Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh Snap

I've been doing a lot of thinking since reading at Laura's about the homeless American Girl doll. This doll has been out all year, but her being homeless is never mentioned in the description of the doll in the catalog or online. One has to read about or watch the movie about the main doll of this year's three-doll Doll of the Year set, in which Gwen the homeless doll is included, to find out the backstory, it seems. Probably why it took so long for outlets to latch on to this news.

Most people who objected to the doll took issue only with the fact that no proceeds from this particular doll went to help the homeless, although American Girl the company does apparently support various charities. I think there is more to it than that, however. Of course, every historical doll in the American Girl series has a "message;" all stories convey some sort of overall meaning. For Addy, the escaped slave from the 1860s, the overarching lesson learned was obviously about the suffering incurred with slavery, although being for young girls the books do not go into details of beatings and so forth, but more about how the family is temporarily broken apart as they escape to the North. Through Samantha's best friend, Nellie, girls can learn about some of the hardships of factory life at the turn of last century and how even children had to work to support their families. However, these were historical themes, and the main idea behind the dolls was to teach girls about history and how girls of long ago were not that different from girls of today. Now American Girl seems intent on turning their line of dolls into After School Specials, with a Very Special Message for every one. Do we need a toy company to teach our children that Being Homeless Is Sad and We Should Help Our Homeless Friends? My daughter retches every time she sees the commercial on the Disney Channel about some sort of environmental crusade that viewers are urged to take part in. More of that self-congratulatory We're So Special and So Concerned That We Will Come Together and Fix Everything. Do they feel the yoke of sin and choose this to try to expediate their guilt? Do they need to feel better about themselves?

Also concerning, as I scanned American Girl's site for information about Gwen, is that the Kirsten doll is being discontinued. This will make two dolls from the original set of three to be canceled, as the Samantha doll and all her things are long gone. Is American Girl going to phase out every historical doll and just become about dolls of today? How sad that the original vision of Pleasant Rowland is being swallowed up. I definitely will not be interested in buying anything more from this company. We'll have to get the things the Dancer wants for her American Girl doll from other sources if possible.

2 comments:

Jacob R Parker said...

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-Jacob Parker

jess said...

american girls have been going down hill ever since Mattel took over the company. it's really too bad, but i'm saving my original Addie stuff for when i have kids!