"The top hat and the thimble weren’t plot points, either."
January 20, 2016 12:55 PM   Subscribe

“Would your son want to play with an action figure of Rey, the central figure in the latest Star Wars film? Would your daughter? It’s too bad they don’t have the choice; Hasbro, among other toymakers, left out the one key female figure in their The Force Awakens game sets. Hasbro says it was to preserve plot secrets, but an industry insider said the choice was deliberate.” Where's Rey?
posted by everybody had matching towels (214 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Everything about this makes me SO ANGRY.

(Oh, except for all the parents and kids making THEIR OWN Rey toys and costumes and weapons. Those people make me happy. And Daisy Ridley in general makes me happy. BUT EVERYTHING ELSE.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:58 PM on January 20, 2016 [16 favorites]


Dear Hasbro:

This issue has a simple solution.

One, find the highest ranking marketing executive who says "we know that boys won't play with female characters" when asked.

Two, fire them.

Repeat until marketing gets the message.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:00 PM on January 20, 2016 [101 favorites]


“I’ve spoken with Disney people, and they were completely blindsided by the reaction to the new Star Wars characters,” Marcotte went on to say. “They put a huge investment into marketing and merchandizing the Kylo Ren character. They presumed he would be the big breakout role from the film. They were completely surprised when it was Rey everyone identified with and wanted to see more of. Now they’re stuck with vast amounts of Kylo Ren product that is not moving, and a tidal wave of complaints about a lack of Rey items.”

It's weird that Disney could be so successful at the making and marketing movies on the one hand and also apparently so terrible at it as to have this problem come up. Did the people marketing Kylo Ren over Rey see the movie ahead of time? Did they talk to people who saw the movie? Being blindsided by the relative popularity of the characters must be based on sexism, because otherwise it's just so fucking stupid.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:01 PM on January 20, 2016 [78 favorites]


They put a huge investment into marketing and merchandizing the Kylo Ren character. They presumed he would be the big breakout role from the film. They were completely surprised when it was Rey everyone identified with and wanted to see more of.

Kylo Ren is a whiny emo teenager and Rey is a combination of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. This shouldn't surprise anyone.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:03 PM on January 20, 2016 [126 favorites]


It's a shame about Rey
posted by scruss at 1:07 PM on January 20, 2016 [67 favorites]


Repeat until marketing gets the message.


I think it might be time to start production lines rolling on some Torgo's Executive Powder.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:07 PM on January 20, 2016 [12 favorites]


Seriously. Who thought Kylo Ren was going to be an awesome audience proxy?

I was just at a science fiction convention and the number of hall-costume folks dressed as Rey was *delightful*. We had a few Kylo's running around, but not nearly as many.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:07 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Kylo Ren is a whiny emo teenager and Rey is a combination of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. This shouldn't surprise anyone.

Right? He comes off looking like a chump and a prick, and she's a bad-ass hero.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:09 PM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, the Kylo Ren™ Adolescent Rage Smash 'Em Up Computer Console™ is a pretty fun toy, if limited in its replayability value.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:09 PM on January 20, 2016 [29 favorites]


“I’ve spoken with Disney people, and they were completely blindsided by the reaction to the new Star Wars characters,” Marcotte went on to say. “They put a huge investment into marketing and merchandizing the Kylo Ren character. They presumed he would be the big breakout role from the film. They were completely surprised when it was Rey everyone identified with and wanted to see more of."

This astounds me and makes me worry about where Episode VIII is headed. Rey was one of the best parts of VII, and I can't understand how they could see the movie and yet not see that.
posted by cjelli at 1:10 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, the Kylo Ren™ Adolescent Rage Smash 'Em Up Computer Console™ is a pretty fun toy, if limited in its replayability value.

"No, see, that's the best part -- once they smash it up, they'll have to buy a new one! Guaranteed adol-obsolescene!"
posted by cjelli at 1:11 PM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


the whole point is that if you can segment the the toy market along boy vs. girl you can move more product. marketeers aren't going start breaking down segmentation for a whole market just for one property, even star wars...
posted by ennui.bz at 1:11 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


It looks like Episode VIII is being delayed for rewrites, so let's hope this is why.
posted by sleeping bear at 1:12 PM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


This astounds me and makes me worry about where Episode VIII is headed. Rey was one of the best parts of VII, and I can't understand how they could see the movie and yet not see that.

Allegedly, one of the reasons that Episode VIII was just pushed back from May to December, 2017, was to rework the scripts to focus more on Rey.

I don't know why, perhaps because of my glee at the toy manufacturers being shocked that the old business model is disappearing down the toilet, but I take pleasure in the idea of mounds of Kylo Ren merchandise simply building up in warehouses, eventually to either be shipped to secondary markets or line the shelves of the likes of Marshalls and T.J. Maxxs.
posted by Atreides at 1:13 PM on January 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


Kylo Ren is basically Zach. Nobody wants to be Zach.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:15 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't think of a more apt example of the expression "tripping over your own dick".

Kylo Ren is a whiny emo teenager and Rey is a combination of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.

To be accurate, Luke was a pretty whiny emo teenager himself. As for Han, I guess we'll find out.
posted by echocollate at 1:16 PM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Who knew that parents wouldn't want to shell out money so that their kids can pretend to be the guy that commits patricide?
posted by eckeric at 1:17 PM on January 20, 2016 [50 favorites]


You'd have to be dead inside to watch Episode VII and not realize that Rey is the heart and soul of the film. I can't believe Marcotte is correct. How could that be?
posted by Justinian at 1:17 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Only guys with top hats and bags of money marked "$$$" are this precise
posted by thelonius at 1:17 PM on January 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


The budget sith from Budget Empire was their big sell?
posted by Slackermagee at 1:17 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Allegedly, one of the reasons that Episode VIII was just pushed back from May to December, 2017, was to rework the scripts to focus more on Rey.

I'm a little alarmed, based on what was set up in VII, that the script wasn't already hella focused on Rey Kenobi
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:19 PM on January 20, 2016 [24 favorites]


The industry insider confirmed that the Black Widow character is widely considered “unusable” within the toy industry. “She has a tight black outfit. Our main customer is concerned with ‘family values,’” said the insider.

Now that is a double-bind - we can't have women in movies unless they're totally sexed up, because dudebros won't watch movies with female characters they don't want to fuck. But these sexed up characters are too sexed up to make it into toy lineups, because it's important that when buying toys, male people be protected from sexed-up images of women. So at the movies, it's great when boys and men see only hypersexualized female characters, but at home it's against "family values".

Also, I mean, the Black Widow's outfit is - by movie standards - pretty modest.

And of course the assumption of heterosexuality - no one is worrying that boys and men have access to both Steve Rogers on screen and Steve Rogers in tiny plastic form. I suppose there's one plus to assumptions of heterosexuality, sort of.
posted by Frowner at 1:20 PM on January 20, 2016 [76 favorites]


Did the people marketing Kylo Ren over Rey see the movie ahead of time? Did they talk to people who saw the movie?

The only vaguely plausible if totally clueless explanation I can think of is that they looked at how popular Vader was in the original series, thought, "This guy is Vader 2.0 he's gonna kill it!" and planned accordingly.
posted by echocollate at 1:20 PM on January 20, 2016 [16 favorites]


Lordy, this makes me think that the good parts of VII were accidental.

I mean, if they wanted to make a movie about Kylo Ren, they could really just have done that.
posted by selfnoise at 1:21 PM on January 20, 2016


I thought Adam Driver did an outstanding job with the character but uhhhh Kylo Ren is the villain, marketing guys. There's always a place in the playset for the villain but what numbnuts actually thought that in a franchise as morally simplistic as Star Wars, that has so! many! good-looking! heroes! as Star Wars, the awkward-looking villain would be the big seller? With kids?
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:21 PM on January 20, 2016 [13 favorites]


I'm really baffled by the Kylo Ren thing. People with kids or who are around a lot of kids, are they into Kylo Ren? Do kids overlook Kylo Ren's....everything in favor of his cool lightsaber and mask? (And I mean, that lightsaber isn't even cool, it's more or less visibly/audibly constantly on the brink of explosion, which is not really...desirable in your fantasy toys, I imagine.)

I just don't see how anyone who saw the movie, or even just got a detailed plot outline, thought that Kylo Ren would hit it big as an audience proxy or beloved villain. I personally couldn't take him seriously at all in the movie, and wavered between laughing at him and just feeling uncomfortable with his obvious emotional problems. Because, like, they're not cool or interesting emotional problems. They're just the kind of uncomfortable emotional problems where it's like someone you barely know is constantly on the verge of weeping or bursting into a temper tantrum, and you really don't want to spend that much time with them because it's just really awkward and you're not, like, a mental health professional.

I could maybe see thinking "maybe he'll be popular like Loki!" But he's not really a villain who's crazy like a fox a la Loki, or who has Hiddleston's scenery chewing charisma. And I don't think that's a failure or anything, I think Adam Driver's acting choices as Kylo Ren were great! But boy are they not the kind of thing that's going to move toy sales, even before you bring patricide into it.
posted by yasaman at 1:23 PM on January 20, 2016 [28 favorites]


On the other hand, the Kylo Ren™ Adolescent Rage Smash 'Em Up Computer Console™ is a pretty fun toy, if limited in its replayability value.

This is, as I mentioned in the fandom thread, the very best part of this character. All sixthree prior Star Wars movies present the Sith as basically the Rage Junkie brand of Space Wizards, and this is the first time we're seeing one of them flip out and smash random nearby shit just because?

Vader should at least have had a scene or two of "frustrated in hangar, makes a fist and an entire TIE fighter standing nearby just crumples in on itself like a piece of paper"
posted by Ryvar at 1:24 PM on January 20, 2016 [19 favorites]


They were aware that Kylo Ren is the bad guy, right? And that Rey is the hero? (Sure, Finn and Poe are cool, but they're pretty clearly the sidekicks.) I mean, Darth Vader was a pretty great bad guy in his day, but I only ever wanted a Vader toy so Luke and/or Han could defeat him.
posted by Zonker at 1:24 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


They put a huge investment into marketing and merchandizing the Kylo Ren character. They presumed he would be the big breakout role from the film.

Even if this is true, it's still completely amazing to me that they decided against making any Rey merchandise. I was a kid in the 80s who had lots of Star Wars toys, and as I recall they made figurines for every damn marginal character you can imagine. There were definitely Boba Fett ones and I'm pretty sure Lando Calrissian ones as well, and nothing against those characters but they were not part of the core cast (recall this was before Fett's origin story in the prequels). I mean, as soon as Rey touched the controls on the Falcon, she was in. Plus, of course, all the rest of her bad-assery throughout the movie. What was the thought process in omitting her character from the toy sets? "We thought another character would be the focus" so totally doesn't cut it.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 1:26 PM on January 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


Kylo Ren is not Vader 2.0. He's not even Vader 0.2. I think that Very Lonely Luke said it best:


Listen up, @KyloR3n.
I dueled with Darth Vader.
I knew Darth Vader.
Darth Vader was a friend of mine.
Kylo Ren, you are no Darth Vader.


Vader would have stranged Kylo Ren within ten minutes and spend the rest of the movie using his lightsaber sword as a back-scratcher.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:27 PM on January 20, 2016 [16 favorites]


The "preserving plot points" argument is so fucking ludicrous I can't even believe they're trying it. I'm sure it didn't escape their notice that if were trying to avoid spoilers, they were the only ones; Rey was all over the promotional materials for this picture months ago. It's not like Disney was working hard (or, well, working at all) to keep her centrality to the plot under wraps.
posted by holborne at 1:27 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


My favorite part of the article (emph. added):
They put a huge investment into marketing and merchandizing the Kylo Ren character. They presumed he would be the big breakout role from the film. They were completely surprised when it was Rey everyone identified with and wanted to see more of. Now they’re stuck with vast amounts of Kylo Ren product that is not moving, and a tidal wave of complaints about a lack of Rey items.
Haha. Scoreboard don't lie.
posted by mhum at 1:27 PM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


The thing is, Kylo Ren isn't a fun villain. He's not as good at being a Sith as he thinks he is (Vader was fucking awesome at being a Sith), he kills his dad, and his dad isn't just some random asshole, his dad is Han fucking Solo (Vader only kills random asshole Imperial officers and Luke's useless friend Biggs), he has hissy-fit tantrums, and he hates himself (Vader just quietly strangled people instead of embarrassingly losing his shit in front of his subordinates, and while he, too, hated himself, he kept it on the DL).

