As a child, I often saw World War II military and politcal characters in toy form. I don’t remember there being a Hitler, but there were certainly lots of German soldiers, as well as the Americans and the Brits – and presumably those from other Nations too, if I only knew at the time how to recognise them.
These Holocaust-adjacent playtime fantasies were never considered controversial. Perhaps they should have been. It’s certainly a complex issue.
And so there have, almost inevitably, been complaints about NECA’s Django Unchained dolls, representing characters from the film – and therefore the conflicts of American slavery. The complaints against the dolls included a call for a boycott from the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
There are several things that set these dolls apart from the War ones I was recalling above. Two key points, though, are that they’re tied into a specific, fictional narrative; and that they were never marketed at children, but at older collectors. Of course, it’s 2013 now, not 1978.
The Weinsteins have responded to the protests and issued the following statement today:
In light of the reaction to the Django Unchained action figures, we are removing them from distribution. We have tremendous respect for the audience and it was never our intent to offend anyone.
They were meant to be collectibles for people 17 years and older, which is the audience for the film.
I’d be curious to know what Tarantino’s take on this is. I’m sure he can empathise with the collector mindset that would make these dolls desirable, and he’s definitely got a political position on slavery – as is abundantly clear in the film.
I had a quick look on eBay and I can’t see a single one of these figures listed though Amazon marketplace sellers have set their stock at some properly comical levels.
Yeah, good luck with that one, prospectors.