Today I was enjoying a very informative episode of Peppa Pig – the one where Peppa and her pals are learning to ski and their teacher, Madame Gazelle, is a world champion… Anyway, I was having a great time and then, during the commercials, this crock of shit appeared:
Before I even had a chance to recoil in horror, a Mary Poppins’esc woman’s voice announced giddily:
“All the princesses of the kingdom want to go to the ball! When the music starts, if you’re lucky, the prince will choose you to dance with him around the ball room.”
Cue a live-action sequence of three simpering girls grinning like cannabis-addicts in a greenhouse. Everything in the ad is pink with a tinge of pastel thrown in. Glittery effects and cartoon graphics overlay the clip of the live-action girls, who are shown hunched over a pathetically under-sized plastic boardgame. The voiceover continues:
In this ‘game’, every time you dance with the prince, he will reward you with a plastic star. The first to receive four stars “will be forever in his heart…” (and his pants no doubt).
Yay! Just what I always wanted! Some ponce in a tuxedo dragging me around a magnetic podium.
After checking that we were in 2013 rather than 1913, I quickly called to my daughter to avert her eyes from the TV as I scrambled for the remote. I couldn’t violate her tender confidence with this pink-encrusted unicorn vomit. However, if you have a more robust disposition, here’s the ad:
1 x Game board
1 x Electronic musical dance floor
1 x Prince
4 x Princesses
16 x Coloured stars
1 x Dice
1 x Sticker sheet
1 x Rules of the game
Don’t get me wrong, encouraging competition between girls per se is not in itself a bad thing. Competitive strivings will serve them well in the capitalist workplace. However (and it’s a massive HOW-EVER), encouraging girls to compete for the affections of an omnipotent prince with their appearances as their sole arsenal is retrograde at best, deeply misogynistic at worst. Germaine Greer meltdown territory.
But wait, before you start burning bras, surely it could be argued that this game is not dissimilar to its predecessors, the numerous games aimed at boys, whereby players compete to save a ‘princess’ or ‘damsel’ – the reward for the winner is the affection of the opposite-sex. However, the philosophical differences between games targeted at boys and this monstrosity are glaring:
1. No engagement
“By pressing the head of the prince, the dance floor will start to vibrate and the music will play for approximately 30 seconds. The princesses on the dance floor turn around all alone and try to take the arm of the prince to dance with him”.
Innuendo aside, a major fault of this game/toy/indoctrinational tool is the passivity it encourages in girls. Players cannot sway the outcome of the game. They have no control over what happens to them. The prince is the active agent and only he gets to decide their “destiny”. Destiny my flange! Rather, a set of randomly moving magnets hook the feeble figures together. I mean, just look at how pathetic the girls left standing appear, arms outstretched like a blind man begging for a hug:
2. No strategy
If you get to dance with the prince more than anyone else and therefore win the game, major anti-climax; there is no sense of achievement – because you haven’t actually done anything. And if you don’t win – well, he just wasn’t that into you, girlfriend.
3. No innovation
There’s absolutely nil innovation here, just the same old cultural straitjacket we habitually offer to our girls.
4. No point