Girls don’t like science. AHEM.
Girls don’t want to be scientists. COUGH.
Boys don’t want to play with or as girls. BARF.
True Fact Time: LEGO’s Research Institute set, you know, the one with all the female scientists being rad, came out last Friday and as of this morning - It’s TOTALLY SOLD OUT.
This is a True Fact, despite:
1. LEGO instituting a one per household purchase limit.
2. LEGO releasing a second set from LEGO ideas - the Exo Suit (not something they often do) in a very similar price range. In all fairness, the ExoSuit did come with one male and one female minifigure.
3. Guardians of the Galaxy destroying at the box office at the same time as their new LEGO sets were released.
There are moments when I am just so damn tired of talking about this problem. This huge disconnect between reality and media/corporate speak about what girls like, are interested in, want, etc. And I know I’m not alone on this. It can be exceedingly tedious to live your life a certain way and be told repeatedly by media (hi Marvel!), corporations (hi LEGO circa 2012!) and talking heads (hi every damn dude in Hollywood!) that your way of life, your way of viewing the world, your interests are not actually your own. That, in fact, they belong to one gender.
And so when something like this happens, it gives me hope. Because ultimately, the world (and specifically our media and our corporate culture) responds to money. And clearly, so many of us went out and expressed ourselves with our cash this weekend. Go us. And yes, I got mine and I can’t wait to build it.
Women are trained from a very young age to present themselves a certain way. Shall we say, an irrationally positive, put together, never upset sort of way. This isn’t just some weird rhetoric. Social science proves this theory time and time again. As media consumers, we see this play out in a variety of way. Two characters: the googly eyed love interest or the blanket bitch.
This singular dimension of emotional range means that as soon as we express anything beyond those feelings, we get cast as a psycho, freak, bitch or even worse things. That’s in real life and the movies, by the way.
Which brings me to a LEGO cat-unicorn hybrid. For months, I’ve been obsessed with Unikitty. I couldn’t really sort out why, though. For a while, I thought it was the cuteness factor multiplied by my undying love of LEGO. But upon further consideration, I think I’ve narrowed in on something rather more important.
Unikitty is the best comedic representation of the limited emotional range women are allowed to express in media and in their lives. Every time Unikitty feels something other than what is expected of her, she literally has to fight herself to repress her angry feelings by reinforcing the most silly stereotypes of the peppy female. Take 1:11 of this video as the perfect example of what I mean:
Some might say Unikitty is a stereotype, but I suggest she may be a subversive one. The LEGO Movie writers took the cliches of media about cloyingly happy women and literally just translated them into her actual lines. Just take a few common representations:
Representation: women must be happy and positive:
"Any idea is a good idea except the non-happy ones. Those we push down deep inside where you’ll never, ever, ever, EVER find them!"
Representation: women don’t know anything about business:
"Business, business, business. Numbers. Is this thing working?"
Representation: women must be peace keepers:
"You need to be more friendly!"
Representation: women are crazy:
Unikitty: “Here in Cloud Cuckoo Land, there are no rules: There’s no government, no baby sitters, no bedtimes, no frowny faces, no bushy mustaches, and no negativity of any kind.”
Lucy: “You just said the word “no” like a thousand times.”
Unikitty: “And there’s also no consistency.”
It’s completely unclear whether the writers were trying to be this deliberate in their use of Unikitty as a trope humor machine, but it works. And in her artistic form, she makes the reality of this “turn tropes into comedy” idea even further thanks to doe eyes when she’s giddy and a literal flaming body when she’s angry.
While I doubt a single child will pick up on any of this, as a grown women, I find it hilarious and necessary. If it takes an animated cat with a horn to point out just how stupid the representation of women has become, I’m all for it.
Another San Diego Comic Con has come and gone. Every year, I fall in love with something different about Comic Con, but this year, it became clear that there’s one thing about Comic Con that is universally great.
It’s the people. The amazing freaking people.
Imagine this: all your friends who live all over the world decide to take a vacation in the same place as the same time as you. That’s the beauty of Comic Con.
