Barbie Kicks The Bratz Out Of The Dollhouse
Posted by Clem Bastow on December 5, 2008
After a lengthy court case (Mattell successfully sued the makers of Bratz, alleging that MGA Entertainment’s Carter Bryant was still working at Mattell when he came up with the Bratz concept; Bratz have been Barbie’s major competitor since their 2001 debut), MGA Entertainment have been ordered to cease production of Bratz dolls. Once the Christmas sales are over, shelves must be cleared, and the copyright for the bobble-headed fashion dolls (so often raised in conversations about the apparent “sexualisation” of children and teens) will ‘return’ to Mattell, who have not indicated whether or not they will begin their own production of the Bratz line.
Barbie has long been a lightning rod for feminist debate, but at least she’s had a job (well, many, though her recent return to Princessdom is a little played out); to me, Bratz’ raison d’etre seemed to be fashion, consumerism and sex (even if it was only implied, but you can’t tell me the ‘Formal Funk’ prom night playset didn’t look geared to take it back to the hotel suite after the afterparty).
Of course, Barbie’s body and face remains ridiculously idealised to the point of surrealism, but surely it says something about the doll market’s evolution that putting a Bratz playset or two next to Barbie makes the latter look like a hopeless nerd. It’s hard to imagine Bratz letting Share A Smile Becky in on their fashion sprees.
What do you think? Are Barbie and Bratz one and the same, or would you rather play Barbies over Bratz? I’d also be very interested to hear from some parent Chorus members – do you steer clear of both dolls, or do you see Barbie as the lesser of two evils?