Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.
And what better way to start your week, than by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?
So let’s get started this week by talking about a popular The Simpsons toy.
In the ninety fifth episode of The Simpsons, Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy (Season 05, Episode 14), Grampa decides he wants to see his family enjoy his inheritance while he’s alive. So he gives them a box full of silver coins. The family immediately goes to the mall to spend the money. Homer opts to buy an item that may look very familiar to those doing the current Red Alert mini-event:
Homer: “Look, Maggie! It’s Sergeant Thug’s Mountaintop Command Post! Complete with ‘Death Bringer Missiles’ that really launch.”
Marge: “Mmm…that toy isn’t safe for a baby like Maggie!”
Homer: “Aw, come on, Marge, you’re way too — [cuts his finger on it] D’oh! Aw — [gets electrocuted] Aah! [launches a missile into his mouth] ooh — [it explodes]”
Lisa ends up getting a talking Malibu Stacy doll. However, she’s disappointed when the doll has archaic views of women and the role of women in society.
So Lisa visits the Malibu Stacy factory and learns more about the doll:
“Malibu Stacy: America’s favorite eight-and-a-half incher. In 1959, homemaker Stacy Lovell had a design and a dream. The design? Malibu Stacy. The dream? To mass market a fashion doll that was also edible. Kids didn’t much like the taste of dried onion meal, but they loved the doll. A second, plastic Malibu Stacy took America by storm.”
Lisa tracks down Stacy Lovell, creator of Malibu Stacy. She lives a fairly recluse life and has been married five times, including to a few notable Tapped Out characters – Dr. Collosus and from the current mini-event (Red Alert) Joe.
With the help of Stacy, Lisa creates a doll that has all the attributes Lisa wants in a doll:
Lisa: “She’ll have the wisdom of Gertrude Stein and the wit of Cathy Guisewite, the tenacity of Nina Totenberg, and the common sense of Elizabeth Cady Stanton! And to top it off, the down-to-earth good looks of Eleanor Roosevelt.”
While the hype around Lisa Lionheart is big, on the day of the launch, the makers of Malibu Stacy steal the thunder by releasing Malibu Stacy with a hat.
But have you ever wondered who inspired Malibu Stacy in the Simpsons universe?
Malibu Stacy is definitely a parody of the popular toy Barbie doll, as both dolls were launched in 1959 and are very popular amongst girls (and some boys) of all generations. Here is what the Encyclopedia Britannica has to say about Barbie:
Barbie, in full Barbara Millicent Roberts, an 11-inch- (29-cm-) tall plastic doll with the figure of an adult woman that was introduced on March 9, 1959, by Mattel, Inc., a southern California toy company. Ruth Handler, who cofounded Mattel with her husband, Elliot, spearheaded the introduction of the doll. Barbie’s physical appearance was modeled on the German Bild Lilli doll, a risqué gag gift for men based upon a cartoon character featured in the West German newspaper Bild Zeitung.
Original 1959 Barbie doll
In response to consumer demand, in 1961 Mattel brought out Barbie’s ultimate “accessory”—her boyfriend, Ken. (Ruth and Elliot Handlers’ children were named Barbara and Ken.) In 1963 Mattel added Barbie’s best friend, Midge, and in 1964 her little sister, Skipper. By 1968 Barbie had been issued “friend” dolls of colour, but not until 1980 was the Barbie doll itself released in an African American incarnation.
Since the 1970s, Barbie has been criticized for materialism (amassing cars, houses, and clothes) and unrealistic body proportions. In fact, in 1994 researchers in Finland announced that if Barbie were a real woman, she would not have enough body fat to menstruate. Yet many women who played with the doll credit Barbie with providing an alternative to restrictive 1950s gender roles. Unlike baby dolls, Barbie did not teach nurturing. Outfitted with career paraphernalia, the doll was a model for financial self-sufficiency. (Barbie’s résumé includes, among other things, airline pilot, astronaut, doctor, Olympic athlete, and United States presidential candidate.) Nor was the doll defined by relationships of responsibility to men or family. Barbie has no parents or offspring. When in the early 1960s consumers clamoured for a Barbie-scale baby, Mattel did not make Barbie a mother but issued a “Barbie Baby-Sits” playset.
Barbie is a very popular collectible. Aficionados are interested in both old Barbies and the special edition Barbies that Mattel creates to cater to this market. Although Barbie’s sales since the year 2000 have not risen as steeply as they did in the 1990s, they still amount to more than a billion dollars annually. Every second, Mattel calculates, two Barbies are sold somewhere in the world.
Barbie was one of the inaugural 17 inductees in the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998.
Now that we’ve learned more about a classic toy, be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.
Did you remember the episode? What’s your favourite Lisa-centric episode of The Simpsons? What about your favourite The Simpsons toy? Did you remember the doll? Were you familiar with the Barbie doll? Have you ever had a Barbie doll? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.