Archive | February, 2008

Plastic boobs can tell us a lot about our society.

28 Feb

Has anyone besides me noticed the strange goings on in the world of mannequin boobs? Aside from the problem that the vast majority of mannequins hover somewhere around a size 2 when the average woman in this country wears a size 12, there is something amiss here. It seems these days that if a mannequin’s breasts haven’t been grotesquely enlarged, they have at least been adorned with conspicuously erect nipples.

coldadidas.jpg

If we must have fake plastic people in the form of mannequins and dolls, I’m all for anatomically correct representations of the human body, but I seriously doubt that’s the intention here. I mean, I know most of us have nipples, and that most of them have the capability of becoming erect, but I also know that that isn’t their default state. It takes either cold or sexual arousal to create an erect nipple, and something tells me these clothing stores aren’t trying to create an association between their products and a brisk winter’s day.

Then there are the new mannequins with the ridiculously large breasts. The makers claim that these mannequins are hot sellers because of the growing number of women with breast implants and the resultant demand for clothing designed to fit a size 4 body with 34 Z breasts or whatever the fuck these are.

 

miami-boobalicious.jpg

Isn’t this a symptom of the fact that our perception of what a woman’s body ought to look like has gotten away from us? That mannequin on the left looks like an anime character, not a human being. Mannequins purportedly represent an ideal (fascistic) body type, which makes this trend quite troubling. It means that breast implants are becoming so commonplace that the general public no longer thinks it odd for a female mannequin to have breasts six times larger than those that nature could provide a woman with. It means that the “ideal” body type is no longer something that can be attained without surgery. It’s distressing to me that porn culture (which is the source of the breast implant craze) has seeped into the mainstream to such an extent that the average woman now apparently doesn’t do a double-take when presented with a representation of the human female body that is so distorted that it reminds one of science fiction. In both the erect-nipple and the giant-boob incarnations, these mannequins are a representation of the fact that women’s bodies are, in all circumstances, to be seen as sexualized objects, and that mannequin makers have (probably correctly) surmised that women have internalized that idea to the point that they won’t demur when confronted with such oddities. Fucking sweet.

(This is kind of a silly aside, but what if some people in the future found these two sorts of mannequins and, knowing nothing of 21st-century American culture, attempted to construct some conception of our culture therefrom? I would really like it if people commented with what kinds of theories they think these future anthropologists would come up with.)

I may be a liberal, but I’m no faggot!

28 Feb

Why is the only feminist on Air America a dude? I’ve been listening to Thom Hartmann lately in the shower (mainly because my schedule this semester allows me to sleep until noon, when his show starts) and I’m really amazed at how often I hear him bringing up the misogyny Hillary Clinton has been faced with throughout her campaign. I say that I am amazed because almost no one has discussed this issue with any kind of clarity or in any kind of depth, and I’m glad to hear at least one person bringing up the 600-pound gorilla.

I generally think Air America sucks and is an embarrassment to the liberal cause. I mean, choosing Al Franken, possibly the least funny man in the world, as the network’s big star was a terrible idea, and Sam Seder and Rachel Maddow notwithstanding, the other hosts have been either brain-numbingly boring or irritatingly incoherent. Or worse, too conservative. But that isn’t my main beef with Air America. The real problem with Air America is that, despite the fact that each host has his or her own pet issues, some of which are fairly fringe-ish or kooky in some way or another, NO ONE talks about women’s issues with any kind of regularity or seriousness, and that includes the female hosts. When it comes to women’s issues, Randi Rhodes, the station’s most well-known female voice, is nothing but a sell-out (not to mention a total fucking embarrassment in general).

This lack of feminist voices on the only mainstream liberal radio network in the country brings up the larger issues of the role of feminism within the liberal community and the disregard for women’s issues in the liberal media (what little of it exists). There seem to be two problems keeping women’s issues out of the spotlight. The first is that, for some insane fucking reason, women’s issues are considered “fringe” issues that do not warrant inclusion in mainstream political discourse. I suppose that means that satanism is a fringe issue for Slayer.

