Mattel Issues Apology for Book Depicting Barbie as an Incompetent Computer Engineer


Toy company Mattel apologized on Facebook this week for a controversial book portraying Barbie's failed attempt at becoming a computer engineer. The book received intense criticism on the web after comedian Pamela Ribbon stumbled upon the title at a friend's house and wrote a scathing review of it on her blog. At issue is the depiction of the iconic doll as being incompetent and needing to rely on men to save the day after she screws things up.

In the book, Barbie has aspirations of making a game that teaches kids how computers work. So far, so good -- time to break down gender stereotypes. However, Barbie quickly clarifies to her sister Skipper that she's "only creating the design ideas...I'll need Steven and Brian's help to turn it into a real game!"

From there, things go downhill like Clark Griswold on a sled in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. She fails at trying to email her design to Steven and, with the help of Skipper, manages to reboot her laptop before determining it has a virus. Turns out the virus was on her heart-shaped USB drive that she wears as a necklace, and Skipper subsequently loses all of her homework assignments and music files, which weren't backed up. Instead of being overly upset by this, Skipper "playfully" hits Barbie with a pillow.

"Skipper has just lost her homework, all her music files and her laptop, but all she’s moved to is STATUS: PILLOW FIGHT," Ribbon writes on her blog.

There's quite a bit of reading between the lines and extrapolation that goes into the criticism, though the main issue people have with the book is Barbie's overall incompetence. Rather than promote Barbie as a woman capable of being a computer engineer, she screws things up -- badly -- and turns to a couple of males to save the day.

"The Barbie I Can Be A Computer Engineer book was published in 2010. Since that time we have reworked our Barbie books. The portrayal of Barbie in this specific story doesn’t reflect the Brand’s vision for what Barbie stands for," Mattel explained in a Facebook post. "We believe girls should be empowered to understand that anything is possible and believe they live in a world without limits. We apologize that this book didn’t reflect that belief. All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girl's imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character."

Barbie Rewritten

That's all well and fine, but it didn't stop the Internet from doing what it does best. Trending on Twitter is #FeministHackerBarbie, in which you'll find hilariously rewritten entries like the one above. Some of the better ones have been collected by Gizmodo, if you're need of a good laugh.

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