Feminist Spidey Sense


03.20.09 by Sarah | 8 Comments | Digg This

In an effort to make their character “grow” with their demographic, Mattel has given Dora the Explorer a “makeover” for Nickalodeon. Mattel, of course, is the maker of Barbie, so I suppose we should just be grateful that they didn’t turn her into a freakishly proportioned white girl who never leaves her mansion and hangs out with men who have no genitalia.

New Dora has ditched her practical sneakers, short hair, and sensible clothes for a girly tunic, flowing long hair, and what appears to be lip gloss. Yeah, I’d like to see how those flats and ribbons hold up in the rain forest. But at least she could use her jewelry to buy off international sex slavers!

But it sounds like we needn’t worry about Dora accidentally decapitating herself when her hairband gets caught on a tree branch or the effects of humidity on her make-up. In lieu of, uh, “exloring”, Dora will now be “solving mysteries that involve school, wildlife, and the environment with three friends”. I bet one of them will be a sassy black girl who never gets her own storylines and who offers unconditional support/life advice!

Gina Sirard, vice president of Marketing for Mattel:

Girls really identify with Dora and we knew that girls would love to have their friend Dora grow up with them, and experience the new things that they were going through themselves. The brand captures girls’ existing love of Dora and marries it with the fashion doll play and online experiences older girls enjoy.

Is it really desirable that toys “grow” with their demographic? It seems more natural to simply let them go on to more age-appropriate things (like sexting!) and replace them with new little girls and boys. And thank god they usually do; otherwise Warner Brothers would forced us to witness the horrifying spectacle of an aging Fred, Velma, and Daphne driving around in a ramshackle van and trying to get people to let them solve various real estate/inheritance scams. (Scooby and Shaggy would of course be long dead, their obvious drug problems having turned them into street people and led to their early demise.)

Dora’s not the only toy or cartoon character spending time in the beauty salon; everyone from Strawberry Shortcake to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are getting tarted up lately. It seems kind of redundant for some of them; we already knew the My Little Ponies were skanks. You don’t need to shove our faces in it!


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