Saturday, May 7, 2011

FLASHBACK: Move over Ken, Barbie: Rapist, Hitler are dolls too 2002

Move over Ken, Barbie: Rapist, Hitler are dolls too

By Richard Roeper
Chicago Sun-Times
May 13, 2002

Until last week, ABC's online store was selling a "Todd Manning" doll, based on a ONE LIFE TO LIVE character, for $19.95. "Todd is an all-cloth doll with brown felt hair and blue eyes," read the online copy. "He is 20 inches standing. He wears a blue shirt and black pants."

The doll also had a nasty scar on its right cheek--just like the "real" Todd Manning on the soap opera. Though the Manning character is now a family man with a wife and child, he has a dark past. He was accused of raping a coed at a fraternity party, and he once tried to murder a man who had slept with his wife.

As for the scar, Manning sustained an injury to his face while trying to rape a woman for a second time.

After ABC received some complaints about marketing a doll based on a rapist, the Todd Manning collectible was yanked.

"We didn't exercise proper sensitivity to the history of the character of Todd," an ABC spokeswoman said. "We have re-evaluated and decided not to sell the doll."

(However, the network continues to sell a number of other soap opera-related items online, e.g., a replica of the engagement ring worn by Greenlee on ALL MY CHILDREN, retailing for 50 bucks. Presumably there is a market for such a product.)

I suppose ABC didn't have much of a choice but to pull the product--but I have to wonder about the people who voiced those protests. It was a stupid SOCK DOLL based on a SOAP OPERA CHARACTER. If you're offended by that, how do you get through the day without succumbing to fits of hysterical outrage every five minutes?

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E-Commerce Report; Recent snafus at the online shops of TV networks have barely dimmed the glow of merchandising on the Web.

By Bob Tedeschi
New York Times
Published: May 13, 2002

IN the charge toward e-commerce revenues, ABC learned a useful lesson last week: Don't try to sell cuddly rag dolls depicting homicidal rapists. And for that matter, steering online customers to racist materials and home videos that show nudity may be a questionable practice, too.

The dolls were pulled from ABC's online store last Tuesday afternoon, hours after an industry newsletter, The Jack Myers Report, harshly criticized the network's judgment. The doll was based on Todd Manning, a character from the daytime soap ONE LIFE TO LIVE, who, in the early 1990s, was involved in a brutal gang rape and a murder on the show. Since those days, ONE LIFE has transformed Todd into a sympathetic character. But his transformation has not been complete enough to please critics of the Todd Rag Doll, which went on sale for $20 on on April 29.

After the Web site pulled the item, Angela Shapiro, president of ABC Television Network Group, ABC Daytime and ABC Family, said in an interview: "I was insensitive and take total responsibility for it. I should have been sensitive to the history of the character and I wasn't."

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