyed me when I would go to a toy shop with my nan that the shop assistants wouldveer straight into pinknfrothy mode and coo at me about “pretty dollies”. Hey mister, I’m just here to get some of those styrofoam planes.

    Cassandrasays, can you please post a link to weeping cock? Every time I google it I see… Bad Things.

  149. Bunny Mazonas, here you go. http://community.livejournal.com/weepingcock/ Apologies, I hadn’t considered what Professor Google might come up with for that title.

    Oddly enough I don’t remember getting many gendered toys as a kid. I do remember a doll and pram, and that my best friend and I discarded the doll and kidnapped the neighborhood cats and dressed them up as babies in little bonnets so we could push them around in the pram. I remember legos, but they weren’t pink. My favorite toy was a little electric piano-thingy with cartoony hippos on the top of it, and each time you pressed a key one of the hippos would open its mouth and “sing” the note. Nowadays that would probably be gendered female (and painted pink, and the hippos would be wearing lipgloss) since it doesn’t involve shooting anything, but back then it was my male bff’s favorite toy too.

  150. Noworries CassandraSays, thegoogling was… educational… at least! Thanks for the link, though. Although I may need some brainbleach later.

  151. I love Miyazaki too, and I loved Ponyo, and was appalled to hear that it was anti-feminist because Ponyo’s outcome was determined by the little boy promising to love her forever. (This is one of the things I have trouble with: 1) when the most powerful characters in the story are female, it’s kinda confusing; and 2) it occurred to me that if you reversed the genders it wouldn’t help because then it would be all ‘love of a maiden saves the terrible uncontrolled male’).

    Re: the toys, I wonder if there’s some sort of cycle going on, because you can barely find toys that don’t take batteries, either, and I remember that being a problem at one point in my childhood, and then going away, and obviously it’s coming back. While the girls-only-toys thing is backlash– 100%– I think there’s a powerful group of ‘traditionalists’ out there, some of whom are grandparents and buy toys and some of whom have nothing better to do than hassle merchandisers, and they are driving that part.

    Sexualizing– that’s a merchandising thing, and I’m completely sure it’s coming out of the designers. One hopes that it will become passe soon. (The 10 year old in our house begged for a little-girl bra in first grade because someone else had one– we compromised on camisoles; now she won’t touch anything bra-like with a 10-foot pole.)

  152. @Grafton

    Yes, I DO remember Wildfire, and quite fondly I might add! I have had people accuse me of dreaming the series, because nobody else remembered it. Wildfire fans represent!

  153. @Jenne, keep in mind that in Ponyo, it’s meant to be a retelling of the traditional Little Mermaid story, the least feminist tale I can easily think of off the top of my head. What I found rather feminist about the story was A) Miyazaki’s beautiful portrayal of Sousuke’s mother, it’s very clearly an autobiographical tribute to his beloved wife and B) Ponyo searches for the love of Sousuke because he respects her and all there is about her. She’s not “better off” for being with him, but she is happy because she chose to be with him and he chose her back. I don’t see anything intrinsically un-feminist about that, unless all heterosexual love is automatically anti-feminist.

    In other words, the moral of the story is that love comes from having genuine respect and admiration for another, and that love can mean more than the traditional romantic love.

    Also that we shouldn’t pollute, but that’s true for all Miyazaki movies.

    Basically, as one of the most consistently feminist filmmakers in history, I didn’t want it to seem as if he’d suddenly gone completely off the rails. He’s still making very pro-women films, even if he can’t help but makes films choke full of old fashioned romance and love.

  154. Yay, RedSonja.

    There are a couple of fansites for ‘Wildfire’ that show you’re not the only one accused of dreaming it, or thinking she dreamed it. I just watched a couple of the youtube posted ones, and I guess it does hold up — not near as dumb as the other adventure-series cartoons of the period, and focused on female characters. It had Peter S. Beagle as a creative consultant and it’s very odd that it simply disapeared.

