Now, as far as #StarWars-themed controversy goes, it's arguable that #TheForceAwakens ultimately got off pretty easy. Sure, some people had issues with a few of the film's creative decisions, and a tiny minority of fans seemed to feel that #DaisyRidley's #Rey was a "Mary Sue" (despite essentially being a more well-rounded version of Luke Skywalker), but for the most part, the film escaped theaters with only two serious issues being flagged up. Firstly, from an architectural perspective, there's the question of why in the hell the First Order didn't build a railing on that walkway, which is still not OK. Secondly (and far, far more importantly), though, there's also the issue of the distinct lack of Rey-themed merchandise, and the (hopefully) passive institutional sexism that seems to have been behind it.
Much was said about Rey's lack of representation at the time, with several key figures from the production (and countless fans) speaking out against both the #merchandising companies' lack of faith in boys' willingness to buy products that feature a female character, and their general approach to commerce being split on gender lines. One person who didn't make an official comment, however, was Ridley herself. Until now, that is. Y'see...
Daisy Ridley Has Finally Opened Up About The Lack Of Rey-Themed Star Wars Merchandise
And, while her response is considered and restrained, it's obvious that the inherent sexism that the lack of Rey merchandise highlighted is no less frustrating to Ridley than it is to the rest of us. As she put it in a recent interview with Collider:
"Interestingly, I had a meeting yesterday about merchandise and what’s happening going forward, so I had a lot of questions that were answered and some, you know, issues."
She also, however, discussed her initial response — one that arrived a little late, thanks to her comparative lack of interest in merchandising:
"There was a conversation that was happening before — I think when it really became a big thing is when J.J. [Abrams] talked about Monopoly. There had been conversations long before that that I was having with people because I didn’t really understand what was going on. And John Boyega in fact told me that he had written to someone and I was like, “huh” because he is more of a toy person than I am."
That, though, shouldn't perhaps be taken to suggest that Ridley is overly enraged about the issue as a whole. As she clarified:
"[My] whole thing is it’s not anything about the backlash, it’s if a character is important in the story, then that should be dealt with in every platform whether it’s merchandise, whether that’s posters, anything, it needs to be dealt with in the correct way regardless of gender, regardless of color. So to be honest, how the public reacted to it was amazing, because it was a testament to the character and to what J.J. did with the casting. And yeah, it’s going to be super cool going forward."
She did, however, take a moment to note the importance of the changes that are currently taking place in the industry — a shift that Rey can be given a fair amount of credit for helping along:
"I think it’s a great moment of what’s happening in the world with girls and how different people are playing and how they’re interacting with the things they see in popular culture. So yeah, it’s cool."
I mean, seriously — how could anyone watch this clip and not think that every single kid in the world is going to want a Rey-themed toy?
Now, of course, all we have to do is hope that the senior folks at merchandising companies (and, of course, #Disney) keep working on reflecting the "moment" that Ridley makes reference to, and to keep fighting for equality in representation whenever they (inevitably) fail to do so.
What do you think, though? How do you think major companies need to adjust their merchandising to better reflect the world around them? Let us know below!