Even Boba Fett and Darth Maul managed to come off as cool and fun by looking badass and not saying much, so kids forgave them for dying like punks.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:28 PM on January 20, 2016 [75 favorites]


I mean, it's one thing to predict that nuVader would be a big hit with fans, it's another to leave the bloody Jedi protagonist out of your merchandising.

Insert clever "Forgot About Rey" lyrics here.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:28 PM on January 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


Even Boba Fett and Darth Maul managed to come off as cool and fun by looking badass and not saying much, so kids forgave them for dying like punks.

Boba Fett was just a Marvin the Martian ripoff, too
posted by thelonius at 1:30 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just don't see how anyone who saw the movie, or even just got a detailed plot outline, thought that Kylo Ren would hit it big as an audience proxy or beloved villain. I personally couldn't take him seriously at all in the movie, and wavered between laughing at him and just feeling uncomfortable with his obvious emotional problems.

I think the merchandisers don't know how to deal with the difference between "kids wanting toys" and "SW fandom", in a way. Because fandom is loving Kylo Ren. By that I mean, fandom is loving MAKING FUN of Kylo Ren, and following Emo Kylo Ren on Twitter, and making hilarious comics about Kylo Ren the MRA failbot. They just don't love him in a toy-buying way.

I mean, there is a draw, but not the draw they think is there. It reminds me of Stargate Atlantis, a little— the showrunners were like “John Sheppard is a lothario badass who is irresistible to the ladies!” and all the fans were like “John Sheppard is a barely functioning secret-nerd weirdo who can barely talk to women without having a nervous breakdown, we LOVE HIM!” and it was an odd experience for both sides.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:31 PM on January 20, 2016 [22 favorites]


You'd have to be dead inside to watch Episode VII and not realize that Rey is the heart and soul of the film. I can't believe Marcotte is correct. How could that be?

From the article, it sounds like a lot of these decisions were made by various toy marketing people meeting with various Lucasfilm marketing people. The secrecy on this film was reportedly super-tight; I wonder if any of the marketing people involved actually knew who the Big Damn Hero was going to turn out to be.

The "preserving plot points" argument is so fucking ludicrous I can't even believe they're trying it.

Um, have you seen the trailers and ads? Finn was prominently featured holding Luke's lightsaber, but the fact that he gets cut down and Rey ends up winning the duel wasn't revealed, presumably to preserve the surprise for the audience (which totally worked, BTW—that moment where KR tries to Force-grab the saber and it doesn't budge and then it flies past him and OMG GO REY GO!).
posted by The Tensor at 1:36 PM on January 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


As a single data point:

My four year old son loves Finn, Poe, and BB-8 and couldn't care less about Kylo Ren.
My seven year old daughter left the theater announcing that she was going to cosplay as Rey...or Captain Phasma.
posted by sleeping bear at 1:36 PM on January 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


Along the same fandom tip: fandom is also notorious for loving the villains. To the point where I am often exasperated with the predictability of it all. (And if you can ship the villain with the hero and they're both white dudes? so much the better!) So maybe this also lead to the marketers to glom onto Kylo Ren as the Big Breakout Merch Star. But fandom aren't the people these toys should be made for. I have action figures too, like any self-respecting nerd, but nerds are not keeping the toy industry afloat with our purchases. We should be an afterthought.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:37 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Our main customer is concerned with ‘family values,’” said the insider.

The main customer is Wal-Mart, right?
posted by Rat Spatula at 1:38 PM on January 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


People with kids or who are around a lot of kids, are they into Kylo Ren?

I have a nine year old who is very, VERY much into Star Wars. He's pretty aggressively NOT interested in Kylo Ren - some older relatives got him some Ren merch at the holiday which sits completely unopened in the bag it came home in. He's totally uninterested because he's very aware that Ren killed Han Solo that that is NOT ok with him.

Honestly, he's all about Captain Phasma ("cool armor") more than anything else right now. When I can finally buy him a Captain Phasma Galactic Hero, she'll be the star of his "movies" (not always shot with a camera) and will have a place of honor in his room. His favorite thing from our fall Disney trip continues to be the Phasma pin.
posted by anastasiav at 1:39 PM on January 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


It's funny the knicker twisting over emo Ren. There is such a thing as a "character arc," and it's very likely the first movie was setting his up.

Luke Skywalker, the nominal hero and protagonist of the original series, was easily as whiny and annoying as Kylo Ren. Waaaah Tosche Station. Waaaah power converters. But Luke grew up over three movies and turned out OK.
posted by echocollate at 1:40 PM on January 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


I have this theory, and I talked about it with my best friend (we've been talking about Star Wars since we both left the theater totally disappointed even with our incredibly low expectations.)

I wholeheartedly believe that one of their major influences with this new trilogy is Avatar: The Last Airbender. Kylo Ren is Prince Zuko. The trilogy is HIS redemption ark. He has the conflicted heir thing going on, he's clearly not as intelligent or accomplished as he thinks he is. Hubris and arrogance. That's why he's such a terrible, boring villain. He's not the big bad. Episode VII was just a setup for the rest, showing you little bits and pieces that we'll come back to.

In terms of the toys this has been an embarrassing conversation and the marketing team's excuses are so threadbare and pathetic that it's starting to get insulting. Spoilers? REALLY? I think they're so utterly divorced from any fan or fan discussion. The fact that they talked about this, went through this decision after everything that's happened in the last few years with Gamora and Black Widow is unbelievable. Fuck. There's so much arrogance going on with these toy manufacturers. My little brother hasn't seen it yet, our dad isn't sure if he's ready for it yet, but I'm definitely buying him Rey and Finn.
posted by Neronomius at 1:41 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hey, Kylo Ren looked totally badass...until he took the helmet off.

At something like minute 45 of a two-and-a-half hour movie.


Honestly, the best scene involving Ren was the two stormtroopers turning around and walking the other way during one of his wobblies.

Hell, even Captain Phasma came across like a more competent villain, and they tossed her down a garbage chute.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:42 PM on January 20, 2016 [14 favorites]


Um, have you seen the trailers and ads? Finn was prominently featured holding Luke's lightsaber, but the fact that he gets cut down and Rey ends up winning the duel wasn't revealed, presumably to preserve the surprise for the audience

It was no secret that Rey was in the movie and was one of the protagonists. She's right there in the trailer. She was in the ads. She was on the posters. She wasn't a surprise, and having her appear in merchandise wouldn't be a spoiler.
posted by cjelli at 1:42 PM on January 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


Actual Kylo Ren is the Robot Chicken version of Kylo Ren before Robot Chicken got a chance to do its thing.
posted by echocollate at 1:44 PM on January 20, 2016 [23 favorites]


Our main customer is concerned with ‘family values,’” said the insider.

The main customer is Wal-Mart, right?


Look, you have to weigh the benefit of your child playing with toys that represent women in strong heroic roles against the dangers of allowing them to have access to little plastic breasts.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:44 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


There is such a thing as a "character arc," and it's very likely the first movie was setting his up.

I'll add that, unlike our generation, my son has always known Darth Vader as part and parcel with Anakin Skywalker, and he likes Anakin just fine (particularly due to the Clone Wars cartoon, but also the movies). For him, Anakin loved his mom, and loved his son enough to turn good again. If he knew the phrase "just a phase" about Vader, that's the phrase he'd use. Sure, he knows that Vader killed a lot of people, including some kid Jedi, but ultimately Anakin is a very relateable character to him -- a little kid who loves his mom and was destined to become a Jedi. I think pretty much any kid under about age 16 or so has a much more nuanced, rounded view of Vader than we had as kids, which is why Vader continues to sell.

Ren, though, starts off by killing his dad. Even when you're nine (maybe particularly when you're nine) that's in no way heroic, and not something that Ren will ever be able to recover from in his eyes -- particularly when your dad is Han Solo.
posted by anastasiav at 1:45 PM on January 20, 2016 [16 favorites]


He has the conflicted heir thing going on

Conflicted hair thing, more like.
posted by The Tensor at 1:47 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Honestly, he's all about Captain Phasma ("cool armor") more than anything else right now.

Man, I thought people were silly when they said she was the new Boba Fett but from the mouths of babes, there is apparently, wonderfully, nothing new under the sun.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:49 PM on January 20, 2016


Hair conflicting with ear thing.
posted by Behemoth at 1:49 PM on January 20, 2016


Ren, though, starts off by killing his dad. Even when you're nine (maybe particularly when you're nine) that's in no way heroic, and not something that Ren will ever be able to recover from in his eyes -- particularly when your dad is Han Solo.

I can imagine an extremely satisfying character arc in which Ren eventually finds redemption. It was a bold choice for a first (ahem) installment. I hope it pays off big.
posted by echocollate at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's funny the knicker twisting over emo Ren. There is such a thing as a "character arc," and it's very likely the first movie was setting his up.

Luke Skywalker, the nominal hero and protagonist of the original series, was easily as whiny and annoying as Kylo Ren. Waaaah Tosche Station. Waaaah power converters. But Luke grew up over three movies and turned out OK.


Well, of course. But we also exist in a wildly different media universe, and the ways audiences interact with and respond to media would be unrecognizable to a 1979 audience.

Also, Luke was whiny, but he also experienced tragedy and tried to be noble when he could. Kylo Ren is panicky and unstable and he killed Han Solo. HAN SOLO. HAN SOLO. HELLO. HAN SOLO.

His redemption arc is 90% certain, but man. Kids seriously LOVE Han Solo. And they are PISSED.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


Disney has admitted that they bought Marvel and Lucasfilm to sell boy merchandise, since they had girl merchandise pretty much locked up with the princess stuff. Of course, from the time I was a kid to now merchandisers have gotten a pretty fragile view of masculinity. G.I. Joe only had like 3 female characters but they made action figures of them, damnit!

And sure the audience is supposed to identify with Kylo Ren, because they share an obsessive love of Darth Vader that transcends logic. (I mean my parents' church had a children's sermon thing where Darth Vader shows up and the pastor is all fangirling over him while Vader talks about Jesus. It was weird.)
posted by ckape at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Motherfuckers act like they forgot about Rey.
posted by jferngler at 1:52 PM on January 20, 2016 [29 favorites]


Lots of kids love playing as the villain, but not as the villain who murdered Han Solo. That's not a glamorous kind of villainy, it's a disturbing and sad kind.

Anyway, the best thing about Kylo Ren is that he's a fantastic counterpart to Rey. He's a good villain for *her,* as the hero, to face. It can't be any fun to play with Kylo Ren without playing with Rey at the same time.
posted by rue72 at 1:52 PM on January 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


The main customer is Wal-Mart, right?

Toy manufacturers deal with the "big three" in the US. Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys R Us.

Overall this just seems like an oversight by the toy companies that are afraid of making "shelf warmers", based on the old assumption that a toy line marketed primarily to boys won't be able to sell female figures.
posted by Fleebnork at 1:53 PM on January 20, 2016


It actually seems weird that they would have based this decision on anticipation of the fandom's response. Not only has the fandom (as others here have pointed out) made Kylo Ren somewhat of a figure of ridicule, but the manufacturers who target their products to the fandom have actually done a decent job with Rey.

Take, for instance, this gorgeous 1/6th scale figure.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:54 PM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


the whole point is that if you can segment the the toy market along boy vs. girl you can move more product. marketeers aren't going start breaking down segmentation for a whole market just for one property, even star wars...

They're not even doing that though, are they? Completely failing to make a product at all isn't segmenting anything.
posted by Dysk at 1:54 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Luke Skywalker, the nominal hero and protagonist of the original series, was easily as whiny and annoying as Kylo Ren. Waaaah Tosche Station. Waaaah power converters.

Yeah, but Luke was also some random orphan kid living on a shit planet with his moisture-farming aunt and uncle. He was whiny in the context of being a bored kid with a boring life. Kylo Ren is whiny while cosplaying his Vadar fetish and operating in the command structure of a massive military force. It's a whininess that's hard to relate to, or at least hard to relate to sympathetically; nobody who saw themselves in Kylo Ren's behavior in VII likely came away from it with a happy glow of personal recognition.