Favorite Freebie: LEGO Unikitty
Waiting in line for over an hour was totally worth getting this adorable two headed Unikitty. She’s just so damn happy. Indeed, we waited in line for all the SDCC exclusive minifigs, but this one was definitely my favorite.
Favorite New Find: ECA - LA
The above book, Lovely: Ladies of Animation, was purchased and signed at the Extracurricular Activities booth on the show floor. This amazing little studio is made up of incredible animators whose other amazing art appears on totes and note books and shirts. It’s beyond great.
Favorite Event: SherlockeDCC
I would be a liar if I didn’t say that SherlockeDCC isn’t a great time. The people that come, the ladies who organize it and the sponsors who help make it happen are all awesome. I can’t thank this team enough for working together to make this happen. I’m so blessed to be a part of the group. Also, thanks to GoldBubble for the great dress.
Favorite Panel: Women Who Kick Ass
Let me take this opportunity to rant a little about this particular panel. This panel was in Hall H on Saturday and to get into Hall H on Saturday, you had to get in line by 9PM on Friday. So, there’s that. But lucky for most people at Comic Con who like sleep and not paying for hotel rooms when they are going to sleep on the ground, there is a Hall H playback room in a nearby hotel. So, wisely, I decided to go to the playback room to try and see this panel, only to be informed that THIS WAS THE ONLY PANEL ON SATURDAY THAT WAS NOT BEING STREAMED IN THE PLAYBACK ROOM. Why? An employee who is in charge of programming told me it was because it wasn’t a “property based” panel. Not a good excuse. Especially since they show NO EXCLUSIVE CLIPS in the playback room. So the choice to hang out in the play back room means that you get to watch 10 minutes of Ben Affleck being awkward and then a black screen while everyone else is watching the exclusive clip in Hall H. What’s the point of playing that? Help me understand this someone, because it enrages me. Panels like this are important. We should be broadcasting them everywhere. SO thank you to the lovely YouTuber who posted it. You are better than the programmers at SDCC. Congrats.
That’s a wrap on yet another Con. See you next year, friends.
A lovely internet reader name Jin recently emailed me with some pretty crazy LEGO flower pot creations and I just felt I had to share them. Not only do they use LEGO, but they utilize geeky minifigs to tell stories in them.
You can check out the rest of Jin’s creations on her Flickr account. If you’re just getting started with LEGO flower pot building, I recommend checking out our DIY video from last summer, which makes the process supremely easy.
It’s not often in this world that shitty situations get addressed. And I don’t mean lip-service PR kind of acknowledgement. I mean, a company actually listening, taking action and moving forward. Hi, LEGO. You made me happy this week.
An awesome 7-year old named Charlotte wrote the company a letter at the beginning of the year saying, hey, stop being so darned gender biased.
"I love LEGOs, but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. Today I went to the store and saw LEGOs in two sections. The pink girls and the blue boys. All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach and shop. And they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people and had jobs, even swam with sharks."
EVEN SWAM WITH SHARKS, people!
Well, yesterday LEGO announced new sets and one of them was this lovely set of female minifigs doing scientific experiments of all kinds. Now, LEGO hasn’t officially said they’re releasing the set due to Charlotte’s letter or a recent petition with a similar sentiment, but it’s progress. It’s worth acknowledging this little bit of sunshine and progress and dinosaur shaped LEGO piece magic.
The awesome new lady scientist sets will be available in August. Can’t wait to get my hands on one. Or seven.
I have long believed that the best treasures are not the several hundred dollar toys or handbags or jeans or even the video games. The things that always improve my mood on a bad day are the smallest of pleasures.
Here’s a few of my guaranteed favorites… they always feel like a bright light on a cloudy day:
An air plant ($2 and up depending on the size and shape… a delightful a phenomena of horticultural science I can’t get nearly enough of)
LEGO Blind Bag Mini Figures ($3.99)
Ridiculous socks ($1.49)
A new art print (Lots of under $5 options on Etsy, but I love this vintage coral for only $2.49)
Kinder’s Happy Hippo Biscuits ($4.49 for 8)
FoxGram’s Instagram Magnets ($2 each)
So my bad day is on its way to being brighter… what are your favorite cheapo methods for getting over a crappy afternoon?