Thursday, February 12, 2004

Mattel And The Media

Memo to Mattel and "the media": YOU ARE DUMB.
Regular readers of You Are Dumb (and I now know there are some. SUCKERS!) may be aware that a personal pet peeve has already made itself apparent: shit that is NOT NEWS being paraded about as if it WERE NEWS.
Well, it's happening again. And this time, it's the "breakup" of Barbie and Ken.
First, to Mattel, and I say this with all the care and compassion of someone who both enjoys your products, and is involved with someone who REALLY enjoys your products: go fuck yourselves. I mean, come on. If you wanted some cheap publicity, just ship another pregnant doll or a guy with an earring. That's always good for some press. Maybe include something that looks a LOT like a beer bottle, but is actually a juice bottle, in the next toy car in the Barbie line. That'd be awesome.
But this faux "breakup" press release? Someone light a match. "Barbie(TM) and Ken(TM) have always been an extraordinary couple with so much on- and off-screen chemistry," said the pair's business manager, Russell Arons, Vice President Marketing, Mattel. "In fact, they just finished wrapping their fourth movie together, 'Barbie(TM) as The Princess and the Pauper,' which debuts this fall. And now they feel it's time to spend some quality time -- apart."
Here is an important hint. When a Vice President of Marketing spends five to ten minutes pretending to be part of an elaborate fantasy world of his own making, in which he is the business manager for two CGI models on a hard drive in Canada that aren't even models of people, but are instead models of PLASTIC DOLLS, this is not "whimsical". This is grounds for committment in at least 43 of the 50 states.
But hey, companies release dumb press releases all the time. Surely, the fictional separation of two hunks of plastic who have never had any kind of cohesive narrative throughout their 45 years of history anyway; surely, this would not be treated as news, not with a war, an election, and scandals aplenty, right? RIGHT?
WRONG. Meet Samantha Critchell, Associated Press writer and rapidly rising star on today's You Are Dumb Enemies List. Ms. Critchell not only reported on the story, but appears to have expanded on it with her own brand of delusional speculation.
Amongst the concepts in her AP piece on the press release, but not in the press release:
  • A shameless, insipid J-Lo/Ben reference (75 points).
  • The completely incomprehensible idea that the recently released Cali Girl Barbie's deeper tan, hoop earrings, and board shorts somehow reflect her "single status" (60 points).
  • That the Blaine doll has the hots for the Barbie doll (45 points).
  • That Ken is jealous of Barbie's many careers, including Pink Astronaut, Pink Rock Star, Pink Veterinarian, Pink Teacher, and Pink Professor of Quantum Pink Mechanics at Pink Polytechnic University, home of the Super Pink Conducting Super Pink Collider. I may have made that last bit up. (25 points).
That's a total of 205 Dumbass Points, which would be a record even if this weren't the first time I'd ever mentioned or tallied them.
Ms. Critchell gets singled out for the dumbhate because, upon being handed the press release by her editor, she did not, apparently, sigh with regret, whip out 500 words of perfunctory prose, then go home and get drunk. No, she decided to have "fun" with it. To "liven up the piece". To take Mattel's nigh-psychotic little fantasy world and just run with it. She's not the only one to have done so, admittedly. FOX News and Ananova covered it, too. But you expect that kind of thing from them. FOX even managed to work in a bit about parents explaining this horrible news to their traumatized children. GO FOX.
You wanna know how much of a non-event this is? By comparsion, this makes the Death of Superman bullshit back in '93 seem like it actually fucking happened. Alien archaeologists are going to see this in the archives, and through comparative methodology, spend five fruitless years looking for the broken-off bone spurs of Doomsday in the rubble of Metropolis. Then, one day, they'll stumble across two or three closets still full of copies of the bagged comic with the black armband in it, go home, and get drunk. Because unlike certain marketing VP's and AP reporters, they will be horribly embarassed that THEY WERE DUMB.