Instead, my news feed was full of images and opinions about the Play Mobil Pirate Ship set.
The set includes this character:
|Image courtesy of ABC News|
The mum from Sacramento, who reported the figurine, is annoyed because she says the figurine is a slave and is therefore racist. I mean you can see her point. The figurine is wearing a neck shackle!
Play Mobil responded that the figurine is actually an escaped slave, now a part of the pirate crew and in no way a prisoner.
Which is true? I find it hard to believe that a company as big as Play Mobil would be stupid enough to make a public racist statement this way. Perhaps in their own weird way, they were trying to show the character as being liberated.
I can't help but think if the character was meant to be a slave/prisoner, there would be a chain attached to the shackle. From a symbolic point of view, the chain has been broken.
Either way, I think it is quite distasteful and probably not a great idea.
However, there is a huge difference between being distasteful and being racist.
It does shock me how many people must have seen this prototype and not considered how it would be seen by the public.
But is it racist?
My initial reaction was yes. Then after reading a little about it, I changed my mind. I don't think it is racist as such. Slavery was a very real thing, therefore it is historically accurate rather than racist. The company are not saying this is the way it should be, they are saying this is the way it was.
Is it distasteful? I think it is. After all, the Holocaust was a very real thing, but it would be seen as inappropriate to have a child play with a gas chamber, and I think this is inappropriate on the same level.
Just because something is historically accurate doesn't mean it should be made into a child's game. I think Play Mobil really dropped the ball on this one, and think they are going to experience a huge back lash.
I realise that this is going to be a sensitive issue for some people, and I am in no way trying to trivialise racism. I firmly believe people should be judged on whether or not they are an ass hole, not on their outside appearance or cultural heritage.
Do you think the toy is racist? Would you be comfortable letting your child play with it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments :)
I think this issue will divide opinions and is personal to a lot of people, so please be respectful to others.