Popular Culture: November 2009 Archives

November 22, 2009

Missing the point

Italian designer Eliana Lorena has put on a special exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the Barbie doll. It features Barbies dressed in costumes from all over the world, including the Japanese kimono, Indian saris and various African outfits. The dolls will be sold in a charity auction after the exhibition. So, which get-up do you think the press is all in a tizzy about? Let the Daily Mail explain:

One of the world's most famous children's toys, Barbie, has been given a makeover - wearing a burkha.

Wearing the traditional Islamic dress, the iconic doll is going undercover for a charity auction in connection with Sotheby's for Save The Children.

The Mail is sensible compared to some fora, though. Indeed, Phyllis Chesler at Pajamas Media appears to have not read the press release and news articles and seems convinced that the artwork is some kind of commercial product. One of which she does not approve. And strangely, Chesler is a feminist, not some kind of fundie bampot, though the language is similar:

Save the Children? Surely, you must be jesting. I would like to save the children from this as well as from every other Barbie doll. (Yes, I know Barbie has diversified and now comes in every color and profession). But naked, even Doctor Barbie is still a pagan goddess or fertility figure but one with absolutely no relationship to female biology or reality....

These dolls were so retro--or so I always thought. Well, shut my mouth, those were the good old days of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. Now, Barbie is swathed, shrouded, in a burqa; now, she is even more hopelessly retro.

Strange, I've always thought of pagan fertility symbols looking more like:
Venus of Willendorf than Barbie. There then follows a call to boycott the "product", and a quote from the National Organisation of Women, who have also failed to notice that the doll is an artwork, from which Mattel will not profit, and not a product:

Mattel should be ashamed. Making a profit by selling a doll that is clearly wearing a symbol of violence is not acceptable and there should be a public outcry to take this doll off the market.

It's Barbie in a burkha: World-famous doll gets a makeover to go under the hammer for 50th anniversaryDaily Mail, 21st November 2009; Boycott Burqa BarbieChesler Chronicles, 21st November 2009.

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This page is an archive of entries in the Popular Culture category from November 2009.

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