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Barbie's High-Tech Makeover

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 42-11-22?

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. Welcome, Barbie!

Is that what the toy reviewer meant by "Barbie has assimilated"?