The other problem is that men dominate the liberal media and generally come in one of only two types: the type who generally avoids discussing women’s issues, and the type that actively displays his misogyny. The number one example of this last type has to be Bill Maher, who I wouldn’t mind seeing have a bungee-jumping accident, closely followed by Alan Colmes, who, besides being terrifyingly boring, frequently makes use of the air time he’s allotted on Air America to discuss such gripping topics as his enthusiastic sanction of breast implants. Even Keith Olbermann, who I normally want to kiss on the cheek every week for blessing us with his clever anti-Republican invective, has been known to say a piggish thing or two, which is uncool even when it does have to do with Paris Hilton.

I think the characterization of liberal men by conservative sexist homophobes like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh as candy-ass closet homosexuals has everything to do with both of these phenomena. I won’t get too academic here, but we all know that the reason unreflective straight men hate gay men is that they see them as having consciously chosen to take on a feminine role, which threatens the very foundations of the value systems these renobs hold so dear. Insinuating that liberal men are gay is insinuating that they’re like women, and who the hell would want to be one of those in a patriarchy such as ours? The result of that line of thinking is that even the most liberal of men are running around waving their arms over their heads yelling, “I’m a liberal, yes, but I’m no faggot! I think women ought to shut up and be happy to be sex objects!” There’s really no escape from this quagmire; liberal women in the public eye avoid women’s issues like the plague for fear of being accused of identity politics, and liberal men just aren’t meeting the challenge in any serious way because they’re afraid of being called nancy boys.

I’ll have much more to say on this later, but for now I’ll just congratulate Thom Hartmann for being man enough to speak out on women’s issues.


Bookmark and Share

What the fuck is wrong with Portland?

24 Feb

This whole vegan strip club thing has really gotten me thinking about my old hometown of Portland, Oregon, and I think there might be something seriously wrong with the citizens of that riverside burgh. I say that because Portland has spawned not only the most ideologically screwy idea of the month, the vegan strip club, but also the fucking Suicide Girls, a company/group of renobs that offends my sensibilities on so many levels that I may have a hard time getting to all of them in one post. There is clearly a screw loose in the collective minds of those that make up Portland’s counterculture milieu that both of these phenomena bring to the fore. To wit: the young people of Portland have found a way to be fashion and culinary iconoclasts without having to deal with any of the complexity and uncertainty involved in actual iconoclasm.

It’s pretty easy to get all indignant when your boss forces you to take out your stupid piercings when you go to work or to feel a tinge of remorse for eating a fuzzy cow, but it’s not so easy to come to terms with the larger forces at work behind those discomforts, because doing so requires a fair amount of intelligence and usually results either in uncontrollable rage (if you’re into nu metal) or a feeling of weltschmerz and utter hopelessness (if you like Morrissey). What I am referring to, of course, is the patriarchy’s not-so-invisible hand in nearly all of the small oppressions these pseudo-punks find so uncool. Talking about resisting authority is fairly embarrassing at this point in our cultural development, but I think it’s important to realize that there is a difference between resisting authority in superficial ways while still perpetuating the patriarchal status quo and actually seeing oppressive authority for what it is, wherever it may crop up, and resisting it in a meaningful way. I’m not claiming that doing so is easy, or even that I’m doing it (although I’m trying to in at least a small way with this blog), but I’m also not going to congratulate people for a bunch of bullshit posturing that revolves more around dumb tattoos and ugly haircuts than thoughtfulness.

And that’s exactly what the Suicide Girls phenomenon is all about: superficial and cliche rebelliousness masking a tired rehashing of the pornographic exploitation of women. The idea that the women involved are empowering themselves is revolting; the company is owned and operated by a man, the women are paid nearly zilch for the honor of degrading themselves for an audience of perverts who listen to Reverend Horton Heat, and the company locks its “models” (prostitutes) into contracts that forbid them to “model” for any other sites and rob them of any rights to their own images. Where’s the empowerment? Is it in the fact that they don’t adhere to the mainstream blond porn ideal? Then I guess that means that women who participate in any kind of non-mainstream porn are empowering themselves. If that’s so, then what’s the criterion by which to judge how empowering a particular kind of porn is? The less mainstream, the more empowered the women are? Snuff films must be empowering as fuck, then.

