News & Politics

Valley of the Dolls

Mattel recently announced that supercouple Ken and Barbie are splitsville. Will Cali Girl Barbie move in on Ken? Will Barbie fall prey to Blain the Australian boogie boarder's sexy accent?
If "Bride of Chucky" taught us anything it was that your dolls don't always act like you think they're going to. In fact, dolls who have relationships with other dolls break up sometimes. It isn't anything you do. They have their reasons. "You're so plastic." "We never talk anymore." "What the hell did you do to your hair?"

We were all so busy with Bennifer we didn't see this trouble brewing in a far more appealing pair, a couple that were more established than milk and cookies: Ken and Barbie. Can you believe it? They've broken up. "Like other celebrity couples, their Hollywood romance has come to an end," the Associated Press quoted Mattel marketing VP Russell Arons, as saying. How much money marketing people get to decide that inanimate objects need time apart...instead of just putting them in different rooms....would probably make us all pea green with envy. Nontheless, we are stuck wondering "Where did the love go?"

Mattel denied the breakup had anything to do with a new surfer-sexy Cali Girl Barbie. The AP's story detailing the announcement mentioned that this Barbie "has already has attracted a new admirer, Blaine the Australian boogie boarder," although you could make him a regional produce manager from Phoenix if you liked. There is a Cali version of Ken: I did the difficult footwork of going to Toys R Us and checking. He looks all surf sexy, too, but has "Ken" on his wrist tag, so Blaine must be someone different. At any rate, Blaine automatically has the exotic cachet of being Australian, which means he also probably has an accent. Accents are seductive. Barbie might have this same proclivity for accents and while she is a smart girl, we are all the playthings of our hormones. Ken, it would seem, doesn't stand a chance.

But why would we think Ken wants a chance?

Here I have to say that while Mattel may own Ken and Barbie legally they are culturally the property of us all and we can do what we want with them: make them break up, stay together, exchange heads, or colonize Saturn, if we have a basketball and a hula hoop handy. Dolls are about interpretation and my theory is that, knowing that Barbie will land safely in the arms of Blaine, Ken can finally stop living a lie.

Ken is gay. Ken has always been gay. For god's sake, who else shaved their chest in the 60's (or I'm at least assuming he does). You'll notice that while they were polite to each other, he and GI Joe never hung out. Joe always looked at Ken like a grenade whose pin had been pulled: a little unsure. That's what it was like back in the day. It was a time when a gay man in the public eye needed a "beard," a girlfriend or wife to create the required appearance of heterosexuality. Barbie was a perfect beard. She was busy getting her me dical degrees, practicing for the WNBA and getting her pilot's license, leaving Ken to do what he liked and it was a nice arrangement. Mattel has said they will stay friends. Of course they'll stay friends. They've always been friends. They were Will and Grace before Will and Grace were born.

But now, with social conventions loosening and Blaine waiting in the wings, Ken, who has been a rock for the past 43 years, can finally move along and marry Gay Ken. I have this on good authority from my Cher doll who employs Gay Ken as a stylist. While they were sorting her shoes one he told her that he and Ken were going to Toronto to get married. They would have liked to have done so in San Francisco or Boston because it would have been easier to get them there (by means of putting a small plastic lobster in the background). Also one wants to think one has equal protection under the law in one's own country.

At any rate, we have all always loved Toronto and are excited to build a CN Tower out of paper towel tubes and a coffee can so their enduring love can be celebrated in that charming city. Ken and Gay Ken's ceremony will officiated by Sock Monkey who I just made a judge. Ren and Stimpy will act as best men and the guest list includes several teddy bears, an assortment of Sponge Bob figures and of course Cher. Ken and Gay Ken are registered at Restoration Hardware and will honeymoon either in Bermuda (next to the the fish tank) or in Zurich (the freezer). They couldn't be happier.

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