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The Bizarre World Of Barbie and Ken, Part Two

It was one of the extremely rare moments I've dreaded in the year I've done this site. I needed a picture of the Ken doll and realized the only way I'd get one was to go to the Official Barbie site. I've never drank alcohol and sometimes, in moments like that, I wish I did. A lot of it.

I found out two things:
1} There are 11,384,844,034 different kind of Barbies, Barbie accessories, Barbie items, Barbie appliances, Barbie products, Barbie Stuff and Barbie-kin dolls with Special Editions for everydamn facet, job title and minute corner of life you can think of. Not to mention Barbies for every popular cultural icon, movie, hobby or even piece of clothing. It is a money making machine-slash-empire designed to keep people mindlessly buying buying buying, and thinking they are collecting some rare (mass produced) item, the likes of which is staggering and obscene. You just mark my words - Barbie Tampons will be in the near future.

2} The new offerings and editions of Ken (and Barbie) were so bizarre to me, for a moment I thought it had to be a joke. I even went back to the search engine to make sure I had in fact picked the Actual Official Mattel Barbie Collectable page and wasn't on some parody page. I'm serious.

An example of the insanity #1: A friend spent $2,000 for a "Millennium Barbie"..the year the media and PR brainwashing decided that this was the hot, hot Must! Have! Item! for Christmas! triggering a feeding frenzy that was fueled by a calculated "shortage" of the product. Millennium Barbie was a Barbie doll that came in a Cinderella-like, tacky gold and white ball gown and was packaged in a regular, nothing-special plastic and cardboard box, attached by neck, waist, legs and feet to said cardboard with Universal strength Twist-Ties which required a blow torch, band saw and three M-80s to break.

In other words, a regular Barbie in yet another dress. People were getting into fisticuffs in stores over it, radio stations were auctioning them off to much fanfare; people on Ebay were selling them for staggering amount$. Those who managed to buy one were hailed as conquering heroes allowed to brag about the pain, suffering, cunning and money it took to get the thing. It was like some proof of your self worth, disguised as the Christmas Spirit. Look How Much I Love My Kids! Who weren't allowed to actually play with aforementioned Barbie, it being so priceless and rare and all.

I saw about a dozen of them this past summer sitting on the shelf at a local drug store for $29.95. The exact same Millennium Barbie. I laffed out loud, right there in the store. I told my mom about it. I was sworn to secrecy about it, begged not to tell the Moron in my family who got one for That Christmas, paying $170 and driving a state over to pick it up from the seller.

An example of the insanity #2: I present "Biker Ken". At first I thought it was a photo of a real guy. Somehow, they've made "this" thing "A Ken doll". The ad copy reads:

" Harley-Davidson® Barbie® doll and Ken® doll will once again ride in style in their fun, edgy and authentic Harley-Davidson® outfits. Intricate details like working silvery zippers, silvery buttons and chains, and Harley-Davidson® Motorcycle logos accent their ultra-hip biker ensembles. Ken® doll (sold separately) looks hot in his denim shirt, white knit tank top, and black leatherette chaps worn over his blue jeans. Silvery stud accents and a silver and black Harley-Davidson® shield buckle complete his outfit. He's got that true cool biker edge with his chest "hair" and "beard," and the "born to ride" tattoo on his forearm! Both dolls are poseable so that they can "ride" the Harley-Davidson® Fat Boy® replica (sold separately)!"

Christ....have a few more "®" why don't you?

This smacked right into Disney territory for me (and they do have 2 Disney dolls!). Did I miss a meeting? Who at Barbie HQ found Hell's Angel's so cuddly and adorable? This is for little girls, this doll?! "Ultra-hip"? "He looks hot"? Chest hair?! He's gonna be riding something all right, and it won't be the Harley. Somehow I can't imagine a Hell's Angel going up to another saying, "Dude...does this shirt make my chest look buff? "Do these chaps make my ass look fat?" I'm assuming Harley-Davidson® had to OK this since their logo® and name are all over it, in which case someone ought to take the "workable chains" found on the Biker Ken® and go throttle some CEO®.

I'd buy this doll and put it right next to my "Earring Magic Ken", is what. Poor Earring Magic Ken! ::moment of silence::. .. I looked; he's gone. Not even a record in Barbie Archives - he's been blacklisted for evermore. He's been shunned and labeled as an Undesirable. Funny what the Barbie people can do and not do when money is behind it.

For those who missed the fun a few years ago, Mattel put out Earring Magic Ken - which was a regular Ken doll in yet another outfit. Not much was said until someone remarked that this was obviously a gay Ken doll. As in "homosexual", not "excessively happy and bright". The doll wore a black mesh belly tank top so his ripped stomach was exposed, a lavender leather jacket (lavender being the 'gay' color) , a chain necklace with rainbow color metal rings on it (which was without a doubt worn by gays), a bracelet, rings, and ONE earring. ONE! OH MY GOD! Was it "right's all right" or did that mean you were one of them homosex-shuals?!

Debates ensued. Words like "gay boy toy" were bantered around until some quietly pointed out (might have been me...) that Ken wasn't anatomically correct and so technically had no penis, so couldn't technically be gay. Anyway, wasn't he boinking Barbie? Was he her boyfriend or her brother? Just what was going on there?! Wasn't it all a bit ridiculous? NO! Some roared back! This is besmirching the wholesome, clean image of Barbie and Ken! Foisted, clandestine-like, on our young children! What's next..Biker 1%er Kens?! (Oh, wait..) Mattel denied they had made a Fag Ken and said they were deeply hurt by the implication, then yanked the dolls off the market to show how sensitive they were to public feedback. After first making sure they let everyone know they were yanking them off the market - any day now! Really! Soon! - so people had time to run out and buy just about every one in existence (I got two). Mattel said this Earring Magic Ken simply reflected "Today's Trendy 20-Something and common trendy male attire." I say Biker Ken here and my Earring Ken would make a cute couple. I'd love to hand out with them so I could borrow their clothes.

At the Official Mattel site, among the bazillion Barbie editions, they also had a "Tin Man Ken" (making a regular Ken Doll silver and calling it "Tin Man Ken") a country western Ken (putting a western shirt on a regular Ken and calling it "Country Western Ken) and African Barbie (throwing some brown coloring into the plastic mold, and thus making a typical Barbie "African")...it was quite frightening. I had to go lay down with a cold compress on my head, but then dolls give me the creeps anyway.

Which led me to make this page here, which was kind of "Part Two" to the Cindy/Barbie and Tim/Ken Doll story. It hit me how much Mr. Ken Biker Doll looks like the "Real life Ken" Former Tim Whitfield-Current-Miles-Kendall-Ken Doll. If Tim had just eased up on his self-described "fast" lifestyle of drinking and smoking, and so wasn't grey and blotchy, wrinkled and looking 15 years older than his age, he could have still been Biker Ken and not gone through all the plastic surgery he did. All that time and money Cindy and Tim spent on all that plastic surgery to look like the plastic 1960 version of Proper Ken and Proper Barbie, and here Mattel's duo have gotten more hip and less "perfect pretty". No longer the Fantasy Dream Ball Gown and tiara versions or the clean plastic visions; the Barbie Doll line now have Goth eye makeup, sexy goatees, wear leather pants or ride Harleys. I can't wait to hear Cindy and Tim's reaction when Mattel comes out with the Farmer's Wife Barbie and the Web Site Designer Ken. Then it'll hit the two of them that they should have left well enough alone with their faces and lives, because "normal" is a lot more sexy than "plastic" any old day.

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