Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Guns for Little Girls Who Like Guns

Yes, I ought to be busting my hump working on a new Pigeon cartoon. All in due time, friends. For the moment, however, I want to rage. 

While watching cartoons online last night (no shame), I saw a commercial that made my lips recede in the sort of involuntary snarl that only bad marketing and spoiled milk can illicit. 

The girl with the bow appears to have spotted a 12-point buck offscreen.

In an effort to make their product appealing to girls, Nerf has released a new line of plastic weaponry called "Rebelle". The toy line features a "heartbreaker bow", "guardian crossbow" and (I swear I'm not making this up) the "pink crush blaster", as well as handful of cute accessories to go with, all in garish shades of pink and purple. 

Remember girls- match your outfit to your gun, never your gun to your outfit.

Someone out there (let's assume it's you) is probably saying, "But Aaron, what's wrong with Nerf guns for girls? Shouldn't girls get to play with Nerf guns too? Isn't this a step up from Barbies on the stairway of feminism?" 
Now, I'm not a woman OR a parent, so I can't claim to speak as either, but as an educated human being with two brain cells to rub together, I will say: No. It isn't.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing inherently wrong with these toys- until you compare them to the other Nerf guns that are, by virtue of them not being covered in purple eagle prints, marketed at boys:

This dart gun could be used to commit a war crime.
Now that's a boys Nerf gun! Three darts per second? This thing looks like it should require a background check and two week waiting period to purchase. 

So why do toys for girls suck? That my friend is the wrong question. What the R&D department at Nerf ought to be asking is this: Why aren't we marketing our regular Nerf guns to girls as well as boys? Why do none of the commercials for "regular" Nerf guns feature girls alongside boys in the make-believe firefight for control of the dining room?

By making a special set of Nerf guns in pink with matching accessories, Nerf is saying that  yes, while girls can play with our toys, here are the ones we're going to make for you. Because girls don't care if a gun shoots darts fast enough that it ought to be outlawed by the Geneva Conventions, unless it is also pink and comes with cute accessories. Because those are the things that girls value in pretend weaponry- pink, purple, and wing prints, not sheer do-not-aim-at-the-eyes destructive force.

All I know is this- if ever I have little girls and they want to join in the Nerf war with the boys down the street, they're going to go in armed to the teeth. By the time the war is over the phrase "you shoot like a girl!" will illicit flinches and memories of nickle-sized bruises. Because I care.

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