Here’s a controversy that isn’t quite as blatant and ridiculous as the one surrounding Anthropologie‘s super-racist candlestick but still serves as an interesting case study in badly planned promotional campaigns.
The National Entertainment Collectibles Assocation (NECA), a company that makes toy lines based on film properties, recently decided to pull a line of action figures based on Quentin Tarantino‘s current spaghetti western/slave revolt blockbuster Django Unchained. Why? Because most of the black characters are slaves–and some of the white ones are slave masters. This didn’t sit so well with some.
We haven’t seen the movie and we don’t want to get into the debate over the film’s very liberal use of “the n-word”, but we are a little baffled by the very concept of toy lines from a Tarantino film (though we wouldn’t mind having a little 7-inch version of Tim Roth’s Reservoir Dogs character on our desk).
Django obviously garnered its share of criticism, and Tarantino’s decision to address that matter by questioning the authenticity of the classic mini-series Roots was obviously not a good one. But the guy has been known to fit both feet in his mouth at the same time, so we can’t say we’re surprised.
In a podcast earlier this week, Black Is magazine asked followers: “Are you in the market for a slave action figure”? Several other groups also registered their discontent–and, according to TMZ, The Weinstein Company and NECA responded by pulling the line (some of which still seems to be available on Amazon).
So what was Weinstein thinking here, beyond making a few more bucks from its latest blockbuster? Should the company have folded so quickly on this issue, or should its spokespeople have defended the controversial toys?