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February 19, 2014

Comments

Rafi

“I think Barbie should be updated for the 21st century to reflect modern reality. So what about Homeless Barbie, Single Mother Barbie, Brain Surgeon Barbie, Autistic Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, Binge Drinker Barbie, Minimum Wage Barbie, etc.?”

I love the snotty tone of comments like this. I can see girls might want to play with Astronaut Barbie but what's the make-believe appeal of Single Mother Barbie or Minimum Wage Barbie? Talk about crap Christmas presents.

David

Talk about crap Christmas presents.

Ah, but there just isn’t enough drudgery and angst in toys for little girls. And how else can we seed that resentful and sour class consciousness?

David

And we mustn’t forget the poll, “Should fireworks be banned on environmental grounds?” It was a close-run thing, with a narrow majority willing to permit an evening of explosive hedonism. The Guardian’s Felicity Carus suggested a possible compromise in the form of “green fireworks,” a quieter, less colourful, less explosive alternative made from sawdust and rice chaff.

Greg

“Fifty seems enough to cover all possible bases.”

Perhaps, but it doesn't allow for future expansion.

Kram

With the Facebook gender options i'm agreeing with Iradar0 who in the comments section wrote - "the fuck is this stupid shit where's the "put it back to two genders because there is only two fucking genders" option"

svh

Should Disney create a plus-size princess?
Should calling people 'fat' on TV be illegal?

So we should have fat Disney princesses but we can't mention the fact they're fat?

R.Sherman

I've never been on Facebook. Part of me thinks I should, though, simply to have the status "emotionally exhausted and morally bankrupt."

Nik White

Reader comment of note: “I think Barbie should be updated for the 21st century to reflect modern reality. So what about Homeless Barbie, Single Mother Barbie, Brain Surgeon Barbie, Autistic Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, Binge Drinker Barbie, Minimum Wage Barbie, etc.?”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha, oh my God, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, … oh, man, that's hysterical.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Should restaurants ban people from taking photos of their food?

I'd say in terms of marketing and publicity, it would be a bad idea. But the restaurant is private property, so if they want to ban such photos, they should have the right to. Being private property, they should also have the right to allow patrons to smoke, too.

David

I’m trying to imagine the packaging and taglines for the suggested Barbie variants.

“Binge Drinker Barbie: Oddly enough, she’s not a brain surgeon.”

“Single Mother Barbie: She’s ruined her life. You can too.”

B Moe

Would it be sexist to point out you hardly ever see men complaining about there not being enough fat heroes?

Karen M

I had no idea there was a Barbie Swimsuit Illustrated cover. Have I been demeaned or empowered? I need to know.

David

I had no idea there was a Barbie Swimsuit Illustrated cover. Have I been demeaned or empowered? I need to know.

It’s hard to say, or indeed care. I’ve been staring at the thing for ages waiting to feel outraged. Nothing yet.

wtp

Just tried to change my FB gender. Didn't get a drop-down so entered the literal "cisnormative/gender normative/heteronormative male". I'm an engineer, we value precision. Got the message "You must select one or more custom genders in order to save". Not sure what my options are at this point.

The Sage

But we had Astronaut Barbie 20 years ago!
http://www.amazon.com/Barbie-12150-Astronaut/dp/B000R0LTJ4

How out of touch are these people?

@Kram
Gender is a grammatical construct, and Latin has three of them.

pst314

“Fifty seems enough to cover all possible bases.”

What about the poor person who insists that he is a pony born in a man's body? Surely you don't want to disrespect him make him feel devalued? :-)

AC1

@Julia, Which one?

model_1066

Instead of Facebook's gender options, I'd be looking at the internet's social media options. Maybe something less lame, intrusive and pandering.

JuliaM

@AC1, the jellyfish one!

mojo

FB thanks you for voluntarily providing another data point for the targeted ad system.

Suckers.

