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By Ron Wells | May 4, 1998

How does a rip-off of a German toy for adults seep its way into the American consciousness? Good marketing and dumb luck, as told in this documentary. When Ruth Handler, the first president and a founder of Mattel discovered the original doll, “Lily” on a vacation, she knew what she had. While adult German men played and defrocked “Lily” in bars, Ruth had the idea of “Barbie”, named after her daughter, who would help pubescent girls come to terms with their developing breasts (Ruth has a major obsession with breasts). Mattel estimates there are now around one billion dolls in the world. This documentary follows the history of Barbie from the German doll to the iconic status the hunk of plastic has now attained, much to the chagrin of Mattel. The toy company, no longer run by Ruth after a stock scandal in the 1970s, still blindly believe they may control Barbieõs image. Too late. We find the modern Barbie wobbling between a target of feminism to drag queen Buhdda. Most touching are the people who use her as a security blanket to help them through troubled times. The price seems to be a bunch of bulimic teenagers.
If you have any love, hate, or mixed feelings for the little pink clad career woman, you’ll dig this even-handed documentary.

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