It’s not exactly a secret that there has been a lot of ‘controversy’ and resistance to the all-female Ghostbusters reboot starring Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon. It famously has the most down-voted trailer in YouTube history, the result of a dedicated band of internet trolls who typically attempt to justify their blatant misogyny through claims of a ruined childhood.
However, while this expression of more overt sexism certainly is odious, a more subtle form of gender bias was brought to the fore today by Chuck Wendig, who tweeted about the eye-rolling — and at the same time completely predictable — exclusion of girls from some of Target’s new Ghostbusters toy packaging/marketing.
GHOSTBUSTERS has a cast of four women. The toy proton pack? No girls allowed, I guess. pic.twitter.com/2Ygn6qK373
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) May 13, 2016
Both the proton pack and the proton sidearm blaster show a single boy preparing to bust some fictional ghosts. Not a single girl in sight.
While this may seem like a minor thing to get up in arms about, the exclusion of women and girls from the toy marketing of comic and sci-fi franchises has been a systemic and ongoing problem. Black Widow of The Avengers, Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy and Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens have all been excluded or noticeably marginalized by franchise merchandise aimed at (male) children.
Gender segregation in toy marketing is an outdated relic that nevertheless persists into the present like a stubborn weed. Although Hollywood now concedes to the fact that women can, indeed, be kick-ass Ghostbusters, toy marketers are clearly still having trouble acknowledging the same thing. Maybe one day they will learn, but to be honest, I’m not holding my breath.