Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Slag's uninformed movie review: Bratz: the Movie

Ladies and gentlemen and sentient AIs, I am pleased to announce that Total Drek has joined yet another meme of the ol' Interwebs: I am reviewing a movie that I have not seen. The difference, though, is that I am admitting up front that I have not seen Bratz: the Movie. Nor do I have any intention of seeing the... movie. But I've totally read the review from The Onion, as well as an Onion blog entry about the movie, and I've seen the trailer while waiting to see Harry Potter and Holy Fuck, J.K. Rowling is Richer than the Queen!

So, what follows is entirely my uninformed opinion. But, if you wanted to read informed opinions, then why are you reading a blog entry from someone called "Slag" on a blog called Total Drek?

Bratz: the Movie (note replacement of s by z for extra coolnezz) is the The Movie embodiment of the popular-among-9-to-13-year-old-girls Bratz line of dolls, which feature enormous eyes, small noses, and tight-fitting doll dresses. The Onion described them as "Barbies for the Paris Hilton era." Not knowing any 11-year-old girls, I was only vaguely aware that the Bratz line existed, but after seeing them, that description seems appropriate. The slogan at the bottom of their web site is "The only girls with a Passion for Fashion!"(TM)

The The Movie follows tells the story of four dolls, um I mean girls, who are BFFs.* But when they enter a new school for reasons that the trailer doesn't make clear (and for which I am too lazy to see the movie), they join separate cliquez, meeting new friends who are interested in science, music, sports, and cheerleading. (Incidentally, my hot Belgian wife is constantly amazed by the presence of cheerleading, which is unique to American culture. They seem to serve no obvious purpose other than to wear short skirts and get the crowd excited.**) The former BFFs, now part of their new groupz of friendz, start to be mean to each other.

After what the Onion terms "a poorly choreographed food fight," the girls realize that their former BFFship is worth holding on to, so they concoct some sort of elaborate revenge on the movie's villian, a rich, materialistic, cliquish high school girl involving ruining her televised sweet 16 party. The heroes - rich, materialistic, cliquish high school girlz - save the day and become BFFs forever forever.

The moral of this story appears to be that cliquez are bad, unless they unite people based on shopping rather than something as shallow as shared interests, in which case they're like totally awesome. And you can share in the awesomeness for just $19.98 at your local Walmart.

Remember that the target audience is 9-to-13-year-old girls.

What does this all mean? Movies that exist only to sell a product are not unique to this generation.**** Nor is the sexualization of adolescence.***** Nor is this unique to this point in history - not too long ago in western society, teen pregnancy was considered a joyous and expected outcome, not a problem to be solved.

What bothers me about Bratz pushes commercial sexualization back to before puberty. True, young girls have been playing with Barbie since 1959, and Barbie has been variously sexualized since the very beginning. But the explicit "passion for fashion" consumerist ethos of Bratz seems new, and somehow more insidious, than even Barbie's small dresses do. Bratz may be an update of Barbie, but it seems to be a worse update. The American Psychological Association seems to agree with me. In February 2007, their "Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls" released this statement:

Bratz dolls come dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings, and feather boas. Although these dolls may present no more sexualization of girls or women than is seen in MTV videos, it is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality.

To which a Bratz company spokezman responded:

The Bratz brand, which has remained number one in the UK market for 23 consecutive months focuses core values on friendship, hair play and a 'passion for fashion'.

"Passion for fashion" as a core value?

Looks like our values need to change.

*BFF = "Best Friend Forever," OMG LOL!
**I know this sounds mean, but seriously, what do cheerleaders do?***
***Note that I don't blame the cheerleaders themselves; they are mostly good people who are just trying to fit in in high school or college or society like so many other people.
****Rest in peace, Orson Welles, and have mercy on Hollywood for making the 1986 version of Transformers your final movie appearance.
*****This song is now 9 years old. And seriously, a 17-year-old girl signing Hit me, baby, one more time?


Blogger Bad Runner said...

Mostly, cheerleaders jump, run around, and yell. Some of the better ones do actually athletic things. In other words, they do pretty much the same thing the defensive backfield is doing out there on the gridiron, which, it can easily be argued, is just about as purposeless.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 9:35:00 AM  
Blogger Drek said...

It's interesting to think of the extent to which all of this was reflected in Marx's writings. He argued that the only way capitalism could support itself in the long-term was to continue expanding into new markets. At the time, I think he meant in terms of geography, but in a sense the Bratz dolls are just an effort to penetrate more deeply into existing consumer markets. You can sell a lot of products when you train people from birth to believe that they can't live without them.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 9:38:00 AM  
Blogger SARA said...

"why are you reading a blog entry from someone called "Slag" on a blog called Total Drek" - I ask myself that quite often ~ sigh ~ but I keep coming back ~double sigh~ ;)

Great content, great topics/insight but the easy use of the "F" word on this site...but that is my point! It's become acceptable and a matter of speech from the constant exposure and use over too with the dolls or the "passion for fashion "mentality...society will slowly begin thinking there's nothing the matter with the "passion for fashion" attitude since marketers stick it in your face all the time, sales, movies..young girls growing up under this influence will see it as a norm...just as the "F" word has slowly entered it's way into society, becoming somewhat acceptable.

Slag..thank you for your informative movie review.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Slag said...

Dan Myers: You're right, it's easy to ask what the purpose of sports is, especially sports teams representing a school. People like it, and it brings a lot of money into the school. But it's legitimate to ask what purpose it serves. This could be a topic for a future post.

Drek: It is interesting to think about it in the context of expanding a market. I'm not familiar with Marx's writings, but your interpretation makes sense. Capitalism has to keep going, and to keep going it has to expand into new markets. But when it expands into new markets, it must sometimes expand into morally questionable territory. Anti-globalization advocates sometimes refer to capitalism as a "race to the bottom," and while I have trouble with a lot of what they say, there is truth in this message. Maybe Bratz is a way of pointing this out to people.

S.S. Stone, you read an informative movie review? Please send me the link so I can read it too. Surely you must not mean what you read here. And yeah, you're probably right about me overusing profanities on the blog. I don't think the F-word is related to the Bratz phenomenon, but it does make it more acceptable to casually do things that were once unacceptable. I'll try to tone it down in the future.

Everyone: a thought occurred to me. Barbie is just as sexualized and consumerist as Bratz are: you saw her dress in the Wikipedia article, and there are lots and lots of happy happy expensive Barbie clothes and playsets that you can beg your parents to buy. But Barbie always pretended to be about womanhood and family, and was never so honest as to proclaim herself as being about a "passion for fashion." Bratz is at least entirely honest about what it is.

So maybe Bratz are a sign that the world is getting better?

Friday, August 10, 2007 6:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bratz are a sign that are heads are getting bigger, and girls wear make up when theyre still in diapers. The latest one? "The Bratz babies", so babies with a passion for fashion? Hell clothes designers already feed senseless crap into the lives of teens (pants that fall so far down your knees it looks like the guy wearing them has shit himself). But to be honest, after the cabbage patch kids, nothing surprises me anymore.

Monday, September 22, 2008 1:37:00 PM  

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