The new Happy Meal toys have been sparking an unusual amount of rage amongst feminists and Adventure Time fans alike, with the selection of Adventure Time toys being given away at McDonalds branches in the US featuring none of the female characters. The respective arguments for this could be that the Adventure Time selection is the “boy” freebie, and that boys would only want the main characters and their nemesis to battle. Out of six available Adventure Time toys, both Finn and Jake appear twice, but no Princess Bubblegum or Tree Trunks in sight.
In contrast, the “girl” toys are six pink-heavy Paul Frank toys: a handbag, a journal, a sticker dispenser, a tin of stickers, a bobble-head, and a pair of “best friends” bracelets. Is a journal really a toy? This could be the most stereotypical and clichéd version of how a young girl should play and behave: making things pretty with stickers whilst writing their secrets in a journal, prancing around their rooms with a handbag and a “best friends” bracelet, the monkey bobble-head jiggling to One Direction.
The very notion of “girls” and “boys” toys that McDonalds has adopted for many years is wrong to me. Yes girls and boys play differently, but a lot of girls would love to play with Finn and Jake and I’m sure a lot of boys would want to cover the world in stickers and wobble a bobble-head for hours. Fans of Adventure Time will know the infrequency of the Ice King’s appearance, whilst female characters such as Princess Bubblegum feature in many more episodes and have a lot more screen time. So why do they not feature on the Happy Meal offer?
Perhaps boys do not want to get a girl in their Happy Meal box under the childish notion that girls are gross, even in plastic toy form. However the toy is free and will end up under a bed or at the back of a drawer a week later, no matter who the character is. The female characters in Adventure Time not only play a prominent role in the plot, they are also pretty bad-ass. Princess Bubblegum is the super-smart leader of the whole Candy Kingdom, Marceline is a Vampire Queen who can rock out on bass guitar and kick monster’s butts, and Lumpy Space Princess is a socialite who has crazy parties and rebels against her parents. Whilst these are not the only female characters featured in Adventure Time, they have a similar popularity to Finn and Jake and deserve a space on the Happy Meal hand-out. The closest McDonalds would go to giving boys a girls toy in this selection is BMO, a technically gender neutral robot.
Whilst society becomes more open minded to alternative lifestyles, for example the recent introduction of gay marriage in Scotland, it seems that gender difference and inequality is still engrained in our society, and can’t even be ignored whilst eating McNuggets. One of the strangest aspects of the Adventure Time toys excluding any females is the fact that Adventure Time itself has a gender-swapped version of its own cast, showing that girls can adventure, fight weird monsters and solve crimes too. Although girls can still ask for the Adventure Time toys, McDonalds needs to get with the times and create a unisex selection of toys for all children to enjoy, instead of gender-ising the fun.
Words by Louise Egan