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first ben and jen, now barbie and ken
by robert a. melos
pop culture

A scant couple of days before the biggest celebration of love during the year, the big V-Day, Mattel, manufactures of the Barbie series of dolls and accessories, announced the split between the impossibly perfect figured Barbie and her plastic haired paramour Ken. After a 43-year relationship many had hoped would end with a walk down a Toys R Us aisle and a “happily ever after” banner tacked to the trunk of Barbie’s dream car, the couple has called it quits.

In a time when the issue of marriage is making front page news for same-sex couples throughout America, these icons of the materialistic having-it-all society for the heterosexual doll set have chosen to split rather than conform and tie-the-knot. Rumor has it that this split coincides with the release of the new California Barbie, a free spirited doll who reflects the modern single’s lifestyle.

However, Barbie isn’t going to be alone while taking on the role of unattached doll-about-town. No, Barbie, according to Mattel’s vice-president of marketing Russell Arons, will be seeing new guy on the shelf Blaine. The Aussie boogie boarder seems to be her rebound romance while Barbie gets her act together and considers what direction she will take her life.

Her options are so wide open when one stops to consider she’s been a rock star, an Astronaut, a businesswoman, a homemaker, served in the military, has a couple medical degrees, and a movie career. Yet for all of her educational experience the one unfulfilled dream has been marriage, as evidenced by the plethora of wedding gowns hanging in the closets of her dream house.

She waited for her man, the one perfect guy created just for her, who would fulfill all of her dreams. Apparently having settled on him, she discovered he’s a guy with commitment issues. So after 43 years where does this leave her? She’s had mondo career changes up the wahzoo, survived the copycat dolls and her younger sister’s attempt at stealing her man, and still she’s single and undecided about her future.

So what’s the message to the little girls who worship at her altar? Is her message one of exploring all your educational horizons? Is here message of being anything a young girl sets her mind on being? Or is her message that of a middle-aged doll who finally has woken up to the fact that not all men are molded for marriage and it’s time to move on to a younger more laidback type of guy?

Will Blaine, the Aussie hunk, be just another disappointment for Barbie? Will he just use the All-American doll for a good time and then boogie board back to the outback?

And in the meantime, what is really going on with Ken? It’s been rumored for many a year that Barbie was just a beard for the plastic guy with six-pack abs. Is this the point where Ken finally comes out of the toy chest along with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell G.I. Joe with Kung-Fu grip?

I mean let’s be real about this, or as real as we can be when discussing a world of plastic relationships between iconic ideals. Ken is 43 and has only being linked to one girl all his life, and never married. I’m not outing the guy, or pandering to the rumor mill’s vicious tongue, I’m just stating facts. If Barbie wasn’t the right girl for him, why stick around for 43 years? Was he just too lazy to go out and date around? Or was something else going on? Was something being covered up by the good people of Mattel?

Either way it is a moot point. Barbie is off to Sunny California with her boogie boarding Aussie, and Ken is being left in the dust. Maybe it’s just a case of “you snooze, you lose,” and Ken waited too long to make an honest doll of Barbie? Or it could be that relationships are something that needs constant work and, with her busy and varied career schedule, Barbie just couldn’t find the time for Ken?

It does give one pause. If a couple of materialistic and plastic beings like Barbie and Ken, and Ben and Jen for that matter, can’t make a go of it in a time when marriage and its importance and sanctity are being debated in the hallowed halls of congress, then perhaps the issue of marriage is really none of the government’s business and it should be left up to individuals to decide?

The only solution is to give all the rights and benefits to those willing to enter into the sacred union who promise to love, honor and remain faithful and married until death do them part, and stop playing God with couples based on sexual orientation.

Let’s face it. The heterosexual icons of our time can’t make it work. Maybe Ben could give Ken some pointers on getting on with his life after a breakup? Maybe the Fab Five Queer Eye guys could give them both a makeover so they could win back their women? Maybe the Gay Bob Doll could give both of them some pointers on being honest with themselves and coming out?

Maybe this issue will be enough to detract attention from the real issues of the day, like elections and wars, and governmental lies? I wonder what position John Kerry has on the Barbie and Ken split?


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

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