As you may have heard from everynewssourceon the planet, the universe is currently celebrating the 50th birthday of Barbie, the world’s most anatomically incorrect children’s toy.
But in the past few days, it hasn’t just been nostalgic celebrants or finger-wagging Barbie-banners who have weighed in on the legacy of the doll. It’s been professionally funny women.
First came Current TV’s Sarah Haskins, with a “Target: Women” episode honoring “a lady I and all other American women have aspired to be since we were wee tots.” After all, Haskins observes, “before Barbie all American girls could play with were baby dolls and plowshares.” “Target: Women” then shows a clip of the first Barbie commercial, with the infamous jingle — “Some day I’m gonna be exactly like you / Till then I know exactly what I’m gonna do / Barbie, beautiful Barbie / I’ll make believe that I am you” — playing as the camera moves in adoringly on bridal Barbie’s teensy plastic bouquet!
But as Haskins notes, since then, being “exactly like” Barbie has also meant getting lots of graduate degrees, professional Olympic training and hair accessories. “Just in case you think that being an Olympic gymnast, inline skater who scuba dives with whales, and can rap is too mainstream, I’d like you to meet my favorite Barbie,” says Haskins, instroducing an advertisement for a spiky-haired “Troll Barbie,” with a song that must be heard to be believed, “Troll troll troll troll Barbie … she’s really into trolls!” Who. The. Hell. Knew.
On Saturday, “SNL’s” Weekend Update got into the act, with Kristin Wiig appearing at anchor Seth Meyers’ desk, dressed in Barbie’s classic black-and-white bathing suit, her arms bent at familiar angles, her hands unmoving, unable to put on her own sunglasses or open a bottle. Wiig’s squeaky-voiced impression was hilarious, especially as she talked about how all her friends — “Midge, Skipper, black Barbie” — had been happily celebrating her birthday until “a slutty Bratz doll showed up and cut somebody.” Wiig-as-Barbie informed us that she and Ken are no longer together, because “Have you ever pulled down Ken’s pants?” and told Meyers that though she’s had every job under the planet, she’s been fired from all of them. “Almost, if not every job requires elbows,” she said. “I was a surgeon for god’s sake! Why did they ever hire me?”
Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.