Thursday, December 4, 2008

They Never Said Math Is Hard

Mattel has successfully won their case against MGA, the producers of the BRATZ dolls.

Now I'll be the first to admit I loathed the Bratz dolls. But something Digital Femme said made me pause just now. I loathed the Bratz dolls because I NOTICED THEM.

I've long since passed the age of playing with Barbies. I'm used to passing by and not noticing all the Pink and Blonde fluffiness of Barbie. If I hear news (Barbie's break up with Ken, for example) it's usually because it was something that hit an actual news cycle (possibly on a slow day).

On the other hand I was always noticing Bratz. The dolls, the clothes, the accessories, the infant versions, the pets. I even watched the darn Bratz movie. And all because there were three extra reasons FOR me to notice.

I noticed Sasha, Yasmin & Jade.

I noticed that it was a Latina, an African Descended American and an Asian American who had super sexualized lips and eyes. I fretted that there were FINALLY dolls in the mainstream for every little girl; and yet was the implication that all girls were hootchies?

Bratz made themselves relevant to me and I hadn't even realized that. They made themselves so relevant that when I first caught sight of the My Scene Barbie - my first thought was Mattel was copying Bratz. And I hadn't realized I've been waiting to hear how it failed - because I didn't believe that anyone but blonde and blue eyed Barbie would get attention (accessories, blah blah & stuff).

And for all my grr about stereotypes, I've just realized that Mattel has never released a movie like Bratz. Yeah yeah, it was the wrong thing to say that fashion accessorizing is a superpower. But have you noticed Barbie's movies? They're always animation, either cgi or traditional. Blonde Barbie is always the star with various friends (mostly white) circling around her while she gets the prince, conquers evil or risks her heart.

In the Bratz movie? I saw 4 real girls dealing with a real life issue of friendship drift. 4 real girls. Sure they had slim bodies, but those were real bodies. It was possible for any little girl to imagine herself as one of those 4 real girls. Moreover I saw 4 real families. Divorced parents. Mom and Dad and Grandma. Mom and Dad (with ideas about being the model minority). Single working Mom.

It's horribly true you don't appreciate some things until they're gone. I didn't take the time to really think about just what I'd seen in that movie. And DF's words made me really think about why I noticed the brand in the first place.

There's a reason MGA Entertainment was kicking Mattel's pastel butt! And it's sad and frightening to realize that by ligitgating their competition into closing - there's no impetus for Mattel now to look at what worked with MGA and capitalize on it. How soon before it's back to the Queen of Pink in her pink castle mansion with the pink convertible and her ever ready himbo while all her friends circle three steps or more behind with a big ass 'FRIEND OF BARBIE' stamped on their foreheads?

PS: Guess I know what I'm getting my little sister for the holidays. Wonder if they had a comic book version? There's bound to be something similar I can grab before Mattel steps on it too, right? Either way, I'll definitely be shopping for something Not!Pink.


  1. A quick google finds no Bratz comic. Though I do find a book (maybe a trade comic?) put out by Tokyopop.

  2. Now I'm curious to watch the Bratz movie :o This is also a reason why I like the Winx Club (even if Musa needs to have the obligatory black bangs and Asian mother in a kimono) :) And... while I thought My Scene looked better stylistically it was again like "the only diversity in women is the colour of their hair" >:\

    Tho... I do wish there'd be some sort of national hiatus on using "Jade" as the auto-name for an Asian girl :\ I vote Ami as a replacement :D

  3. Ami:

    You are so not wrong about the name 'Jade'. I have to admit being disappointed even when it came up in Jackie Chan Adventures.

    What is the odd obsession with naming an Asian girl Jade and giving her green eyes?

    So Winx Club isn't a reason to spork myself in the eye?

  4. Lurker:

    Thanks for finding that. I think the movie might actually be the best representation (the plots of some of the other things seem iffy but I've seen the movie) and the one least likely to make my mother go 'OMG what did you buy?!'

  5. I'm going to be posting about Winx Club as a review in my LJ :) Prolly today since I'm snowed in and writing might make being snowed in with my family feel better :\

    Winx Club is pretty awesome, and surprisingly not what it SEEMS to be or is marketted as (while the theme song says "don't touch the hair", the boys care more about their looks and fashion than the girls who care more about saving the day and stuff) and I think the constant stream of belly shirts and stick limbs kinda screws things up a bit too :\

    Musa is pretty awesome tho :] (tho.. srsly... asian char without bangs plz xD )