I had a friend who was in a band that I won’t name, who were opening for another band that I won’t name, and when they went on tour the headlining band brought a few Suicide Girls along to go on stage first to, uh, warm up the crowd. I went to see my friend’s band when they came to town and was unfortunately exposed to the absurd and insulting spectacle of the Suicide Girls before I was able to get drunk enough to not notice. It was quite possibly the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen. Two emaciated women with black electrical tape over their nipples and generic rockabilly tattoos came out and danced around, pretended to molest each other, and flailed their arms around to the tune of Peaches’s “Fuck the Pain Away.” The audience included more women than men, but I still felt like I was one of about four people in the room who thought it a bit odd that I had gone out to see a rock band but had instead ended up in a strip club in which the strippers all looked like Murder City Devils fans. The dudes who were there, despite considering themselves to be some countercultural motherfuckers, acted just like any NFL-loving asshole at Dirty Dan’s and whooped it up whenever the women pretended to make out with each other. Punk as fuck.

Talking about what is and isn’t punk in 2008 is pretty silly, mainly because whatever was going on in the punk scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s has been supplanted by marketing campaigns that have brought us to the point where Panic at the Disco is called a punk band, but I do know that dressing up everyday sexual exploitation and patriarchal gender roles in flaming cherry tattoos isn’t punk. It’s fucking nonsense. What Suicide Girls are doing is meeting a market demand created by dudes who want porn that matches their “alternative” hairdos and love for the Misfits, not representing an alternative kind of sexuality in which women are seen as sexually autonomous human beings, which is where the real sexual revolution is at. The mere fact that a large proportion of the Suicide Girls are Bettie Paige impersonators should tip even the most brainwashed of “sex-positive” “feminists” off to the fact that the company is selling little more than the idea that women exist to be used by men.

Meat is murder! Women are meat!

22 Feb

Twisty Faster over at I Blame the Patriarchy has just tipped me off to what may be the dumbest thing I’ve heard of since I found out about the people behind Tapout: a vegan strip club in my home town of Portland, Oregon. (The news articles about the story are stomach-churningly titled, not to mention unbelievably unreflective, but if you want to see them, click here, here, here, and here.) Portland, supposedly a bastion of lesbianism, left-wing sentiment, and several other things that scare the bejesus out of Lars Larson and his merry band of anti-seatbelt half-wit listeners, has no shortage of strip clubs. It also has no shortage of vegans. But where’s the connection? Was there really a vast pool of vegan men and non-feminist lesbian women that were missing out on their chance to degrade and commodify women’s bodies because they were too put off by the smell of buffalo wings? I know my fair share of vegans that are into having sex with women, and none of them are into strip clubs, so that can’t be it.

It seems that the dildo who opened the club, one Mr. Johnny Diablo (I can hear the rockabilly music now), thinks he’s going to use the club to promote his vegan ideals to carnivores. He apparently thinks he’s going to give samples of his Mexican-inspired meatless creations to the clients in hopes that the combination of blue balls and tasty treats will train them, Pavlov’s dogs-style, to want to give up meat. But not all meat: says Mr. D, “We put the meat on the pole, not on the plate.” Fuuuhck. PETA would love that shit. It goes great with their whole “using women’s bodies to tell people not to use animals’ bodies” campaign.

I’m a vegan apostate, but Portland’s vegan community has always impressed me. For a town so small, Portland does seem to have a lot of things going for it, including its own vegan grocery store (which I can’t even find in my own neighborhood in Manhattan) and an abundance of fairly well educated and thoughtful citizens, many of whom have figured out that killing and abusing animals isn’t cool. People in Portland are also much less obnoxiously impressed with themselves than San Franciscans and Seattlites, exhibiting almost none of the pretentiousness that makes me hate urban liberals (of which I am one, so don’t get mad). But maybe some of that pretentiousness would do these motherfuckers some good; somebody needs to point out to this dickwad that there is a bit of an ideological conflict between veganism and the human meat trade. I don’t know how convinced I am that I need to be a vegan in order to be a good feminist, but I do know that being a vegan and not a feminist is one of the most illogical stances one can take. I mean, basically, Johnny Diablo is saying that it’s not only OK to treat women with less respect than cows and chickens, but also that we should abuse women in order to convince people not to abuse cows and chickens.


