Someone once asked, "Why do we go from one, to two, to fourteen birds?"
I thought that was funny. Now I have five birds. I got two more to keep Lts. Foyle and Columbo company. They are two little girls and so pretty. I've named them Mrs. Oliver and Miss Lemon, both women characters in the Hercule Poirot series.
You Don't Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie's Dark Side by Orly Lobel
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I noticed that many people gave this book glowing reviews. I'm afraid I can't.
The book promised a lot but simply did not follow through.
I thought I was going to get a step by step account of how one man who worked for Mattel developed his own ideas for a doll, different from Barbie, then sold his idea to a competing toy company, and the ensuing lawsuit.
Instead, the author wanders all over the place, backing up with history of Lille, the original Barbie, which was actually a sex toy for post-war German men.
Then we learn about the history of Mattel and its founders, the founders of MGA the company that sold the Bratz dolls, and a smidgeon of Carter Bryant, the man who came up with the idea for Bratz.
We get quite a bit of Orly Lobel's opinion. She clearly hates Mattel. They are the big bad wolf in this story, and maybe deservedly so, but I can't say I feel sorry for anyone else, either.
Carter Bryant did develop Bratz and sell it to a competing company while he was still working at Mattel. He even paid other Mattel workers to help, including poor Mexican workers who later got fired for breaking their contract. Bryant is portrayed as the sacrificial lamb whose life is ruined at the hands of Mattel. Maybe, but a more even account would have listed possible alternate routes Bryant might have had recourse to.
I do agree that laws need to be changed about patents. Many brilliant professional designers and engineers have invented and developed incredible things and not made a cent because they were on salary. The company they worked for automatically owns the patent and makes billions. The people who actually did the thinking and making should at least get a royalty. It seems to me that would encourage greater creativity.
Much of the book is devoted to "exposing" just how big and bad a wolf Mattel is. We learn that Barbie is losing sales and Mattel doesn't seem to have the brains to change the trend by expanding or innovating. Instead they use "predator litigation".
When the band, Aqua, recorded the song, "Barbie Girl", Mattel sued them for copyright infringement. The court ruled in the band's favor because it is legal to parody a famous brand (or person or anything) in a song or any medium as long as you're not trying to sell the brand as your own.
Interestingly, it is not legal to satire a brand name, Lobel explains the difference at length and, frankly, the delineation was lost on me. Not that she didn't try, she took up several pages, repeating herself as she wrote on the two sides to the, in my opinion, same coin.
Especially since there were a couple of artists who made obscene art using Barbie. One made photos of Barbie naked and covered in meat, placed in lurid positions. Another created a "Dungeon Dominatrix" Barbie; but somehow these sleazeballs' right to expression of free speech trumped Mattel not wanting their children's doll to be used in perverted ways. Lobel, writes with glee how these "underdogs" won over the horrible Big Boss of toy merchandise.
Right. As if the law suit didn't help these previous nonentities sell their product through notoriety and publicity.
I would have appreciated the book more if the author could have left her slanted opinion out of it.
A lot of what she said was silly. She constantly referred to Barbie as the "Ice Queen". She expounds on how children were tired of Barbie and wanted something they could identify with. They wanted more ethnic diversity, something that spoke to where they were at in life.
Really? Teenagers aren't playing with dolls, little girls are. I doubt if children under the age of ten possess that kind of discernment. And as far as being tired of Barbie, how could they be when every ten years there's a whole new crop of young children who are being introduced to her?
I won't say the book is without merit. I learned a few things about our legal system and copyright infringement. But I just can't stand reading such an obviously biased account. And she took so long to get to the actual court case. She must have had a contract that stipulated how many chapters she had to have so she generously puffed her page numbers with barely related material.
If you want a really riveting account, well written about a tyrant using and abusing her company and employees, I recommend Bad Blood, the account of the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her bogus blood testing device.
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