Lots of bored country kids probably recognized themselves in Luke's whining in the first act and recognized the whining for what it was, but his character actually started to arc significantly in the first film. Ren's going somewhere I'm sure and I hope it's somewhere really interesting because I love that they went with an impulsive and desperately, visibly unhappy villain. But it hasn't gone there yet; the film gives us little glimmers but he's just a gloomy, angry dude with poor impulse control throughout.

Nobody would have wanted Luke action figures if Luke had whined about wanting to go to Tosche Station for some power converters, and then later shouted at Aunt Beru that she was mean and gone to Tosche Station and gotten some power converters anyway, and then gotten home and found out some of the power converters were lemons and thrown them through his bedroom window, and then punched Uncle Owen, and then called up a friend and complained about how life isn't fair, and then roll credits.
posted by cortex at 1:55 PM on January 20, 2016 [48 favorites]


My wife still hasn't gotten to see the film yet and she thought that x-wing pilot was the star of the film because he was making the talk show tours and was on the cover of a magazine. I told her it was the girl and the black dude, and she said, "Well that isn't at all a clear message based on the marketing and press junket."

Also, my son is 7, he wants a Rey action figure.
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:56 PM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also, my son is 7, he wants a Rey action figure.

I grew up a cis/het boy in the '80s. I had multiple Princess Leias (and no, not "slave Leia," I've always hated that outfit).

Very soon after RotJ, I abandoned Star Wars for GI Joe and never looked back. And while I was completely enthralled by this '80s-era, testosterone-fueled, military-industrial-tastic comic book and toyline? I had every single female figure. Bought them with my own damn money, too.

It's 2016, we've allegedly made social progress, and yet a kid today can't find a goddamn Black Widow or Gamora. Or Rey. Makes me so freakin' angry.

Stop cutting out the girls, Hasbro. And stop thinking you're doing boys any favors, either, you assholes.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:02 PM on January 20, 2016 [26 favorites]


All I want to bring up is that when Kylo Ren took off his mask, everyone in the theater where I saw The Force Awakens said, and I'm not exaggerating, "ew."
posted by 1adam12 at 2:03 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


G.I. Joe only had like 3 female characters but they made action figures of them, damnit!

Scarlett, the Baroness, Cover Girl, Lady Jaye, Jinx, Zarana, and I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting one or two.

I don't think they ever made one for Daina from the October Guard, but I'm pretty sure they never got around to making the whole O.G. anyway.

...and yes, that's off the top of my head. :)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:04 PM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


As a human being, what galls me about this is that Rey is the hero of the movie, and it's absurd that the people who made the movie are so blind to that that they left her out of the marketing.

As a saleswoman, what galls me about this is that Rey and Ren are complementary. As the hero and villain of the movie, respectively, the sales/popularity of one of those characters should help the sales/popularity of the other.
posted by rue72 at 2:04 PM on January 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


I want a little Rey to sit next to the Cornish Pixie on the shelf near my desk in the library. I need her to remind me to be a badass librarian.
posted by Biblio at 2:06 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


His redemption arc is 90% certain, but man.

God, I hope not. Darth Vader's "redemption" is the main reason I abandoned SW as a kid. But I'm really hoping that Rey isn't related to Skywalkers or Kenobis or anyone, too, and I'm too jaded to think I'll get what I want in the long run.

Great damn start so far, though. :)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:07 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Luke was also some random orphan kid living on a shit planet with his moisture-farming aunt and uncle. He was whiny in the context of being a bored kid with a boring life. Kylo Ren is whiny while cosplaying his Vadar fetish and operating in the command structure of a massive military force. It's a whininess that's hard to relate to, or at least hard to relate to sympathetically

Exactly that. The early parts of IV establish exactly why and what Luke is whining about: he wants to get off the planet! He wants adventure! His aunt and uncle won't let him do the things he wants! He lives in a desert! And so on. But then he's introduced to adventure and risk, he's revealed to be heroic and surprisingly competent at not putting his eye out with a lightsaber. Luke doesn't end the movie as a random whiny guy. He ends the movie as a hero. For kids who feel constrained by the parents, who live in (they feel) boring places, who want to get away? That's an arc they can embrace as a bit of fun escapism (minus, one hopes, the massacre of their relatives by an occupying army), a feeling of going off and reaching for their dreams.

Whereas Kylo Ren is established firstly as Powerful Sith Guy, a commander of stormtroopers and a murderer of men, and then is revealed to be a whiny kid. And as the movie goes on with find out more about how he's not quite such a Powerful Sith Guy as he presents himself, and he's actually got a whole range of emotions and weaknesses and so on. It's hard to relate to a character who's initially established as Mr. Sith McMuderer -- to sympathize with, later, maybe, to want to try to understand, but relate to? No. Not unless the percentage of kids who want to destroy small towns is higher than I'd like to presume.
posted by cjelli at 2:07 PM on January 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


echocollate: Luke Skywalker, the nominal hero and protagonist of the original series, was easily as whiny and annoying as Kylo Ren. Waaaah Tosche Station. Waaaah power converters. But Luke grew up over three movies and turned out OK.

Dude, don't even compare the two. Luke might have been whiny at times, but he also tried to be heroic from the start. Kylo Ren is a mass-murdering piece of shit; the only redemption he deserves is a long prison term.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if they make him the hero, but if so it's going to be more about how modern Hollywood is all about white boys and how they can be excused anything because they look angsty. It's not because it's justifiable.
posted by tavella at 2:10 PM on January 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


I really really hope Ren has no redemption arc. I hope his arc is from whiny faux Vader to badass serious villain who is a huge obstacle for Rey to overcome on her heroes journey, but overcome she does.
posted by chris24 at 2:15 PM on January 20, 2016 [28 favorites]


Everybody Loves Rey, Man
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:16 PM on January 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


One of the big surprises of being a new parent was seeing how vigilantly certain demographics in the United States policed gender roles in their kids, from infancy on. And the boys are policed much, much more than the girls.

We're talking Babycenter message boards where new mothers fretted that picking up their crying six-week-old son would turn him into a sissy, mothers of boys persistently referring to their babies as "little men," people dealing with inlaws screaming about how their toddler boys would grow up queer if they played with those "goddamned dolls" and so on. Across wide swaths of the U.S., preschool-aged boys are growing up with parents who refuse to hug them after they scrape their knees because they don't want to "spoil" those boys or raise crybabies. (A FB friend wrote about this happening and was surprised/horrified at people who spoke up all, "That's awful!")

These are the people who go into Walmart and look for "boy toys." These are the people who are throwing shit fits over Target losing the gender labeling in their toy aisles because it might make "little men" queer. THESE are the people who Hasbro wants to sell toys to. And these are the people who, in defiance of what actually took place on screen, want to make sure their super-manly little men only play with little man dolls.

Hasbro's not dumb to aim at these people. Hasbro is dumb for not also aiming at other markets too.
posted by sobell at 2:17 PM on January 20, 2016 [34 favorites]


I wouldn't be at all surprised if they make him the hero

To be fair, a redemption arc doesn't necessarily make anyone a hero. The Vader who died for Luke was also still a mass murderer, and not a hero. Evildoers using their last moments to do something kind of okay for the sake of much better actual heroes is very far from becoming a hero.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 2:17 PM on January 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm willing to bet that no one at Hasbro saw the movie until a few weeks before it opened. They may have had access to scripts before that, but the toys would have been designed probably a year before the movies release and then manufactured months in advance. My company worked on design for a product that had a SW license. All we saw was a few shots of the new characters, all stuff you could find on the internet (granted, much smaller licensee than Hasbro). We were provided lots of artwork for the returning characters though.

This is not to excuse the lack of Rey stuff. She's a great character. I have a daughter and desperately want to spend major $$ on Rey stuff. It's just to clarify that no one at Hasbro saw the movie and was like "Kylo is so cool, everyone will want his stuff". The lack of Rey stuff is defnitely due to gender crap though.

It's surprising how little Finn stuff there is too. Really, most of the coolest toys are old characters/ships (drone Falcon, 24 inch animated figures) with the exception of some BB-8 stuff. I think they mostly decided to hold off and not make a decision on who was going to be popular.
posted by dripdripdrop at 2:18 PM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


These are the people who go into Walmart and look for "boy toys."

this conjures up terrible mental images of me at age 90 in my rascal scooter pinching the butts of 75 year old men in the dietary supplements aisle
posted by poffin boffin at 2:19 PM on January 20, 2016 [25 favorites]


“Princess toy sales are in freefall. Disney can’t give away princess toys anymore,” according to the insider.

Well that's nonsense. Anna and Elsa 'Frozen' dolls changed hands on eBay at $1,000 when Disney was unable to make them fast enough.
posted by colie at 2:20 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


[Final scene]
*Kylo Ren swings his lightsaber, Rey parries*
"Dude, what are you doing?"
*Kylo swings again, is parried again*
"Stop that"
*parried again*
"What is wrong with you?"
*Kylo charges, Rey sidesteps, Kylo falls off cliff*
"Whoops, I promised your mom I wouldn't do that."
posted by ckape at 2:21 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


The hell? Rey is the main character of The Force Awakens. Why would you do action figures of the other major characters but not the main character? Even if you are misogynistically assuming that your customers will identify with a different character (the young white male, naturally, never mind that he's a whiny little shitstain and also the bad guy) how do you rationalize this? How do you leave the main character out of the set, especially given that action figures are the flagship merchandise associated with a film franchise known as much for smashing retail records as box office ones? You're leaving money on the table. What bozos.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:22 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I thought Adam Driver did an outstanding job with the character but uhhhh Kylo Ren is the villain, marketing guys. There's always a place in the playset for the villain but what numbnuts actually thought that in a franchise as morally simplistic as Star Wars, that has so! many! good-looking! heroes! as Star Wars, the awkward-looking villain would be the big seller? With kids?

They are in marketing but they aren't complete morons. The problem is that you see the job as about maximizing sales based on customer demand. But, it's far more important for marketing to structure demand across the entire toy/tie-in market. Maintaining a strict boy/girl segmentation across that market is crucial for maximizing total sales, not just for Star Wars. They aren't going to break market segmentation for just one property. So, unfortunately for "The Force Awakens" the marketing droids are stuck between Emo Ren and a black dude for the male segment.

You could also ask why Finn was given a "clumsy sidekick" role in TFA; he seemed like he was written by someone afraid that a badass black stormtrooper might be too threatening to sell...
posted by ennui.bz at 2:24 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


On a few more thoughts... Remember when Hasbro got burned for making Princess Amidala basically like a dress up doll on the release of the prequels? They didn't realize then that popular opinion was switching to everybody wanting to have the badass girl outfit as well? They thought the solution was just to forget about her? Wow... Some execs in RI need to seriously step down and spend time with their grand daughters.
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:24 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


(to be fair, my son loves Rey too, but when he and his sister are playing, she is always Rey and he gets to be BB-8, then Finn, etc.)
posted by sleeping bear at 2:24 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think it's not only possible, but likely, that the toy designers had near-zero idea how the characters would work. NO WAY they knew that Kylo Ren would be so unattractive as a toy object -- a whiny patricide. They probably thought that Poe Dameron was the hero and Rey and Finn were his sidekicks.
posted by MattD at 2:28 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify for people less obsessed with collecting SW stuff - There is a Rey action figure and a couple of other Rey things. She was left out of Monopoly - which is kinda who cares-ish - and some of the other figure lines (Black, 12 and 20 inch).
posted by dripdripdrop at 2:29 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


But I'm really hoping that Rey isn't related to Skywalkers or Kenobis or anyone

"You're basically an extension of your parents" is a central theme to so much of Disney that I wouldn't get my hopes up here.

It'd be pretty myopic to think people would like Kylo Ren the way they did Darth Vader. Darth Vader was powerful, confident, and always in stoic control. Heck, half of Robot Chicken's jokes about him are "haha, what if he had feelings like a regular person?"

Kylo Ren OTOH is a mix of self-doubt and impotent rage.

I think this must have been a miscommunication between the people making the movie and the people making the toys. Because if the people making the movie really wanted us to think of Kylo Ren as being as cool as Darth Vader, I think they probably wouldn't have shown us that scene where Kylo Ren literally wishes he were as cool as Darth Vader.
posted by aubilenon at 2:33 PM on January 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


I wholeheartedly believe that one of their major influences with this new trilogy is Avatar: The Last Airbender. Kylo Ren is Prince Zuko.