Bookmark and Share

Dude with awesome name saves woman from UFC fan.

21 Feb

Jezebel has an article up today about a waiter named Colt Haugen, who I’d like to nominate as Dude Who Isn’t A Total Shitbag of the Day. He apparently saw some guy drop a Valium into his blind date’s drink while she was in the pissoir at Ruby Tuesday, where he works as a waiter, and decided to word his boss up about it, which led to the would-be date rapist’s arrest. I wonder how many times that day a waiter, bartender, or fellow customer saw the same thing and didn’t say anything. Colt is a cool guy with a cool name, and I’m glad he exists. He deserves a 22 of Cool Colt as a reward.


Bookmark and Share

I’m the hero of men with weak stream all over the world.

21 Feb

I had no idea that my post about Flomax would generate so much traffic. And I’m also apparently a source of information for perverts. Here are some of the search terms people have used to find my blog:

  • rape kids asshole (I can’t figure out if this guy is a serious sick pig or someone who hates pedophiles.)
  • women who like being degraded (Looking for a dating site?)
  • larry flynt insane (I’m on board with that.)
  • larry flynt asshole (I’m also down with that, as long as the person wasn’t looking for a photo of Larry Flynt’s asshole.)
  • and about 60 different combinations of the words “flomax” “men peeing” “weak stream” and other urine-related terms, including “kayaking”.

I had hoped I could use this blog to educate people about feminism. Oh well, at least I’m helping people who suffer from weak stream and wonder, “is it normal for men to get pee on there?”.


Bookmark and Share

Can’t decide whether racism or sexism is a bigger deal? Ask novelty t-shirt makers.

19 Feb

Just when I thought they couldn’t make anything dumber than that “Without me it’s just aweso” t-shirt, one of the many, many, many online novelty t-shirt makers has come out with this bit of comedy gold:

hos_bros.jpg

I’ve already had more than enough of these stupid fucking joke t-shirts, but this one is some seriously ridiculous shit. It isn’t hard to imagine the brainstorming session that produced this shirt. Some asshole named Jeff with a backwards Old Navy hat, a baseball shirt, baggy jeans, and flip flops slapped down his Buckwild Motherfucker Pale Ale and was like, “Bro, forget that dick in a box shit. We should be making political shirts. It’s an election year and shit, dude.” And since those guys can’t seem to get enough of that ultra-logical “pretending not to give a shit about girls so your male friends won’t think you’re gay is where it’s at” thing (hence that other bit of sartorial genius, the “Prose before hos” Shakespeare t-shirt), here it is. But there’s a twist! I suppose the message here is, “Down with women, up with black guys,” if these renobs even thought that hard about it. In any case, it’s pretty fucking lame. I’m not a humorless, easily offended prude. I like shit that’s funny, even if it offends some of the people that come across it. The problem is that effective off-color humor has to be carried out by people who are aware of the full spectrum of ideas that they are presenting, which these dudes are definitely not. Just in case anyone’s not picking up on all this shirt has to offer, I’ll tell you the main reasons why it’s not cool:

1) They’re calling a US senator and the first viable female presidential candidate a whore. And they aren’t even spelling it right. I don’t think I need to point out how completely fucked up, and hence completely representative of our culture’s treatment of women in the public eye, this message is.

2) It’s stupid. I know Jeff thought it was clever as fuck, but he was wrong. It makes no sense whatsoever to anyone but the three people in America who are advancing the “Down with women, up with black guys” agenda: Snoop Dogg, Young Jeezy, and the leader of the Five Percenters.

