In this user-uploaded video, four-year-old Riley is shown in the “girls” aisle of a Newburgh, NY, Toys-R-Us. She explains why princesses aren’t just for girls and superheroes aren’t just for boys. Filmed a few days before Christmas in 2011 by Riley’s dad on his cameraphone, the video and the precocious Riley quickly went viral; it was featured by innumerable blogs, picked up by The Huffington Post, and even aired on CNN. With passion and agitation, alternately slapping her forehead and transferring a Fred (from Scooby Doo) doll from hand to hand, Riley proclaims, “The companies who make these try to trick the girls into buying the pink stuff … Some boys like superheroes, some boys like princesses. So then why do all the girls have to buy pink stuff and all the boys have to buy different colored stuff?”
What is Riley’s argument? Are you persuaded by her contention that companies try to trick girls (and, by extension, boys) into buying specific types of toys? Why do you think this video went “viral”?
How do toy manufacturers market their products? To whom do they direct their ads? Do you believe that this constitutes trickery, as Riley contends? Why or why not? How, if at all, do ethics relate to toy marketing?
Think about the phenomenon of “pink is for girls, blue is for boys.” How did this phenomenon arise? Who has played a role in creating this phenomenon? Think about toy manufacturers, advertisers, toy store owners, parents, kids, etc. To what degree is any/each responsible?
Which personality traits do you associate with princesses and princess play? superheroes and superhero play? Why do you think you make those associations? How, if at all, does engaging with these traits and play styles potentially shape girls and boys into the adults they will become?