If they're trying to pull a Zuko with Kylo Ren, they've got a long way to go. Zuko didn't participate in the wanton destruction of multiple planets, or murder any beloved characters. Really, Kylo Ren is more of an Azula at this point, only he's skipped straight past fun and competent villainy straight to distressing mental breakdown.

Also let's not discount the importance of an Uncle Iroh figure. Even when Zuko was at his whiniest and most irredeemable, the knowledge that Uncle Iroh still loved and supported him imparted a not insignificant amount of goodwill to the character. If Zuko had straight up killed Iroh, I doubt I or anyone else could love him quite so wholeheartedly. Though....if Force Ghost Anakin is Kylo Ren's Uncle Iroh, I take it all back. What I wouldn't give for a whole movie of Kylo Ren being literally haunted by the hilariously frustrated ghost of his grandfather.
posted by yasaman at 2:33 PM on January 20, 2016 [16 favorites]


Merchandising is completely and totally separate from the actual movie-making. The folks making the movies clearly put Rey front and center, but that doesn't mean anything to the merchandising folks, who are the really short-sighted ones here.

I don't think the movie has been delayed for fan-service rewrites, major changes in focus, or any reason other than this one: The top three movies ever have all debuted the same weekend of the year: #1 Avatar on 2009/12/18, #2 Titanic on 1997/12/19, and now #3 Star Wars: The Force Awakens on 2015/12/18. When Star Wars inevitably crosses the $2B worldwide mark, that will mean the only three movies ever to do so were all released right before Christmas. That right there is reason enough for Disney to delay the release of the film. Who wants a $1.5B May release when you can have a $2B December release?

Seems silly to me, too, but I'm betting the movie could be done with a bow on it by June, but would still sit waiting for December because the folks in charge of these things can't see beyond the most simple and obvious pattern available.
posted by pwinn at 2:42 PM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


A toy with such pronounced feminine charms is unsuitable for children.
What the heck ARE tits for??
posted by Burn_IT at 2:43 PM on January 20, 2016


I said this in the FanFare thread, but the only explanations for execs assuming that Kylo Ren would be the "breakout" TFA character are (a) that they never saw the movie or read a script; or (b) they assumed that kids would default to identifying with the only white male among the new cast, no matter how subverted his "cool" look actually is.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:45 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


When I read the reasoning for not including Rey in the Monopoly set, my reaction was, "That's...weak af."

I like what some have proposed in this thread: that they hadn't seen the movie and just ass-umed that she wasn't a key character and was only in promotional materials as a result of tokenism.

Speaking of tokenism, can we not call Finn a sidekick, please? It's not a zero sum game, where a narrative can only have one badass main character and everybody who's on her or his side and is not a total badass is a sidekick. It's possible to be a secondary character without being a sidekick. It's also possible to be a co-primary character. Given that Finn's actions set the story in motion -- his is the first awakening we see in the movie and there are plausible theories regarding his Force-sensitivity -- I have a hard time relegating him to sidekick role.

There's no need to demote him in order to promote Rey -- that's playing the same game that Hasbro's trying to run on Rey and her fans. Don't play that game.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:45 PM on January 20, 2016 [24 favorites]


Hey, don't count out Finn, he's still got the best record for wielding that lightsaber without getting a limb chopped off.
posted by ckape at 2:53 PM on January 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


My wife and I were worried when our five year old built a blanket fort and then spent twenty minutes inside it muttering that "Today is the last day of the Republic!" Uh oh, we thought, he identified with the Space Nazis. We started to talk about how to shut that down when he exploded from the fort and ran into the kitchen. "NOW I AM THE LASER!" he shouted as he turned around and ran full speed into the blanket fort.

So thanks a lot, Disney. Now our kid wants to be a planet destroying laser when he grows up.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:58 PM on January 20, 2016 [87 favorites]


At least Rey's Lego desert-speeder thing is really cool. (the guns shoot! The engine/storage compartment opens when you turn the booster!)
posted by rifflesby at 3:04 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


There is no plausible story to explain the absence of Rey. The backpedalling that will/should follow might be an object lesson in P.R.
posted by yesster at 3:05 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Everybody Loves Rey, Man

This entire thing makes way more sense if the Disney merchandising execs are Rabbids.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:05 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also the facial expressions on her minifig are 'scowl' and 'smirk'.
posted by rifflesby at 3:05 PM on January 20, 2016


I saw boys eagerly turning pages of The Hunger Games( written by a woman and published under her full name) and pretending that sticks were bows and arrows right after the release of the 1st movie.
posted by brujita at 3:10 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


The idea of "cooties", i.e., of femininity as a contaminating impurity that compromises masculinity, needs to be consigned to the same historical dustbin as white-supremacist phrenological theories about the Races of Man.
posted by acb at 3:11 PM on January 20, 2016 [13 favorites]


My greatest and most sincere wish for the final climax is that Rey defeats Kylo soundly in some way, but his actual end comes when Chewbacca tears his arms off and uses them to beat Kylo to death.

Or uses Kylo's flailing body to beat Snoke to death. Some combination of these things.

But again, I know better than to hope too much.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:11 PM on January 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


I bought that speeder and I'm a bit disappointed that LEGO feels the need to put guns on everything now, even unarmed speeders and 1966 batmobiles. But I suppose it all works out for them because now I have to go out and buy more LEGO to get the proper pieces to cover up when I remove the weaponry.
posted by ckape at 3:11 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't think the movie has been delayed for fan-service rewrites...

Agree with Pwinn -- I'm sure Rian's working more on the script, because when you're the writer/director, you're always working on the script, but I wouldn't believe much about the details of the story other than the ones that are readily verifiable. Production is starting a couple weeks later than originally planned. The release date is now December. Reasons for all these things are most certainly far more complex than "script problems!" or "need more Rey scenes!"

Also important to remember: PIRATES 5 is now on that May release date. This could be just as much about protecting Pirates as it is about whatever with Star Wars.

One thing that Star Wars has reminded every single studio: December and January can absorb bigger movies and make more money than we've previously thought. I think you'll see a lot more blockbusters released in December in years to come.
posted by incessant at 3:15 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


My greatest and most sincere wish for the final climax is that Rey defeats Kylo soundly in some way, but his actual end comes when Chewbacca tears his arms off and uses them to beat Kylo to death.

My true hope is that Kylo dies, by anyone's hands, very early on in the next episode, so we can have a bad guy worthy of the Dark Side.
posted by yesster at 3:16 PM on January 20, 2016


You guys are missing out on some serious fandom stuff going down in fanfare, just FYI.

At first I took the argument of "we didn't wanna spoil the movie!" at face-value, because while having a Rey with lightsaber action figure would be sweet, it would also spoil the surprise. Then much more sensible people in FanFare pointed out that you could still give her the fighting stick she has and let her hand be able to also hold a lightsaber that you can sell later (yay physical DLC!). So yeah, this is just toy manufacturers being totally sexist and dropping the damn ball.
posted by numaner at 3:17 PM on January 20, 2016


What I'm saying is that Kylo is such a shit character, that he needs to be completely removed from the next two episodes, by whatever means necessary.
posted by yesster at 3:19 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I felt really bad the for little boy sitting next to me in the theater gripping tightly to the Captain Phasma doll that was just about as big as he was. Not because he was a boy with a girl character doll but because Phasma was in it all of 5mins. I think they are trying a whole Boba Fett thing with that marketing.

As for the not having Rey toys, up until now I thought that was just a daring cash grab, isolate the "girl" character to create demand and profit. Sadly, no, capitalism is the lesser of the evils here. How often does that happen?
posted by M Edward at 3:20 PM on January 20, 2016


Kylo is the new Jar Jar. Worst character, easily mocked, deservedly derided.
posted by yesster at 3:23 PM on January 20, 2016


re Kylo, of course his toy is the coolest, just like Vader is the coolest. Masked mysterious villains are cool.

His character in the film however is an amazing creation. A whiny kid trying to emulate the greatness of the past. It's such a meta thing for a film to do. Point out the absurdity of "the true fan" while creating a heroine who really is a true fan and much more successful at it.
posted by M Edward at 3:24 PM on January 20, 2016 [25 favorites]


He literally SMASHES HIS KEYBOARD IN RAGE.

I just cannot express how absolutely sublimely happy that makes me.
posted by M Edward at 3:25 PM on January 20, 2016 [25 favorites]


easily mocked, deservedly derided

Much, much better acted and conceptualized.
posted by anastasiav at 3:30 PM on January 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


It looks like Episode VIII is being delayed for rewrites, so let's hope this is why.

Maybe in the original script her journey was complete once she brought Luke his lightsabre back.
posted by mazola at 3:35 PM on January 20, 2016


I hope Captain Phasma turns into an embittered mercenary with a grudge against the First Order in one of the next two movies.



but his actual end comes when Chewbacca tears his arms off and uses them to beat Kylo to death.


I don't know if Chewie could really do that.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:35 PM on January 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


Oh god I disagree entirely about Kylo being a terrible villain. I think he's great.

Weaknesses: they're for villains, too.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:35 PM on January 20, 2016 [13 favorites]


I like Kylo, but I don't buy the merch so I guess I'm part of the problem.
posted by mazola at 3:36 PM on January 20, 2016


I hope Captain Phasma turns into an embittered mercenary with a grudge against the First Order in one of the next two movies.

FWIW, my kid has recently developed the theory that Phasma is Rey's mom. So, that's interesting.
posted by anastasiav at 3:38 PM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


I heard Kylo Ren had an eight-pack. That he was shredded.
posted by littlesq at 3:46 PM on January 20, 2016 [13 favorites]


Kylo is the new Jar Jar. Worst character, easily mocked, deservedly derided.

what NO

He's a fantastic character. He's WEAK. How often have we had a hateable villain who is objectively weak? Who just isn't very good at their job but can still do a lot of harm? King Joffrey comes close, I guess. But I feel there's ground to be broken in presenting a villain who can have motivations beyond just POWER AND EVILNESS that are understandable, yet don't arouse the audience's sympathy.

And that's not the kind of villain that you buy toys of, or run around in your jammies pretending to be, it's one that you just plain enjoy rooting against. Which in my mind, is what you're supposed to do with a villain, which is maybe something we don't get much anymore in today's antihero-centric storyscape. Different strokes.
posted by saturday_morning at 3:53 PM on January 20, 2016 [38 favorites]


Back on topic.

The absence of Rey merchandise is inexcusable. Really interested to see how the P.R. spins this.
posted by yesster at 3:53 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Really interested to see how the P.R. spins this.

I'm interested to see if they fix it by producing more Rey stuff.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:56 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, definitely on Team Kylo is Great. I'm not mocking over here, I definitely thought he was part of what makes the movie pretty darn awesome.
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:58 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hey, it's kinda like 1980 all over again. Except, instead of my mom refusing to buy me Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and C3P0 and Leia and that really cool landspeeder and an X-Wing fighter -- like the ones the boy next door had, and she refused to buy them for me because they were boys' toys and not girls' toys, despite the fact that I really, really reeeeeaallllly wanted them -- neither girls nor boys can buy the really cool toy based on the really cool character from this movie because, feh, gender presumptions.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:00 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


And Chewie. I forgot Chewie. I really wanted Chewie too. R2-D2 was kind of boring, though, because that toy didn't have as much of the cool articulation as the others. Especially C3P0. He was real hinge-y.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:01 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I do not understand this Kylo Ren hate. Kylo Ren is a fantastic villain: following in the footsteps of a great bad guy, but younger, more ruthless. And what sets him apart is his immaturity, his trying to hide his fears and doubts, his inability to handle things when they don't go his way. Remember when Vader's admiral jumped out of hyperspace too close to (whatever) and it alerted the other guys and they lost the Falcon (or something?) Remember what Vader does? He just calls up the admiral on the phone and force-chokes him to death. When something doesn't go right for Ren? He light sabers the shit out of the room. Totally out of control.

This is way scarier to me. A kid with Vader levels of power, maybe stronger than Vader (I never saw Vader freeze a blaster bolt.) But with way less control. He's like what Trump is doing in the Republican Party: a purer, scarier form of evil.

And if that guy could be redeemed, that would be a pretty damned good story.

