Barbie, Now With More Murderous Impulses!

Y’all, I’m having a serious case of age envy. Why, oh why, can’t I be eight years old again? Despite that such a phenomenon would require me to relive both middle school and those interminable pre-sixteen years, when I thought I would never get to drive ever and it was so unfair, it would be worth it. Why? Because Mattel, that peddler of pink plastic girl crack, has announced a Hunger Games Barbie.

Katniss Everdeen, of the badass archery skills and revolution-starting tendencies, is becoming a Barbie!

At first, I was horrified. Most of the time, I think Barbie epitomizes everything that is wrong with girl-targeted toys. Yes, I loved mine as a child, but the focus on shoes and cars and an ever-rotating closet is perhaps not the best message for little girls. Shoes are awesome, I will agree, but that shouldn’t be a core tenant of womanhood. So, the thought of Barbie – queen of pink Porches and pastel horses – as Katniss Everdeen made my stomach turn. How would she run through the arena with those anatomically impossible Barbie feet? Would she come with an archery set and a glittery hairbrush? Abomination! If Katniss were a real person, I thought, she’d set fire to the Mattel factory for the mere suggestion!

However, I’ve changed my mind. This may actually be good for both Barbie and The Hunger Games. If anything, Barbie could use more of an edge. Now, instead of making their dolls go to the mall, little girls across America can act out the adventures of one of the most progressive female characters in modern literature. She’s not necessarily the Suffragette Barbie I’ve wished for, but she’s certainly a world apart from “I Can Be A Baby Caregiver” Barbie and “Spin-to-Clean Laundry Room” Barbie. Katniss Barbie can not only date Ken, but take him in a fight!

Meanwhile, The Hunger Games, a series of books with themes parallel to modern societal issues, will bring its message to a whole new audience. Admittedly, that message is a bit over the heads of most Barbie buyers. These are not books I would recommend to elementary-aged children. Most of the adventures Katniss endures are not only harrowing, but terrifyingly violent. However, if children play with Katniss Barbie now, they are more likely to read the books when they’re older. I can’t argue with anything that encourages that. Not only is reading of any sort a victory, but this tale is one many of us need to hear. Beyond the love triangle (Team Peeta!), the story is one of survival and a much-needed rebellion in the face of oppression. That’s not something you get with Barbie’s “Strollin’ Pups Playset.

In the end, this is a curious match-up, but I can’t find it in me to complain. Anything that brings a little more adventure to the “girl aisle” is a good thing. Now, if only other toy manufacturers would get the message. I’m looking at you LEGO, with that pink & purple land of domestic horrors you just rolled out. Perhaps Katniss should point her bow and arrow your direction?

– Grace


7 thoughts on “Barbie, Now With More Murderous Impulses!

  1. As I was reading your post I went through a similar range of emotions. First: WTF? Then, are they kidding me? The horror! And finally: Hmmm, maybe we should look at this from a different angle… Reminds me of when Adam Werbach, who was once president of the Sierra Club, starting working for Wal-Mart – and everyone went ape. But they were missing the point! Working with the enemy can actually steer them down a different path. You’re right, it may be a message missed by the Barbie fanatics, but it does bring a different perspective than glittered tiaras and snagging a blonde surfer dude!

  2. Having grown up in East Germany, I used to envy my friends with relatives in the west who could get their hands on Barbies. Oh well, at least, later on I could truthfully claim I had never owned a Barbie in my life and feel incredibly not-shallow. (Incidentally, I don’t like shoes, maybe that’s why…)
    But what, I ask, will happen to my moral superiority if Barbies come as tough heroines rather than superficial shopaholics? Please, Mattel, reconsider!

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