Barbie's World

January 2017 I came across Barbie's vlog the other and found it riveting. The view counts rank in the millions and the messages are generally positive. She describes personal challenges from her bedroom, even offers makeup tutorials and interviews. The above is a screen grab from a video about overcoming fears to audition for the role of Titania in Midsummer Night's Dream. To people my age and older it looks like an uncanny approximation of a relatively recent trope...the YouTube video blogger. Mattel mimes the quick cuts and unscripted self effacing monologue, the lip bites, the pauses, the hand gestures. To 'kids today' this is likely nothing more complicated than dressing 1961 Barbie in a nurse's uniform. Barbie as vlogger is just another career/look that fleshes out Barbie world pun not intended - more time and voice with a beloved character, more detail to world designed to draw fans. The ability to produce more detail around the figure across platforms and devices means there’s more canon to the Barbie world being produced now than ever before. Which means the average Barbie doll consumer has far less control over Barbie's narrative and life than before. Kids don't imagine it during play, Mattel broadcasts it to them. Which reflects a broader trend: the displacement of play in children's lives. Where there was once a doll to play with, now there's content to consume. That sounds grave, but it's nothing serious. By displacement I don't mean disappearance. Barbie was always fraught for her unachievable physical proportions. I believe kids are smarter now. They're learning sooner they're not meant to look like Barbie. Barbie desperately trying to look like them is a fine place for her to retire at.