By VIKI REED
Blast Los Angeles Bureau
I'm a new mother of a baby girl. Now I must confront Barbie.
She's not going anywhere -- Barbie, that is. Last year a computer-ready
Barbie -- Talk With Me Barbie -- was released. She came with a CD-ROM and
plugs into a PC. An infrared pick-up in her neck receives the information
from the tiny computer in her head and voila! Barbie talks to you!
The journalist reviewing her announced: "Sorry, Ken; Barbie has
assimilated. Buy her; resistance is futile."
That is hilarious.
Will Talk With Me Barbie come equipped with hand and wrist supports that
she'll need when carpal tunnel syndrome develops because Barbie is, without
a doubt, one busy, successful efficient cookie with measurements of
Maybe Talk With Me Barbie is some kind of Heather Locklear office-sharkette
who fires other women because they have maternity leave
and therefore have a man, when all she has are power-mad flings with corrupt
snakes. Or is Talk With Me Barbie the kind of chick who uses her sexual
power and actually is nothing more than a bimbo with very poor skills who
steps over other, more qualified, perhaps less slutty looking Raggedy Anns?
Maybe Talk With Me Barbie is one of those rare, gorgeous women who is also
absolutely brilliant. But because no woman can be all that, she is also
mentally disturbed. Talk With Me Barbie was institutionalized from ages 7
to 21 because she killed a playmate in a dispute over a Barbie doll. Since
that time she has lived under the name of her alternate personality. She
appears to be the perfect woman, until you get involved with her. Then she
becomes a Fatal Attraction Barbie.
What if Talk With Me Barbie is a single mother who is doing her best to look
sexy on a nonexistent budget, sans child support, in the effort to
catch a man (successful with a mission in his life), who will not only screw
her regularly, but who loves her and will rescue her and her son? And who
will take them out of the noisy apartment complex on the bad side of town
and plant them in a new Barbie house in the burbs? I would hope the CD ROM
comes with a giggle. I think this Barbie would have an enchanting giggle.
Maybe Talk With Me Barbie is a simple country girl who gets a scholarship to
a college in a big city but has trouble assimilating, made all the more
obvious when she gets involved with Poncey Upper East Side Ken and his blue
blood family. Or maybe she's an aspiring actress who will stab any pretty
girl in the back she perceives to be in her way.
You know, when Barbie bought her first house, I thought, good, she can have
her own space, time, furniture, a garden, a bed -- all the things a woman
should have. Then she got the camper, and I said, great! A real nature
lover! Barbie is sitting around campfires, talking to raccoons. Then she
got the sports car and the beach house in Malibu, and I worried that she
might be getting ahead of herself.
Then she got a stewardess job on her own airplane. Well, if it's the only
way she can get to see the world, I want Barbie to see all of the raccoons
in the world, so fine.
Ken was always there, kind of uncool, but essentially the only man in the
Barbie universe, so what could she do? It was easy to ignore him in the 70s
when he became Mod Ken. Mod Ken wore a plaid sports jacket and a brown
dickie. Mod Ken had removable sideburns, goatee and beards, not to mention
a really bushy head of real hair and flared pants.
Barbie played princess, bride, astronaut, rock star, cowgirl, nurse, ski
bunny, go-go dancer, bikini baby, Stepford wife and never really seemed to
commit to anything, when you think about it. Talk With Me Barbie is just
running even faster than ever from life. It's time to talk about
intervention. I think it's time to organize people whom Barbie trusts,
kidnap her and tell her what we think of her.
I can imagine only one route for the next incarnation at this point:
12-Step Barbie. Her life has become unmanageable. Barbie must turn it
over to a higher power: Mattel Corp. I think it's time for her to have a
spiritual awakening, and pray to be relieved of the craving to live every
feminine cliche ever imagined except alcoholic Barbie. I think it's clear
that Barbie has been acting out her entire life, leaving behind a crumb
trail of pain, bodies and cute outfits. Sure, she's been jetting around the
world, living the high life without any apparent
consequences. But everyone hits the wall and bottoms out at some point.
Barbie's bottom isn't as low as other people's bottoms, but you don't have
to be blacked out in an alley with a needle hanging out your arm before you
deserve help. Or do you?
This makes the prospect of Junkie Barbie an interesting progression. Really,
how do you run around, childless, manless, and goal free for so long, hard
and fast? Maybe the truth is that Junkie Barbie is really Lesbian Barbie,
who cannot come out of the Barbie closet because then Mattel would have a
real problem on its hands. Maybe Mattel is a judgmental
hellfire-and-brimstone creator. With fear of discontinuation hanging over
her head, Barbie has been playing all the obvious female cliches in the
effort to assimilate. In the process, she has become a user of hard drugs.
Suppressing your true sexuality forever has a price and not even Barbie is
immune to falling apart, even though she is made so cheaply now she could
easily fall apart. Because of the anonymity of the 12-step program, Barbie
can get the help she needs without Mattel ever knowing, and continue playing
her public role, while trying to reinvent her private life. She may be
happy for the first time in her life as Lesbian 12-Step Sober Barbie.
Is that what the toy reviewer meant by "Barbie has assimilated"?