Mitchell: Django — An action figure doll?
BY MARY MITCHELL firstname.lastname@example.org January 9, 2013 5:30PM
"Django Unchained" action figures.
Updated: February 11, 2013 7:36AM
Is it appropriate to sell collectible dolls based on the controversial movie “Django Unchained?”
With everything African-American consumers are grappling with, including how to keep from being shot dead in the street while trying to get to their local grocery stores, worrying about action figures ought to be the last thing on their minds.
But a line of action figures tied to the Quentin Tarantino movie is sparking such outrage that the Rev. Al Sharpton’s civil rights organization is calling for a nationwide boycott of the dolls.
When NAN calls for a boycott, you know things are getting heated.
Frankly, outside of guys who like to gamble on collectible dolls with the same fervor as the guys who gamble on abandoned storage lockers, I don’t know how many people will make a run on these things.
I can’t imagine handing my 5-year-old granddaughter the “Broomhilda” doll and explaining that she was a slave until her swashbuckling husband rescued her from an evil slaveholder.
I’d rather give her a black Barbie and be done with it.
According to the websites marketing the collectibles, the dolls are recommended for ages 18 and older. More than likely, whoever buys these collectible dolls won’t be giving them to children.
But there is a real concern among some blacks that white consumers will buy these dolls and some of them will get their jollies re-enacting atrocities of the slavery era. Seriously.
Others are adamant that there’s something so distasteful about National Entertainment Collectibles and the Weinstein Co. selling the dolls, they shouldn’t be on the market period.
I’m not going to say this is much to do about nothing. Remember the shackle shoes?
Last summer, Adidas was forced to withdraw plans to sell a sneaker with rubber shackles after the Internet exploded with criticism.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson threatened to lead a boycott in 50 markets if the shoes went on sale. And guess what? They didn’t.
But before we get too worked up over these “Django” dolls, we should remember these dolls are based on fictional movie characters.
The dolls are dressed in period costumes and none, as far as I can tell, are shackled.
If National Entertainment Collectibles were marketing dolls in tattered clothing, wrapped in chains, or holding whips, I’d be appalled.
“Django” is an action hero — the guy in the good-guy hat shooting good-guy bullets. Not only is he the hero, he became a free man early in the story.
Frankly, I like the “Django” action figure a whole lot more than I liked the “Chia Pet” that was designed in the likeness of President Barack Obama and sported a green Afro.
Walgreens stores in Chicago and Tampa were forced to pull the quirky items from their shelves after getting numerous complaints from folks who considered the Obama Chia racist.
I’m predicting that will ultimately be the fate of the line of “Django” action figures.
The makers of these items shouldn’t have expected this idea to go over very well. The more they stonewall, the louder the protests are going to get.
Slavery is the wound that won’t heal.
No matter how much time passes, there are still people who are ultra-sensitive about anything connected to slavery.
Alex Haley, the creator of “Roots,” got a pass because he was black and wrote about his family.
Tarantino doesn’t have the same credentials. Even some of the people who enjoyed “Django Unchained” are likely to have a problem with these slavery dolls.
These action figures are not black memorabilia, which some blacks justify buying as collectibles because they are remnants from the long journey toward equality.
For example, consumers can go to eBay and find more than 1,200 active listings of so-called “Black Americana.” Those listings include a Civil War era photo of an African-American slave woman for $275; an “original slave collar” for $249; a slave trader’s letter of transactions from 1860 from Farmville, Va., for $395; A “Black Butler Americana Ashtray cardholder” for $900; and a “brass slave tag token badge” for $36.99.
I don’t know who is buying this stuff, but no one’s calling for a boycott of the website.
As movie heroes go, “Django” is a phenomenal one.
He should be an action figure.