the suzi parker files

Politics, Pop Culture and Ponderings

Barbie, Journalism’s New Ambassador (and Badly Needed Savior?)

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Journalism has needed a global ambassador. Now it has one — Barbie.
Yes, Barbie has transformed into a news anchor. For the first time in the doll’s 51-year history, Mattel asked consumers to pick Barbie’s new adventure from five careers – architect, computer engineer, environmentalist, news anchor and surgeon. Forget Barbie designing her own dream home or saving the planet. No, Barbie needs to be in the middle of the action, and journalism certainly provides that some days.
In her new incarnation, the doll — looking like she just returned from Malibu — wears a pink suit with black and silver accents and black pumps with pink bows. Her long, blond hair is cut bluntly with bangs highlighting blue eyes with pink eye shadow. Her accessories include a microphone, a news camera and news folder — pink, of course — with a “B” on it. (Hint to Mattel: A notepad might have been a better prop. The folder makes her look like a secretary.) She does look a tad like the “bubble-headed bleach blonde” that The Eagles’ Don Henley sung about in 1982’s “Dirty Laundry.” Still, she has a mission.
News Anchor Barbie“Barbie as a news anchor can help inspire future female journalists with interactive role play that can help foster skills like storytelling, verbal/written communication, and creativity that comes with being a journalist,” according to a release from Mattel.
Journalism certainly can welcome an ally these days as newspapers and magazines struggle to stay afloat, and Sarah Palin turning red-state America against the “lamestream” media.
This isn’t Barbie’s first endeavor as a reporter. In 1960, just two years after the statuesque doll hit the toy scene, she could be dressed as a fashion editor. In 1985, Television News Reporter Barbie hit the shelves. That same year, she worked as a business executive, dress designer, veterinarian and a teacher. Busy girl. Last year, she took a page from “The Devil Wears Prada” and worked as a fashion magazine intern. (Who has time for Ken?)
Because Barbie is cute with fashionable looks, she could easily land interviews with Sarah Palin, who herself was a television sports reporter, and Christine O’Donnell, who could double as Gidget (as my Woman Up colleague Donna Trussell wrote) or even Barbie’s modern cousin, Francie.
But I like to imagine News Anchor Barbie pushing the journalism envelope more than settling for sit-downs with Palin and O’Donnell. Mattel should create an entire line of news anchor outfits. Any good reporter worth her byline should have camouflage in her closet (in case, she’s called to Afghanistan in the middle of the night), a pair of comfortable, chic black boots, a nice black pantsuit to blend in at news conferences and a passport. Think Christiane Amanpour.
But other questions arise: Would Barbie be more at home beside Fox News’ Sean Hannity or MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann? She could play the middle ground and find a home on CNN. Perhaps Barbie, having been born in 1959 at the height of the television revolution, would be old school and kick it on one of the three original networks, as Amanpour does these days.
Barbie has certainly evolved since her inception as a teen fashion model showing her curves in a black-and-white swimsuit. Unfortunately, she still gets a bum rap for her “perfect” figure and for once saying that math was hard. But what public figure hasn’t uttered something they regret saying? At least she hasn’t admitted to dabbling in witchcraft.
For all the shallowness, Barbie broke career barriers before women in the United States did. She was an astronaut in 1963, long before women busted the all-male space club. Ten years later, she was a surgeon — a ground-breaking career in the 1970s for women. In fact, the Association of Women Surgeons wasn’t even founded until 1981.
In 1992, Barbie ran for president while Hillary Clinton bucked the old-fashioned first lady stereotype. Politics called her again in 2000 and 2004, when she made runs for the White House.
As much as journalism needs Barbie, she should push the envelope. Maybe 2012 is the year she will forego news reporting to finally sit behind the desk in the Oval Office and become President Barbie.

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Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 9:48 pm

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