Knowing my utter loathing for the whorelicious line of dolls known as Bratz, the entire concept of which seems to be to show little girls just how good life will be if only they will turn themselves into vapid pre-teen mall sluts, several people have forwarded me stories of how a judge has ordered Bratz dolls — all of them — off the shelf after the company that made them lost a copyright suit to Mattel, maker of Barbie. Their expectation is that I would be greeting this news with something close to joy.
But actually, I’m somewhat less than enthused about the ruling. In a legal sense, I think the ruling is a bit much; from what I know of the case I think Mattel is probably due some compensation from the Bratz maker, but forcing the entire product line off the shelf seems unduly punitative and tastes to me vaguely like restraint of trade. I haven’t been following the case all that closely, mind you, so I fully acknowledge there may be complexities to the decision I don’t get. Nevertheless, on first blush, yanking the entire line seems excessive to me.
But more to the point to my moral disgust of Bratz dolls, the Bratz going off the market because of a copyright dispute is like Al Capone going to prison for tax evasion. Maybe it achieves the desired result, but it misses the point along the way. I don’t want Bratz to disappear because the purveyor of a separate doll that gives young girls an entirely different suite of body and self-esteem issues has used the legal system to force its primary competitor off the market. I want the Bratz to disappear because parents look at them, decide they’re seriously screwed up, and bar them from their homes.
Which is what we’ve done here. We’re a Bratz-free home because we don’t buy them for Athena, and when one of the line makes an exploratory excursion into the home, it gets “disappeared” as soon as Athena gets distracted by some other toy. This has the side of effect of my daughter taunting me with Bratz commercials when they appear on the televisions, because she knows how much I loathe them, and it amuses her to see me fume. But on the other hand she also knows why I loathe them. I don’t claim to be a perfect parent, but inasmuch as my kid understands why I might not want her to play with inappropriately sexualized noseless dolls wearing more facepaint than an entire clown college, I’m winning that particular war.
In any event, it’s not just that I want the Bratz dolls to die; I want them to die for the right reason. That’s not happening, whether Mattel agrees with me or not.