Insiders Confirm That Rey Was Excluded From Star Wars Toys Because Of Her Gender, Which Just Makes No Sense

Where’s Rey, you ask? Turns out, confirming all of our suspicions, the Star Wars heroine was specifically and intentionally excluded from toy sets – not because Disney was trying not to “spoil the movie,” as Disney originally claimed, but because they have an inset belief that boys do not want figurines of female characters.

An inside source at Disney told Michael Boehm at Sweatpants and Coffee that the toy sets that were originally pitched to Disney executives featured Rey “prominently,” but that the execs pulled her based on her gender. The insider says that he was told that “No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.”

Which is simply not true: If we can take video games as a product that’s sold to boys, a recent study showed that 78 percent of boys don’t make decisions about what games they play based on the gender of the playable character, and 55 percent of boys think there should be more games with female characters.

The source told Boehm that this happened with Power Rangers and Paw Patrol as well, and Heroic Girls founder John Marcotte told Boehm that his own contacts at Disney had said that the company figured Kylo Ren would be the best-received character in The Force Awakens: “They put a huge investment into marketing and merchandizing the Kylo Ren character. They presumed he would be the big breakout role from the film. They were completely surprised when it was Rey everyone identified with and wanted to see more of.”

Now, according to Hypable, there are rumors that delays on Episode VIII are due to script rewrites to include more of Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron. And, duh, fans want to see more of the protagonists – no offense to Adam Driver, who did a great job as Kylo Ren, but I cannot understand why on Tatooine anyone would think that Ren was the most compelling new character in the films.

Or, for that matter, why executives would underestimate female characters in the zeitgeist of 2016. The Mary Sue is one of the best and most popular sci-fi/fantasy/nerdery blogs on the internet, and it’s specifically aimed at women readers. io9 is run by an out trans woman. Cons are becoming queerer and more female. The SFF literary world boasts Ann Leckie, Nancy Kress, Ursula Vernon, Alaya Dawn Johnson; the film industry has Guardians of the Galaxy writer Nicole Perlman, Lucasfilm exec Kathleen Kennedy, and up-and-coming directors like Letia Clouston; comics has Bitch Planet’s Kelly Sue DeConnick, Cairo’s G. Willow Wilson, Birds of Prey’s Gail Simone; gaming has EA’s Chelsea Howe (who, full disclosure, is a friend), Journey’s Robin Hunicke, Rise of the Tomb Raider’s Rhianna Pratchett; and all of that is way beyond characters like Black Widow, Gamora, Katniss, Imperator Furiosa, Ava, Tris, Uhura, River Song, Zoe Washburne, Storm, Starbuck, Dana Scully, Padme Amidala, Samus Aren, Lara Croft, Kitana, Shiek, Bayonetta, Princess Ida, Aurora, Wonder Woman, River Tam, Sarah Connor, the whole cast of the new Ghostbusters, and Princess f-ing Leia - all characters that are beloved and in demand by a fanbase that includes women and girls who are increasingly psyched to have characters to whom they can relate in the SFF media they consume, men and boys whose fandom is wedded to the universes and the films and games and comics and books and characters, not of the masculinity or femininity of those characters, and – not to mention! – trans fans who themselves are now gaining representation in SFF.

It’s just another example of movie executives being spectacularly behind the times. They are in no way correct in their assumptions that boys don’t like female characters, that female characters don’t sell well, that women aren’t dedicated movie and SFF fans. It would be great if Disney and other movie studios could just stop excluding female characters from marketing and licensed products, sending the message to fans that heroines aren’t as worthwhile to the studios as they are to the fans. Chances are, though, that fans will just have to keep sending the message back that we’re fans of the characters, not of their gender.

[Sweatpants and Coffee]

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