Saturday, October 20, 2007

Just like in real life!

I remember when the major complaint most people had with Barbie was that the doll's figure was unrealistic.

At first, it actually seems like this commercial is preaching financial responsibility.

Voiceover: "Shopping Boutique is a whole store with 11 fashion pieces, a checkout counter, and a credit card for you!"

It probably would have been easier just to make the store, right? There wasn't any specific need to throw a credit card in there. So I'm glad they're teaching young girls that in the real world, clothing has a cost. You can't just "buy everything you want," despite the song in the background. That's a good message.

Voiceover: "When you find the perfect outfit..."
Song: "Buy it!"
Credit card machine: "You have 200 dollars!"
Girl: "Pink is perfect!"
Voiceover: "Another perfect outfit!"
Song: "Buy it!"
Credit card machine: "150 dollars!"

See? Good message. Not only does clothing cost money, but your credit card has a limit. You can't just keep spending indefinitely. That money counts down. Eventually, it runs out.

Other girl: "I love shopping!"
Voiceover: "You never run out of money!"

...oh. Oh no.

Look, Mattel. I get that it would be pretty silly and/or awkward to have a credit card that runs out of money in your toy set. It's not that I expected the credit card machine to say "Sorry, you're over your limit!" But it would have been easy to avoid sending the message to young girls that credit cards are just shopping devices you can use without consequences: don't include a fake credit card. Have we really reached a point where girls would reject a toy set because it lacked a credit card, and they've seen Mommy buy enough at the mall to know that the little piece of plastic is the way you get things?

And not only does the card never run out of money, but it's not like the girls are asked to do anything so complicated as pay a bill. Again, I realize that this would be a pretty complicated piece of information for a couple of ten-year-olds, but why couldn't they just not include a credit card? If they're too young for one piece of information, aren't they too young for all of it? Instead, we're just raising a generation of kids who are going to spend large portions of their lives in credit card debt because they've never been able to grasp the concept that a credit card is really just a loan system and you're expected to pay back those loans in prompt fashion.

As long as we're going to go down this road, though, I've got a few other ideas for Mattel:

The new Barbie Casino! Gamble all you want - you'll never run out of money!

The new Barbie Buffet! Eat all you want - you'll never gain a pound!

The new Barbie Dream Car! Drive as fast as you want - you'll never get a ticket!

New Smoke 'n' Drink Barbie! Use as much as you want - what could go wrong?


Quivering P. Landmass said...

A chilling sign of our times.

I'm confused as to why it's a life-sized credit card that you can use in a miniature check-out counter. That's going to be hard for Barbie to fit into her $150 1/32 scale purse.

Windier E. Megatons said...

That's a good point. Who's shopping, Barbie or the girl? Maybe the girl is just being taught how to spend a small fortune on doll clothes for her eventual daughter.

c12h22o11 said...

Back in the mid-1980s, when I was a girl, you could get Barbie accessories that were appropriately sized to the doll (see: Businesswoman Barbie with her credit card). Now that people are concerned about children swallowing things that are not food, we've got Barbie hamburgers the size of her head and Barbie credit cards the size of a rucksack.