Friday, September 16, 2011

2.3: Project-ing


Paul:  In this absurd world, humans seem hard-wired to project their internal life outward.  They identify with external attributes that they like.  They identify with fantasies and create emotional connections to people that they will never meet.  They mimic the behavior that they observe in those people:

Now take this concept and apply it to an object rather than a person.  Of course, the advantage is that a piece of plastic on the shelf is not going to make an embarrassing statement or a scandal.  You can project on it whatever you choose and it will not undermine the illusion.

Take your naked doll and clothe its naked villainy as you would like to look.  Identify with it.  Worship it.  Who are you?  Who do you want to be?  Have you fallen short of your image? 

Better yet, take the doll and mass-produce it.  Advertise it to humans in their imprinting stage of life.  Suddenly you have immense power in your hands.  It's an old story, but we'll tell it again. 

Barbie is a popular children's doll which features variations on a young girl.  [Laurie: I would say "young woman".] Paul: About ten years ago, Mattel, the doll's manufacturer, launched a line to compete with the popular Bratz dolls.  It is called My Scene Barbie (which, thoughout the episode, my brain kept hearing as Miocene Barbie.)  The line seems to be an attempt at a slicker, hipper Barbie, perhaps for the demographic referred to in some circles as "tweens," which is to say the phenomenon of pre-teens who are no longer children and long to be teenagers.  Why anyone would long to be a teenager at any point in their life is a complete mystery to me.

Miocene Barbie and friends
"Scene" hair image from
Laurie:  In my experience, the desire to be one "age group" ahead continues until just about age 35, at which point the pathetic attempts to freeze time or even travel backwards through it begin. And to prove that great minds often think nothing alike, I'll take this moment to mention that whenever I heard "My Scene Barbie" I kept envisioning a My "Scene" Barbie - which according to information gleaned from having recently parented teens would have more closely resembled this:

Paul: That reminds me of my goth club days and something I observed back then.  There would often be "that guy" at a goth club who was over the age of 25, often up to the age of 40.  It was generally understood by all of the children in attendance that there was something horribly wrong and creepy about that guy.  Which was true, but there was the unspoken lesson about the childishness of the whole "scene."  I think everyone knew in some capacity that they would either outgrow this by the time they were 25 or be "that guy."

Laurie:   But you digress.

Paul:  Tim Gunn announces that the designers are to meet a major fashion icon.  They are taken to a toy store and "introduced" to My Scene Barbie.  They are given the challenge to create an outfit for My Scene Barbie.  They do, but they also make full size versions of the outfit for a runway show. 

Boy oh Boy, I sure don't remember many of the designs.  I remember that Nick won with a cute little splashy greenish dress.  I remember Santino had a cute little purple thing that maybe was too advanced for the tween crowd.  I remember someone getting in trouble for using middle aged colors.

Laurie:   Yes, here's Nick's winning design. Splashy indeed! Very fun. Absolutely appropriate. A well deserved win.

Image via

Santino's design, image via
Laurie: Santino's dress is at left. Cute.  Were it not for Nick, he would have been the winner, and he knew it.  Nick's win was well-deserved, a fact Santino was in no way ready to recognize.

Paul: Santino is subsequently more upset about Barbie dolls than I have ever seen an adult male be.  Granted, it would be a high watermark in anyone's life to have an internationally famous doll with your design on it (which I just checked to find that they are currently selling in collector's circles for around $200.)  And so we begin to see Santino's fierce competitive side although in stark contrast to Wendy Pepper, we are still guided to love him.  He is a remarkably charismatic young man and no amount of his snark has dissuaded me from numbering him among my favorites (albeit in my second favorite season out of the one and a half we've watched so far.)

Laurie:  This episode's losing design has a back-story that deserves a mention.  The designer, Raymundo Baltazar, from the moment he was given the challenge began to express his rather strong feelings that little girls ought to be allowed to be little girls and not dolled up like strumpets.  (My words, not his.) His distaste for the My Scene Barbie look was evident, though he didn't express it outright. He thought that little girls aspire to be like the real grown-up women in their lives - mothers, sisters, etc, and so set out to design something that would reflect little girls' respect for their appropriate, tasteful, role models. This was a noble goal on his part, but exactly opposite, so far as I can tell, from My Scene Barbie's.  I was sincerely touched by his concern for the preservation of little-girlhood, and the treasuring of the females in his life that this clearly represents.  I liked the dress and would happily wear it, without the jacket that is.  I'm pretty perky for a middle-aged woman, but I'm no Barbie, and therein lies Raymundo's problem. He did seem like a genuinely talented and nice guy, though.  I hope he is doing well.

Raymundo's design via Hollywood Star News

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