It seems the toy is just as polarizing as Hillary herself.
Mini-Hillary is unfazed by the online hate. Image courtesy of FCTRY/Jason Feinberg
Jason Feinberg had nothing but the best of intentions when he created the Hillary Clinton doll that took the internet by storm this week. Feinberg owns a toy and novelty manufacturing company, FCTRY in Brooklyn, that in the past created a popular Barack Obama action figure as well as The Mustachifier: a pacifier that makes babies look like little hipster gentlemen. The former high school teacher-cum-entrepreneur wanted to produce something that captured the spirit of the times. As Feinberg mentioned to GOOD, he saw that there was, “the chance to create something that becomes a symbol for a historic movement. It sounds like a stretch but we were really inspired by what Shepard Fairey did with the HOPE poster in 2008, and our dream would be to have the Hillary Action Figure become a popular symbol for her.” What Feinberg didn’t expect was to become the target of the internet’s ire, especially its frothing sexist, right wing, anti-Semitic fringe element.
With positive promotion in mind, Feinberg agreed to be a guest on vitriolic talking head Alex Jones’s political platform infowars.com with host Rob Dew to discuss the doll.
Just to give you a sense of the tone of the discussion—though we highly suggest you watch the clip above—Dew immediately tries to dissuade Feinberg from promoting the toy, saying that “Hillary Clinton is a master criminal,” and should not be celebrated. Dew then beats the dead Benghazi horse one more time, explaining that all of Libya’s turmoil can be traced directly back to Clinton, asking Feinberg: “So what do you think of that? Is this part of Hillary’s ‘legacy’? Is this something little girls should look up to?” Jones then appeared from backstage offering his own suggestions on what Feinberg should be 3D printing, specifically a two-headed Hillary Clinton/Jeb Bush bobblehead emblazoned with “Rest in Peace politically. No more! Hell no, Hillary! Hell no, Jeb Bush! We are SICK OF IT!” Jones even retorted that we, as a society, shouldn’t be promoting a “lying CIA SCUMBAG WITCH!” Funny, or terrifying, depending on how you look at it, the Infowars team even created a rough graphic for the toy:
Image via Infowars.com/Wonkette
After the show, Feinberg’s video was posted to YouTube, where it set off the internet’s troll army. Both the comments section and his email inbox filled up with (often anti-Semitic) remarks accusing him of advancing the New World Order (among other, unflattering things). Feinberg was taken aback. “We expected some backlash because this is America and the politics here are incredibly polarized,” he says. “But at the same time, we're just making a toy so you figure that people won't take it too seriously. Well, it turns out they take it really seriously.” Some of the very specific comments he received on YouTube included, “YOUR [sic] A TERRORIST DOLL MAKER!!! YOU ARE TYRANT IF YOU GO THROUGH WITH MAKING THESE DOLLS! HOW ABOUT YOU MAKE A GEORGE WASHINGTON DOLL OR SOMETHING!” as well as multiple references to being a “serpent jew rectum sniffer.” This wasn’t Feinberg’s first time dealing with unexpected hate for a rather innocuous toy. As Wonkette reported, “On the whole, the hate mail was less intense than when he was selling the Obama Action Figure, which elicited so much overtly racist email that, since he was working out of his home at the time, he switched the address on his business correspondence and online contact information to his warehouse address instead.” Attendees at trade shows made sure to mention to him that they “got one for my husband so he could hang it in a noose,” and “I use them for target practice.”
But why the Hillary hate? “In retrospect, I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that this is about gender in addition to politics,” offered Feinberg. “Hillary is a very transformative figure and I think the fact that we've potentially put her in the toybox right next to Barbie has made a lot of people really uncomfortable.” The toymaker also hoped to provide a feminist figure both men and women could enjoy. “We had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to design and brand a heroic female figure without falling into any easy gender traps, like unrealistic proportions or a pink and purple palette.” The creators have certainly faced their share of controversy, but at the end of the day, are they actually Hillary fans? “Yes, but I can't deny that there's a little part of me that's intrigued by Elizabeth Warren. My real dream is that they wind up on the same ticket so I can vote for them both.” Who knows? They might even take a page from Jones’ book and create a two-headed Hillary/Warren hybrid. We’d certainly buy one.
Below, check out Feinberg’s Kickstarter video, and be sure to show your support here.