  155. KarenElhyam, I completely agree with your points about Ponyo. (As a breastfeeding mom, I’m particularly in love with the part where Ponyo finds out about breastfeeding.) I personally think it’s a story I’ll enjoy sharing with my baby and his half sister again and again. In a world that contains The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Snow Queen stories, Ponyo seems good rather than bad; but people at commonsensemedia did complain.

  156. @ Karen Elhyam – I suppose my main problem with Ponyo wasn’t the themes you’re talking about, but rather their ages. Perhaps it’s because I know so little about young children, but it seems to me that assuming a child of 5 can actually understand what a commitment it is to swear to love another young child for the entire rest of their lives is stretching it REALLY far. It’s not that I necessarily object to the somewhat old fashioned themes (and you’re right, since it is based on the Little Mermaid story, it’s gonna be somewhat anti-feminist anyway), but the ages and swearing eternal love (even assuming it’s not necessarily romantic/sexual love at a later date) really squick me.

    You’re right though, I don’t think Miyazaki has gone off the deep end. XD I just don’t think Ponyo is nearly as spot-on as most of his other movies.

  157. RE Ponyo, there was actually a lot of dissagreement from critics about whether the relationship between her and Sosuke was romantic or a friendship (based largely on the idea, is it possible to feel romantic love at 5?). I do think any sexist elements were inherited from the original story. I mean really…he turned the character of the evil scary Sea Witch into Ponyo’s benevolent mother, the Goddess of Mercy.

    @Volcanista – isn’t it amazing? Weeping Cock is my go-to site when I really need a good laugh. The best posts are the ones mocking actual published fiction.

    RE Old kids shows etc, does anyone else remember this animated movie from the 70s which was about hippos living in the harbor at Zanzibar? I can’t remember most of the plot because I was really young, but I used to watch that movie every day. I’d love to figure out the title so I could try to track down a copy to give to my niece.

  158. @Keeks – I think those “sexy ponies” are actually llamas. Which doesn’t really make them less disturbing, but it might go a way to explaining why they are so very, very unhorselike.

  159. In Peru, apparently llamas traditionally wear colourful tassels in their ears. The colours identify what herd they belong to. Llamas are totally the fashionistas of the ungulate world! Sparkly pink high-heel sandals are not traditional llama wear, though, and seem pretty impractical for hiking around the mountains.

  160. In Peru, apparently llamas traditionally wear colourful tassels in their ears.

    In jr high, apparently girls do the same thing.

  161. I know it’s late in the thread, but has anyone even SEEN a Raggedy Ann doll for sale anymore, anywhere? Just wondering…

  162. Jenonymous – I’ve seen several – I went shopping for a doll for my daughter recently, and saw Raggedy Ann or Raggedy Ann type dolls for sale at two local, indie owned toy stores, as well as at a big chain toy store.

  163. Raggedy Ann is still around and untouched, thankfully.

    Lisa Frank has had an update. They didn’t sexify the animals, though. They just added Bratz-like children in the proper color scheme. The animals don’t figure in as largely as they used to, so unfortunately they are just not the same. What is more, the girls in the pictures wear skimpified outfits in pirate and other costumish themes. Those costumes which get the pornish treatment (Schoolgirl, cop, firefighter, little red riding hood, etc) seem to have translated over exactly to children’s costumes now, and LF seems to have just taken it all to their merchandise without any translation.

    I think what is worse about the new My Little Ponies, besides their looks, is the new stories available in their DVDs. I’ll give a synopsis of one episode: One of the ponies, whose sole purpose in life is dancing, wants to come up with an awesome dance. She goes to one of the ‘wishing ponies’ and wishes for an awesome dance. The wishing pony gives her an awesome dance. She performs the dance in front of the other ponies, and it is awesome. The end. More stuff happens in some of the other stories, but they’re all pretty much like this.

    Oh, and there was a Christmas special about socks. But, I mean, how different can it be from a series where magical flying ponies and the like actually have to defend their homes and ward off dangerous opponents who want to kill them? Nah, let’s talk about socks! And Sprinkles! And how we’re worried that maybe we won’t be able to celebrate Christmas and give each other sparkly things!

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