Voices: Lego’s latest toy idea isn’t ‘woke’ – it’s a revolution
Wait, now Lego has gone woke and is featuring – oh no – figures with disabilities? To be (eurgh) inclusive?
This is an outrage, I tell you. An outrage! Where’s Fox News when you need it? Hold on, it sounds like one of its hosts has jumped in to save us from this madness. Presenter Harris Faulkner stepped up to the plate with a fastball aimed at the “woke” toy company.
Animated characters with missing limbs, Downs Syndrome, ADHD, anxiety – features that any right-thinking person would push into an institution where they can’t be seen? This will not stand. Airbrushing disability out of existence is one thing those liberal bedwetters in Hollywood get right most of the time!
No, this isn’t the Onion. Or a South Park episode. Fox, and a number of other outlets, really have trained their sights on the world’s biggest toy maker for daring to recognise that some kids don’t look like the picture perfect clones Disney finds for the Mickey Mouse Club.
Some are amputees. Some have Downs Syndrome. Some have other disabilities. Some have mental health issues. Whatever next? A mini figure in a wheelchair?
But wait, they already did that. There was one in the popular series that kids buy in packets and don’t know which they’re going to get until they open it (although an adult can usually get some idea by judiciously squishing the packs so they don’t get duplicates).
My daughter was cock-a-hoop when she saw the wheelchair figure – because I use one. It meant a lot to her that people like me were being represented, even if the figure looked 30 years younger (at least) and boasted a full head of plastic hair.
So, why not celebrate a toy company’s recognition of that – and instead make it part of the so-called “woke wars”?
The criticism of Lego is particularly ugly given the children it is aimed at, because they so keenly feel their sense of difference already. They hear terms of abuse bandied around in pop culture – and repeated in the playground. Does that really need spelling out?
Disability representation in the field of entertainment as a whole is still very rare. Around one in five people in the UK have a disability. Now, turn on your TV and watch the old-fashioned scheduled programming. You could easily go a week (even a month) without seeing any of us. Or, just take a trip down to your local toy shop (if they haven’t closed it yet). That will make clear how few rivals Lego has in this space.
So the toy-maker’s decision should be celebrated. Lego is helping disabled children to enter an imaginary world where there is no Fox News and no playground bullies. A world where they are accepted. It takes a deeply twisted worldview to find a problem with that.
We can only hope that the very fact that the world’s biggest toy company has now included disabilities amongst its 4bn (and counting) mini figures – and in the 28 kits it sells every second – will help to catalyse a wider change in attitudes.
Perhaps the company could now seal the deal by kicking some of the profits to Disability Rights UK and its equivalents around the world? Not to put too fine a point on it: Lego’s move isn’t just “awesome” from an inclusion standpoint. It’s also very good business.
I imagine there are a lot of purple pounds, euros and dollars (the phrase used for disabled people’s cash) that are going to be spent on these kits. It’s time for Lego to kick some of it back. Come on Lego: Let’s go.