Sunday, February 24, 2008

BPN 1018 Missed chance: Barbie and new media

Last week I went to an outlet shopping centre. It mainly is for clothes, but there are also bookshops and entertainment shops with DVDs and games. Looking for kids stuff, I saw the booklet Barbie: the new media and I. In the framework of media literacy I examined the publication. Unbelievable that a brand company puts its name to such a shabby and superficial publication. The Barbie company Mattel had licensed the publication to the Belgian company Hemma. The text is in Dutch.

The publication exists of an introduction, an address book and another informative section followed by a notice section. When you open the book and pass the title page, you find the first section, opening with a sentence without a capital, asking you whether you have a computer. No problem if you do not have one; you can always write a letter or a post card! The anonymous author rambles on for two pages on how to produce a letter or a post card. Can you imagine this type of introduction in a book about new media?

The first section is followed by and address book. I did not expect that in the book about new media you have an address book and worse of all in this Barbie book you can only note address information of your female friends, not even address information of friends of Ken. The address book section is followed by an introduction into internet, or better into e-mail. The section refers to internet and e-mail screens. A closer look shows that the screens are in French, while the rest of the text is in the Dutch language! (Belgium is bi-lingual with Dutch and French; The internet part provides some information about internet, URLs, country suffixes and search engines, roughly 240 words long. The e-mail part tells about the composition of an e-mail, roughly 240 words long.

Of course you can not tell much in 240 words, so it will stay rather general. But there are no critical words or warnings against not trustworthy sites or spam. It is a missed chance for a big influential brand as Barbie to educate youngsters to be critical towards internet and e-mail and to act media literate. By putting out a media literacy responsible publication, a company like Mattel using the Barbie brand could show its responsibility towards society in the field of new media.

I bought a copy of the book for my business partner, who is heavily involved in media literacy to provide him with an example of a missed chance. Of course there is one excuse for Mattel, the book was produced in 2001. That was why I was able to buy it in an outlet store.

Blog Posting Number: 1018


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