A Princess Poppy doll from Trolls World Tour has been removed from shelves after a video emerged showing it might encourage child abuse normalization. Trolls World Tour is the follow-up to the 2016 movie Trolls, which itself is based on the popular line of Hasbro toys. Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake are the leads in both the original and its sequel, starring as Poppy and Branch respectively. The movies were both popular with children and families thanks to their combination of cute characters, easy-to-follow good vs. bad plots, and catchy songs.
The sequel was a surprise hit for Universal when it was released on VOD instead of in theaters due to the coronavirus pandemic. AMC theaters threatened to stop showing Universal movies due to the decision, and many have said that Trolls World Tour's release strategy might have signaled the beginning of the end for the traditional movie theater experience. Other films have already followed suit, with Disney's $200 million blockbuster Mulan skipping theaters in favor of a VOD release on Disney+. Now, Trolls World Tour is facing another controversy.
This week, Sam Parker, a former Republican candidate for Senator in Utah, shared a video on Twitter from a concerned mother whose daughter had received a Princess Poppy doll as a gift. The video shows how the "Giggle and Sing" doll works. When you press its stomach, it sings, but in order to make it giggle, you need to press a button between its legs. The doll is designed to make the noise when children make it sit down, but the placement of the button to make it giggle caused the mother, and Parker, to question if it encourages the normalization of child abuse. You can see the video below.
While the doll clearly isn't designed with that in mind, many parents are rightly concerned that it will have the unintended side effect of making children think being touched in that area is fun. As a result, over 200,000 parents signed a petition to have the doll removed from shelves. Hasbro, for their part, responded almost immediately by pulling the doll and apologizing, telling the Providence Journal that the placement of the button was "not intentional" but agreeing it was "inappropriate" and apologizing to those who had purchased it.
While there is no doubt that Hasbro wasn't trying to normalize child abuse, one does wonder how this particular toy managed to pass quality control. It's very clear from the placement of the button, and the sounds that the doll emits when the button is pressed, that it could be misconstrued in this way. And when it comes to children, toy-makers must surely know to be safe rather than sorry? Hopefully this incident doesn't discourage parents from watching Trolls World Tour with their kids, as it really is an innocent and fun child-friendly movie.