Among other things, Tuesday’s lesson discussed the Barbie Doll in terms of feminism. Strangelove mentioned how many different artists are using Barbie to represent different things, mostly feminism and it’s counter movement, anti-feminism or misogyny. So I looked up Barbie on YouTube, and have decided to write this blog on the first (and sequel to) video I came across. The video(s) show the life of Barbie, Ken, and there son Timmy living in their wealthy middle class suburban home. It is difficult to figure out if the video was made by a male or a female producer, as the voices are almost all identical (and all sound a lot like a pre-pubescent male), and therefore difficult to determine exactly what type of film it is meant to be. The point here is that the video shows Barbie and Ken living the typical lifestyle Mattel (the toy company) would like them to live, however we quickly see that there is trouble in paradise.
I’m not sure how to interpret this video, in terms of defining it as misogynist or feminist, because there seem to be two different views at play here. On the one hand the lifestyle Ken and Barbie live is extremely out dated. When watching the video I am reminded of the 1950’s when the “ideal” or “desired” lifestyle was that the husband went to work and was the breadwinner, and the wife took care of the house and children. The opening scene for example Ken comes home and Barbie is waiting to give him a hug, and supper is on the table. Ken is a typical misogynist, and Barbie (especially in the first video) lives with it. Ken feels that every aspect of his life, and his family needs to be perfect (Little Timmie gets a B+ in mechanical engineering and he looses it). Barbie even answers the phone with a “Hello this is Barbie and Ken where everything is always perfect.” Ken gets angry when his supper is not warm, and he takes Barbie for granted in terms of the amount of labour she does for him and the household. He sees her as replaceable, when he mentions how he could hire a maid, not so much to replace her but to make her life easier. This shows that Ken feels that the only thing Ken sees Barbie is good for is being a house maid.
Barbie however is where we see a feminist portrayal. In the second video (Robo Dude) Barbie orders a robot from an infomercial. The robot is supposed to monitor the members of the family and notify them when they’re not pulling their weight. Barbie orders this product obviously because she knows she is being mistreated by Ken. For the most part Barbie’s predictions come true, and Ken is the first to reach “muffin head” status and is removed from the picture. Obviously things don’t work out for Barbie in the end, but the point is she knew she was being mistreated by a misogynist, and she did something to change it. Which is essentially what happened with the feminist movement in the 60’s. Whether the producer of this film realized it or not, this video is a decent, yet satirical, representation of the beginnings of the feminist movement. Women who felt the were being mistreated or oppressed, began acting in ways that arguably caused or at least inspired change in society and their lives. Unfortunately in Barbie’s case her success is short lived, but it still counts.
I guess upon looking at this blog, after writing it, I feel that the first video is labelled as misogynist and the second video is more feminist. I’m not sure if maybe I over analyzed the videos, and that maybe it was just meant to be some voice cracking twelve year old boy’s excuse to play with dolls. But I do feel that the videos were well done, and at times were quite funny, and I’m sure there was meant to be some kind of message attached, I just hope I touched on the right message.