Jimmy

I feel like that already thin line between The Guardian and The Onion is becoming increasingly blurred.

dicentra

Would someone please explain to me which definition of "empowering" applies to a plastic doll standing in for a glistening, scantily-clad goddess?

dicentra

Would it be sexist to point out you hardly ever see men complaining about there not being enough fat heroes?

The male analog would be not enough sunken-chested, spindly kneed, chinless heroes.

AC1

Not "Math being more pointless than Latin"!?

David

Would someone please explain to me which definition of “empowering” applies to a plastic doll standing in for a glistening, scantily-clad goddess?

I’m struggling to understand the kind of mind that can feel empowered or demeaned by a generic plastic doll in a bathing suit. Or for that matter, a mind that can pretend such things and expect to be taken seriously.

dicentra

Speaking of kinds of minds, I just learned a new term: "Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa" or FGHH:

The Interchangeable Feminists have succumbed to the feminist flavor of the Glittery Hoo Haa. Unlike the romance version where the glitter unaccountably activates when the heroine takes off her glasses (presumably blindness is sexier), the Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa is a thing of mysterious magical powers allowing the possessor to be better than everyone at everything she tries, without having to work at it. She doesn’t even have to wiggle it to get magical results. All she needs to do is let HR departments know she has one (they seem to be shy creatures in the wild, hence the Interchangeable Feminist insistence on proclaiming they have one), and she’s on a fast track to promotions without having to actually do the work involved. That’s what underlings are for.

For the Interchangeable Feminist author, the Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa magically transforms her grocery lists (should she ever deign to commit such a patriarchally derived act as create one) into high art (those of you speculating on precisely what one has to be high on to consider it art may stop now). Editors, agents and publishers recognize the brilliance of her FGHH and – judging by the samples I’ve read – don’t bother to read the piece before publishing it and pushing it harder than a heterosexual male backstage at a pole dancer’s convention. Obviously their brilliance is lost on the rest of us who lack this magical piece of anatomy and possess the usual combination of a pair of functioning eyes and some brain cells that don’t faint in shock when they’re called on to do any thinking.

This in response to vindictive pearl-clutching in the SFWA (Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writers Association), which has been commandeered by the types of women we've all encountered: They've achieved Awareness and they're not afraid to use it against you, the knuckle-dragging troglodyte. Cliquish, petty, and smug, they'll fundamentally transform your world into a Mean Girls nightmare wherein the worst rise to the top and the deserving are excommunicated from Humanity.

David

the Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa

I’ve learned so much in the last seven years.

Hal

“Should Metallica do more Celine Dion covers?”

Hmmm. Something of the overall sort of idea does have merit . . .

Hal

What about the poor person who insists that he is a pony born in a man's body?

Meh. All male hybrid, no matter what combinations of hybrid, would still be just male. Take that as the cue for assorted screams of oppressed/oppressing . . . .

Ed Snack

Male-pony, hmm, not to either extreme, but trending more to the centaur I suspect.

ACTOldFart

“I think Barbie should be updated for the 21st century to reflect modern reality. So what about Homeless Barbie, Single Mother Barbie, Brain Surgeon Barbie, Autistic Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, Binge Drinker Barbie, Minimum Wage Barbie, etc.?”

Too late, Guardianistas. It was tried many years ago by a bunch of guys in the USA, who bought up Barbies in bulk and re-imaged them, with satirical intent. I can't recall all the new images, but "Trailer Trash Barbie" was particularly amusing and memorable. Needless to say, the owners of the Barbie brand came down on them like a ton of bricks, and the whole experiment didn't last long.

Which raises a more general point: Why is it that the ideas of the "progressives" almost always (a) are about 20 years behind the times; (b) have already been tried by private entrepreneurs; and (c) - most mortifying of all - the trying uot was done in the USA?

David

Would someone please explain to me which definition of “empowering” applies to a plastic doll standing in for a glistening, scantily-clad goddess?

It’s strange how this kind of thing, which makes up a very large percentage of Guardian commentary, assumes that the reader, and everyone else, must somehow identify personally with any given piece of pop-cultural detritus. As if the mere existence of a generic plastic doll must have some emotional weight in one’s life, supposedly in ways that are either “empowering” or, more often, “demeaning.”