(This isn't to say Rey should get the short shrift. She is CLEARLY the hero of the story, and deserves to have all of the toys. But I also understand why the marketers thought Kylo Ren was going to be the big sell. When I read that, I immediately thought of Ledger's Joker. I would expect that nobody expected him to become the big seller among little kids, but he sure was.)
posted by nushustu at 4:06 PM on January 20, 2016 [15 favorites]


Only guys with top hats and bags of money marked "$$$" are this precise

Only a Sith uses the Free Parking money house rule.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:07 PM on January 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


I was a kid in the 80s who had lots of Star Wars toys, and as I recall they made figurines for every damn marginal character you can imagine. There were definitely Boba Fett ones and I'm pretty sure Lando Calrissian ones as well....

I can't find it now but there was this great retweet the other day (maybe by Arthur Chu?) where the tweeter included a photo of the Lando Calrissian action figure and the caption saying that the author had asked their child "do you know who this is" and the kid said "Duh, it's Neil deGrasse Tyson!"
posted by matildaben at 4:17 PM on January 20, 2016 [30 favorites]


My true hope is that Kylo dies, by anyone's hands, very early on in the next episode, so we can have a bad guy worthy of the Dark Side.

I guarantee Kylo will be really, really evil in the next one. The whole bit about asking his father to help him, when he means helping him kill his father, was the purifying moment for him when he could really, thoroughly embrace the dark side.

Whether it works or not, I don't know. I get the "lol emo ren" thing, but from a story perspective, he's one of the best villains in the series--he's got depth, he's got doubts, he's got possibilities other than "but how will he be evil?" One of the problems with Vader was that he was simply a bad guy, like Palpatine or Grievous. One of the great failings of the prequels was to try to give him depth by showing a backstory of forbidden love and impotent rage, and then blowing the filmmaking so thoroughly that all anyone could do is mock that line about sand.
posted by fatbird at 4:22 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Turns out I wasn't at maximum hatred for Monopoly already, thanks Hasbro.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:30 PM on January 20, 2016


I never saw Vader freeze a blaster bolt.

He did stop one or block it or catch it or something here
posted by aubilenon at 4:42 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


chris24: I really really hope Ren has no redemption arc. I hope his arc is from whiny faux Vader to badass serious villain who is a huge obstacle for Rey to overcome on her heroes journey, but overcome she does.

Count me in on this one. Vader at least believed in something and seemed to actually agree with what the Empire represented, at least until later. Ren is just a school shooter with magic and a lightsaber. What he's done is already unforgivable - hell, it was unforgivable before he killed Han. He deserves the same kind of end as the guy from Pan's Labyrinth - no redemption arc or force ghost, just a blight to be removed from the world and swiftly forgotten about as soon as possible.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:44 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm really baffled by the Kylo Ren thing. People with kids or who are around a lot of kids, are they into Kylo Ren?

On the playground at my school, R2-D2 is by far the most popular character, the one there are usually multiples of.
C-3PO is second (I suspect because he's the left-over out of the pairing).
Luke is third.

I have never seen any of the kids play Kylo Ren or Rey.

But then, my daughter is often an Ewok Stormtrooper, so they may be getting their wires crossed somewhere.
posted by madajb at 4:50 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Kids love Darth Vader. When I saw ROTJ special edition in the theater as a kid I cried when he died.

But Vader was a one-of-a-kind villain, not a knockoff of, um, himself. And he saves Luke at the end.
posted by atoxyl at 4:55 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Contrary to apparently everyone else's experience, my 7 year old son's favourite character is Kylo Ren and his cool lightsabre (but he's only ever seen the original trilogy), and his best friend's favourite character is Kylo Ren (and he's only ever seen the new movie). One of the girls in his class (who's also a big Star Wars fan) says BB-8 is her favourite character.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:56 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's totally understandable that Disney thinks Kylo Ren was the main character of the film because the only other young white guy is Poe and he's barely in it. How could it possibly be anybody else? Study it out, people.

But seriously, I can honestly believe that some executive sees an early cut of the film and, because of his preconceptions, totally misses that Rey is the hero of the movie. It's not like he doesn't see her, it's just that in his world view females are always SUPPORTING characters. Yes, she's in practically every "good guy" scene, but she's obviously SUPPORTING the main characters. Eliminate Rey through cultural blindness and the film is obviously about Kylo Ren because he dominates the story arc on the bad guys side of the plot. Everybody else must be supporting the telling of Ren's story.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:04 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


All I want to bring up is that when Kylo Ren took off his mask, everyone in the theater where I saw The Force Awakens said, and I'm not exaggerating, "ew."

Elementary school-aged me had much the same reaction to the Vader unmasking.
You take a bad-ass James Earl Jones voiced Dark Lord of the Sith and you turn him into a balding middle-aged fat guy?

C'mon!
posted by madajb at 5:07 PM on January 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


Did the people marketing Kylo Ren over Rey see the movie ahead of time? Did they talk to people who saw the movie? Being blindsided by the relative popularity of the characters must be based on sexism, because otherwise it's just so fucking stupid.

I've worked on stuff for another Disney movie. We were developing our stuff at the same time as the movie is in production, so we can't judge from the movie because the movie doesn't exist. On projects like that we worked from things like the script, concept art, photos from production, etc.
Even that is not as solid as it sounds. For example the script is changing week to week, sometimes in major ways, and generally there is a higher premium put on script security than on us having access; the first rule of script security seems to be don't make any copies, don't distribute any copies, don't give anyone any copies. So trying to get a script that bears firm resemblance to what the movie might be, is difficult, even if such a script even exists, which is not guaranteed.

As I've noted elsewhere, I am surprised and impressed that [major spoiler] in The Force Awakens was not leaked. The security needed to pull that off is impressive, and it most likely starts with all the thousands of people who aren't directly making the actual movie not being allowed to know what's in the movie.

That's not to say it's not also fucking stupid. But I can also easily imagine the best accessible information allowing the false impression that you've got some kind of Darth Maul character and some kind of Young Obi Wan character, and obviously a Darth Maul toy would be way cooler than a Young Obi Wan toy. Throw in the sexist blinkers and you've got a home-run fuckup.

Emotional resonance of various characters isn't something that's easy (or possible?) to judge without seeing the final cut, and the final cut doesn't exist until it's too late.
posted by anonymisc at 5:11 PM on January 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Vader at least believed in something and seemed to actually agree with what the Empire represented, at least until later. Ren is just a school shooter with magic and a lightsaber. What he's done is already unforgivable - hell, it was unforgivable before he killed Han. He deserves the same kind of end as the guy from Pan's Labyrinth - no redemption arc or force ghost, just a blight to be removed from the world and swiftly forgotten about as soon as possible.

Vader murdered the Younglings and killed off most of the Jedi. Yet he was redeemed in Return of the Jedi. The Force Awakens indicates that Disney is all about copying the arc of the original movies, just with different characters.

So yeah, Ren might get a redemption arc, as badly as that idea sounds.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:13 PM on January 20, 2016


Kylo Ren's problem is that he is obviously trying to be cool, which as everyone knows is the one sure way to be uncool. The only way to be cool is to look like you're not trying to be cool.

That's not to say that not trying to be cool is the way to be cool, let's be serious here, you just have to try to be cool in a way that doesn't make it look like you are trying to be cool.
posted by ckape at 5:23 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


You have to be cool about trying to be cool. :)
posted by anonymisc at 5:25 PM on January 20, 2016


To be accurate, Luke was a pretty whiny emo teenager himself.

If grumbling, while doing chores, after having your life plan tanked by your lyin' ass farmer uncle is emo then fuck it all everything is emo.

BEN: I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.
HAN [texting Chewie]: LOL old dude is emo
CHEWIE [texting back]: *many crying emojis*
posted by nom de poop at 5:27 PM on January 20, 2016 [15 favorites]


Yeah, it's all a big, stupid, facepalmy blunder. Rey is a goddamned badass, and the main goddamned character of the movie, and this should be stupefyingly obvious to anyone who's seen the film.

Disney, against all odds, fucking nailed female representation in an unapologetic, unprecedented way—seriously, if you consider yourself a feminist, go see this movie—and, at the same time, they made the best Star Wars movie since the original trilogy, and shattered multiple box-office records. It really does feel like a watershed moment in pop culture: people have been saying all along that audiences are perfectly capable of identifying with female and minority characters, if only Hollywood would give us some characters worth identifying with, and here's the evidence in spades.

So, after Disney got it so right, it's doubly mystifying that the toymakers got it so arse-gobblingly wrong. But, maybe the merchandising WTF will end up being for the better. The market is speaking in terms that toymakers understand: let their sexism cost them a few million bucks, and we'll see how things go the next time around.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:35 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Emotional resonance of various characters isn't something that's easy (or possible?) to judge without seeing the final cut, and the final cut doesn't exist until it's too late.

To elaborate some more, the movie is distributed digitally or by airmail. You can be working on finishing the movie until shockingly close to the premier screening.
Toys by contrast, the best guess as to what will be popular needs to be locked in months before the movie has been made.
(eg if nothing goes wrong and there are no delays then the toys will be manufactured over weeks in one facility (which first needs to do prototype manufacturing, lock everything in then get the facility tooled up before production can even begin), shipped to another facility for packaging, transported to the docks, spend the better part of a month on a container ship, more time in docks, filter through distribution centers to retailers, etc.)

When the movie comes out and you find out you dun goofed, then assuming you are able to snap your fingers and pivot everything instantly, it can likewise take months for that change to reach retailers. (Though often not quite as long as the first time around because tooling exists now, though if you didn't plan ahead you might pay a pretty penny to get factory priority)
posted by anonymisc at 5:49 PM on January 20, 2016




Anyway, the best thing about Kylo Ren is that he's a fantastic counterpart to Rey. He's a good villain for *her,* as the hero, to face. It can't be any fun to play with Kylo Ren without playing with Rey at the same time.

Without Rey, you're just a dude who likes cosplaying as Darth Vader. It's a little too meta.
posted by pwnguin at 6:35 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I agree that the slighting of Rey is based on sexism, but the "marketers pushed Kylo because racism/sexism" idea floated by a few commenters seems bizarre. Vader, Fett, and Maul were all incredibly popular characters, and if I were a marketer, I probably would have assumed Kylo would be one as well. I would have assumed that if Kylo were black, and I would have assumed it if Kylo were female. "But he killed Solo!" Sure, and Anakin killed a bunch of women and children, and then went on to kill another bunch of children, and kids are cool with playing as Anakin. Kids don't use the same meter-sticks to make decisions that adults do.

Certain decisions (de-emphasis of Rey, de-emphasis of Finn) can be totally sexist or racist, while other decisions (emphasis of Kylo, emphasis of Phasma) can be based on factors other than racism or sexism.

yasaman: "People with kids or who are around a lot of kids, are they into Kylo Ren? Do kids overlook Kylo Ren's....everything in favor of his cool lightsaber and mask?"

Mine do. My sons also like Vader, Boba Fett, Grievous, and Captain Phasma, though they think that Kylo Ren and Phasma got beaten too easily in the movies. But it seems like the visuals are the most important thing for them when it comes to picking toys. I can relate, because as a kid my favorite Star Wars toys were Boba Fett and Leia in bounty hunter armor, while my favorite characters were probably Han Solo and Yoda.

cortex: "Lots of bored country kids probably recognized themselves in Luke's whining in the first act and recognized the whining for what it was, but his character actually started to arc significantly in the first film."

I didn't notice Luke was whiny in the first movie until I was in high school. A lot of comments here seem to view kids as all having a pretty nuanced view of character arcs, and I doubt that's really the case. Of course there are kids like that, but I doubt that it's the majority. I can see a lot of kids saying "I don't like Kylo, he killed Han Solo", but I can't see "I don't like Kylo, he seemed like he was trying to hard to be a bad guy and gave off a high-school emo kid vibe. He was trying to be cool, and that makes him uncool."

madajb: "On the playground at my school, R2-D2 is by far the most popular character, the one there are usually multiples of.
C-3PO is second (I suspect because he's the left-over out of the pairing).
"

Hehe. One of my son's friends had never seen any Star Wars movies, and he just assumed C-3PO was the main character because he looked "so cool". That's something I'd never heard about C-3PO before.
posted by Bugbread at 6:44 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


You can't make this up:
Darth Vader Baby Onesies Recalled for Posing Choking Hazard
posted by wenat at 6:46 PM on January 20, 2016 [19 favorites]


Announced Rey has just been approved for a cameo in Frozen 2.


