You can see why Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul was chosen to play a badass drug dealer when you look at his reaction to Toys R Us recalling of the Breaking Bad dolls, in spite of them only being stocked in the adult section. He responded by tweeting that that they were hypocrites, as they continue to sell Barbie dolls in the wake of recalling the Breaking Bad merchandise, posing the question “I wonder what is more damaging”. So, which doll calls trumps?
In the eyes of thousands of parents and Toys R Us, it would be the Breaking Bad dolls who would take the crown, but I believe they are equally problematic. One reinforces gender stereotypes whilst also portraying an unattainably perfect life and body. Is Barbie supposed to represent what is beautiful in western society or is it designed to aesthetically look this way because it is easy to design clothes for her? In the other corner, Jessie and Walt’s dolls are associated with drug dealing, which does seem worse but maybe Barbie just damages children in a different way.
I feel like they are quite difficult to compare as they are created for completely different consumers, as although thousands of mums were offended by the Breaking Bad dolls they were in the adult-action-figure section of the store. Even if your child sees the action figures, they are unlikely to know that they are carrying around a bag of drugs with them, and if they do then it won’t really matter whether or not your child has seen them, as they are already corrupted if they can solidly identify a tiny bag of meth. There’s also the issue of having an adult section within what is seen as being a store for children, as it is far too easy to shock and offend those taking their wee darlings for a new toy. However, as Aaron Paul also spotted, they are prepared to sell violent video games and yet they won’t sell dolls that are associated with drug dealing. The whole notion rings of hypocrisy.
The dolls also equally seem to encourage gender stereotypes. Barbie with her pink clothes, blonde hair, perfect nobody-can-really-achieve-that-shape body, and the breaking bad doll coming with a blue bag of crystal meth, a gun and a bag of cash. Therefore, whilst Barbie pressures young girls into what they should feel the perfect woman is, the Breaking Bad dolls seem to epitomise a macho image which boys are attracted to. The mere fact that the action figures are holding a gun will be enough to attract some young boys, like magnets, to the dolls. If this is what the people who signed the petition are worried about, then they should also sign a petition to get rid of the Barbie dolls as well, as Barbie seems to personify the western idea of what a woman should look like. They both encourage gender stereotypes so Barbie should not in this case be exempt from the wrath of the Florida mum that started the petition, nor of the thousands that signed it.
They are also meant to represent entirely different things, and it is in this one area that I would say Barbie is actually worse in than the plastic Jesse and Walt. The Breaking Bad doll correctly represents the characters from the series, whilst Barbie, on the other hand, is meant to cater to and embody most types of jobs and people. Have you seen the amount of different Barbie’s there are? There’s Vet Barbie, Doctor Barbie, Maternity Nurse Barbie amongst the crowd, none of which seem to adequately represent the jobs which she is supposed to be perfect at. She never seems to wear the appropriate clothes or carry the correct equipment. She is nothing more than a hollow and uninspiring attempt to embody perfection, which lures parents into thinking it’s okay to buy her because it encourages their children to be the same. Breaking Bad dolls at least are meant to be for fans of the show; knowledgeable, reasonably intelligent adults. It doesn’t try to give children an unachievable goal which they should strive to attain.
I am with Aaron Paul on this one – if they choose not to stock “damaging” dolls, then they should not stock Barbie either. Damage can be done in a multitude of ways, and Toys R Us need to accept that.