Things that are Amazing. Things that could be Better.Posted: March 15, 2012
I love Spider-Man. And like any geek, I like to show off my love by collecting and displaying things related to Spider-Man. I have toys and web-crawling earbuds and I have t-shirts and sneakers. But to get these things I usually have to shop the “Boys” aisles. So when I saw this, I got really excited:
Spidey-polish (by OPI)! My own nails are a disaster. Most of the 12 year old boys who my Spider-shirts and -shoes are actually made for probably have prettier ones. But I would buy this anyway because it’s that amazing. And because I want to support the initiative. And because, like I said, I collect things related to my love of Spider-Man!
But when I looked a little closer:
It’s not the color I don’t like (it’s pretty). And it’s not that I prefer Mary Jane (ugh, shipper-wars). Or don’t like Emma Stone (love her). Or think it’s a horrible pun (bad puns are Peter’s schtick). It’s that this nail polish isn’t named after Gwen Stacy. It’s named after Peter’s girlfriend.
I realize that Gwen Stacy IS Peter’s girlfriend. I realize that’s who she has been in the comics for 40 years and I realize that’s probably who she is in the movie. And I will still love it. I also realize that I am particularly susceptible to being bothered by this because I know more than the average person does about Gwen Stacy. But it still bothers me. It bothers me that Gwen is reduced to “The Girlfriend” before the movie even comes out. So that’s all she has to be, that’s all anyone can expect. And on top of that “Call Me Gwen-ever” implies that a) she is at his beck and call, and b) even SHE doesn’t care what her name actually is. Gwhatever.
But what bothers me the most is that it’s not an isolated incident.
My friend Mandy saw these in CVS and bought up more than her share. Because, like the nail polish, this is amazing. But, like the nail polish, this could be better. Where is the Black Widow lip balm? Are we supposed to believe that THE HULK is more likely to wear lip balm than Black Widow? Are we supposed to believe that fans of THE HULK are more likely to wear lip balm than fans of Black Widow?? No, I think we are supposed to believe that THE HULK is more marketable than Black Widow. Even to little girls aged five and up.
Now, I know there are girls who love the Hulk (and boys who love lip balm). I have no issue whatsoever with Hulk lip balm and THOR lip balm makes perfect sense. THOR should come out with his own beauty line don’t you think? But I find it really odd that the female character gets left out. Black Widow has been seen using make-up in the comics and in Iron Man 2 which makes her the most likely to use lip balm. And she’s a spy so she’s most likely to conceal it in a ring (wait, did I just make this product actually make sense as a tie-in?). It seems to me that she is being left out of a product that targets girls because she is a girl. ODD.
The message I’m getting is that Marvel is making an effort to market its products to girls but it only considers the male characters its product. Girls as consumers are worthy of attention but girls as characters are not. That’s not a super great message.
I really want Spidey-polish. It’s amazing. But it could be better. And I just wanted to point that out. Because it’s not Gwhatever to me.