Before I even had a chance to recoil in horror, a Mary Poppins’esc woman’s voice announced giddily:
“All the princesses of the kingdom want to go to the ball! When the music starts, if you're lucky, the prince will choose you to dance with him around the ball room.”
Cue a live-action sequence of three simpering girls grinning like cannabis-addicts in a greenhouse. Everything in the ad is pink with a tinge of pastel thrown in. Glittery effects and cartoon graphics overlay the clip of the live-action girls, who are shown hunched over a pathetically under-sized plastic boardgame. The voiceover continues:
“Who will he choose?”
“Destiny has decided you’re the lucky one!”
One of the simpering girls opens her mouth in mock-shock and then ‘magically’ her dress and hair style are erased and replaced with a more polished look, complete with predictably pink ball gown and makeup (yup, a full face of slap). She then looks fit to faint in awe as she dances with the prince leaving the other girls (loooooooosers!) to watch on.
In this ‘game’, every time you dance with the prince, he will reward you with a plastic star. The first to receive four stars “will be forever in his heart...” (and his pants no doubt).
Yay! Just what I always wanted! Some ponce in a tuxedo dragging me around a magnetic podium.
After checking that we were in 2013 rather than 1913, I quickly called to my daughter to avert her eyes from the TV as I scrambled for the remote. I couldn’t violate her tender confidence with this pink-encrusted unicorn vomit. However, if you have a more robust disposition, here’s the ad:
This is what you get for your 23 quid ($38):
1 x Game board
1 x Electronic musical dance floor
1 x Prince
4 x Princesses
16 x Coloured stars
1 x Dice
1 x Sticker sheet
1 x Rules of the game
Don’t get me wrong, encouraging competition between girls per se is not in itself a bad thing. Competitive strivings will serve them well in the capitalist workplace. However (and it’s a massive HOW-EVER), encouraging girls to compete for the affections of an omnipotent prince with their appearances as their sole arsenal is retrograde at best, deeply misogynistic at worst. Germaine Greer meltdown territory.
But wait, before you start burning bras, surely it could be argued that this game is not dissimilar to its predecessors, the numerous games aimed at boys, whereby players compete to save a ‘princess’ or ‘damsel’ - the reward for the winner is the affection of the opposite-sex. However, the philosophical differences between games targeted at boys and this monstrosity are glaring:
1. No engagement
The ‘rules of the game’ may as well have been printed on a postage stamp. Basically, roll the dice and make your way up to the dance floor. Then the ‘fun begins’:
“By pressing the head of the prince, the dance floor will start to vibrate and the music will play for approximately 30 seconds. The princesses on the dance floor turn around all alone and try to take the arm of the prince to dance with him”.
Wait...what? Press the ‘head of the prince’ and things start to ‘vibrate’ and you’ll have fun for ’30 seconds’ – have we taken a wrong turn into the stock cupboard at Ann Summers?
Innuendo aside, a major fault of this game/toy/indoctrinational tool is the passivity it encourages in girls. Players cannot sway the outcome of the game. They have no control over what happens to them. The prince is the active agent and only he gets to decide their “destiny”. Destiny my flange! Rather, a set of randomly moving magnets hook the feeble figures together. I mean, just look at how pathetic the girls left standing appear, arms outstretched like a blind man begging for a hug:
The game even has a square on the board which, if a player lands on it, orders them to select an opponent. The two girls then offer themselves to the prince for him to decide who is best:
|Winner and looooooser!|
2. No strategy
Roll a dice and then watch some magnets. Big. Freekin’. Wow. To put it mildly - this game is about as exciting as watching cactus grow, and then sitting on said cactus. Indeed, it’s painfully cruel in its premise – it makes girls compete but without giving them any active role in the competition. The winner is completely random, but our young female target audience isn’t told that; instead, they are assured that the prince chooses the winning girl (based on criteria unknown).
If you get to dance with the prince more than anyone else and therefore win the game, major anti-climax; there is no sense of achievement – because you haven’t actually done anything. And if you don’t win – well, he just wasn’t that into you, girlfriend.
3. No innovation
There seems to be an unwritten law in toy marketing that if the target audience owns a set of ovaries, then the toy must be branded with pink, princesses, stars, sequins and glittery shit.
Jesus. Just look at all that pink, plastic and stick-thin physiques, it’s like we’ve stepped onto the set of TOWIE. Originality – zero. Barf factor – ten. Shitting on girls’ dreams and aspirations – off the scale.
There’s absolutely nil innovation here, just the same old cultural straitjacket we habitually offer to our girls.
4. No point
Is there a point to this game? What’s the achievement exactly? You’ve danced with the prince already during the game, arguably that is the most ‘exciting’ part. So as well as transmitting misogynistic conditioning to impressionable children, the game sucks because there is no freekin purpose to it. You don’t learn anything (you can’t even argue that it teaches about magnetism as the magnets are concealed), you aren’t cognitively challenged (Can you roll a dice? Then you’re good to go), nor are you entertained (watching stick figures quivering around like drunken parkinson’s patients is amusing for all of 3 seconds). Where’s the storyline? Where’s the contest? This game has about as much point as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.