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Barbie Liberation

Teen Talk Barbie proved to be the final straw. People who were already upset at Barbie’s anorexic figure and her way of turning play into superficial consumerism couldn’t believe their ears when Barbie’s electric voice box giggled:

  • “Math is hard!”
  • “I love shopping!”
  • “Will we ever have enough clothes?”

Snigglers to the rescue

In 1989 the Barbie Liberation Organization was formed. Taking advantage of similarities in the voice hardware of Teen Talk Barbie and the Talking Duke G.I. Joe doll, er, “action figure,” they absconded with several hundred of each and performed a stereotype-change operation on the lot.

The surgery was no simple matter — circuit boards had to be trimmed, a capacitor moved, and a switch re-engineered. The press made it sound like an easy pop-and-switch operation, but this took some research and dedication. (A step-by-step explanation of the BLO method can be found in PDF format at this page)

The BLO returned the altered dolls to the toy store shelves, who then resold them to children who had to invent scenarios for Barbies who yelled “Vengeance is mine!” and G.I. Joes who daydreamed “Let’s plan our dream wedding!” Cleverly placed “call your local TV news” stickers on the back ensured that the media would have genuine recipients to interview as soon as the news broke.

One BLO member counted up the many benefits of their program: “The storekeepers make money twice, we stimulate the economy — the consumer gets a better product — and our message gets heard.”

BLO in action

G.I. Joe on the operating table



See also:



The BLO was helped by funding from ®TMark, which subsidizes and promotes a whole buncha culture jamming projects.



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On This Day in SnigglerySeptember 18, 2001: Adrian Lamo hacks into Yahoo! News servers and changes the text of several archived news articles. (See News Trolls for more about this hoax)