Not really. But hey, guaranteed Rey merchandising if they had done that.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:57 PM on January 20, 2016


Obviously it's not quite the same people (Lucasfilm, but not really Lucasfilm anymore), but: what makes the absence of Rey even more ridiculous is the level to which Lucasfilm was willing to put out toys of basically anything for the prequels. One of the big OMG sneak preview toys was a battle droid riding a scooter thing that basically appeared in the finished movie for like 1/2 of a second. There were also what must have been a dozen or more toys for characters everyone assumed were important, and turned out to be more or less extras. Hell, this even happened again for TFA -- apparently there was a police officer or sheriff type guy in the early scenes on Jakku who was left on the cutting room floor, but he got his own action figure prior to the release.

The moment there's an actual important female character, though, suddenly everyone's freaking out about what information it might divulge to actually make some toys with her represented.
posted by tocts at 6:59 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I had Leia, Teela, She-Ra, and Arcee toys when I was a kid, plus a bunch of the female G.I. Joe characters like Lady Jaye and (naturally) Baroness. They were great! Obviously I had more male figures, but back then I wasn't going for gender inclusion/exclusion, I was just going for the coolest fucking toys. I don't know that much would really have changed in children's taste in toys or the gender of their toys since the mid- to late 80s - I would have actually guessed they would have evolved towards greater acceptance/inclusion - so this just sounds like a big old bunch of horseshit to me.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:12 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think there's a bit of confusion here. There are Rey action figures. What there are not are Rey Star Wars Monopoly figures.
posted by Bugbread at 7:17 PM on January 20, 2016


Oh, and the Rey figure isn't one of the ones included in the "Battle Action Millennium Falcon" playset.
posted by Bugbread at 7:18 PM on January 20, 2016


Rey's the best. But Kylo's great too. He's an interesting and believable character. How else SHOULD a powerful but untrained young man who decides to go to the "dark side" because he has some problems with his parents/family act? Exactly like he does. Selfish and entitled and whiny and unable to deal with his emotions. I wish Adam Driver had been around to play young Anakin, because he nails it.

The "he's an MRA!" stuff isn't a deconstruction of the movie, it's the entire point. My only criticism is they should have made him scarier at the end, to set up some foreboding for the heroes. But I have my hopes that will happen in the Empire Strikes Back-type sequel.

All that said, of course young kids aren't buying toys of him. They want the toys of the badass cool got-her-shit-together space warrior, not the emotionally complex and insecure man child villain. Not surprising. That doesn't mean Kylo's a bad character, it's just dumb Disney pinned their hopes on him being the breakout star for selling merch.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:19 PM on January 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


So I read some of this thread having not yet seen the movie and, uh, whoops.
posted by teponaztli at 7:22 PM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Solon and Thanks: "The want the toys of the badass cool stoic space warrior, not the emotionally complex and insecure man child villain. Not surprising."

But do you really think that little kids are picking up on his insecurity or "man-child"ness? Those are things you grok when you've got some more years under your belt. It's the reason adults don't like Kylo.

Honestly, I think the number one reason kids aren't buying Kylo toys is that he takes off the helmet, making him mundane. Kids want their bad-guys to be cool-looking all the time. Cobra Commander was an immature, petulant, histrionic incompetent. Any criticism of the "coolness" of Kylo in this thread would have to be magnified by 1000 to reach Cobra Commander levels. But kids coveted Cobra Commander toys anyway, in part because he had that mystique. Same with Vader (until ROTJ), Boba Fett, etc.

And it doesn't matter what Kylo actually looked like, either. It's not an Adam Driver-face problem. It's just the reveal that he really is just a regular dude. That takes the shine off for kids. Much more than the fact that Kylo reminds kids' parents of something they call "MRAs" or "emo kids" or the like.
posted by Bugbread at 7:27 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ugh! Assholes.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 7:36 PM on January 20, 2016


But kids coveted Cobra Commander toys anyway, in part because he had that mystique.

Well, that and you had to mail-in to get him.
It wasn't some run of the mill go down to toys r us with your allowance doll action figure.
You had to save your flag points and 4-6 weeks for delivery.*

*Suck it, amazon prime spoiled millennials!

posted by madajb at 7:39 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Kids don't need to pick up on the manchild factor or insecurity to find Kylo Ren unpalatable. That's all definitely adult baggage. But I wonder if kids might pick up on Kylo Ren's unsettling emotional volatility, and recognize his tantrums as being just that: tantrums. Plus, yeah, he loses a lot of his cool factor as soon as he takes off the mask.

I dunno though, kids love the Hulk and the Hulk is a literal ragemonster.
posted by yasaman at 7:42 PM on January 20, 2016


I wonder if deep in Disney's vaults, there's a weird original cut of this movie where Rey is a minor character and the plot completely focuses on Kylo vs. Finn. And the toys were based on that cut.
posted by miyabo at 7:52 PM on January 20, 2016


yasaman: "But I wonder if kids might pick up on Kylo Ren's unsettling emotional volatility, and recognize his tantrums as being just that: tantrums."

It's possible, but, even as an adult, it's not like I look at Vader force-choking Admiral Ozzel or Admiral Motti and think "That's so immature, he should be able to lead fleets and debate people without resorting to violence". If Kylo had an ineffectual tantrum scene, like trying to pick up and throw something heavy with the force but not being powerful enough to do so, or the thing only moving a foot or two, then the silliness of a tantrum would come across, but fucking savaging the controls with a light saber, I suspect, would come across more as "Oh shit he's pissed!" than "Look at the little baby didn't get what he wanted!"

And, yes, there's the stormtrooper about-face for levity, but that's a different type of silliness. The troopers don't turn around and walk away because Kylo is weak, but because they don't want to be killed. The audience finds it funny, but I don't think you're supposed to think the stormtroopers find it funny.
posted by Bugbread at 8:04 PM on January 20, 2016


But do you really think that little kids are picking up on his insecurity or "man-child"ness? Those are things you grok when you've got some more years under your belt. It's the reason adults don't like Kylo.

I mean to say that those things are the reasons many adults do like Kylo - or at least find him interesting.

See, I think his "manchildness" would be clear to kids even if they didn't have the vocabulary to describe it like that, or to understand it as a trend. They'd see that he's obviously not in control, he's not winning, and he handles it really poorly. He's not cool once he takes his mask off. They're not buying the toys.

On the other hand, as an adult, I can recognize that manchildness as something that is "not cool" but also understand it makes for a realistic and interesting kind of villain which we haven't seen so far in Star Wars, a fandom with its fair share of entitled manchildren. I'm writing this not to explain why kids don't want the toys - that's obvious, he's not cool, of course kids want to play as Rey instead - but to defend why he is nonetheless a good, well-acted character.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:13 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


For me, the difference between Vader and Kylo Ren isn't the effectiveness of their respective outbursts, it's that Vader generally seemed to be in control of himself, whereas Kylo Ren most emphatically is not in control of himself. That could be forgiven if he was in control of the situation, but he doesn't even have that. Plus, Kylo Ren's canonical fanboying of Vader makes the contrast even sharper. Kylo Ren is a hot mess. Hot messes who have lost control of their lives are not really the stuff of playground make believe. That's interesting to adults, not so much to kids, I don't think.
posted by yasaman at 8:25 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


I wonder if deep in Disney's vaults, there's a weird original cut of this movie where Rey is a minor character and the plot completely focuses on Kylo vs. Finn. And the toys were based on that cut.

It's not even so deep in the vaults, considering the process shown in The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (featuring Kylo Ren on the cover!). There was significant juggling of the character roles and traits throughout development, and the book barely even gets to the characters as they appear in the film. Who Finn was, Poe's role, and Rey's name (she's Kira throughout most of the book) weren't hashed out until late in the whole design process.
posted by carsonb at 8:41 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


My first Star Wars toys were two background characters from the cantina - the walrus-face guy and the hammerheaded dude. WTF childhood me? Whyyyyy those two?
posted by um at 8:47 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Because they were the best, weirdest guys? Come on
posted by rifflesby at 9:02 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I suspect it was because the toy store had sold out of Greedos.
posted by um at 9:35 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Do kids overlook Kylo Ren's....everything in favor of his cool lightsaber and mask?"
"The only vaguely plausible if totally clueless explanation I can think of is that they looked at how popular Vader was in the original series, thought, "This guy is Vader 2.0 he's gonna kill it!" and planned accordingly."
"And sure the audience is supposed to identify with Kylo Ren, because they share an obsessive love of Darth Vader that transcends logic. "

Yeah, I think that is pretty much it. Vader 2.0, man, how wouldn't that be a hit?

Hell, I was watching Cake Wars at the gym and it was Star Wars themed and literally every contestant only wanted to do Darth Vader themed cakes (until they were forced to do giant space battle cakes).
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:35 PM on January 20, 2016


One more thing I really want to see (or rather, don't) in the rest of the trilogy - do not, for the love of god, tie Finn into anyone's family tree. Just leave him an everyman. Do not make every important person in the universe a product of special birth.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:09 PM on January 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


I wish that for Rey as well, but alas the chance of it is virtually nil.
posted by rifflesby at 10:13 PM on January 20, 2016


what makes the absence of Rey even more ridiculous is the level to which Lucasfilm was willing to put out toys of basically anything for the prequels. One of the big OMG sneak preview toys was a battle droid riding a scooter thing that basically appeared in the finished movie for like 1/2 of a second. There were also what must have been a dozen or more toys for characters everyone assumed were important, and turned out to be more or less extras.

That is actually the same, consistent with missing Rey, rather than standing in contrast to. As I recall, major characters were absent from the initial toyline back then too in favour of minor characters like the ones you mention that revealed nothing about the plot, similar to today (or at least according to Hasbro spin).
They messed up big, but I don't think the phantom menace toys offer a smoking gun about lack of concern regarding protecting movie plot. I think they bolster that claim, though obviously I don't think it explains the full fiasco.
posted by anonymisc at 10:19 PM on January 20, 2016


(Also, the cynic in me notes that before people have seen three movie is a great time to sell minor characters, then when people see it, they'll discover that they want to buy a bunch more characters too. Double the sales compared to if you had the good toys available from the start. Maybe that's too tin-foil?)
posted by anonymisc at 10:29 PM on January 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a nerdy artist who draws nerdy stuff for other nerds for money, I can state with utmost certainty that... look, kick-ass female heroes are just in right now, based on the things that I'm hired to draw. Sure, lots of nerds want cheesecake, but that's not really my specialty. My customers, whether male or female, seem to prefer strong female heroes like Rey, Korra, Garnet, Marceline, etc.

Why? Because it's new. Let's face it, the old straight-laced male hero/grim antihero is boring at this point. No one really wants to think about Neo, Harry Potter, or Superman too much. Guys who do their jobs and are responsible. We've seen that too much.

When it comes to sci-fi and fantasy stories, we're in a phase where female heroes take center stage so that they can act in ways that female characters normally haven't been allowed to act. Meanwhile, male characters like Finn, Poe, Steven Universe, Mako, Bolin, etc, are allowed to be a little less burdened and dour. They are part of an ensemble, and don't have to save the world from evil all by themselves anymore. These trends are going to continue until we have a much wider variety of character types to explore.

(Also, I'm calling it now -- Poe is gay, and when the good guys triumph in Episode IX, he'll lay a big celebratory kiss on Finn. Finn (who is straight but not a hater) will be taken aback, and Poe will laugh at his shocked-face and say something like "you still have a lot to learn, about the universe, kid.")
posted by ELF Radio at 10:44 PM on January 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


Okay, kids are back from school, so I got to ask some actual human children.
------------
(Son, age 7)
"Do you think Kylo Ren is cool?"
A: "Yes"
"Why?"
A: "Because his face looks cool and his light saber is cool."
"Is there anything uncool about him?"
A: "He's weak."
"How so?"
A: "He lost to Rey, and Rey is not a Jedi, and Kylo Ren is half Sith.""
Would you want to be Kylo Ren for Halloween?"
A: "Yes."
"If you were going to be someone from The Force Awakens for Halloween, who would you be?"
A: "Kylo Ren"
"Okay, and who would be your number two choice?"
A: "A storm trooper"
"Why?"
A: "Because they're cool."
------------
(Son, age 9)
"Do you think Kylo Ren is cool?"
A: "His face looks cool but I don't like his personality."
"Why?"
A: "Because he gets mad easily and goes crazy."
"Would you want to be Kylo Ren for Halloween?"
A: "No."
"If you were going to be someone from The Force Awakens for Halloween, who would you be?"
A: "Captain Phasm -- no, wait, she's weak. I'd be a storm trooper, because they're cool."
posted by Bugbread at 10:52 PM on January 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I just asked my 9.5 year old.