It sounds insane.

Pete of Perth

I recon you could sell tickets to a jello wrestling bout between Barbie and Turleen

BenSix

Is Barbie’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover empowering or demeaning?

A Guardian columnist, today.

David

A Guardian columnist, today.

Quite. It is odd, though, and difficult to relate to. Are the girls of the world - and apparently adult women – actually relating to Barbie, emotionally, as a representation of themselves and therefore as either flattering or offensive? And if so, isn’t that a little odd?

When I was maybe 7 or 8 I was bought an Action Man doll, which I hadn’t asked for, and I don’t recall identifying with it in anything like that way. In fact, I soon got bored with it and upgraded to much more exciting action figures of aliens and cyborgs with transparent rubber heads (revealing rubber brains) and detachable fist missiles. The gadgets and spaceships were, at the time, the most thrilling thing ever, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t think of them as representing me.

Richard Powell

Disney could create a plus-sized binge-drinking autistic homeless princess who'd be a single mother and a brain surgeon on the minimum wage. She might be called Barbie and assigned her very own unique gender. But taking photographs of her would be banned.

BenSix

When I was maybe 7 or 8 I was bought an Action Man doll, which I hadn’t asked for, and I don’t recall identifying with it in anything like that way.

Truly a radical toy in its genderlessness.

David Gillies

BenSix: rarely does the abbreviation LOL signify actual, audible laughter but in that case it did. Actually it was more of a cackle, but still. The comments here are the best.

One of the tropes that runs through all the lefty nonsense that David holds up here for our inspection is that these people are all politics, all the bloody time. They have no hinterland, or alternatively they're all hinterland and no foreground. Monomaniacs are deeply disturbing people. I imagine being buttonholed by one of them and nervously slinking away as they continue to invade my personal space, ranting about intersectionality or something equally baffling/idiotic. Penny Dreadful is a case in point. It's never, "ho hum, here I am, Penny Dreadful, eating a bag of Maltesers." It's always, "here I am, Penny Dreadful, eating a bag of Maltesers and thinking about The Patriarchy."

David

“Here I am, Penny Dreadful, eating a bag of Maltesers and thinking about The Patriarchy.”

In my experience, professed egalitarians are remarkably concerned with social positioning - their own, I mean - and for some, it’s always show-time. I think the idea is to continually signal one’s purity and enlightenment, and therefore superiority, relative to someone else. It’s the ideological equivalent of someone who keeps glancing at a pocket mirror and asking, “Is my make-up alright?”

Regarding monomania, in this week’s ephemera you’ll find leftist exponents of cultural studies who watched Close Encounters and saw “a fascist film, capitalist propaganda.”

splotchy

It's the rigid constancy of actively hunting for things to be outraged about that gets me, no matter how innocent or well-intentioned they may be. Or alternatively dismissing all the positives, kindnesses or beauty in something/someone because of a miniscule facet of perceived patriarchy/consumerism or general non-leftiness.

Such attention takes real obsession and, I guess, being consumed by an urge to hate. I saw it not long ago in someone who sneered ungratefully at a hospital volunteer who bought her snacks and toiletries when she was unexpectedly kept in hospital. This good samaritan's crime was that this booty included a copy of the daily mail.

David

Such attention takes real obsession

It’s almost a purity thing, an ideological OCD – an eternal scrubbing at those metaphorical door handles. But if someone buys into an ideology premised on a perfectible society and the political correction of the creatures living in it, then all kinds of neurotic oddness will follow from that.

David Gillies

If everything is invested with significance then nothing is significant. It gets really loud and monotonous in that echo chamber. The slavish adherence to policy, especially of the we-have-always-been-at-war-with-Eastasia variety, is deliberately designed to quash crimethink. No wonder most CiF articles look machine-generated.

TDK

Should Disney create a plus-size princess?

Sorry for being late to this, but isn't it true to say that Shrek's wife is a fat princess?

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