Thursday, May 19, 2005

Eat lead, Cobra!

This morning's topic of discussion at Planning Shop headquarters involved the question of the talking Barbie doll. Possibly the most frequently quoted celebrity around here, talking Barbie's cries of "Math is hard!" and "Shopping is fun!" can be heard echoing throughout the vast expanses of Planning Shop territory, usually when one of our more computer literate team members (Arthur) attempts to explain some sort of computer- or software-related function to one our less computer-literate team members (anyone besides Arthur).

I can't remember what prompted this morning's cry of "Math is hard" from the Northwest quadrant of the office, but that led to a discussion of whether an actual Barbie doll had at some point been manufactured to say these ridiculous (but true) things (Rhonda's position), of if these statements had actually been proclaimed by Malibu Stacy, the Barbie doll parody, in an episode of The Simpsons (my position--I was pretty sure that there had been a talking version of Malibu Stacy who said these things, prompting Lisa to protest the sexist doll and spawning the manufacture of Graduate Student Stacy. I was pretty dang sure.).

"I'm confident that you posses the skills to find these things out," commented Rhonda. And find them out I did.

Rhonda, you win. In 1992, Mattel gave us Teen Talk Barbie, who says--you guessed it--"math is hard," "shopping is fun," "meet me at the mall," "can we ever have enough clothes?" and "let's plan our dream wedding!" How did I miss this? I guess I was busy studying in my algebra class.

The best part though, is what the BLO (Barbie Liberation Organization) managed to do:

"Taking advantage of similarities in the voice hardware of Teen Talk Barbie and the Talking Duke G.I. Joe doll, er, 'action figure,' the BLO absconded with several hundred of each and performed a stereotype-change operation on the lot.

The surgery was no simple matter - circuit boards had to be trimmed, a capacitor moved, and a switch re-engineered. The press made it sound like an easy pop-and-switch operation, but this took some research and dedication.

The BLO returned the altered dolls to the toy store shelves, who then resold them to children who had to invent scenarios for Barbies who yelled 'Vengeance is mine!' and G.I. Joes who daydreamed 'Let's plan our dream wedding!'"

Vengeance is yours, Barbie. Vengeance is yours.

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