Friday, August 3, 2007

I'm buying these and putting them next to my Python Holy Grail figures

The Pastry Pirate just sent me the link a BBC News story with the headline "Faith-based toys to hit US stores." Here's a taste of what you'll find in the article:

David Socha, founder of One2believe, the company which makes the dolls, is confident the demand is there for "God-honouring" toys which reflect Christian teachings and morality.

"We get a lot of people, even people who are not of faith, don't go to church, saying 'I've got a four and a six-year-old and I don't know what to get them any more'," he said.

"If you go in a toy aisle in any major retailer, you will see toys and dolls that promote and glorify evil, destruction, lying, cheating.

"In the girls' aisle where the dolls would be, you see dolls that are promoting promiscuity to very young girls. Dolls will have very revealing clothes on, G-string underwear."

What his company offers instead is "something faith-based that is not only fun to play with but also is solidifying a person's spiritual wherewithal and their spiritual journey", he said.
Hm. Yes. And they're also so much more manly than those sluts in the "girls' aisle." Oh so much more manly. OK, seriously, there does seem to be an emphasis on male figures, and even Moses, complete with gray beard, seems rather buff and virile (go see for yourself). What's more, I find it disturbing that Socha segues to the dolls in the "girls' aisle" after talking about toys glorifying "evil, destruction, lying, cheating," and then talks about their underwear. And just why does he know what the dolls' underwear looks like anyway?

But the main reason why I wanted to post about this -- and perhaps more germane to a medievalist blog (although I'm also a feminist medievalist) -- is that I find it curious and interesting that there does seem to be a growing market (or at least growing visibility to an existing market) for materials that re-tell Biblical stories and that most of the consumers in this market are, presumably, Protestants. It all seems so "papist" and "Romish" and, dare I say it, medieval. (Well, OK, there's Milton. But he's kind of in a class by himself, isn't he?) It's also kind of odd coming from a culture where there are a lot of people who say things like "the only book I need is the Good Book" -- well, and, apparently, multiple re-interpretations of it. It's the same kind of oddity I found in the Protestant evangelicals flocking to The Passion of the Christ, which, you'll note, is cited in this article as showing that there's a market for Christian-themed entertainment.

The article also cites a
"boom in Christian fantasy fiction" as an alternative to the Potter books. Hm again. To all you folks out there looking for Christian fantasy fiction who may end up here now via Google, I have two words for you: medieval literature.*

There, now maybe there will also be a boom in our course enrollments (although, not to brag or anything, mine are usually full, thank you very much).

*Though to be honest, not all of it would qualify. But you might especially like the romance and hagiography genres.


Sisyphus said...

Sooo, do we get to see pics of the Monty Python action figures? Or maybe your workspace/Python shrine more generally, eh?

Bardiac said...

A friend of mine had a student who'd been raised reading Foxe. Yeah, there's some good story-telling!

Can I get you to email me your short assignment, the one you talked about having students do as a response to two passages in a play or other text? I think you have my email, or use the bardiacblogger at yahoo dot com one.

Thanks :)

medieval woman said...

Okay. Don't get me started on the creepy gender coding of toys. Okay - maybe a little. What really makes me wanna hurl is not the g-string underwear (and I was wondering the same thing about mister Moral Majority - how does he know what their skivvies look like??). It's the "be like mommy" toys that fill the "girls' aisle" - all the baby accoutrements, the shopping cart with the week's groceries rendered in plastic, the vaccuums, the dishwashing set (that also features an Hispanic boy - GOD!).

Grrrr....there's a reason I only played with Star Wars figures. And I had a Spanish Barbie.

How do toys honor God?

Jonathan Jarrett said...

I can't decide whether it would be a good or a bad thing to try and rerun the Iconoclast controversy in Dr Virago's blog comments now. This probably means that I should be doing something else...

Dr. Virago said...

Bardiac -- Yes, forthwith! Sorry I'm such a lame blogger and haven't e-mailed those promised syllabuses and assignments yet! I'll also e-mail you my grad research methods syllabus, since I know you're working on yours.

And Foxe. Who-boy!

Sisyphus - I hadn't planned on it, but maybe once I get it straightened up, I will.

MW -- Yeah, I played with "boy" toys, too. And my sisters' 1950s Barbies, which frankly, seem less sexist than modern ones (perhaps because our next-door neighbor made most of the clothes for them, and they included a lot of professional clothes).

Jonathan - Te-hee!

k8 said...

Moses looks like he might have a six pack under that robe! I don't know whether I should be amazed or appalled.

As far as girl toys and boy toys go, one of my niece's favorite toys as a preschooler was a big yellow Tonka dump truck. She used it cart around her toy dolls and horses. She even named her "game" dolls, trucks, and horses. Her uncle (at my suggestion - I had seen her playing with someone else's) gave her the truck as a birthday present. When I suggested it he looked at me funny, but since he had been away at school and hadn't seen her for a while, he went with it. It was her favorite birthday present that year. Today she is a pink-wearing, butterfly-loving, glittery 10 year old who proudly claims to be the fastest runner in her grade and is one of the best players on her soccer team (boys and girls).

By the way, don't you love how some men insist that action figures like G I Joe aren't dolls? He has clothes and other accessories, too!

Chaser said...

Um...why are these figures so light-skinned?

Dr. Virago said...

K8 - Dolls, trucks, and horses sounds like a *great* game. Awesome!

Chaser -- You know, I was so dazzled by their manly studliness, that I didn't notice their paleness, but you're absolutely right. Sigh. Unfortunately, there's a long tradition of Europeanizing Biblical figures and clearly these dolls (sorry, *action figures*) participate in that.

tommy said...

Can a Fred Phelps action figure be far behind? Of course, you'd just wind up losing the "God Hates Fags" sign within the first week...

J J Cohen said...

You were perhaps expecting the "Famous Nerds of Christian History" line of toys?

Karl Steel said...

A friend of mine had a student who'd been raised reading Foxe.

I was raised reading Foxe, Bunyan, and C. S. Lewis. So I liked torture, early modern romance (and VD-ridden Popes), monsters, and eschatology.

What I'm saying is that the kids who play with these toys will do what the medievals did: invent new stories. Some of them within the bounds of the character, some of them that reinvent what the characters can do. Any hope that these toys will lead to pious playing is almost certainly vain: I mean, really, pious playing! Has there ever been such a thing?

FF said...

Don't buy those toys! The money goes to terrorist groups- any and all religions. Some religions are just worse than others.