Admittedly, I haven’t posted in a while (Thanks, work), but I had to rant about this. I’m most definitely not a Barbie girl. When someone tries to extol Barbie’s “virtues,” I slap my forehead and think, “Fuck. Me.” Not so for everyone, apparently.
In this economy, consumer purchasing is down. Thus, to encourage sales and generate goodwill, toy powerhouse Mattel recently held a campaign to let consumers vote on the next “jobs” for their ace in the hole, Barbie (insert perverted joke here). Those interested could choose whether they wanted the buxom blonde to be an architect, computer engineer, environmentalist, news anchor or surgeon. Mattel slated 2010 for production of the two top vote-getting career Barbies.
Mattel announced the winning careers today after more than half a million people voted. To the surprise and delight of geeks everywhere, the career with the most general votes was computer engineer! Finally, the slut-doll was moving beyond babysitter, dog walker, Ken’s bitch, and teacher (not that anything is inherently wrong with those callings, except maybe “Ken’s bitch”)! Girls are now allowed to be smart and nerdy! Surely, the doll would be decked out with a sweet laptop, top-of-the-line headphones, a shirt featuring World of Warcraft or maybe something awesome designed by ThinkGeek, and a cup of hot, delicious caffeinated goodness! Right?
No. This is what we got:
Yep, Barbie’s a girly-girl decked out in Caribbean colors, special “nerd” glasses and a pink laptop that sparkles more than Edward Cullen. The release on Gizmodo says that the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering helped develop the wardrobe and accessories “to create an authentic look,” but I’m not buying it. Yes, points are given for having the shirt spell “Barbie” in binary, and maybe, just maybe, that giant Swatch-looking watch hides a thumb drive. But the rest of it? Blech. She looks more like a convention “booth babe” than an actual engineer.
Can smart women wear pink? Absolutely. Can engineers enjoy cute laptop cases? Heck yes! But somehow, I don’t think that’s what Mattel was thinking as they designed this.
I’m lumping this into the same category as pastel sports jerseys, Nintendo DSes that have jewels and butterflies all over them, and, yes, ridiculous superhero shirts that brightly shout about “girl power” or swoon over Wolverine. It’s the same pink plague where manufacturers and marketers imply that girls can’t like “boy things” (read: comic book characters, science tools or sports, all of which are absurd to consider as only “boy things”) without incorporating pink and/or sparkles all over the bloody place.
I’m sure Mattel meant well and wanted this to serve as a way to encourage girls to get more involved in math and science endeavors (in addition to padding Mattel’s bottom line, of course). That would have been awesome, and they should be commended for putting the idea out there in the first place (just as the public deserves kudos for wanting to see it happen). But this Barbie? Not executed well. She’s not something I’d ever consider giving to a young girl as an example of what she could accomplish.
As an aside, news anchor Barbie will also be produced this year, as that career won the most votes specifically from girls. Naturally, the doll comes with a ridiculous jacket and shoes that would never be worn by someone chasing down an interview. With fewer and fewer people using television news as their news sources, those poor little girls who voted shouldn’t look to Barbie for career guidance for too much longer.