I am 21 years old, and I own every American Girl doll. Except for the latest doll, Rebecca Rubin, the Jewish girl growing up in New York in 1914, I have them all: the Native American, the escaped slave, the Great Depression doll, the hippie, the doll on the prairie, the Revolutionary War doll, the WWII doll and the young WASP in training (my favorite). But the company’s latest doll may be the most interesting yet. Meet Gwen: the homeless doll.
News of her first hit the media four days ago. Reviews are mixed. Some parents think it’s a great lesson to teach children. Others think it’s in bad taste. Gwen’s father walked out on the family. Her mother lost her job, forcing her and Gwen to live in their car. Many critics are angered because Gwen, like every other American Girl doll, costs $95, and none of the proceeds are going to help the homeless.
So, is Gwen a good way to teach children about today’s harsh economic times, or is she a tasteless move just to make another buck?
I think we can check off the whole “trying to make money” bit. The company isn’t exactly struggling. A part of me would like to believe American Girl just wanted to find a way to teach little girls about a difficult subject. But come on, is a pretty little white girl with perfect blonde hair and a perfect white sundress really the face of homelessness? It’s an issue that has parents, pundits and homeless advocates in a tizzy. The good news is, the shouting won’t last forever. Gwen will only be available for a few more months.
Apparently the ridiculous amount of reality T.V. shows already clogging MTV aren’t enough. Besides great T.V. viewing like “A Doubleshot At Love,” “From G’s to Gents” and “The Girls of Hedsor Hall,” the station, formerly known as Music Television is adding a new one: “College Life.” The show–which is billed as “real” not to be confused with reality T.V.–is told through four freshman college students as they chronicle their first year of higher education. Sounds like an interesting concept, and it could work, unless MTV decides to take its own spin and keeps only the juicy details. After all, juicy details like getting caught drinking in the dorms and having sex with a random stranger are MUCH more exciting than going to your first class or meeting your roommate for the first time. That’s what sells; not real life. If I had been given a video camera for my freshman year, it would have consisted of many firsts: first kisses, first gay friend, first time drinking, first time away from home, first (and last) time in a sorority, first tattoo, first cigarette, first journalism class and first time sleeping in a box outside (long story.) Who knows, maybe the “College Life” will surprise me. Lord knows I’ll be watching along with every other pathetic sap.
I have a love hate relationship with Rolling Stone. Although I respect it for being one of the first popular music magazines and featuring some amazing musicians, it lost touch with its roots a long time ago. As soon as it put Zac Efron on the cover, I knew it was downhill from there.
I also have a love hate relationship with the MTV “reality” show “The Hills.” Although it’s ridiculousness is what makes it so addicting, the closest thing to reality is has experienced is…well nothing. So you can imagine how disappointed, nay offended, I was to see the cast of “The Hills” on the cover of Rolling Stone. I did the only logical thing I could think of. I bought it and ran home and read it.
I know. I’m a sucker for pop culture, and with a season premiere earning 3.9 million viewers, I’m not the only one. Still, I have to wonder, how did four rich girls who never had to work for anything in their life snag a TV show? The answer? Well I’m still not sure.
Although main character Lauren Conrad swears the show portrays her life, it’s difficult to classify a group of young people, who spend the majority of their time shopping, clubbing and talking about shopping as an accurate portrayal of any sort of real world. The great thing is, the show’s cast and crew are the first to admit the show isn’t 100% real. But yet millions of eager fans (myself included) sit enraptured every week. It’s an escape from the boring routine many are stuck in. We may not be able to shop at the most expensive boutiques, get into the hottest clubs or date the cutest boys, but we can watch people who can. It’s a guilty pleasure, and everyone in America seems to be indulging.
MTV managed to take the lives of a group of young adults in L.A. who before this only had their parents bank accounts going for them, and make it a success. Even though I like to get on my soap box and call Rolling Stone a sellout, accuse MTV of forgetting about the music and call “The Hills” a pathetic excuse for a television show that at it’s best is a sad attempt at a soap opera, you can be I’ll tune in every Monday. Realistic? Hell no, but damn good T.V.
Rolling Stone article on “The Hills”