MT VOID 08/01/97 (Vol. 16, Number 5)

MT VOID 08/01/97 (Vol. 16, Number 5)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 08/01/97 -- Vol. 16, No. 5

Table of Contents

Outside events: The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-933-2724 for details. The New Jersey Science Fiction Society meets on the third Saturday of every month in Belleville; call 201-432-5965 for details.

MT Chair/Librarian:
              Mark Leeper   MT 3E-433  732-957-5619
HO Chair:     John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  732-957-5087
HO Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  732-949-7076
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
              Rob Mitchell  MT 2D-536  732-957-6330
Factotum:     Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433  732-957-2070
Back issues at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

URL of the week: Fan page devoted to R. A. Lafferty. [-ecl]


Calvera said it in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. "Sooner or later you have to pay for every good deed." Those fun folks at Mattel Toys are having their problems with the Barbie series again because they tried to do the right thing. The classic doll becomes more and more an educational toy as time and society progress. But the education seems to be one for Mattel. Having doll that is a sort of National icon the Mattel people try to do the right thing and to instill values in children. This is a dangerous road to travel and is a thankless task. With GI Joe dolls there is no concern about doing the "right thing" and instilling values. GI Joe is a sociopath and killing machine who is useful to a government that occasionally has need for sociopathic killing machines. GI Joe's values are to follow orders and to be careful not to put out his cigar stub in anybody's eye. Barbie is held to a higher standard.

The people involved with the GI Joe dolls not have to worry about this sort of problem. GI Joe has no wheelchair-bound friends. And considering his occupation you would think he might.

But Mattel tried to be good and a result found themselves immersed in argument. First of all, they gave Becky shapely, Barbie-like legs. People complained that somebody bound in a wheelchair would not have legs that looked that alluring. What kind of a statement was Mattel making by giving her such good-looking legs. Well, Mattel knew that the real statement was that they did not want to have to invest in new injection molds. They just wanted the same interchangeable molds they use with the Barbie dolls themselves. Probably if you compare, Becky's legs are geometrically congruent to Barbie's legs. But Mattel could not say that. Even if you are putting dolls in wheelchairs, it is important to maintain some of the fantasy. What they said was that it was true that few people in wheelchairs had legs like Becky's, but how many women walking around without benefit of wheelchairs have legs like Barbie's. I suppose that logic worked for a little while. It silenced the complainers and silence is a rare and wonderful thing like the trans-uranium elements. Except that silence has a shorter half- life.

What happened next Mattel should have seen coming but didn't. Little girls started having Becky visit Barbie at Barbie's Dream House. And what did they find but that Becky could not just roll right into Barbie's Dream House. It seems that Barbie's Dream House was not wheelchair accessible. This was yet another embarrassment for the Mattel people. They had to bring in experts on Federal standards for access for the handicapped. GI Joe never has to bring in such experts. Luckily for Mattel there were a bunch of these people who could be hired because major corporations had decided to downsize their Affirmative Action departments, so Mattel's problem at least happened at a convenient time. They had to get themselves a bunch of new injection molders after all. And in a few months you will find on the market that Barbie's New Dream House will go onto the market and it will follow all the Federal accessibility standards just like Barbie always dreamed it would. It was either that or to get accessibility by having GI Joe come to visit Barbie's Dream House and blow a hole in the wall. [-mrl]

                                   Mark Leeper
                                   MT 3E-433 732-957-5619

Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it
isn't the work he's supposed to be doing at
that moment.
			  -- Robert Benchley