What the f$&k is up with Barbie, anyway?
I have a boy and a girl, living on a boat and space is at a premium, so ya pick your toys with care, 'cause you can only take a couple.
Out here, when we aren't braving storms or crossing seas or just generally trying not to die in any immediate fashion, We play all day, everyday.
Our kids aren't exactly gypped in the fun department but as i clean out the tiny cave they share, a forward v-berth they call their "room", I realize how few actual bought in a store toys they have.
But i am constantly astounded at the discrepancy in the fun factor of those toys.
Anyone who has ever bought a kid- or someone else's kid- a toy...will know exactly what I'm talking about.
You better hope your looking for a boy because the girl options suck.
I know this isn't news.
People have been like "oh, ha, ha, i know..."
"what a cliche..."
since, like, the 1950's.
Is that not an issue? Can I write Barbara Boxer about this?
Girls have 2 choices in any toy department.
I know there are other options out there- but you will doom the child you buy with these toys.
Because no one else has them.
They are bought for bright but unpopular children, being raised by militant home-schoolers, actresses who live in Topanga canyon and the Born agains who believe that God put the dinosaur fossils there "as a joke".
Im talking about those "alternative" toys.
The weird mice that have play houses that cost like a million dollars or those punishingly unattractive, Amish-looking dolls that are so dull they must be made in some Baltic state that fell of a map sometime during a cold war.
If you want to be " in" , which every kid does, you have to play with what everyone else does.
Or you will be socially curb-stomped in the playground.
Here are your choices, little sisters;
Play with Barbie who looks like a lobotomized ho-bag or something called BRATZ.
(the fact that this last option is spelled phonetically isn't the worst part and why are we spelling incorrectly the name of the toy we are selling to CHILDREN who are still learning to spell???)
Barbie comes in lots of variations and has lots of accessories for her lame endeavors.
Take, say, Malibu Barbie, for instance.
Wait. You say. That's kinda cool, being a Malibu girl...isn't it?
Does she come with a surfboard?
No. Bitch comes with sunglasses, spray tan and a handbag.
Oh? You say.
Does she come with a castle and run the kingdom and peasants with a firm but kind hand?
No. This floozy, usurper of a phony throne, has a light blue sparkly dress, a wand...and a big-ass, hand mirror.
BRATZ all look like Ritalin addicted, mini psychopathic, prepubescent babysitters, dressed to party at a club in South Central.
At least there not all white, like Barbies- I know there is the one " black" Barbie but she looks like Halle Berry anyway and that's not all that colorful- really, is it?
That's it, cupcakes, make your choice.
Totally different story.
So much cool stuff.
And None of it looks like it was made by either pimps or a league of geriatric mormons.
How about Bionicles? Think, Legos but so,so cool.
(I think they are actually made by crazy future anime robots or something).
These things even require reading directions so that the child can assemble the toy themselves before playing with it! OMG! How fun is that? Boys get to make their toys too!
They do not come in 600 feet of plastic wire that you have to remove from the packaging with gardening tools.
Hear that, Barbie?
You just open the top of the nice, REUSABLE container and then it becomes the toys storage box.
It does not need to live on for eternity In a little desecrated pile of pink plastic in some landfill somewhere.
- when Kai eventually breaks or loses his Bionicles, we use the boxes to store everything from rubber bands to hose clamps.
For our boys there are so MANY choices.
How about The endless army of little dudes and super heroes?
This last one is so involved there are literally millions of comic books , wickedly illustrated and written that lay out a full geneology of orgin stories so that boys have a well defined rosd map for their creative play.
Where the hell is Barbie from anyway...Orange County?
Well into adult years, boys will debate the various strenghts and weaknesses of each comic book character and relive the stories and legends of their greatest battles and truimphs and defeats. And then they will make summer blockbuster after summer blockbuster about these characters and they will all be geared towards YOU, my Darlings boys.
Because...You will eventually become that demographic of the gods...
The 18-25 year old male.
Marketing loves you, boy....and so does Hollywood.
Granted, little dude toys usually are accessorized by a weapon;
machine gun, throwing star, two headed axe, M-90 fully automatic assault rifle with 88 caliber shells...
..I know, it's offensive to us peace-nicks but there is at least a social theory at work here.
G.I. Joe IS representative of the "warrior class", isnt he?
At least, I THINK thats what joseph Campbell taught Barbie, at Sara Lawrence college back in the day.
That the " warrior" is a deeply entrenched role model in the human psyche and not all bad. Aspiring to become a " protector" is part of every boys natural state of development.
Of course, You CAN make the argument, that Barbie getting dressed up in a cocktail dress and F-me heels is the female version of the mating game and part of our Little Miss's developement but come on, that's a piss poor example.
What would be a better, truer rendition of attracting a mate?
Since no human girl will ever have naturally flaxen hair to her toes and geisha sized feet and a 48 DD chest?
Here is my 3 cents, Mattel...
Barbie can still look cute.
She can get funky hair and a hot pair of jeans and some great converse sneakers and she should have a string in her back, that you pull and she let's loose a stream of hilarious jokes from her throaty voice.
That would teach girls how you Actually get a man- and a way better one, than that bleached blond, shaved, weirdo, Ken.
Then, when we all think we can handle it...
Put barbie out to pasture... like in a re-hab somewhere in Arizona.
Here comes her way cooler little sister, Alicia.
She's half Turkish and half Mayan!
And Alicia has lots of cool clothes, too!
Like wetsuits and foul weather gear and firefighters uniforms, because she's a fighter pilot and can operate an underwater submersible.
On the weekend she likes to camp and mountain climb and do biology experiments so you can buy her the tents and camping stuff and grappling hooks and cool climbing gear so she can repel down your moms fridge.
She does a little roping now and then and has a wicked horse, named Sid Vicious and a shiny buckle she won at the Rodeo.
Oh yeah, and she runs the ranch, too.
She comes with bongo drums and spray paint cans cause she likes to tag a little when she's in the city.
Come on, Mattel, wake the hell up.
Tonight, as Pura Vida swung quietly on her anchor under the waning moon, I tucked Hunter, my scuba diving, fish slayin' , Spanish speaking hija in her little bunk and i asked her what she wanted for her 8th Birthday next month.
She looked at me, her lightly freckled cheeks flushed with the suntan she got while looking for fossils on the beach this morning.
"A feather quill and an ink pot... A slingshot...and a new Barbie."
Oh well, you can't win ' em all.
" goodnight, princess" I said and turned out the light.