Star Wars: The Force Awakens is without question the biggest movie in the world, having broken box office record after box office record. At the center of it all is Rey, a young woman whose life is forever changed when she leaves the isolation of Jakku for adventures in a galaxy far, far away.
Yet, if you haven’t actually seen the film, you’d be forgiven for mistaking The Force Awakens as being Finn’s story thanks to his prominence in both the marketing and merchandising. To some extent it is, making John Boyega something of a co-lead to Daisy Ridley, but the fact remains that Episode VII is very much Rey’s journey more than anyone else’s. So why is she so hard to find in toy aisles that are absolutely bursting with Star Wars merchandise?
How you answer that question comes down to where you fall on the spectrum of innocent mistake to blatant sexism, but there’s no denying Rey’s obvious exclusion from some prominent toys and apparel, most recently a Star Wars tie-in Monopoly game. Her exclusion from Monopoly was the last straw for many fans annoyed by the lack of Rey in The Force Awakens merchandise – best represented through the popular hashtag, #WheresRey. And though Hasbro assured fans their decision was meant to keep any major spoilers out of the game, it wasn’t as if Rey’s presence in the movie was any big secret.
Hasbro later issued a statement saying that Rey would in fact be included in Monopoly, and it turns out that director J.J. Abrams may have played a role in this. Talking with The Wrap, Abrams shared his dismay over Rey’s exclusion, saying:
“It seems preposterous and wrong that the main character of the movie is not well-represented in what is clearly a huge piece of the ‘Star Wars’ world, in terms of merchandising. I read that she wasn’t in the Monopoly game and was quickly making phone calls. It doesn’t quite make sense to me why she wouldn’t be there.”
Hey, when you’re the director of the world’s highest grossing picture you get what you want. And in this case that’s especially helpful, because as Abrams adds (with a note of sarcasm): “She’s somewhat important in the story.”
The backlash surrounding #WheresRey isn’t anything new for the merchandise of the most popular franchises. After all, #WheresRey is only the latest hashtag-ivism to sprout from women characters being excluded from tie-in merchandise. #WheresNatasha brought attention to the disparity between Black Widow toys and her fellow, male Avengers, and #WheresHera highlighted the almost total lack of merchandise for ship captain and rebel leader Hera of Star Wars Rebels.
Still, the silver lining to the outrage over the lack of Rey merchandise is how quickly what little is available has flown off the shelves. Hopefully, high demand leads to a larger supply. And it’s heartening that companies like Disney and Habro are listening to fans. I mean, Mattel gets it, just look at these prototype action figures for Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters!
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han SoloStar Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: The Wrap