2011-11-09 / Opinion

Tat-tered dreams

by Alex McRae

Everybody in the world has an opinion about where the U.S. is headed. But if you want to know the current state of the union, it’s easy. Just check out what the kids want for Christmas.

Times have definitely changed.

During the Great Depression kids were thrilled by Christmas gifts today’s tykes would throw in the trash. My mother always talked about how excited she and her siblings were to find a piece of fruit (and nothing else) in their Christmas stockings. For as long as I had a stocking, it bulged with an orange on Christmas morning. Traditions die hard.

After World War II, America was the world’s undisputed superpower and rebuilding like mad. Young boys eager to follow in dad’s hard-working footsteps kept Santa’s sleigh overloaded with Erector Sets and Lincoln Log kits.

Between construction jobs, make-believe battles featuring toy soldiers and plastic cowboys prepared the boys to take on the next batch of global bullies. Meanwhile, baby boom girls swooned over baby boom dolls that prepared them to nurture the next generation.

The themes are the same today, but the toys have changed. Young boys now sharpen their fighting skills with video games that allow them to slaughter boatloads of bad guys without getting a grass stain or a bruise. I can’t wait for the video game that pits GI Joe against Jihad Johnny.

Thankfully, little girls still love their dolls. And over the years, Barbie was never a bad choice for young ladies.

But now, even the world’s most popular doll is giving some people second thoughts. Or a case of the creeps. Mostly because the hottest new Barbie is covered with more ink than the comics page in the Sunday paper.

Just in time for Christmas— Tokidoki Barbie, an all new, tattoo-covered model designed by Milanbased fashion house Tokidoki.

We shouldn’t be surprised. The world’s celebrities now sport more tattoos than the entire Seventh Fleet. And Mattel, which has been cranking out Barbies by the billion since 1959, didn’t create a huge best-seller by ignoring trends.

I only cringed a little when Mattel introduced Teen Talk Barbie and NASCAR Barbie. And I was only mildly disturbed a couple of years ago when Totally Tattoos Barbie offered optional stick-on tats. But Tokidoki Barbie’s tats are there to stay.

Tokidoki Barbie is a real show stopper, featuring pink hair, stiletto heels and an upper body overflowing with tattoos that include a large flower across the chest and a tiger curling around Barbie’s neck.

Traditional parents are aghast. Hipper parents aren’t concerned at all. In a recent news story, 30- year- old New York mom Candace Caswell said, “Have you seen Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Rihanna? They are capturing a snapshot of pop culture the way it really is.”

Another New York mom, Sue Dennis, said the inkedup Barbie is a good role model for her boy. “I have a 16 month-old son,” Dennis said, “and the Tokidoki Barbie is more the diverse image of women I would like to present to him versus more traditional ones.”

Tattooed Barbies are clearly here to stay. My question is, what’s next?

Will Mattel roll out a body-pierced model called Pin Cushion Barbie? How about a hard- partying Binge-Drinking or Pill- Popping Barbie?

Maybe we’ll see Unemployed Barbie fight corporate greed alongside her pals Occupier Barbie and Anarchist Barbie. Supporters of girls in combat would love to see Bazooka Barbie.

The only model you’ll never see is Stay-at-Home Mom Barbie.

Oh, well. Trends come and trends go. One day unpainted skin will be hip again. But that’s then. This is now. And for Christmas 2011, nothing says, “Ho” (ho, ho) like Tokidoki Barbie.

(Send your e-mail comments to: alex@newnan.com)

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