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Monday, January 28, 2013

Barbie Knocks One Out of the Ballpark

I'm not a big fan of Barbie. Not really.

Growing up, I wanted to be her, of course. I was much older before I realized that her body proportions are unattainable by mere mortals.

So it was with little wonder why I was reluctant to let my daughter view a Barbie DVD she received for Christmas from someone who obviously did not know my feelings about the diva doll.

I watched it with her, and I have to say....

I was WRONG.

(Not about the body proportions, though.)

Mattel Entertainment did a wonderful job with Barbie as Rapunzel. I liked this movie better than I did Disney's version, Tangled. That's saying something, because I think that movie is as cute as all get out.

There are two reasons why Barbie rocks Rapunzel better: 

1) There's a moral premise.

My daughter actually came away having learned a lesson. Here's the moral premise (a la Dr. Stanley Williams) of Barbie as Rapunzel:

Telling the truth leads to happiness and love.
Telling lies leads to bitterness and solitude.

Tangled did not have a moral near so clear, if indeed it had one. (Perhaps Flynn Rider learned not to steal?) Barbie manages to escape her Cinderella-like captivity to Lady Gothel by finding a secret passage way out of the house.  While out in the village, she meets the prince, unbeknownst to her. She leaves before catching his name, which proves to be a very important point later.

Lady Gothel's pet rat? otter?--you tell me--sees Rapunzel with a guy and tells Gothel, who demands to know who he was. Rapunzel honestly didn't know, but Gothel believes her to be lying, so magically creates a tower to keep her locked away.

Resourceful Barbie Rapunzel paints a scene with a magic paintbrush that enables her to leave the tower. She runs into the prince again, and he gets her name, but Barbie Rapunzel actually asks him not to tell her his name, because it was "better for her not to know."

Sure enough, Gothel asks Rapunzel again, and she honestly answers that she doesn't know who the man was she met. Her truthfulness enables her to break through the spell Gothel placed on the tower, which was intended to bind the lying heart inside forever.  

2) Gothel isn't cruel because of vanity.

In Disney's version, it's apparent that Mother Gothel only takes Rapunzel because of her magic hair. that enables her to stay young. In Barbie's version, Lady Gothel, as she is called, has a whopper of a backstory.

We get hints of it very early on that she has a history, something to do with a man in her past and a slashed picture of them. As a result, she's a far more developed character in general because of it. Anjelica Houston does a marvelous job of making her spectacularly evil and somewhat sympathy-inducing...because it was ultimately a broken heart which prompted her to steal Rapunzel and get her comeuppance in the end.

So, this therapist's take on Barbie has been altered. Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't judge a poor doll by her abnormally svelte legs and neck. My daughter and I have watched several more Barbie movies as a result, and I believe Mattel has some creative writers on its team, and your children would benefit from the morals of these stories.

Let's Analyze

Have you ever watched a Barbie flick? What did you think about it?