This product offends me.
Not because I think Ouija boards can accidentally (or deliberately!) summon demons. If we could accidentally summon supernatural beings they’d be everywhere. Moreover, of all the things that might accidentally bring forth the powers of darkness, a mass-produced printed piece of cardboard seems pretty far down the list.
However, belief in divination is at least quasi-religious, and marketing religion as a toy is pretty insulting. Marketing it to kids is reprehensible.
Hasbro has been selling a brown and black Ouija board for decades. For many believers, the only options for owning a board were to buy a mass-produced one from Hasbro or handcraft one themselves. It’s not merely being marketed as a toy. It’s being marketed to people who believe in Ouija boards.
But this is clearly made for a child, certainly no one past their young teen years. So either Hasbro is pedaling religion to children, saying divination is real and its OK, or it’s turning divination beliefs into a joke.
Painting it Pink
Again and again, companies paint their products pink when marketing to women and, particularly, young girls. It adds no value. All it does is (supposedly) make the item more visually appealing to a target audience. For decades, unisex disposable razors have been painted pink and marketed as “for women.” There was an up-charge for the paint job. (This is different from many razors today, in which male and female models are actually designed differently.)
A few years ago, Ellen DeGeneres took Bic Pens to task for make Bic for Her, expressing her thanks for these pink and purple pens that better makes grocery lists, help take dictation from male bosses, are strong enough to put up with wild mood swings, and even assist you in writing down recipes for when you need to feed your man.
When’s the last time you’ve seen a gender-neutral product get painted blue and then marketed specifically to boys? I’m voting for “never.”
Why Everyone Should be Offended
But the politics of pink is my very secondary concern here. To a non-believer, this product is teaching a child to be superstitious. There’s a world of difference between showing someone using a board in a movie, which is made up, and encouraging children to do it themselves.
If you want to equate this to a board game and, thus, argue it’s meant as pure entertainment, then explain to me how one wins this particular board game, because I’m pretty sure it’s when your dead relative tells you which boy you should date. There’s no reason to use a Ouija board unless you believe it works. Otherwise you’re just two people staring at a piece of cardboard.
To a positive believer, the board is a joke, because if Hasbro was serious about teaching a child about divination, this isn’t how you’d do it. Can you imagine a My First Communion set? Complete with a pink chalice decorated with rhinestones?
And to a negative believer, someone who thinks divination is a dangerous and ungodly practice, this is encouraging children to run with spiritual scissors.
A very well-written post. You make some very good points. I really liked the line about the “My First Communion Kit.” That really cracked me up. I looked for your blog because a guy on youtube, named ShadowArtist, mentioned it. I have subscribed, and am looking forward to reading more of your posts.
Actually, it was the “Wicca For The Rest of Us” blog ShadowArtist mentioned, not “History Interrupted.”
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