Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Where's Gamora?

I think we can all agree that Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is basically the best movie ever made. We can't stop listening to the soundtrack (currently #1 on the Billboard charts!), we can't stop looking at Groot and Rocket fan art and we certainly can't stop buying Guardians merchandise. I am sure there are a bunch of designers toiling away at Marvel to bring us a dancing baby Groot just in time for Christmas.

Guardians of the Galaxy is also a massive leap forward for women in comics. The script was written by a woman, over 44% of the opening week audience were women and it had an amazing female character that wasn't just a lifeless love interest or sex kitten eye candy. Gamora was intelligent, noble and interesting. Frankly, she's kinda out of Star Lord's league. Despite the massive outpouring of fan devotion and attention, Gamora has been very noticeably absent from almost all of Guardians of the Galaxy's merchandise.

Marvel, what the hell?

If you're looking for Gamora, you are shit out of luck. She has a Lego toy and a Funko Pop figure but that's literally about it. She isn't on the t-shirts or the marketing materials, you won't find her on pencil cases or comic books. Suddenly, the team has become just a group of men (and a tree). Gamora's villainous sister, Nebula, is also completely missing. Thankfully, I'm not the only one who has noticed this. There's been a Twitter campaign recently asking Marvel and Disney #wheresgamora. Neither company has made a statement yet about the woeful exclusion of our favorite asskicking Guardian. Where are Marvel and Disney making it so hard for me to give them my money? It's like they don't even want it. Is my dollar less good because it comes from a woman?
The company that HAS made a statement is a store for children's clothing called The Children's Place. A concerned mother emailed them about the lack of Guardians merch for girls and how the boy's t-shirt didn't feature Gamora at all. The store replied basically saying that since it's boy merch, they excluded her. Because boys can't like Gamora? Because it's somehow less masculine to include a female character on a shirt for boys?
Here's a fundamental problem about being a woman. We're told and expected to be able to emphasize with male characters. We are forced to be able to relate to male characters because so often there are no female characters for us to latch onto. We grow up with books and films that are male-centric but the same isn't said of boys. Boys don't have to relate to women characters at all and some men act like it's a deep and bitter insult to even be asked to. It's a hugely toxic attitude and it leads to bullshit like a company blithely saying that a boy shirt can't have a girl character on it.

I am getting really tired of banging my head against a wall about these issues. Marvel, Disney, where is Gamora?!
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  1. Okay, I wrote this up earlier this morning, but when I hit the 'preview' button it disappeared, so I'm going to try this again. And hopefully it will be as well worded as it was right after I woke up this morning...

    Growing up in the 80's as a kid, there were so many toy lines to choose from to litter my bedroom floor with for years. Growing up as a boy, I don't know if I was just different, but having females in my favorite cartoons and toys was something I really never thought about. They were no different from the men for me, with the exception of a crush here and there...(No, I'm not going to tell you who I crushed on)

    Thing about the toy lines in the 80's, they didn't really seem to shy away from having females. That's not to say that each toy line had a lot, but they still had some, and most of them kicked ass.

    This is a list of the ones I had as a kid.
    G.I. Joe - Lady Jay, Scarlet, Baroness, and Zarana
    Silverhawks - Steelheart
    Thundercats - Cheetara and Wilykat
    He-Man - Sorceress, Teela, and Evil-Lyn (sadly I didn't own She-Ra)
    TMNT - April O'Neil
    Voltron - Princess Allura
    Star Wars - Princess Leia (Not sure how many different ones I had)

    That's just the ones I can remember. And I played with those toys just as much as any of the male characters. And I played them as the "kickass take no shit from anyone" type of characters that they were.

    And then there were the shirts. How many TMNT shirts DIDN'T have April O'Neil on them? Star Wars had Leia on a lot. Voltron wasn't Volrton without the blue lion, and I recall Princess Allura in her pink uniform on a lot of the shirts. Wilykit and Wilykat were NEVER separated on shirts, and Cheetara was on a lot as well.The Sorceress was on a lot of He-Man shirts, in both bird and human form. Though I don't recall seeing Teela or Evil-Lyn on shirts. But Scarlet, Lady Jaye, and Baroness were on tons as well.

    I hope this trend changes soon, because there are some awesome female characters out there that EVERYONE deserves to be able to play with and collect.

    (not as well articulated as my previous post, but it gets the point across)