Culture

GoldieBlox buries Barbie with powerful Apple '1984' homage

The startup that won itself the chance to run an ad during the Super Bowl releases another spot, for a new action figure for girls. In it, little girls say to hell with conventional ideas of beauty.

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GoldieBlox depicts Big Sister as someone who needs to be destroyed. GoldieBlox/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Be beautiful. Be a princess. And your life will be a swimming success.

This notion has been peddled to millions of girls for what seems like millions of years.

A company called GoldieBlox thinks different. It's just released a new ad in which Big Brother is now Big Sister. She's telling little girls that beauty is, indeed, skin deep and uniform.

But the little girls have had enough. They want to wear sneakers, not heels. They want to be themselves, not conform to some image of Don Draper's perfect wife. They don't want to be grabbing Barbies (the dolls in the ad certainly look like Barbies) from society's conveyor belt.

So, just as in Apple's "1984" ad, there is one lone liberator.

She won't stand for the spangly little girl life of a million dolls. She's going to rebel from Big Sister's choking embrace.

Fortunately, she has a hammer for the purpose.

You might remember GoldieBlox from the Super Bowl. No, it wasn't part of the half-time show. However, the company that makes engineering toys for girls won a competition sponsored by Intuit and got itself a free ad during the heavily watched sporting event.

This new ad is for a new Zipline action figure for girls, which, with its wild hair and overalls, doesn't exactly conform to the Barbie convention.

The ad itself could certainly do with a little Ridley Scott production. Those of deeply critical mind might feel that the heroine liberator is too pretty.

However, the effect is undoubtedly a powerful statement of intent.

GoldieBlox says studies show that girls who play with fashion dolls have far narrower career perspectives than do boys. The company adds that every three seconds, a fashion doll is sold.

The idea behind this new action figure, says the company, is to "get girls building." As Time magazine reports, GoldieBlox can now be seen at over 1,000 retailers. Yes, even Toys R Us.

Now it's down to the bravery of parents to buy their little Jocastas something different that might make a small contribution to widening their horizons.