"Outrage" Over 'Django Unchained' Action Figures, Their Banishment From Ebay, And The Hypocrisy Of It All

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by Emmanuel Akitobi
January 30, 2013 8:49 AM
9 Comments
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I guess critics of the NECA-produced Django Unchained action figures are pretty pleased with themselves, now that the popular line has been discontinued and banned from eBay.

But by targeting a marketing tool that has been used by film studios for decades, what did the critics actually accomplish?

Critics of the action figures cried "foul", and based their opposition on the notion that kids should not be encouraged to play with "slavery toys".  Some went the increasingly popular route of charging that the Django figures were "disrespectful to [their] ancestors".  They claimed that just the idea of producing "toys" that depicted slavery trivialized the horrors of that terrible institution on which this nation of ours was built.

Those critics failed to understand that by releasing the Django Unchained action figures, several weeks before the film opened last Christmas, they were doing what studios have always done before and after a big release-- promoting their film.  Critics also failed to realize that these action figures were being sold as collectible movie memorabilia, and were not intended to end up in the toy boxes of children across America.  The fancy packaging that held the fancily attired figures, which was clearly marked "Ages 17 & Up", should have given that away.  And if that wasn't a clear enough indicator that these figures weren't "toys", the nearly $30 price tag should have been.

But alas, the critics and their petitions prevailed in the end.  The Weinstein Co. caved to the pressure, discontinuing the line, and seemingly relegating the Django Unchained action figures to inevitable obscurity.  Or so it was thought.

Even before the line was pulled, the Django Unchained figures had found their way to eBay.  And after they went out of production, their value skyrocketed.  Auctions on just one of the figures from the six-figure line could be found, with active bidders, with bids quickly climbing into the "thousands of dollars" range.

The critics were not pleased about this either. Their sights were now set on eBay, and it wouldn't take long for the online auction site to also cave to public pressure by banning the selling of the figures on its pages.

Here’s how Deadline.com reported it:


Listings for the dolls “were removed as they were in violation of our Offensive Materials policy”, an eBay representative tells Deadline. EBay forbids offensive products “that graphically portray graphic violence or victims of violence, unless they have substantial social, artistic, or political value” including “racially or ethnically offensive language, historical items, reproductions, and works of art and media”.

So, let me get this straight . . . eBay “forbids offensive products that graphically portray graphic violence or victims of violence”, but not if they have artistic value, right?  Is eBay seriously trying to sell that as the reason they banned these action figures?  Are they saying that Django Unchained is not a work of art?  If so, what would they call Django director Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill?  That film surely could be described as graphically violent.  Yet, still, eBay continues to allow the sale of action figures based upon characters from that film.

And if eBay really wants to talk about offensive products, they may want to take a closer look at their inventory.  A quick keyword search of their site brings up a plethora of products for sale that could be deemed offensive, including a bobble-head doll of President Barack Obama depicted as a lawn jockey.

These are all products found for sale on eBay, including a Barack Obama lawn jockey bobblehead.

So why hasn't eBay removed these items?  Why hasn't the same group of critics, who worked so diligently to have the Django figures removed from eBay, spoken up before now about offensive products for sale on eBay?  Maybe this whole thing was never really about action figures.  Perhaps the kerfuffle was always about displeasure with Tarantino's film; the NECA action figures were simply an easier target to hit.  Therein lies the hypocritical double standard which negates any argument for the banishment of Django Unchained action figures from eBay or any other retailer that chooses to sell them.  To complain about and campaign against one, but not the other, is either a foolhardy demonstration of ignorance, or just outright malice.

Regrettably, participants in the critical war on Django Unchained have won this battle.  And hundreds of collectors of will be denied the opportunity to own what should have been some very cool pieces of movie memorabilia.

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9 Comments

  • dinny | February 15, 2013 5:23 PMReply

    They were sold on-line.

  • keith closs | February 8, 2013 12:19 AMReply

    when these figures first came out, what stores were selling them? or did they even hit the shelves?

  • Pirromount Pictures | February 3, 2013 12:29 PMReply

    Bbay's kneejerk stupidity has just made these dolls go up even more in value (I have four and will hang onto the like gold). Collectors will find them elsewhere, but will just find themselves paying more for these rare and 'offensive' dolls. Thanks, Ebay, for keeping the world safe from toys.

  • Spirit Equality | January 30, 2013 11:39 PMReply

    If you are assuming that people older than 17 do not buy toys, you would be wrong. It's illogical to argue that something is not a toy just because it is marketed to adults. Toys, by definition, are things to play with at one's leisure. You do not somehow magically lose the ability to play with objects when you turn 17. LOL.

    All that said, if people got offended and got organized and you oppose their organized position, get organized yourself to fight for your position. Wait, do you have a position?

  • Christy | February 3, 2013 1:24 PM

    No one said that adults don't buy toys. Can you read? These are collectible action figures/dolls, and are not generally intended to be removed from their packaging. And at their original selling price, who would want to?

  • Africameleon | January 30, 2013 2:23 PMReply

    OAN... Does anyone recall the "Rent a Negro" project on eBay from a decade ago? That project turned into a website, video, and book by Damali Ayo. When I read this article it made me think of this project, and how the participation in the online eBay auction was the creators way of troubling the idea of the slave trade and auction as a passive practice as well as other challenges to how we discuss slavery as blacks and others. I cite that to ask this.... Is Tarantino crazy like a fox? Was this his weird way of presenting an opportunity for all of the tropes from his film to be "auctioned and sold?" I can't help but see parallels here. Somebody is f'in with that idea. Just my thoughts.

  • getthesenets | January 30, 2013 12:45 PMReply

    Are all the site who are NOW(allowed to start) reporting the story reading from the same press release?

  • shawn | January 30, 2013 10:54 AMReply

    I don't necessarily agree with the ban, but Tarantino is partially to blame. In comparing the movie to Roots and emphasizing its supposed authenticity he implied that the movie dealt with slavery in a serious way, which would then make selling toys inappropriate.

  • No | January 30, 2013 9:09 AMReply

    Yeah, some mighty good examples of basic hypocrisy and contradictions. I knew the moment that Spike Lee said that Tarantino's film was an "insult" to his "ancestors" ("Think about the children!" cries Rev. Lovejoy's wife on "The Simpsons."), that would be cry of outrage.

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