Since 1959, Barbie has been a staple in every little girl’s possession. In 2015, Barbie looks a little like she is possessed and it hasn’t been good for headlines.
Meet ‘Hello Barbie.’
She looks like the same blonde statuesque doll that every little girl wishes they could be… and then she opens her mouth. Yes, for the first time outside of a DVD, Barbie has a voice.
Once your daughter or niece yanks her out of the torturous contraption Mattel calls “packaging,” she will discover that Barbie has a switch on her gaudy belt buckle. Her “Real Housewives”-style necklace searches for a Wi-Fi connection. When it finds one, an LED will switch from red to green, and within seconds, it… is… alive.
Aside from the creep factor (and there’s a good amount of it), toy makers and parents are claiming privacy concerns over the newly-chatty 56-year-old starlet.
Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said on Fox and Friends Weekend that when kids are talking to “Hello Barbie,” they’re not just talking to a doll, they’re talking to a corporation whose only interest in the child is financial.
“Everything that that child says is going to be recorded, sent over Wi-Fi, stored on the cloud and then analyzed to figure out that child’s likes and dislikes,” Golin explained.
“The potential is that that sensitive information, a child’s own words in their own voice, will be exploited for marketing purposes and also that it could be compromised.”
And toy manufacturers are backing that play all the way to the bank it seems:
And just look at the headlines and consumers. It may be best to sound a little misogynistic here: “Shut up woman.” That may end up saving Mattel’s reputation.
Cool or creepy? High-tech ‘Hello Barbie’ has conversations with kids http://t.co/wZxeVMsF4n
— home AI info (@homeAIinfo) September 20, 2015=
— Martin Varsavsky (@martinvars) September 20, 2015
Cool or Creepy? You decide! Barbie Wants to Get to Know Your Child http://t.co/CV97UnRS0k
— Michael H. Levine (@mlevine_jgcc) September 20, 2015
— NYLON (@NylonMag) September 19, 2015
— Engadget (@engadget) September 18, 2015
[AP Photo/Mark Lennihan]