Friday, July 18, 2008

Black Canary Barbie

Okay, Black Canary Barbie: too titillating? offensive? is the controversy justified? etc.

Black Canary Barbie is a $40 collector's doll. I used to collect Barbies about six years ago. The expensive collector dolls are not meant for kids. They have all sorts of stuff -- from possible "adult" subject matter to little swallowable pieces -- that can effectively place them out of the realm of your standard eight-year-old.

Now, they did put out cheaper versions of DC heroines that were theoretically targeted towards younger fans. This Black Canary is not one of them. It's a $40 freaking doll. Mattel has these "jazz" inspired Barbies that are even more extreme, with fishnets and sexy poses.

That said, the only Barbies I'd give a little girl are the ones where she's a veterinarian, or a police woman, or a teacher, or a journalist for the school paper. Something constructive.

You know what's really not constructive? A Barbie dressed in a pink tutu called "Princess Foo-Foo Flower."

That said, no, I wouldn't give this Black Canary doll to a child. It's not appropriate. A teenager, sure. Not an eight-year-old. It's just too adult. Not adult in a bad way. Just too adult, with no context for a little girl.

The problem is, many people assume, when they hear "Barbie," that we are talking about strictly children's toys. Whereas, like a large segment of the action-figure buying public, what we are really talking about are adult collectors.

Kinda like...comics?

(with a hat tip to Paul Duggan for the link)


  1. Whatever. Black Canary's costume makes sense, of all the costumes; I mean, it is basically an olympic gymnast's garb, only substitute fish-nets for tights-- which isn't a strange substitution.

  2. Any DC comics fan will recognise it as an adult collector's piece. The Sun either knows nothing about comics or just doesn't care. I'd suspect the former.
    The Sun's readers are idiots jumping to conclusions. The Sun is not a serious newspaper, it's tabloid trash.
    And I've lost count of the amount of times I've mentioned I read comics to adults and they say, what like the Beano? I go no, like superheroes, then they're very surprised when I explain how they aren't for kids. God help these people if they ever want to buy their kids some comics.

  3. What about that awful Haley Berry Catwoman Barbie? Why didn't anyone complain about her?

  4. After the Mary Jane statue, are we really getting upset about this? It's how the character's portrayed, it's forty bucks . . . I mean, jeez. Do we have freak at every little thing?

  5. Who knew toys were meant to be constructive.

  6. Is the controversy justified? Judging from this quote:

    But religious group Christian Voice said: “Barbie has always been on the tarty side and this is taking it too far.

    A children’s doll in sexually suggestive clothing is irresponsible – it’s filth.”

    ... and the calling it "S&M" Barbie by the tabloid, I have to say completely UNjustified. And incredibly silly to boot. Like you wrote, obviously this Barbie isn't aimed at children, it's aimed at collectors with disposable income. I don't know what the price point is, but obviously it's going to be much higher than the usual Barbie.

    Sounds to me more like another extremist protest group trying to enforce their views on society at large and using this for publicity's sake. They can't even be bothered to understand what character this Barbie represents or that there are adult purchasers of this Barbie, none of whom would give this to a child.

    It's like saying they should stop marketing automobiles to children because children aren't able to control them... when obviously children can't buy them in the first place.

    But yeah, like you I wouldn't give either Princes Foo-Foo Flower Barbie or this one to a kid of either gender. I have two neices and as their uncle I've tried to help instill self-worth in them and the belief that they can do anything. That their stories are NOT secondary to any boy's story.

    My oldest neice once told me (she was 5 at the time) that "Girls can't be doctors." Can't be. I don't know where she picked that up at 5, but that it's out there and gets into young impressionable minds by osmosis is troubling. That was a strong lesson in the pressures and negative reinforcement girls get at an early age.

    Not saying boys don't get a different kind, but it seems more pervasive and arbitrary when it's aimed at girls. And that's enfuriating.

    And that leads to another distinction I make- personal choice and familial instruction versus outside groups trying to limit our choices. I don't believe it takes a village to raise a child, especially when said village is all idiots and no townspeople.

  7. Ahhh fishnets ...

    My "goddess" used o wear em, Maybe the only way I'll get to see em again is on a Barbie...


  8. I was a little surprised at the controversy myself, because shouldn't people who complain about the cultural messages of Barbie dolls think the entire line is evil?

  9. I always prefer Nancys, but she looking good.

  10. I don't find this particularly objectionable even for little girls. At least it's an empowering character with SOME relevance to the real world, unlike Princess Foo-Foo Barbie.

    Kind of like Animaniacs. A cartoon show good for kids and adults, for totally different reasons. The kids get one positive message, and the adults get to enjoy the gags that go over the little ones' heads.

  11. Anonymous2:04 PM

    A bit off topic, but did you know you have an animated GIF or flash ad for Virtual HD Girls with a girl in lingerie touching herself suggestively on your sidebar?