3) It’s not even remotely funny. This is some serious pseudo-edgy bullshit that challenges no one and breaks no boundaries. Offensive comedy is meant to make people reconsider their unexamined opinions or to make people aware of the absurdity of other people’s biases. This shit does neither. Even a t-shirt that said “I like to fuck old ladies” would be funnier.


Bookmark and Share

What Would A Dude Do?

16 Feb

I have a general policy that if something hurts, restricts my movement, or is likely to cause long-term health problems or discomfort, I won’t do it if that’s at all possible. I’m pretty sure that anyone who reads this will agree that this is a fairly sound policy, and one that dovetails with common sense and basic human instincts and tendencies. So why, then, do everyday women’s fashion and grooming practices seem to contradict such a simple set of guidelines?

I often wonder whether people will take me to be condemning women for choosing to wear revealing and/or restricting clothing and say that I’m adding to the problem of sexism by trying to add my own set of restrictions on what women ought to be doing. But that’s not really what I’m about. It’s my theory that, were it not for the fact that women are constantly inundated with the message that they are worthless if they aren’t sexually appealing, they wouldn’t wear uncomfortable and restrictive clothing anymore because the entire impetus for enduring the discomfort that wearing such attire entails would have been obviated. Really, why is sexiness the main criterion in choosing clothing, supplanting even utility and comfort?

I have a little test I apply when I stumble upon something I suspect is sexist or detrimental to women. If it’s media, I imagine that the woman being depicted is a man. If it’s a behavior expected of women, I imagine what a man would say to someone who suggested he do it. It almost never fails: if the switcheroo results in a sense of absurdity, I’ve found some sexist shit. If you think about it, fashion is kind of a catch-22 for women; men get to call us ugly (and therefore virtually worthless) if we don’t contort and torture our bodies in order to fulfill their standard of beauty, then they get to make fun of us for being insane when we do the things required to fit that model. Well, fuck that. I normally think this is a terrible idea, but when it comes to fashion and grooming, I’m advocating applying the test of “What would a dude do?” Here is a list of things that many women do regularly that most men would never consider doing, and that women should stop doing, with a handy little set of reasons why they aren’t cool and some alternatives.

 

  • · The problem: Pube (or any) waxing

° Why it isn’t cool: I’ve never done it, but I’m pretty sure it hurts, like a LOT, and that alone is reason enough not to do it. But if your own physical pain isn’t enough to override the insidious influence of the porn industry, think about what it means when dudes prefer women with no pubic hair.

° What you should do instead: Date people who are attracted to natural adult women, not children or plastic dolls.

  • · The problem: High-heeled and pointy-toed shoes

° Why they aren’t cool: Again, the main reason not to do this is that it causes physical pain, but it also restricts movement and causes long-term health problems. I used to work at a shoe store and I eventually got used to walking around for 8 or 9 hours in 4-inch heels with sharply pointed toes, but the sensation of wearing shoes like this for the first time should warn anyone off of doing it ever again. High-heeled shoes, especially those of the stiletto variety, vastly increase your likelihood of breaking your feet and ankles, and they force your toes into positions that will guarantee you bone spurs, bunions, and plenty of other heinous foot problems in middle and old age.

° What you should do instead: For fuck’s sake, don’t get your little toe shortened so you can keep wearing them. What would a dude do? He’d get some comfortable shoes and retain his ability to walk without fear of breaking his feet or incurring long-term damage, that’s what. Get some sneakers or flat shoes that at least somewhat follow the shape of the human foot rather than a garden spade.

  • · The problem: Make-up

° Why it isn’t cool: Women still make 70 cents on the dollar for what men make, so why are we spending 15 times what they do on grooming products? Make-up is not only a waste of money, it’s also a complete waste of time. Even if it only takes 5 minutes, it’s still too much. You could spend that 5 minutes reading my blog, thinking about ways to take down the man-chine, vandalizing misogynistic bus-stop ads, smoking angel dust, or sleeping. And then you wouldn’t have to deal with feeling like there was shit all over your face all day. Just imagine a situation in which your eye itches and you can just rub it, worrying not about exacerbating the problem by rubbing mascara flakes into your eye.