She says Kylo Ren is cool except when he kills Han Solo. That's not cool.

Also, she doesn't think she would dress up as him but might get dressed up as a zombie Rey because Halloween costumes should be scary (this is what many people in the UK think.)
posted by hfnuala at 11:04 PM on January 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I figured that the boardroom executives took a poll and found Kylo Ren the character they all identified with the most.
posted by destrius at 11:44 PM on January 20, 2016 [17 favorites]


I figured that the boardroom executives took a poll and found Kylo Ren the character they all identified with the most.

"Finally, a normal person in these goddamn movies, he'll sell like hotcakes!"
posted by maxwelton at 12:03 AM on January 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


Staffer: "A front-line soldier who was assessed as having dangerously high levels of empathy-"
Executive: "Next."

S: "A woman who-"
E: "Next."

S: "A man-child from a family of nobility, who joins an evil, soulless organization as upper management. He believes he has a unique destiny to dominate and rule, and pursues his goals with no care for other people. His nemesis is a woman, who not only rejects his advances, but has the actual temerity to think herself an equal, and takes stuff that obviously belongs to him. She's probably a feminist."
E: "Oh my god that is the story of my life!"
posted by destrius at 1:02 AM on January 21, 2016 [51 favorites]


I've worked on stuff for another Disney movie. We were developing our stuff at the same time as the movie is in production, so we can't judge from the movie because the movie doesn't exist. On projects like that we worked from things like the script, concept art, photos from production, etc.

One classic example of this is video games of films, which have to be pretty much feature complete at a point where the film might be recut significantly - whole scenes might be dropped or extended, characters reduced or cut out completely.

These days, games-of-the-film as a result either drop later, or take a different tack, for example being plotless (or plot-adjacent) mobile games released as promotional tools.

AFAIK, there isn't an actual Star Wars: The Force Awakens game, as in a game where you play through the plot. There are CCGs/Clashlikes using the characters, and there are games that cover the backstory (the Battle of Jakku in Star Wars Battlefront and the post-Return of the Jedi story in Star Wars Uprising), or playsets like the one for Disney Infinity, which dropped at the same time as the film, give or take.

Captain Phasma is a good example there - I'm guessing she will have a bigger role in VIII and IX, as an undercard nemesis for Finn and Poe, but her part in VII was largely cut for length at the script or edit stage. So, the toy liaison could say "Captain Phasma's a significant character in the new trilogy", but if you are obsessively protecting the plot of the movie you aren't going to say much more than that to the mug people, or the voice-altering plastic helmet people, because one small bit of info, combined with other tiny bits of info, could end up ruining a reveal.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:14 AM on January 21, 2016


I can only speak for 9-year-old me, but I wouldn't have been too enthused about Kylo Ren. A big part of the appeal of Luke and Han Solo and Darth Vader was the cool fantasy aspect of the characters, imagining being in their shoes. Badass smuggler? Sure! Super powerful villain who gets his own Star Destroyer? I'm in. Even a character as peripheral as Boba Fett, maybe part of why he was so popular was that he seemed to have had a pretty rich story outside of the films, so regardless of his onscreen role, it was fun to fantasize about his bounty hunting adventures.

Kylo Ren, on the other hand...an angry, petulant kid who throws temper tantrums and is pretty much the ultimate disappointing son? A little too close to home to be any fun to role-play. I played with Star Wars toys to escape from reality, not to be reminded of my worst fears about myself.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 2:38 AM on January 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am far from convinced of the bona fides of the anonymous 'industry insider' quoted in this article. I have seen no evidence that “Princess toy sales are in freefall. Disney can’t give away princess toys anymore”. I would wait to see some sales figures for Star Wars merchandise sorted by character before getting too concerned about this, but unfortunately Disney claim not to be able to provide those.
My first significant breakthrough came from an unlikely source - the Leicestershire County Council Museum Service. The original Star Wars toys were produced under license in the UK by a company called Palitoy. They had a factory in Coalville in Leicestershire, and the museum inherited some of its paper. An internal company newsletter from 1985 revealed it had sold 25 million action figures in the UK alone - more than one toy for every child in the country at the time.
Maybe it is the case that Disney did not produce enough Rey toys due to institutional sexism, but you better believe that they will be making them now. Merchandise sales dwarf ticket sales for Star Wars.
posted by asok at 3:06 AM on January 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


My guess is that the whole thing is a big mish-mash of straight up sexist decisions ("We didn't put a Rey figure in the Star Wars Monopoly set because boys wouldn't want to play as a girl"...yes, well, even if that were true, that still leaves 50% of the population), decisions based on assumptions of sexism in others and lack of observation of recent Hollywood trends ("We didn't put a Rey figure in the Battle Action pack because she's probably not a fighter-type, knowing Hollywood movies"), decisions based on the opposite of sexism ("We pushed Captain Phasma because she looks totally awesome! Kids are going to dig her!") and decisions that were orthogonal to sexism ("We pushed Kylo Ren because he looks totally awesome! Kids are going to dig him!"). Which makes sense, we're not talking about directing decisions in a single movie which you can track back to a single director or screenwriter or producer, but different decisions made by different people in a big company. I can totally believe that some poor decisions were full-on sexist while others were not.
posted by Bugbread at 5:52 AM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


It must really suck to be one of the marketing people at Hasbro/WalMart right now. Every single data point shows that the three least selling groups of action figures are females, villains, and minorities. Plus, Stormtroopers were something you put in the box to have a full case. And yet here's a film where the three main characters are a female, a villain, and a black Stormtrooper.

Much like the recent Black Widow issue, it's not their fault that, for most of you, your parents didn't buy you a Baroness figure or Trapjaw or a Thundercracker jet. All you would do is go on about how great Duke or He-Man or Optimus Prime were. Be honest with yourself: If you were a He-Man fan as a kid would you rather have gotten Battle Kat for your birthday or Evil-Lyn?

I had Leia, Teela, She-Ra, and Arcee toys when I was a kid,

I'm going to have to call you out on Arcee there. There's no way you were a kid when Baroness and Lady Jaye and Teela figures came out and were still a kid when the first Arcee figure was finally released two decades later.
posted by dances with hamsters at 6:05 AM on January 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm a big kid. After seeing the movie I seriously contemplated buy a Millennium Falcon. As a kid I had wanted one so bad but it was expensive. I'm a big kid now I thought. I could afford it! I looked it up, came with Finn, Chewbacca and BB 8. What the? Where's Rey. She is the one that flies it!

I was so mad. For a minute I I thought well I could by the action figure set that does have Rey in it as well. It is cool. Then I thought fuck this. I didn't buy it and at least for the time being won't be getting in on principle and because big and little me is just so disappointed about this whole thing.
posted by Jalliah at 6:13 AM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's no excuse for not having Rey dolls when even Mattel makes Katniss dolls and an Ava DuVernay Barbie® Doll, complete with the director's chair (Ava DuVernay meets her Barbie).
posted by elgilito at 6:24 AM on January 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I thought Episode VII was pretty mediocre, and not half as good as the reviews had made it out to be. One of the best things about it though, was that the central character is female. Not a female who exists only as a love interest for a male character, or a helpless princess who needs to be rescued, but a strong, independent woman who makes a great role model. Rey is exactly the kind of character we need more of in mainstream movies.

As a child I was terrified of Darth Vader. He was the perfect evil villain, with the mask (which he never removed), the voice and his utter ruthlessness. Kylo Ren is no Darth Vader. He's more like Jar Jar Binks.
posted by salmacis at 7:27 AM on January 21, 2016


Nanukthedog: Wow... Some execs in RI need to seriously step down and spend time with their grand daughters.

You know, my office is two blocks from Hasbro's new digs in downtown PVD, and I was just wondering what to put on a sign that I might hang up in the park outside their front doors.

Maybe…."MAKE MORE REY TOYS NOW" or "I SPENT MORE ON THIS SIGN THAN I EVER WILL ON KYLO REN TOYS" or even "BOYS LIKE PLAYING WITH GIRLS." (Wait a minnit…)

But if they couldn't understand how popular Rey was going to be, they certainly won't understand my message. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 7:43 AM on January 21, 2016


Neronomius: Kylo Ren is Prince Zuko.
Yasaman: If they're trying to pull a Zuko with Kylo Ren, they've got a long way to go. Zuko didn't participate in the wanton destruction of multiple planets, or murder any beloved characters.

Wait, for a second I thought you meant this Zuko, and my mind reeled.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:46 AM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a child I was terrified of Darth Vader. He was the perfect evil villain, with the mask (which he never removed), the voice and his utter ruthlessness. Kylo Ren is no Darth Vader. He's more like Jar Jar Binks.

So I've had friends complain about Kylo Ren in the same vein as well, that he's just not cool, and probably some kind of a wimp. Vader was a much better villain!

But to me, Kylo Ren represents a much more nuanced view of villainy and evil, which would hopefully lead people to think a bit more deeply. Vader seems more like a force of nature, a perfect Lawful Evil bad guy in abstract (and Palpatine even more so). But Kylo Ren is very much human and has aspects we are all able to identify with. His evil is one that comes from weakness, fear, pride, and delusion; an evil that exists in all of us. He makes it clear that evil isn't glamourous or "cool"; it is mundane and banal.

We don't know anybody that is like Darth Vader, but we all know somebody who is a bit like Kylo Ren.
posted by destrius at 7:48 AM on January 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


Wait, for a second I thought you meant this Zuko, and my mind reeled.

Never underestimate the power of greased lightnin'.
posted by tocts at 7:52 AM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love Darth Vader. He's so cool. For the first chunk of the OT, he's so mysterious and menacing. What is that thing, a robot or what? I love Kylo Ren too. Star Wars featuring such a conflicted, flawed villain? He seems so human. Plus when he starts waving that chaotic, crackling, maker-fair light sabre around, he seems pretty menacing too.
That said, Rey is the best. My daughter is 7 (er, whoops. She turned 8 today) but doesn't want to see any Star Wars yet. With all the cultural saturation, though, she absorbs alot from the air and she loves Rey too. I'm picking up the Infinity figure for her today. Not including her in the Monopoly set is laughable. Not including her in the Millennium Falcon toy is clearly sexist. Nothing else makes sense, does it?
posted by firemouth at 7:56 AM on January 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


So I've had friends complain about Kylo Ren in the same vein as well, that he's just not cool, and probably some kind of a wimp. Vader was a much better villain!

Ever since the prequels came out, my opinion of Vader as a villain has fallen dramatically. Turns out he was just whiny and obsessed kid who was played and manipulated. He was a PAWN. Pawns generally make terrible villains.

Kylo might go the same way, but for now there's at least he has potential to be something more than an easily manipulated pawn. Which I'm doubtful the series can pull off to my sanctification. Ben Solo had it made, with Han and Leia as parents, Luke and Chewie as uncles, not lacking for wealth, plus trained in the use of the Force.

But something went wrong and Snoke got his hooks into him and so Ben turned down having a golden life to kill and murder on the orders of Snoke. Yeah, typing that all out, I don't see how this doesn't go badly for Ren's portrayal. But at least Adam Driver is good actor, so there's that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:59 AM on January 21, 2016


You're better off pretending the prequels don't exist.
posted by salmacis at 8:14 AM on January 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


His evil is one that comes from weakness, fear, pride, and delusion; an evil that exists in all of us.

