Everyone knows little kids are indoctrinated early. Either they choose pink and Barbies or blue and GI Joes, or they end up getting written about in the Daily Mail. But to get a sense of just how stark the differences are between the fare offered to the tiniest segment of our population, it's helpful to take a trip to the Gendered Advertising Remixer, a site run by hacker and video remix artist Jonathan McIntosh.
McIntosh's various remixers allow users to swap the visuals and audio between girls' and boys' toy ads, including between a controversial Lego girls series and the company's regular offerings (aliens, heros and ninjas for the boys, and cupcakes, hair care and trips to the vet for girls, a market expansion launched not at the darkest hour of the 50s but in January 2012). There's also the HTML5 remixer, which mashes up ads between brands, with equally unnerving results.
Obvious difference first: ads for boys are always narrated by men and ads for girls by women. Then there's the fact that the men sound like they're narrating the trailer for a Michael Bay movie, and the women all suffer from the opposite of vocal fry. Their voice goes up at the end of each word! And the words are all happy! Friends! The mall! Puppiesssssss! The visuals aren't any better. Just try counting how many girls are cradling pets (since when are pets so innocent and fun? Those things take work! Hello? Trips to the vet?), and how many boys are holding guns and in no time you'll be at a very large number. Sure, none of these tropes are a surprise to anyone who grew up with TV, but the remixer shows them off for what they are: one-note (one grating, unceasing note) and seemingly ubiquitous.
Since Boing Boing posted a link to the HTML5 remixer this morning, it's gone viral, according to a bemused tweet from McIntosh. We'd like to coin a phrase for trying out the remixer. It's called the swap, and it's a modern dance move for men and women to do together or alone, in pants, dresses and/or shells! Whatever your nuanced heart desires. Head over to McIntosh's site and do the swap yourself.