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Ken's new look

Ken's new look


Reinventing Barbie's beau as a misunderstood metrosexual may not be the best way to keep this plastic couple in the public eye

I never cared much for Barbie. Oh, she's pretty, there's no denying that. But as a young girl I preferred active games to playing make-believe with dolls. Frankly, I found Barbie really boring. As an adult, admittedly, I do feel a sense of guilt for dismembering Barbie on more than one occasion. I'm not a dark or violent person, just a curious sort who wanted to find out what made her tick.

That's why the latest announcement by Mattel may have caught my attention. After a two-year breakup, in an effort to win back his former flame, Ken has undergone an extensive makeover. While their PR people offered the usual excuses for the split, citing the couple's need for "some quality time apart," rumors about Ken's sexual orientation continue to swirl. I suspect that Barbie's tryst with some Aussie surfer dude named Blaine may have expedited their untimely demise, but that's just a guess on my part.

Mattel, whose recent sales have taken a hit after their chief competitor, Bratz, became the number-1 selling doll, has spared no expense in ensuring that Ken's coming-out party will be a success. Stylist to the stars Phillip Bloch, who has worked with Sandra Bullock, Jim Carrey, and Halle Berry, was hired to create the updated look that will be sure to "impress Barbie and win her back." The new Ken doll went on sale March 1.

Bloch's vision of the new and improved Ken consists of some new threads, including a leather jacket, a more sculpted jawline, a hairstyle similar to Orlando Bloom's, and a less tanned complexion. Ken, now a Buddhist, is also learning to cook and prefers the musical stylings of Norah Jones.

Anyone privy to some of my more colorful dating experiences would agree that I may not possess the most well-developed gaydar, but this thinly veiled attempt to paint Ken as a misunderstood metrosexual may not be the way to go when it comes to catapulting Barbie back to the top.

I'm no marketing genius, but the makers of these star-crossed love dolls could take a lesson from some of our more successful celebrities--known for constantly keeping themselves in the public eye--and may wish to consider the following:

*Calling them Ken and Barbie is, like, so five minutes ago. How about Kenbie or Karbie? Assigning a couple one of those cute combined names has been a successful marketing tool for some of our most admired celebrity couples: Bennifer, Tomkat, Brangelina--all enjoyed a newfound popularity after a name merger. Can Kenarbie be far behind?

*Why not set Barbie up with a much younger doll, preferably a struggling drug-addicted actor or model. The older woman-younger man love coupling is quite fashionable these days and could be just the formula necessary to help this aging starlet rise from the ashes of doll obscurity.

*What happens if Barbie's most intimate and private moments in the boudoir mysteriously make their way to the Internet? Guaranteed sales through the roof with Barbie back on top.

*You heard it here first, folks: Barbie's in rehab. The 12-inch blond beauty appreciates your cards and letters while she is working the program, and upon discharge she looks forward to promoting her new cosmetic line, brought to you exclusively by QVC.

*Is it my imagination, or is the historically anorectic buxom Barbie putting on a little weight? Only if you count her being in the family way. Yup! That's right, folks! Barbie's preggers! And with a strange twist that would be sure to shock even the least shockable, she's going to be taking a paternity test to see who the father is. Will Barbie be delivering the love spawn of Ken or Blaine? The results of the test will be made public and can be found at Barbie's Web site

*For criminy's sake! How about making Barbie an honest woman already? The girl's pushing 50 and she and Ken have been dating since she was 2. A glamorous over-the-top wedding would warm the hearts of current fans, and a Barbie-Ken nuptial could be just the nostalgic ticket needed to bring aging Barbie fans back around.

I'm confident that with a well-crafted public relations campaign Barbie could regain her status as the most beloved doll in the world. But scratch the Ken makeover and go with the obvious marketing sure thing that would create enough pathos to last Barbie a lifetime: Ken and Blaine hook up and star in their first feature film, Brokeback Dollhouse.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Jill Jacobs