Well, the Dark Side is a progressive disease and he's not fully infected yet. It could be that most people going down the path to the Dark Side act like this at this stage of their journey. Fear -> Anger -> Hate -> Dark Side. Of course people can have all three emotions, but they're mostly driven by one. Prior to the events of Episode VII he was driven primarily by Fear. By Episode VII he still has Fear, but he is driven primarily by Anger hence the constant lashing out. I suspect Episode VIII he will have Anger, but will be driven primarily by Hate and thus will have fewer tantrums and when they occur they will be less about just swinging his lightsaber and will be more about getting rid of people who defy him and get in his way. More using the Force to pull someone to your hands so you can choke them. More Vader-like.
posted by Green With You at 8:35 AM on January 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Well, that and you had to mail-in to get him.

I mailed in for my Emperor action figure! I can still remember the joy of getting the package in the mail.

It's weird how much people are projecting onto Kylo Ren. The whole rich, white privilege emo angle is such a shallow interpretation of his character. This is a scion of the the most powerful Force-using family to ever exist, one that is precariously balanced between light and dark, as established in the OT and rather clumsily developed in the prequels. He's young and has been directly corrupted by a powerful darkside presence whose exact nature and role we don't yet understand.

Kylo Ren is no OT Vader. He's Anakin at the point of corruption, only, TWIST!, he's struggling toward the dark and is being restrained by the light.

It's a fascinating take, and I really look forward to seeing how Johnson writes and Driver plays the character in the next movie.
posted by echocollate at 8:36 AM on January 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's weird how much people are projecting onto Kylo Ren.

It really isn't.

The whole rich, white privilege emo angle is such a shallow interpretation of his character.

Not really. As you say yourself, he's the scion of a powerful family, descended from actual royalty (even if it was adoptive). His grandfather was essentially second-in-command and enforcer of an Empire that was built on the superiority of humans. He has assumed a similar role in what looks to be a similar organization, because unless I missed something, the First Order is 100% human. And he is "emo" in pretty much the textbook definition of the word, even moreso than his ancestors.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:48 AM on January 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


As long as we are digressing from the gender politics of the toy manufacturing industry and talking about the gender politics of the movie...yeah, Rey is a badass and my favorite character (my son chooses Finn which I can live with "because he's funny!" And Kylo Ren's only redeeming feature to my 6 year old boy is his cool light saber, which actually counts for a lot but still makes him fall short of Finn. Also, storm troopers are cool.) Anyway, I'm digressing from my digression...

I thought an even more powerful statement than making Rey the hero was the fact that after breaking up with Leia, Han is basically living in a bachelor apartment, eating cold spaghetti out of a can, living on credit, still hanging out with his stunted mooch of a man buddy while Leia is large and in charge of a massive military, even more so than in the original trilogy people are looking to her as the leader. No longer a princess, a general. Not only that but she was wistful and wise with no regrets.

Han hasn't developed at all in 20 years and Leia is almost unrecognizable. The last film we saw her in she was slave-Leia and Ewok Earth Mother Leia.

I liked that.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:07 AM on January 21, 2016 [15 favorites]


My greatest and most sincere wish for the final climax is that Rey defeats Kylo soundly in some way, but his actual end comes when Chewbacca tears his arms off and uses them to beat Kylo to death.

Yes, but ears.
posted by zippy at 9:28 AM on January 21, 2016


Slary Bartfast: Not "slave-Leia". "HUTT-KILLER Leia". (I find it a much more impressive term for the outfit.)
posted by rmd1023 at 10:41 AM on January 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Do not make every important person in the universe a product of special birth.

I bet Finn is Boba's son.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:15 PM on January 21, 2016


salmacis: "You're better off pretending the prequels don't exist."

Seriously. This is something that was discussed in another thread, but: I don't work for Lucasfilm, and this is fiction. I gain nothing from acknowledging the contents of the prequels. If I ignore everything in the prequels, Star Wars is more entertaining. I wonder what turned Vader to the dark side? I wonder how Luke's mom died? I wonder what kind of friendship Obi Wan and Anakin had? Why, Obi Wan must have been in his late 60s when Vader killed him, so when Anakin turned to the dark side Obi Wan and Anakin were both probably around 50. Grizzled veterans. What's the deal with Boba Fett? Who is he, where does he come from? Is he even human? These are all unanswered, interesting questions.

Acknowledging the content of the prequels gives me no pleasure. There is nothing in there that makes me enjoy Star Wars more. I'm not even saying "It's all bad", just that there is nothing in there which, if completely ignored, would make Star Wars less fun. They can be ignored wholesale without losing anything, eliminating the need to pick and choose.

So fuck it. I'm not getting paid to treat it as canon, and my ignoring its canonicity is not going to result in someone suffering real-world repercussions, so why should I treat it as canon? I choose to think of it as a really expensive fan fiction film.

And I'm not talking about "pretending the prequels don't exist" in the "Proclaim loudly 'What Matrix sequels, they only made one Matrix film' thing" that happens on the Internet a lot. That's not pretending a movie doesn't exist, it's pretending that you're pretending that a movie doesn't exist. It's a way of saying "I totally acknowledge this movie's existence and am using a silly approach to loudly proclaim my disdain for it". Instead, I'm talking about truly, even when not talking to other people, choosing to imagine that the prequels are fan films and not remotely canon.

Yes, I realize that this comment seems pretty hypocritical, given the previous paragraph, but this, and the other thread where this was discussed, are kind of exceptions.
posted by Bugbread at 3:15 PM on January 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


You're better off pretending the prequels don't exist.

Not really. If you overthink it and leave out the prequels and compare Ren to say Magneto or Loki, Ren just comes off looking pretty lame at this point. He turned his back on the golden family, for no reason that we know of and became a student to a power hungry murderer.

Magneto and Loki at least acted of their own violation because terrible things were done to them and/or their family. We can understand why they started down that path, even if we don't condone it. Ren? He decided to worship a mass murderer instead of his awesome, though not faultless, mom and dad. Or uncle. Or the taller hairyer uncle.

Sure, he's well acted by Driver, but it'll be interesting to see if Disney/Lucas are able to transcend the mediocrity that Vader became.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:44 PM on January 21, 2016


I'd say that the "no reason that we know of" part is what makes him not lame. If you provide a good back story (like Magneto), that's great. If you provide a shitty back story (like Anakin), then you make the character lame. Vader was a great bad guy when we had no idea of what started him down the path. He only became shitty when they decided to show the back story.

So:
Good back story: Good
No back story: Good
Bad back story: Lame

I hope they keep Kylo in the "no back story" camp. (Well, I mean, I wouldn't mind if there was back story about the slaying of the other Jedi trainees and whatnot, or other similar back story, but not back story about what turned him to the dark side, or what he was like before he turned.)
posted by Bugbread at 4:59 PM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


turbid dahlia: I bet Finn is Boba's son.

Yeah, it wouldn't surprise me if this is true, but I think the series will be much better if he isn't. I strongly prefer the idea of him just being some random guy who shook off his stormtrooper training and decided to do the right thing. I thought, aside from his surprising willingness to kill other stormtroopers pretty much immediately, he was handled pretty well.

I especially liked how he tried to fight Kylo at the end; he personally knows how dangerous the guy is, isn't a jedi, isn't strong in the force. has already had his mind invaded once by Kylo, and probably doesn't have any lightsaber training (nor any special connection to it). He has to know he has basically no chance, but he still tries to fight him anyway. Bravest thing in the movie.

It's pretty cool when Rey fights him too, but Rey knew about his secret weakness and had held out against his force techniques before, so she probably knew she at least had a shot.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:29 PM on January 21, 2016


Actually, maybe I'm thinking of Poe who had his mind read. I can't remember.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:34 PM on January 21, 2016


Yeah, that was Poe. But I think your larger point about Finn's badassery in that finale still stands.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:09 PM on January 21, 2016


For the record, Rey and Finn were far and away my favorite characters, including the old stars. The one thing I didn't expect was for a relatively unknown (to me) actor (Ridley) and an actor I enjoyed but had seen limited work by (Boyega) to completely inhabit their characters from the beginning and make me really care about them. And the chemistry between them! That's the best. Like licking bacon grease off my fingers.

Phenomenal performances from both.
posted by echocollate at 7:44 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not really. As you say yourself, he's the scion of a powerful family, descended from actual royalty (even if it was adoptive). His grandfather was essentially second-in-command and enforcer of an Empire that was built on the superiority of humans. He has assumed a similar role in what looks to be a similar organization, because unless I missed something, the First Order is 100% human. And he is "emo" in pretty much the textbook definition of the word, even moreso than his ancestors.

Anakin wasn't royalty when he turned to the Dark Side. He was born a slave and lived in abject poverty for most of his childhood. Luke Skywalker grew up poor. Both exhibited, to different degrees, the same inner turmoil between the light and the dark. Both were at turns whiny, brooding, and petulant. Kylo Ren's particular circumstances are, to my reading of the character, purely that: circumstantial. It makes no sense to attribute characteristics he shares with his direct antecedents to his privileged position or to let that prevent one from empathizing with his character.

Race, gender, and class dynamics are important to evaluating characters, but they're not the only ones. We love stories because they speak to the universal. Anything can be reduced to component parts and critiqued a la carte, but I think that sort of misses the point.
posted by echocollate at 8:00 AM on January 22, 2016


Anakin wasn't royalty when he turned to the Dark Side. He was born a slave and lived in abject poverty for most of his childhood. Luke Skywalker grew up poor. Both exhibited, to different degrees, the same inner turmoil between the light and the dark.

Kylo Ren's mother is Princess Leia. When people talk about him being descended from royalty, they mean 1) Leia and 2) Padme. Not Anakin, and not Luke.

Now, we can certainly speculate that Leia was not the kind of princess to raise her son in the indulgent lap of luxury, but his royal antecedents are from his mother and grandmother, not his father (Han), grandfather (Vader), or his uncle (Luke).

There is also the cultural strangeness of the fact that he likely grew up in the middle of the Rebellion's leadership, as the child of two of the Rebellion's greatest heroes. Whether he was wearing a little crown or not, he would have been in an extremely unique, and likely privileged position. Hard to make friends with kids his own age, because of his extreme prominence. Confused about his own family history, and puzzled by his family's role in intergalactic politics.

I think we can also all agree on one other extremely important detail: he was probably babysat a LOT by Chewie and C3P0.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:15 AM on January 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


The amount of energy people continue to spend on proactively disliking the prequels continues to baffle me.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:25 AM on January 22, 2016


Kylo Ren's mother is Princess Leia. When people talk about him being descended from royalty, they mean 1) Leia and 2) Padme. Not Anakin, and not Luke.

Yes, I understand that. My point is that the traits he exhibits that make him seem emo are consistent with those of his uncle and grandfather, neither of whom were royalty. I trace it to age and unique Force-sensitive profile rather than his upbringing, though an honest appraisal would have to account for both.
posted by echocollate at 10:12 AM on January 22, 2016


Kylo Ren: Nature or Nurture? Probably both.
posted by echocollate at 10:23 AM on January 22, 2016


Kylo Ren: Evidence that two parents in a bad marriage should divorce early instead of sticking it out "for the benefit of the kid."
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:12 PM on January 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


I can say at WalMart yesterday I definitely saw a full scale Lego figure (they are making more-or-less straight up people out of Legos now, not just minifigs) of Rey out there, along with the other main characters. So there's that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:08 AM on January 24, 2016




I'm still frightened by the Black Widow's tight outfit. It might undermine the very fabric of America.
posted by Atreides at 6:45 AM on January 29, 2016


I hope so!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:06 AM on January 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


5 Ridiculous Reasons Awesome TV Shows Were Canceled

#4. Too Many Girls Liked It (Young Justice)
...During an interview with Kevin Smith, Batman: TAS writer Paul Dini explained that Cartoon Network ended Young Justice because it didn't like the type of people it was attracting, namely the penisly challenged. Dini claims to have actually heard executives say, "We do not want girls watching this show," which was a problem because, as it turned out, women made up a significant chunk of Young Justice's audience.

The studio's reasoning was that older female viewers would either a) not buy Young Justice toys or b) demand the WRONG Young Justice toys, like official Batgirl tampons or something. What actually pisses me off the most, though, is not the economically nonsensical sexism but rather that Cartoon Network saw Young Justice, probably one of the greatest animated shows of the last few years, as just a vehicle to sell toys. It's like telling someone to make you Cars and then complaining that you got Up instead.
posted by twist my arm at 5:59 PM on February 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the CN execs of that era were prime Torgo fodder (see also: their fucking over of Sym-Bionic Titan.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:04 PM on February 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


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