It's the night before we transition into 2011.

I'm giving this idea of a case study for my PhD. deeper consideration in light of recent events surrounding the Barbie VideoGirl. I have an unopened Barbie I purchased last month still sitting wrapped on my office desk.

My peers were immediately concerned and stated so when I purchased Barbie.

The FBI have allegedly jumped on suggestions that the device could be used in the production of pornography in the lead-up to more insidious behaviours - Cyber Crimes Alert article

An interesting comment on the CBS Los site:


There’s “no evidence” that the doll can stream video directly to the Internet, but it may be able to do so, after it uses its hypnotic powers to persuade your daughter to perform in front of it.

I think everyone who bought one of these should be required to register as a sex offender, and all the dolls should be retroactively equipped with a GPS monitoring device...."

It seems a vast leap in concern since the Barbie with the "real working video camera" embedded and operational from it's chest made headlines in the Age, Australia on 2nd November, 2010.

Here is what Christopher Zinn of consumer group Choice had to say at the time:

‘‘I don’t think you can stifle innovation, ... there are so many of them out there already.......I can’t see how one extra can tilt the balance from the playful to the perverse.......As the cost of video innovation drops, there will be more and more......I don’t think it’s fair to say that kid’s toys can’t have cameras in them.’’

What I'm now juxtaposing these two pieces of information with is the comment from M.G. Michael:

"Uberveillance is not on the outside looking down, but on the inside looking out through a microchip that is embedded in our bodies," Dr Michael told NineMSN.

In this case, in the in-animate,  the microchip is the camera itself or perhaps the camera and a microchip combined, commensurate, tied, bound to report what it sees, what is in it's gaze...a combination of veillances - soused, data driven, extensible surveillant.

Barbie Xray

[ image | mobology ]

The Barbie doll has been at the centre of controversy since the moment it was produced a long time before idea of embedding cameras into dolls were thought of. It's patented form, it's associations and it's related merchandising have all become societally "normalised".

It screams out to me that Barbie (Mattel Inc.) have taken a commercially informed leap into monetising this "point-of-view" evidenced here in their updated and extensive Corporate Mattel Terms & Conditions

Some questions that I'm trying to answer:

  • What are the implications of "play & shoot" becoming a normalised playtime behaviour ?
  • How are the ramifications heightened with "download and edit" becoming a wireless option ?
  • In what ways have location enabled and other video data tagging been considered for inclusion in the manufacturing of this device ? 
  • Barbie VideoGirl is currently a "luggable" or carried Mattel have plans for the doll to be worn, strapped or made operationally hands-free ?

It is for me a very clear case of  market informed pre-cursor social conditioning. The device may conform to Safety Requirements ASTM F963 but how rigorously have Mattel considered the permission sets this animated implantable opens up for debate ?

Venus of Willendorf

[ image | wikipedia ]

Another question whilst it remains lucid in the crinkly concoids of my tiring mind:

  • Is Barbie VideoGirl an emergent effigy of homo electronicus as those in times past would have held their Gaia to cultural account ?