I’m writing this DOLLS blog as news of the devastation in Japan continues to pour forth from the television, radio, and Web sites. If you’re like me, the notion of being here one moment, and then swept away the next, is terrifying. It seems surreal, and the images I’ve seen so far appear like outtakes from an old disaster movie. How could so much horror be unleashed so rapidly? It doesn’t seem possible; yet it happened.
Doll collectors, artists, industry personnel have made their generosity known over the decades, and I hope this latest tragedy will also receive the attention and outpouring of necessary funds from the doll community. (There is an abundance of legitimate organizations listed on the Web. I’m giving to the Red Cross.)
How odd that just last week I was writing about the “hinas” of Japan and the festival of young girls—the centuries-old celebration that incorporates dolls as the conduits by which a girl’s family hopes for better health, more prosperous days, and a happier life.
Quite honestly, the Hinamatsuri festival and its hopes and aspirations have been shaken up and turned upside down by the earthquake, tsunami, and now nuclear threats. However, the courage, fortitude, and perseverance shown by the Japanese over the past 90 hours is admirable, and perhaps that’s the lesson to be drawn here. Through keeping their composure, approaching a godawful event with cool heads and clear focus, they are striving to ensure that the future of their nation continues on course and their people will not lose sight of their prior lives: doll celebrations and all.
With this in mind, knowing that everyone’s ears are turned toward news of the ongoing developments, I’m going to blog about some of the absurd doll prattling that I heard rattling about over the past week. Each thought is shorter, snappier, and, hopefully, will raise our spirits during this scary time.
Nair Wolf: I couldn’t make this up if I tried. There are groups in Britain that are clamoring for Mattel to issue an apology for their Monster High dolls. Why are these professional party-poopers angry with the U.S. toy giant? Is it because the dolls are too scary? Are they forcing folks to sleep with their night-lights on, draining the electrical grid? Are they too provocative? After all, the Bride of Frankenstein and any random she-devil never looked so unapologetically sexy. Nope, that’s not it. It’s because the dolls (specifically Clawdeen Wolf) are giving hirsute people “bad body images.” Yes, the doll that purports to be the daughter of the Wolfman is being taken to task because she shaves off her body hair. Emerging as a hairless, freshly shaven young girl, she is supposedly telling hairier females that they, too, must wax, strip, and shave. That’s a bad message for those among us who are blessed with more unsightly (and sightly?) hair follicles. What can Mattel do? Well, I imagine they can unleash a version of Clawdeen before she goes through her nocturnal Nair regimen. But then, of course, it would be a plush pal, and not a doll. It doesn’t bother me! I’d happily cover it in Teddy Bear Review. A female werewolf would be just the thing to liven up a teddy bear picnic!
Studs and Stud-ettes: Okay, My Little Pony characters are not technically dolls, but these four-legged figures are getting more and more doll-like with their accessories, costuming, and backstories. Just last week, concerned mothers have begun to complain that these mini horses are too whorish—I kid you not. This mom group (why am I never invited to join?) complains that the ponies are too “hot to trot.” Okay, they didn’t exactly say that, but that’s what they were implying. Yes, my daughter has a group of these horses (four, to be exact) and she likes having them interact as a family. I always looked at them as a magical stable of childlike possibilities. Now, with talk of sexy imagery, sensuous coiffures, and inappropriate detailing, “stable” has taken on a whole new “walk on the wild side” meaning. I never thought My Little Pony would be equated with Ladies of the Evening. (Though here’s an interesting and bizarrely coincidental side note: when Manhattan streetwalkers tried to unionize back in the 1970s, they banded together under the banner of PONY: Prostitutes of New York. Crazy coincidence . . . or is it?)
You DO that Voodoo: It seems like the plot of a bad horror novel, or the opening sequence from a low-budget ghost flick. A team of moving men are unloading artifacts and forgotten treasures from a mansion’s attic and cellar. They are getting ready to gather these things up for a high-stakes auction—because this home used to be the manse of the legendary Steinway family of Queens, there is an interest in its contents. (These are the Steinways who are the musical impresarios, creators of the applauded and lauded pianos.) Suddenly, a team of workmen comes across a large, heavy box. They “feel” something is not right about this discovery. They bring it to their supervisor, and when the box is opened, a voodoo doll is discovered, surrounded by four terrifying voodoo masks. No one can explain why this perfectly preserved kit for the dark arts is hiding among the sheet music and instruments in the attic. Panic and fear ensue . . . All we need is an Indian burial ground somewhere beneath this New York edifice, and I think Dean Koontz has his next best-seller.
Bieber Fever Spikes: I wrote about Justin when his first line of dolls launched—and though I didn’t buy any, my children gravitate toward them every time we go to Walmart. They can’t help themselves. His crop of amazing hair has to be seen to be believed, and the kids are desperate to touch the locks instead of just staring at it through the plastic packaging. Now, new Bieber dolls are being released for the express purpose of hairstyling and hairplaying. The young man who is lionized for his toothy smile and head of Donny Osmond hair is a fashion icon to the under 10-year-old set, and these new effigies feature REAL hair. Perhaps the makers of Monster High can do a cross-promotion with the Bieber people. I see a lovely wedding where the groom might possibly outshine the bride, or at least give Ms. Clawdeen Wolf a run for her money. Hirsute issues be damned—Bieber never apologizes for his luxurious MANE of hair. And there you go: all the sound bites tied together beautifully. Werewolf girls, sexy horses, and a prepubescent love god—all knotted together by follicles and foolishness—there had to be some kind of crazy voodoo being conjured up in the doll world this week! I’m going out to howl at the moon.