Barbie vs. Bratz XVII: The Reckoning

Mattel sues Bratz creator Carter Bryant. Looks like there's only room for one lushly proportioned polyurethane poppet in town.

By Rachel Shukert
May 6, 2008 8:43PM (UTC)
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Brace yourself, America: The enduring struggle between the forces of Barbie and the forces of Bratz is gearing up for a final, epic battle -- albeit not fought on the blood-stained field of Golgotha but on the more traditional terrain of the courtroom.

Mattel, which first introduced the world to the miracle of structural engineering known as Barbie Millicent Roberts in 1959, is suing the living daylights out of Bratz creator Carter Bryant, a former Mattel employee, on the grounds of copyright infringement. Looks like there's only room for one lushly proportioned polyurethane poppet in town.


And in no uncertain terms! Wait till you see the frantic internal Mattel memos released as part of the court documents, describing the success of the Bratz brand as "a rival-led Barbie genocide." Yes, the G-word, conjuring horrible images of shaven-headed Skippers corralled in Barbie prison-of-war camps being terrorized by machete-wielding Bratz dolls (or maybe that was just my sister and me). Not content to let Barbie have the last word, MGA memos counter that Mattel planned to "litigate to the death" (italics mine) and that "this is a war, and sides must be taken."

It's interesting to note the context of these memos -- written in 2003, as the nation geared up for war and the militaristic language of "you're either with us or against us" was at its peak. But in 2008, with all of us sadder and wiser, all parties would do well to remember that most little girls have the sense not to view inanimate objects as role models, and instead think of the fate that eventually befalls the vast majority of these toys, Barbie and Bratz alike: They wind up bald, naked and covered in dog slobber in a pile beneath the bed, condemned forever to a dollie Gitmo of their owner's creation.

I think Barbie herself said it best: "Pizza party, anyone?"

Rachel Shukert

Rachel Shukert is the author of Everything is Going To Be Great and Have You No Shame. Her YA series Starstruck is forthcoming from Random House in the spring of 2013. She lives in New York City.

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