The undeniable success of the latest addition to the Star Wars saga ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ has been, to many fans at least, somewhat overshadowed by the fervent question “Where’s Rey?”
The absence of the epic’s female protagonist, Rey, played by British actress Daisy Ridley, from Star Wars merchandise, most notably Hasbro’s special edition Monopoly game, has sparked outrage with fans taking to social media to vent their frustration.
The reason for Hasbro’s omission was, according to a spokesperson for the retail giant, to avoid “revealing a key plot line”. This has rubbed salt into the metaphorical wounds of Star Wars fans, as the female lead appeared in trailers for the film prior to the board game’s release in September 2015 and later as the prominent figure in its official poster. This reasoning was further undermined by the inclusion of Finn as a token in the board game, a male character whose presence could also have revealed a significant plot line.
Of course, this is not the first time female characters have been missing from film merchandise in favour of their male counterparts. In the recent past, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Zoe Saldana’a Gamora characters were conspicuously missing from Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise respectively.
Whether this running theme exposes male-orientated attitudes of toy makers or is simply due to sound marketing data – toy makers are, after all, businesses seeking to make profit – is too broad a subject to give proper consideration to here. However, what these events demonstrate is the ever increasing impact of social media on today’s customer-facing businesses, including retailers. Whatever the reasoning behind the decision to omit Rey, Hasbro has, seemingly, been forced to bow to the Twitter storm and confirmed that she will be included in the new version of Monopoly to be released later this year, along with many more Rey merchandise.