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Barbie MP3 player: Exploitation for the digital girl

Mattel has unveiled an MP3 player in the style of a modern Barbie doll, and it goes hand-in-hand with a virtual world just for girls

There's something oddly grotesque about an MP3-playing Barbie doll. Not quite as grotesque as a PC shoved inside a dead beaver, but close. Mattel is to launch it in July along with an online videogame world similar to Second Life, but exclusively for young girls. We're not sure why children should be encouraged to spend yet more time within the confines of virtual reality, but the notion of squeezing yet more money out of their parents' pocket seems very traditional.

The MP3 player looks just like the Barbie of today: knee-high boots, excessive make-up and a 50 per cent more slutty appearance than the nearest competing doll. However, insert a USB cable into the right socket -- don't ask where it is -- and you can turn this horrible contraption into a music player that supports MP3 and WMA files within its 512MB of internal memory. Don't ask where the headphones go, either. There's also an SD card slot (don't go there), though it comes with the connotation that a girl such as this has only a minuscule memory and requires a little help to retain a useful amount of information.

In the 21st century, kids are more accustomed than ever to a constant sensory influx, and need more from a doll than just changeable clothes. It seems rather odd to us. Maybe we're too old here at Crave, but we still find changing our Barbie's clothes frightfully enjoyable.

Today's Barbie dolls continue to promote an unattainable image for impressionable girls and now our female geeks-to-be are to be wrongly encouraged towards a superficial lifestyle of tiny waists and supermodel make-up. Of course, they'd get the same impression from the iPod nano. -Nate Lanxon