For years the criticism, such as it was, of Disney’s marketing was that it missed boys. It is a fair criticism, though this doesn’t seem to have hurt the bottom line all that much. Disney knows how to connect with girls and women just fine. They are tuned into the tiaras, fairies and flowers like nobody knows. It explains why all their later (non-Pixar) animation was in fact formulaic: Bad boy, princess with true heart, add schmaltz and (after Aladdin) really schmaltzy uninteresting romantic soundtracks. Even Lion King – ostensibly a story about men and boys – was about the boy having an emotional experience that could only be of interest to girls.
Man, this puts me in a bind. While I am certainly down with Bats, Spidey and Mr. Potter, I have always been troubled by Barbie. While the original (right) was a human shape and had a fairly sassy look in her eyes, later models became the absurd and subservient creature we all know today. However compared to more recent hyper-sexualized dolls like Bratz, she is positively demure and the personification of feminism. (Feminism (noun), a set of beliefs predicated on the notion that women are people too.)
Given that I guess I’m cool with Barbie doing a little subverting of one gender stereotype by displaying another one. It kind of reminds me of Slavenka Draculic’s wonderful book How We Survived Communism And Even Laughed. In it she writes about her feminist friends in the West would be shocked when Draculic, a Yugoslavian back when that meant something, would visit them and wear lipstick and frou-frou clothes. They saw this as acquiescing to a stereotype. For Draculic it was just the opposite. These things allowed her to assert her individuality while living in a nation that was trying to eliminate the individual. I suspect Ms. Draculic would (or does) approve of Barbie as revolutionary.
And, can I just say that if your belief system can be subverted by Barbie et al., then it really doesn’t have much of grasp on its audience.
I love the fact that this came from the Iran’s top prosecutor. How absurd is that? I mean can you imagine the US attorney general doing something similar? Like covering the breasts of a statue of blind justice because of its threat to the nations morals? Oh wait, never mind …