° What you should do instead: Not wear make-up. If your own money/time/comfort aren’t important enough to get you to knock off the face painting, just think about the fact that women have to paint themselves in order to be attractive. That situation ought to change, since it means that nature has been subverted and we are no longer born with what we need to propagate the species.

  • · The problem: Fake fingernails

° Why they aren’t cool: Let’s see… I can pay $30 to waste an hour of my life sniffing chemicals and making my hands less useful? Sweet! Although going to the nail salon does afford one the opportunity to get gossiped about in Vietnamese, it’s a waste of money and it isn’t good for you. The chemicals are carcinogenic, most salons aren’t sanitary, and they smell like a toxic waste dump. Plus, fake long fingernails make typing, dialing a phone, picking your nose, and… everything else you do with your hands harder. There’s a reason the only place you saw fake fingernails until about 20 years ago was in the porn industry: long fingernails are meant for people who do nothing but have sex and get looked at.

° What you should do instead: If you must have long nails, stick with growing your own pinkie nails out a la Chinese taxi drivers. But really, that’s also kind of stupid. Leave them short.

  • · The problem: Restrictive and impractical clothing

° Why it isn’t cool: Uh, it restricts movement. Anything that is so tight that it keeps you from being able to run, do the Kid ‘n’ Play, or step over things, and anything that will expose your private bits if you move the wrong way is a ridiculous imposition. And then there are impractical items of clothing like those fucking ridiculous short sweatshirts that leave the midriff exposed and those turtleneck tank tops. If it’s warm enough out to not clothe your midriff or arms, why the fuck do you need a sweatshirt or a turtleneck? What that means is that either a) you are suffering being too hot in order to wear the silly garment, or, more likely, b) you are suffering being too cold on one part of your body in order to sexualize yourself in spite of cold weather. Either way, it’s even dumber than wearing flip-flops with jeans.

° What you should do instead: Get some pants and a t-shirt.

  • · The problem: Plastic surgery

° Why it isn’t cool: The risks of death and disfigurement are pretty good reasons to not do something. I once had a neighbor whose friend had gotten a LOT of plastic surgery done all at once. For some strange reason, her body rejected the foreign objects she had implanted in her cheeks and chin, and didn’t respond well to having large chunks of flesh removed (imagine that!), so she ended up having to go through a year-long series of operations to try to correct the problems created by the first set, none of which were free of charge. She spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and came out looking vastly less attractive than she had been in the first place. People think that stories like this are rare, but the truth is that they aren’t. A much too large proportion of cosmetic surgeries require what plastic surgeons euphemistically call “revision”. What that actually means is that they come out so fucked up that more surgery is required to fix the scarring, misshapenness, or other such deformity caused by the first surgery. It is terrifically disturbing that we’ve reached a point in which people don’t seem to think it unreasonable to have surgery, an option usually deemed a last resort when it comes to actual physical disorders, in order to make themselves more porkable.

° What you should do instead: Get counseling. If you’re considering having an operation for cosmetic reasons, you’ve absorbed the more nefarious messages of our distorted culture to the point that you’ve completely lost the plot.

 


Bookmark and Share

If Bratz dolls were real, Bill Maher would be dating 5 of them.

13 Feb

There are a lot of things wrong with Bratz besides the stupid fucking “spunky”, “hip-hop” use of Z as a pluralizer (what if I started using a Q to make all C and K sounds?). I don’t suppose I’m breaking any new ground by discussing the Bratz phenomenon, but I’m going to talk about it anyway because my take on Bratz is probably more coherent than anyone else’s: Bratz dolls are a tangible distillation of the fact that American girls are expected to grow up to be materialistic, fashion-obsessed, boy-crazed, manipulative sex objects and nothing else. I’ve never seen a more brazen celebration of shallowness, vapidity, materialism, and lowered expectations than Bratz dolls and all of the merchandise and media that accompany them. If you aren’t familiar with Bratz, or even if you are, I’ll break the whole thing down for you here.

