Today I saw this article, and my poor beleaguered head exploded, leaving a gooey splat on the wall and a twitching corpse on the floor. (Yes, I’m still watching The Walking Dead, although I’ve slowed down a bit because there is only so much feeling bad and wishing people would die *coughAndreacough* that I can handle in a week).
If you don’t have time to read it, I’ll sum it up for you:
Mattel thinks mothers need tutoring to learn how to play dinky cars with their sons.
Oh, Mattel. Back in 1992 when you released Teen Talk Barbie and her inane phrases like “Will we ever have enough clothes?”, “Let’s go shopping!”, and “Math class is tough!” I honestly thought you’d sunk as low as you could go. I really did. But then you decided to hire one Matt Petersen as your Vice President for the North American boys’ toys & games division, and you reached new depths of asshole.
Wait, back up a step. You HAVE a “Boys’ Toys & Games Division” at all. How about just “Toys & Games”? Because fuck you, Mattel.
Anyway, Mr. Petersen is at the helm, and sales of Mattel’s three major toy car brands have declined 1% in the fourth quarter! Alert! (I suspect it’s because I finally stopped buying damn dinky cars because we have thirty squillion of them in the house. That would account for 1%.)
I envision the meeting where Mr. Petersen got called on the carpet for the decline in toy car sales going something like this:
And then Mr. Petersen just straight-up lost his mind, because he cooked up the stupidest, most insulting notion since… hmm. I don’t know when. Some episode of Mad Men probably had something worse.
From Bloomberg BusinessWeek and syndicated in The Financial Post, apparently with no sense or horror or irony:
Earlier this month, influential mommy bloggers gathered in a penthouse suite at Manhattan’s Royalton Hotel for a brunch of bloody marys, mimosas and a buffet. Their host was Matt Petersen, a Mattel Inc. vice president who runs its North American boys’ toys and games division. In town for a toy fair, Mr. Petersen had invited the women to discuss one of the great mysteries of modern life: why moms don’t know how to play Hot Wheels with their sons.
First: can we agree that the phrase “influential mommy bloggers” should die in a fire? And I’m not saying that just because I am not one. I have never once made a parenting or purchasing decision based on what an “influential mommy blogger” said. Do we even have influential mommy bloggers anymore (assuming that we ever did)?
Second: does anyone else find it incredible patronizing and also thinly-veiled mom-shaming that the author of the piece mentions two kinds of booze in the first sentence?
Third: since when do moms not know how to play Hot Wheels with their sons? (not to mention daughters, but don’t worry, this article never does mention daughters, because they are supposed to be somewhere else, playing with their Barbies and not bothering anyone).
Fourth: assuming for a moment that moms *don’t* know how to play Hot Wheels with their sons – an idea with so many problems it actually gave me a nosebleed trying to wrap my head around it – is that really “one of the great mysteries of modern life”?
Fifth: Fuck you, Mattel. Seriously.
In my head, Mr. Petersen is about 26 years old. He has no children. He’s not married. He’s got no real-world experience. I have no idea if this is right, or fair, but I have to assume he’s both young and dumb, because the notion of a grown-up man in 2013 saying the following thing aloud makes me want to kick something very hard:
“Mom… has never played with [Hot Wheels]. She doesn’t get why cars, engines, and all the shapes and crashing and smashing are so cool.”
I’m sorry, Mr. Petersen, my vagina sometimes interferes with my hearing. It sounds to me like you’re saying that playing with Hot Wheels is somehow a total mystery to all mothers.
And let me not spare the “influential mommy bloggers” who participated in this drunken exercise in dickholery. I’ll pick one who was quoted in the article, and yes, I’m going to shit all over her, because honestly.
We have Raijean Stroud, who calls herself a “fashion & lifestyle” blogger. Her post about the whole experience is so childishly over-the-top it’s worth reading just for the laughs. She doesn’t ask any questions. She doesn’t seem at all aware of how ridiculous the whole thing is. She got as far as how much fun it was to get drunk and make scrapbook pages about what her family does on Saturdays, and then tripped over herself thanking Mattel for the free toys. The end. She also gives just fantastic soundbites, as evidenced by this little gem that she actually links to from her own blog, so it’s not like she was misquoted or horribly embarrassed that all the mimosas made her into an airhead:
“I’m a girly girl,” Ms. Stroud said. “So it’s kind of hard to understand how these little plastic machines can be so much fun, versus a Barbie that you can change her clothes, cut her hair, and do whatever you want.”
First of all, dinky cars are diecast metal, not plastic, so epic fail on that one, Mattel. Second, since when can you cut Barbie’s hair? I mean, you can, of course – but only once, and then you are left staring at a piebald mess of uneven spikes sticking out of weird holes in her head. I will give her snaps for the Mattel product placement of mentioning Barbie, though. Presumably if she’d said “My Little Pony” they wouldn’t have sent her any follow-up swag.
And “you’re a girly girl“? No, you’re a 32 year old woman and mother. Give me a break, lady.
And “it’s kind of hard to understand how these little plastic machines can be so much fun“? WHAT’S TO UNDERSTAND?? The tires rotate, you can make a ppbbbbbbppp noise with your lips or even the ever-popular vroom-vroom sound, you can smash ‘em into shit and they don’t break because DIECAST METAL, SEE ABOVE.
I could go on and on and on about this, but I think you see where I’m going.
Everyone associated with this ridiculous pile of steaming bullshit – the mommy bloggers, the Mattel people, and the twit at Bloomberg BusinessWeek who reported on it and the soulless editor at The Financial Post who reprinted it - should be ashamed of themselves. No one came out of this looking good. It just shows how far we haven’t come.
And in case I haven’t said it enough times – fuck you, Mattel. For real.
Updated to add:
Influential mommy blogger and girly-girl Raijean Stroud has removed her review post – the link above now goes to a “sorry, page not found” message. To my knowledge, still no word from Mattel.