Midweek Media: “Every Child” is Synonymous with “Boy”

This ad is compliments of Lederhosen.

Quick transcription: The screen starts off dark. Music begins, Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss (2001: A Space Odyssey theme) and the screen lightens to reveal a brown haired white boy at a head-and-shoulder shot. He’s looking up as the screen brightens, and is seen to mouth “whoa” with a look of awe on his face. He and everything is in slow motion. Cut to another boy, black hair and brown skin (Indian descent), with the same awestruck and open-mouthed expression. The camera cuts to a picture, panning up on the image of an American football player in an action/running pose. (Editor’s note: looks like a poster or a one of those big cardboard cut outs?)

Voice over begins: The only thing bigger than a Fathead is the reaction it gets the first time a kid lays eyes on it. At well over a thousand Fatheads available at Fathead.com, the perfect gift for every child is only a few clicks away.

As the deep, resonant voice over is being spoken, we see another dark-haired white boy with his mouth open in awe/excitement, then a white boy with glasses, then a brown boy (Asian) who pumps a fist in the air, then a white blond and curly haired boy raising both hands in a victory pose. Back to the poster, we see it’s Pittsburgh Steelers player Troy Polamalu. There’s a series of other sports figures – baseball and American football players in action. Cut to another white boy leaping in joy, then a black boy shaking his head as if he can’t believe it, then yet another white boy with his arms held straight up. The music continues as there’s a sequence of more sports figures and then an exuberant white boy.

Voice over: Get your child the greatest gift a kid can get. Go to Fathead.com today.

The words Fathead.com appear on the screen in large blue letters. Beneath it, insignias for the National Football League, NFL Players Association, Major League Baseball and MLB Players Association.

End transcription.

Now, Lederhosen’s comment below (Lederhosen, if you’re not cool with this, let us know):

So, it’s a bunch of boys going ga-ga over sports figures. Okay, no females in a sports-related commercial? I’m numb to that by now. However, having nothing but little boys on your commercial and then stating “[…] the perfect gift for EVERY child” is – I have no words. I somehow would have been less offended if they said “the perfect gift for every boy,” which is all sorts of ass-backwards, considering the gender essentialism going on there. I can handle “you don’t like sports, Female!” and “every boy likes sports!” better than “you don’t exist, Female!”

I understand what they were trying to say; Fatheads carries stuff other than sports figures (including Disney princesses, zomg!), and they wanted to viewer to know that there’s something there for their child, too. But this is just so much fail.

I think the most laughable part about it is that it’s pretty obvious someone was whacking them with the “you need diversity!” stick.

“Diverse” doesn’t include females, though, I guess.


  1. Robin says

    Oy. I just… ::sigh::

    That ad is weirdly specific even beyond the gender fail. I went to the site, and they carry posters from all four major league sports organizations, as well as a lot of minor league, less popular, and collegiate sports. Including the WNBA. So they could have included girl sports fans if they wanted.

    Maybe they ran into some kind of licensing snag, or maybe they have a larger variety of these ads coming, but this one definitely missed the mark by using the tag line of “every child” while only showing boys who like football and baseball.

    • says

      No reason a girl couldn’t want a male sports figure on her wall. I always wanted role models; had to choose male ones, because Wonder Woman was a sap, Charlie’s Angels were sex bombs and Princess Leia, bless her, didn’t actually do anything, when you got right down to it.

      • sbg says

        I remember in a high school creative writing elective I took being praised for making my protagonist/narrator a boy. “Way to stretch yourself!” I was told. Bollocks, I now know. There is nothing taxing about writing from a man’s (more specifically, white man) perspective. I also know now that I did it because that is pretty much the norm.

        • Casey says

          Back in middle school I drew/co-wrote a comic book about a thirty-flirf-year-old (white, hetero) secret agent/single father who was very sensitive with a strong bond to his young son and also wore leather biker chaps and a fluffy white pimp jacket. AND his sidekick was a talking microwave. 😐
          His arch-rival/nemesis was his former brother-in-law, a mad scientist/stereotypical “depraved bisexual” AND cross-dresser with a penchant for wearing bright red qipaos.