Bratz dolls are supposed to be the new millennium’s answer to tired-ass and cliched Barbie dolls: they aren’t all blond, they don’t all have the same hue of tan, and they … uh… don’t hang out with guys named Ken. They also have new-millennium rap-video dancer (or porn) names like Jade, Yasmin, Tiana, Ciara, Noemie, and other shit that gets a red line out of my spell-checker, and they supposedly resemble more closely the diversity of appearances represented in America than the Barbie line (more on that nonsense later). The line includes Bratz Babyz, Bratz Kidz, and the standard Bratz, but even these make Barbie look old as hell, what with their affluent-but-jobless club-hopping teenager vibe.

We all know that Barbies were a bad influence on girls; they gave us the idea that a) life revolved around fashion, being beautiful, and fashion, that b) we could play sports and have jobs, but only if we stayed beautiful the whole time, and that c) if we wanted to be beautiful, we’d better figure out how to be blond, 5’10”, 110 pounds, and have a 13-inch waist, giant boobs, and size 4 feet. Kind of a shitty message and one that I’d be glad to see go the way of Cross Colors.

So are Bratz really different from old Babs? Uh… NO. I would be stoked to see toys on the market for girls that offered more inspiring, or at least less limiting, messages than Barbie dolls did, but the makers of Bratz have somehow found a way to make a line of dolls that offers an even more constrained and unrealistic set of options and expectations to girls, all while creating the illusion of offering more options. It’s really fucking sinister, and it’s a brilliant example of just how insidious marketing and product development have become.

In broad terms, the Bratz world is limited to fashion, being into hip-hop or pop music, and that’s about it. No jobs, no sports to speak of (more on that later), no hobbies: Bratz are here to shop, do their hair, get dates, and be fucking snotty. But wait, you’ll say, they’re better than Barbie because they’re, like, multicultural and shit! It’s true, some of the dolls are a little browner than those in Barbie’s crew, but the vast majority of them are still white, and the ones that aren’t uphold a beauty standard in which non-white women are judged by how closely their hair and facial features resemble those of white women deemed “beautiful.” If there were actually any kind of diversity here (I’m talking about actual, not just ethnoracial, diversity), the dolls wouldn’t all look like clones dyed different colors; they’d be different heights, weights, and body types, they’d have different facial structures and hair textures, and they’d have different interests, talents, skills, and backgrounds. Arguing that these dolls are a progressive force because they come in different shades of do-able is like saying that racism is over because sports talk radio fans have agreed that they’d be willing to fuck Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, and Lucy Liu.

And speaking of that… the most disturbing feature common to Bratz dolls, even some of the Kidz and Babyz, is that they are completely and totally sexualized. I’m not a sociopathic marketing asshole, but I can see the hand of one in the faces of these dolls: giant collagen lips, huge half-closed eyes reminiscent of a cooing Playboy playmate, massively dilated pupils (which I have heard are a sign of sexual arousal), more make-up than Brett Michaels, long and (somehow) promiscuous hair, and completely stripperific clothing and shoes. Look at the lip liner on the one in the middle. She looks like Pamela Anderson. Honestly, the vast majority of these dolls look like porn “actors” on a day off.


bratz.jpg

And look at the fucking Babyz! They somehow have floor-length go-go dancer hair, the same heavy-lidded sexual stares as the regular Bratz, and the same plumped-up lips that remind one of the gross reason why men like Angelina Jolie, all at the age of 6 months! Did I mention that, in addition to the baby bottles they wear as fashion accessories, they are all wearing bathing suits? I truly would not be shocked to find one of these Babyz wearing a thong diaper. Seriously, have you ever seen sluttier looking babies?[1]

babyz.jpg

If kids have to play with miniature plastic humans, it’d be cool if they actually reflected a little bit of reality and gave girls something to think about besides how to get people to want to pork them. As it is, every single one of the dolls fits into the Bratz Fashion Slutz model. Even the obligatory sporty line (which of course includes a Z in its name), the Play Sportz collection, consists only of a doll who SCUBA dives in a silver wetsuit that looks more like the outfit of a Duran Duran back-up dancer, a doll that is into hip hop (which I didn’t know was a sport), one that has a silver hula hoop, and, of course, a fucking cheerleader (who apparently cheers for the pink team, judging by her ridiculously pink uniform). Sporty. Outside that perfunctory nod, the makers of Bratz dollz, gamez, bicyclez, underwear, televisionz, hamperz, lampz, suitcasez, chairz, and moviez are pretty comfortable with their message: being a girl means being overtly sexualized, being way into pink, being popular with boys with date-rapist names like Jordan and Skyler, and being a little asshole about it. The unfortunate part is that only about 1 in 100 girls gets to be a stuck-up sexbot. The rest just get to feel completely worthless because they don’t measure up to such a lame and vacuous standard.

