Any day you decide to spend online, you’re putting yourself at risk of becoming absorbed in some unhinged niche drama that will go on to occupy precious space in your brain and distract you from your actual responsibilities. Today’s edition, at least for me, involved Mr. Potato Head, who seemed to be coming out as nonbinary, which elicited quite the impassioned reaction from conservatives. But then, as it turns out, he (they?) maybe didn’t? Anyway, let us unpack.
This all began early on Thursday afternoon when AP News published a report that was relatively thin on detail. However, the gist seemed clear: Hasbro was announcing that Mr. Potato Head was going gender-neutral and that the little spud would simply be known as Potato Head. In an interview with Fast Company, Kimberly Boyd, a Hasbro executive who works on the Potato Head brand, elaborated on the motivation behind the change: “Culture has evolved. Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences. The way the brand currently exists — with the ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ — is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”
Seems like a fine and encouraging enough move, yes? Down with traditional gender norms and family structures! But you know who’s vehemently invested in protecting both of those things? Conservatives, who spent the entire afternoon throwing a fit that a little plastic potato who wears a little plastic hat and little plastic shoes would no longer be known as a man.
“Woke-o Haram strikes again,” conservative radio host Erick Erickson tweeted. “How soon will Toy Story have to be re-edited to get rid of Mrs Potato Head?” Another conservative radio host, Andrew Wilkow, tweeted, “is @Hasbro going to change it’ name to Has-Cis? Has-Xim? Has-Xir? Has-Xe?” Right-wing conspiracy theorist Mark Dice tweeted, “With this ostensible loss of an apparently important male figure, now’s the time for Republican states to secede.” And Catalina Lauf, a pro-Trump conservative running for Congress, somehow managed to convince herself that the change in branding was … anti-woman? “Wow… Hasbro got rid of Mrs. Potato Head just like that?” she tweeted. “Between this and destroying women’s sports — the left culture and policy stance has actually created the ultimate war on women.”
But now, it seems, all these reactions were for nothing. A few hours after conservatives began hitting the ceiling over the potato news, Hasbro grabbed the mic and told us all to “Hold that Tot.” The company continued the conversation on Twitter: “your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere! While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the ‘MR.’ I yam proud to confirm that MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD.”
So it appears Mr. and Mrs. Head will retain their gender signifiers after all, but they’ll reside under the more neutral Potato Head brand? Well, hope everybody feels good about spending a day throwing a fit over a plastic potato.