          I don’t know where I’m going with this besides even when I tried to write the white male default, I purposely made him/it as “wacky” as possible so I could stay in my comfort zone.

        • Kara K says

          Ha! I was told in my college creative writing class that I shouldn’t try to write male characters because the male characters in my short story didn’t seem like “real” men, and my view point was too feminine to be believable. Never mind that that story was completely ripped from real life, with events that actually happened, and the main character (which I did write 1st person) was based off of a guy in high school I dated for a year and a half and knew quite well.

          If I knew then what I know now, I would have stood up for myself and my writing better. I doubt the professor would have ever said any such thing if he had thought the story was written by a man, instead of knowing it was written by a woman.

          • Casey says

            Yeah, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t give a fuck if somebody thinks I write men too “unrealistic” or “femmy”, I REVEL IN IT, DAMMIT!
            And I also chant a mantra that this is a big, wide world, and SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE is bound to identify with said male character, regardless of gender, no matter what (so long as I give them fully fleshed out personalities/internal lives I figure it’s okay).

          • says

            I once talked to an African-American screenwriter who based her lead character (also an African-American woman) loosely on her own life experiences. A white male Hollywood suit had the nerve to sit there and tell her it didn’t seem realistic. I guess it didn’t remind him enough of the Cosby show? I’m really not sure what people think they know about the life experience of people in demographics they will never personally occupy.

      • Shaun says

        Is not doing anything shooting Storm Troopers because your rescuers can’t, rescuing your male love interest and threatening the bad guy with a thermal detonator, or strangling Jabba? 😛 I see your point, because when I think of female role models from movies when I was a kid, I go, “Leia, Ripley…” and that’s it, but Leia was awesome. XD

        • says

          What Luke was doing had implications for the universe. Leia was just doing the stuff the guys could’ve done if she hadn’t been there. I felt FAR more interested in Luke’s quest. Like I was supposed to. It was unfair to say she didn’t do anything. But she didn’t really change anything – and this continued in the EU (Mara got to be way more interesting).

          Another thing that really dulled Leia in my young eyes was watching her lose all her fire as soon as some man kissed her. She went all gooey and mushy after that and never recovered. I was so disappointed by both Leia and Marion Ravenwood for those reasons – they start out powerful, but then men magically render them all nicely reformed into sweet lil women.

          And if you actually ARE fiery, like me, you get to hear all your life from men and boys how your attitudes, emotions and opinions would be rectified to status quo if you ever just got some really awesome sex from a man. (By definition, you must NOT have already had awesome sex, even if you’re pretty sure you have, because if you really had, then you’d be all meek and giggly, like nature intended.)

      • Robin says

        Fair enough. I am a hockey fan (NHL and collegiate) myself, though I wasn’t at that age. When I was the same age as the boys in the ad, I was all about gymnastics and figure skating, but enjoyed watching both male and female athletes.

  2. sbg says

    I can’t wait to break the news to my sister that her two little girls aren’t children. I wish I knew what to tell her they were, though. Aliens from outer space?

  3. says

    Pertinent to this article, I JUST finished watching some History Channel thing on the history of toys. Using language like “every kid” or “children”, they showed 98% boys and talked about mostly boy toys. It was so male-oriented that I got angry.

    • Casey says

      At least on some random-ass VH1 top-100 countdown from a few years ago called “I Love Toys” they had the decency to include plenty of female-coded toys (I was surprised “tea set” made it on the list..BUT I DID LOVE PLAYING HOUSE WITH MY PORCELAIN TEA SET! :D).

      • says

        There is SO nothing wrong with teasets! (pst I also love them :3)
        For Christmas, I got my son an EZBake oven, a “zhuzhu” pet, fingerpaints and a kid’s camera.
        Last year I got him a toy grocery cart and baby stroller. He loves cars too, but I let relatives buy him the “boy toys” he likes, because I know they won’t give him “girl stuff”.
        I really make an effort to give him toys for both genders. In my ideal world, it wouldn’t be so gender segragated. His father’s made some noises about it, but OH WELL. I won’t have another boy growing up thinking “girl things” are inferior and gross.
        And I taught him to say “Pink is just a color!” to anyone who makes fun of him for liking pink. :)

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