By now everyone who would possibly care has heard of the Barbie Liberation Organization: a presumably wacky collective of Californian culture jammers who buy talking Barbie and GI Joe dolls, swap the voice boxes, and then replace the dolls on store shelves. Presumably this leads to some interesting Christmas morning surpises. They've even been on "Sixty Minutes", for chirssakes, as sure a sign of polite applause by the bi-coastal media axis as anything short of a guest spot on "Friends". But others have started to take potshots at the world's friendliest symbol of self-image distortion; and true to the relentless culling of Darwin's predators promises to be orders of magnitude more cost effective.
Calling themselves the Barbie Disinformation Organization, the group strikes not at the dolls themselves, but at the packaging that envelops and contextualizes them. They print up stickers in a style identical to traditional Mattel packaging and slap them on Barbie products on the shelves (front and back), effectively replacing Mattel's pleas to the daddy's little girls of the world with their own. And what tow-headed little princess wouldn't want the "Barbie Lesbian Barber Shop" (formerly "Barbie's Stylin' Salon"), complete with instructions on how to give Barbie "Dyke Haircut nos 1 & 2". And what father wouldn't want her daughter to beam in psychotic gratitude for "Lipstick Lesbian Betty" (formerly "Barbie's Best Friend Betty". There's something for the young presumably pre-date raping males as well- somehow "Secret Agent #007 -- with uppercut punch action!" Becomes "Corporate Drone Dan -- with Gropomatic(tm) Fanny-Patting Grip".
The beauty of the BDO is that every gram of sticker-glue they apply exposes just how much Barbie is just a freakish mannikin of plastic upon which we hang our own psycho-sexuo-cultrual clothes. It was highly amusing to watch the reactions of one of SurReview's own editors (who will rename nameless) upon seeing a Barbie doll in a cheerleader outfit and reading about the adventures of "Theme Hooker Barbie".
Logistically the BDO is a clear winner; Manhattan Project style back-of-the envelope calculations reveal that the BDO could taint the Barbie supply of the entire West Coast for the cost of a loaded Lexus. They bear little risk of capture, and the stickers are so convincing enough not to stand out. And if they inspire copycat groups, so much the better--presumably there are enough lumbering, dinosaurian dreams of 48" chests, shiny convertibles, and bland bronzed plastic boyfriends suffocated and fossilized by the comet impact of biological and economic reality to light NOW meetings for the next century.
Exactly who the BDO are remains a mystery. Most of their reported "strikes" have occured in the Northeast, in upstate New York, Boston, and Philladelphia. Given the sexual and sociological blender they run their copy through, it's inevitable they are left-leaning and strongly involved in gay/lesbian/bisexual groups. The only known communique from the BDO claims to be written by a mysterious "Anne-Marie", and was mysteriously included in hundreds of unstickered "Holiday Magic" Barbies this past Christmas, as well as mailed to many media outlets.
I fear that in the future the BDO may lean towards Act-Up-style stridnecy in their tactics; I hope they stay on the high road paved by The Simpsons and continue to saturation bomb the minds of America's toy buying and consuming public with paradoy and sarcasm. Let's hope they remember the advice given by the "Dust Bowl Barbie and Okie Dokie Ken Migrant Farm Family" playset; "Just because Barbie is penniless and moving cross-country in a desparate attempt to establish a better life for her coming child, doesn't mean she can't accessorize properly."
-- Peggy Marguiles