Thursday, September 04, 2008

My Buddy.

Reflecting on this classic commercial, a few questions come up:

What eventually became of the poor boy surely coerced by a stage parent from hell into delivering this frightening vocal performance?

Was the child actor here thinking, "This is kind of weird"?

How many boys actually asked for this doll?

The answer to this last question is surely "not enough of them," because Hasbro apparently discontinued My Buddy by the time the '90s were up. Today it is a symbol of a (hopefully) bygone period when people optimistically believed that boys could have their boyness socialized out of them.

The argument for encouraging boys to play with dolls rests on the idea that it encourages good parenting skills. But most men who had a decent set of parents seem to figure out the fatherhood thing just fine without a doll being shoved into their arms.

Kids are going to play how they want to play, no matter what is in the toybox. My niece was looking for a purse to carry by the age of two and was assembling her own fashion ensembles by age four, while my non-frou-frou sister looked on in amazement, unsure where her daughter's girliness came from. For my part, I played with Barbies *and* my brother's Star Wars figures. And if a little boy wants a doll, he's going to ask for one or find one, whether it's offered or not.

What's hilarious to me about the My Buddy ads is the way they suggest that we can create a world where a boy wants to play with dolls, but still promotes all the reassuring stereotypes about masculinity. Imagine if Hasbro had chosen to produce a doll for boys that looked like Carson Kressley and came with styleable hair, multiple outfits, and a mod furniture set. Now THAT would have been a step forward.

1 comment :

the wayward o said...

wow .... we killed the my buddy hard when it came out. not just plaing with dolls but um not already having a buddy. or two.