To celebrate the 1979 movie Alien, Twentieth Century Fox dubbed April 26th “Alien Day,” a date chosen for LV-426, the planet where the xenomorphs were found.
One of the tie-in items offered as part of the event was Reebok’s Alien Stompers, the type of sneakers Sigourney Weaver’s alien-slaying badass Ellen Ripley wore. However, things didn’t go smoothly as they might have with the release of the coveted sneakers.
Ellen Ripley is one of the most iconic female warrior characters in the history of film, and it stands to reason women would want those sneakers as well as men. Particularly at a time when studios are under more and more scrutiny to have better inclusion of female heroes in their merchandising, a tie-in item like Ripley’s sneakers would be in high demand.
Sounds great, right? But as reported on CNET, the shoes were listed on Reebok’s website only in men’s sizes initially. The sneaker company sent a statement in response to CNET’s query to explain it was only a glitch:
“The Alien Stomper was mis-categorized on our US website as a men’s shoe due a technical error. While size availability varied by market, the Alien Stomper is a unisex style and was produced in sizes (US Men’s) 3.5 – 12, which is a typical size range for a unisex model.”
According to The Mary Sue, the sneakers were listed in men’s sizes 8-12, not the wider range of sizes Reebok later mentioned in their correcting statement. The shoes were also listed in the “Men’s Classics” section of the website, despite Ellen Ripley being such a prominent female character and women presumably being a major target audience of her sneakers.
There was also some confusion because earlier on the 26th, a representative from Reebok said that the shoes were available in men’s sizes “due to retail demand,” according to io9. This was corrected afterwards with the statement saying the shoes were intended to be unisex.
The shoes immediately sold out, and are now showing up on ebay at up to $4,000 US (as per our last search).
The question is, will Reebok see the demand for Ripley’s Alien Stompers and create a larger supply, this time marketed towards women as well as men? It seems that Reebok’s initial presentation defaulted to an assumption that men would be the only market for these shoes, overlooking how much women are interested in science fiction and in merchandise for a female character like Ellen Ripley.
Last year, The Geekiary reported on the fact that the female velociraptor from 2015’s Jurassic World, Blue, got packaged by Hasbro as a male. There was also the issue of Black Widow’s absence from far too many of the tie-in products for Avengers: Age of Ultron. Rey, the heroic female lead of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was left out of merchandise as well, including a Monopoly set released before the movie opened. Hasbro said it was to avoid spoilers, and corrected the problem afterwards, but there were other omissions as well, such as an action-figure pack.
Female lead action heroes are still rare in movies, and when they do appear, it seems like the industry has not yet fully caught up to what the audience wants. There are lingering assumptions that only men and boys are interested in superheroes or science fiction. Even with a movie icon as powerful as Ellen Ripley, the connection isn’t quite there. While things are changing (for Captain America: Civil War, there is a definite uptick in Black Widow action figures and merchandise rolling out), women far too often still seem to be overlooked as audience.
Author: Dot R
Dot has been bouncing around various fandoms for many years now writing essays, episode reviews, commentary, and reporting news and conducting interviews, among other things. Along with being a Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and Supernatural fangirl, she’s also a fan of fantasy and science fiction television shows, everything from Farscape to Killjoys to 12 Monkeys to X-Files to Wynonna Earp. Currently Fangirl at Large covering numerous geek culture related topics, convention news, casting spoilers, show news, and interviews.
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