284_webwatch_img1_bratz.jpg

The picture above pretty much sums up the the vibe Bratz are laying down and is a pretty succinct visual distillation of Bratz ideology. I hope people will comment with what they think these three would be saying if they could talk.



[1] Note: I use the term “sluttier” here for rhetorical impact. I don’t call people sluts, but I do recognize that that is one of the two default identities, the other being prude/wife material, that our culture allows women to assume.


Bookmark and Share

Milton Bradley to kids: Plastic surgery is a normal part of life.

4 Feb

I played Life when I was little. It was kind of a fun game, especially because it had a little 3-D wheel and exciting little game pieces that set it apart from plain ol’ flat game boards. I know that the message of the original game was a little uncool; it revolved around going to college, getting married, having kids, and amassing a fortune with which you were expected to buy a house, insurance, and stock, all before retiring as a millionaire if you were lucky, or going bankrupt (and then what?) if you weren’t. Apparently, any experiences that don’t follow this trajectory aren’t considered “life,” or at least won’t make you a winner in the game of life. I suppose it was already gross enough that the game gave children the idea that life revolves around getting married (and being straight), having kids, and money (not to mention wearing pink if you’re female and blue if you’re male), but the new version really takes unthoughtful participation in American consumerism and general tomfoolery to new heights.

One of the squares on the new version of the board says, “Have Cosmetic Surgery, Pay $100,000.” WHAT THE FUCK?! Have we actually reached a point where a room full of adults, when trying to decide on what to add to a children’s game to bring it up to date, would land on plastic surgery as the best option? I realize that the practice of allowing yourself to be put under potentially lethal general anesthesia and cut open, rearranged, and stapled back together has become more and more mainstream in the last few years, but I wasn’t aware that it had gotten to the point where the general public didn’t think it was inappropriate to suggest it to children who are still too young to know that their worth as human beings will someday be decided by how many people want to fuck them. Fucking unbelievable. And not only do the Milton Bradley people think that having plastic surgery is a normal part of life, they also think that a HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS’ worth of plastic surgery is nothing to blink at. Do you have any idea what kind of damage you can do to the human body with $100,000? That’s enough money to turn RuPaul into Danny DeVito.

I should have seen this coming. Remember that show The Swan? In that show, the producers paid for several women to have multiple cosmetic procedures, starved them, forced them to work out all day for like 6 weeks, then put them in a beauty pageant to prove that all but one of them still weren’t good enough. Then there are shows like Nip/Tuck, which, aside from offending the senses with some of the worst writing in television history, attempts to make entertainment out of women who are so obsessed with increasing the number of men who want to have sex with them that they will put semen on their faces and have a million dollars’ worth of plastic surgery. Then there’s Dr. 90210, probably the creepiest show on TV, in which we get to see just how unethical and ego-maniacal plastic surgeons can get. That “doctor” can frequently be seen urging women to go with breast implants 2-3 cup sizes larger than the size they say they want, and he can also be seen pushing surgeries on body parts these women didn’t even know they should be ashamed of yet. I rarely hear anyone even mention how unbelievably creepy these shows and what they represent are, so I suppose Milton Bradley execs are just more in touch with where the general public is at than I am. They’re the ones with the marketing department and the focus groups.

So, I guess that’s it. It’s now officially pathological to not look like a porn star, and kids ought to get themselves prepared for the eventuality that they’ll need surgery to correct nature. Good looking out, Milton Bradley.


Bookmark and Share

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 471 other followers