This one post reminded me of how when I was a kid, when I was playing Mario Kart 64 alone, I’d select Princess Peach and I’d do different tracks in a certain order, all while pretending that Peach was escaping on her own from Bowser’s Castle.
I’d do the Bowser’s Castle track to “break out,” then…
This is absolutely the most fantastic thing. I didn’t have this game growing up, but I can so easily picture myself playing it the same way, constructing a narrative for myself because why the hell not.
Ha - when I was about eight or nine, I picked out a bunch of my favourite Barbies, gathered up all the swimsuits, tights, capes and boots I owned for them, and made an entire squad of superheroines with unique superpowers (based mostly on what colour swimsuit they ended up with, lol). I had a pretty wrecked Ken doll and another Barbie with a melty arm (got too close to the radiator) who were the evil masterminds, I think. Don’t remember what they were gonna do to the world, but I do know they damn sure didn’t succeed.
I feel like most girls don’t actually need to be spoon-fed strong, independent feminist protagonists - you know, they’ll fill in all that stuff on their own because, hey, girls like being awesome just as much as boys do. But it would’ve been nice, for instance, if there had been more than one ‘real’ superhero-type Barbie (‘cause you better believe I had a Flying Hero Kira).
'kay first things first: OMG WHY DIDN'T I KNOW YOU WHEN I WAS A KID. Superhero Barbies with individual colors and powers is so right up my alley it's not even funny, I would have been THRILLED AS HECK to be playing that. Hell I'd play it right now, let's GO. That is so creative and what really strikes me is the ingenuity of it. You weren't given a legit superhero Barbie (other than Flying Hero Kira of course) but you wanted to play superhero Barbies and so you made your own. And not just one superheroine but several! That just - ahhhh, that is so beautiful.
And now because you said that my thoughts are going into overdrive, lol. ‘Cause I’m remembering the friends that I did have when I was still young enough to pretend and not realize I was doing it, and I can remember the games that were fun and the games that were not fun. And it never, ever had to do with the genre - I was just as fine being a mommy with a babydoll as I was running around pretending to be Sailor Whoever I Felt Like Being That Day and fighting evil. But what wasn’t fun was when I had a friend who didn’t understand the importance of conflict. The type of person who always was like “no, I don’t want that bad thing to happen in our pretend game” because “my character has all the powers” or “no you’re actually not that stressed because your a family doctor, not a super busy one, so things work out.” And I’d be like WUT and super bored.
And I think that’s how you can usually tell the good media for girls from the bad. It’s not so much what the conflict is or the setup, but as long as there is conflict and the characters are responding to it. So I’d want to play superheroes and fantasy warriors a lot, but I also had a friggin’ blast when I’d go over to this one girl’s house and she had lots of Barbies and she always wanted drama and break-ups and fights, because that was engaging.
I think you really struck on something when you mentioned how like, girls will go ahead and be proactive characters, it’s just nicer when they’re given the material to do so. Like when we go to Disneyland and watch Jedi Training Academy, and there’s just as many little girls up there as little boys. I don’t think a single one of those girls are pretending to be Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia, I think they’re legit being their own character, themselves. Whether or not there’s a strong female character in Star Wars, little girls are going to pick up a stick they see and pretend it’s a lightsaber if they want to. But it IS super positive and very good when they’re told that it’s okay to do this, when they’re given a chance because someone handed them an actual jedi robe and a
training lightsaber and there’s a stage and I get to fight the real Darth Vader with all these lights and sound effects omgggggg
And that should be our mission as adults. Little girls start out knowing they can be awesome and they want to be awesome, it’s our job to give them more to work with and to let them never hear the message “you’re not allowed to be awesome.” The other thing about our latest Disneyland trip was all those little girls and the absolute insanity that was Elsa mania - and I think it’s like, Frozen didn’t create a demographic of little girls who wanted magical powers, it just tapped into an already existing demographic that isn’t tapped into enough. Because little girls were already being magical. So they get super excited when they see somebody like that up on the big screen wearing a sparkly dress, and that it totally awesome.
Little girls have always wanted to be mermaids since the dawn of time. Ariel gave them a story and a conflict and something to cling to. And I think most little girls when they pretend to be Ariel aren’t even focusing on the “she gets married and wants to get the prince part?” Haha, like I think that’s just a bonus and adults shouldn’t shame that aspect of the story. Because I think what most little girls are pretending to be when they go to the pool or the beach is a mermaid who does whatever she wants. Whether that’s singing and looking pretty or fleeing from sharks and finding treasures, it doesn’t matter. What matters is they got the choice.
Omg I could talk forever. Basically this is a conversation that deeply interests me. You get me, it’s insane haha