Lego has a new series. It's called "Friends" and it's clearly marketed to girls. And this has a lot of people really up in arms. I mean, it's all the buzz in the blogosphere and on Facebook. And quite frankly, it's starting to really piss me off. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. But for crying outloud... people are boycotting Lego. The buzz about "Friends" has been so negative that I fear it's drowning out anything positive that people are saying out there about the series. I refuse to give any additional attention to this mind set by linking up to any of the things I've read. All I care to do here is present our side. Our argument for why we love this new series. And how we can love the sets, buy them, build them, and play with them but still be intelligent, interesting people who can think for themselves.
I figured the best way to handle this was to go straight to the biggest "Friends" fan in the house, my daughter Ronin. I have interviewed her and here is a transcript of that interview. My questions are in bold and Ronin's answers are below.
Do you have any of the Friends Lego sets?
Yes, I have two of them.
Which ones do you have?
The singing music one and the bakery.
How did you get them?
I bought them for myself at Target because I have a ton of money. I'm the richest one in the house. (This is true)
What do you think of them?
Seriously, they are awesome.
What makes them awesome?
Because both of them have hobbies that I like.
How did you feel about Lego before the "Friends" set?
I didn't really like them.
Why didn't you like them?
The other sets were related to things that I was not interested in and they were too difficult. (She knows this because her brother has many sets.)
Do you think that you might be interested in the upcoming Lord of the Rings series?
Yeah. ( I asked this because I knew that she likes LOTR.)
How do you feel about the way that the Friends are dressed?
They aren't inappropriate. They are probably wearing tank tops and skirts because it is the middle of summer.
Some people feel that Lego made a mistake and a bad choice when they made the Friends series. What do you think about that?
That's pretty cruel because I think they are the best Lego sets ever.
In this video she shows us one of her sets.
I decided to also get a boy's point of view. So I interviewed Hunter.
You're a big fan of Lego right?
What do you think of the Friends series?
They're okay. It's cool that they are making big sets too.
If your sister didn't buy them, would you like to buy them for yourself?
Maybe a few.
Which ones would you like to have?
Probably the big house. If I had a lot of the girls I'd get the house and they could all live together in the house.
Are you glad that your sister enjoys Lego now?
One of my fellow unschooling friends decided to ask her girls about the series as well. Fourteen year old Mindie stated the following: "Well, I like that they have sets now that aren't focused so much around battle and stuff like that. It's about stuff I like like hanging out with my friends."
I think that Mindie raises an excellent point. Not that I have a problem with it, but hasn't Lego been marketing to one specific gender for years? Aren't most of their products going to appeal to boys more often than they would appeal to girls?
Is it truly bad or wrong or sexist of Lego to create a series of building sets that happen to appeal to girls who want to build with Lego but who haven't been very attracted to them before?
Is it okay for mothers and women to be sending the message to young girls that it's somehow not okay to be interested in stereotypical female activities and hobbies? Isn't this limiting and invalidating them as much as it once was to send the message to girls that they couldn't work outside of the home, hold public office, vote, fight in a war...?
Is my daughter dumb, brainwashed, or buying into a stereotype simply because she prefers these sets to the helicopters, Harry Potter, and alien sets?
I know that when I was a little girl, I believed that Legos were for boys. They just weren't even on my radar. Perhaps something like the "Friends" series would have helped me become interested in them, allowing me to become exposed to Lego in a way in which I was comfortable... and improving my math and spatial skills in the long run.
One thing that I'd like to see happen for this series is the addition of more male minifigs. We've already established that it's marketed to girls, but it might be nice if there were a few more male characters to help encourage the meeting of the genders. Also, I've always thought that it would be cool if Ken, Barbie's man, had a few friends to hang out with. So the little Lego minifig dude might like another dude to go do dude stuff with... or not dude stuff. There might be little boys out there who don't like "battles" and prefer to play with toys in a way similar to the way that girls tend to play. Those boys might enjoy additional male characters as well.
And of course, let's address color. I do believe that it would be practical, beneficial, and the opposite of sexist if Lego would create some generic building block tubs with all of the colors. For instance, Hunter has the blue tub. It's filled with primary colors. Ronin has the pink tub. It's got "girl" colors in it... whatever that means. But I feel like it would be a move in the right direction if Lego would create a set that included all of the colors. And more orange all around both of my kids say!
So, I want to hear from you. What do you think of the Lego series "Friends"? Better yet, what do you think of the hoopla and controversy surrounding these new toys? Is this a positive step in the right direction for Lego and little girls? Or has Lego created a generation of future idiot prostitutes living on welfare?
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