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“Black-washing”: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

14 Sep
Halle Bailey as Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid

White-washing. I’m sure everyone has heard this word once or twice. Simply put, it’s a word used to describe when Hollywood casts White people or lighter people to play everyone, especially characters that were originally people of color. It has been seen as another term to describe “Blackface” in the modern era. White-washing has existed since the beginning of cinema, even when Black people were “allowed” to act in Hollywood. In fact, Whitewashing existed frequently up until as recently as 2017. It was around this time, in 2017, when Hollywood started to realize that casting White actors to play various ethnicities doesn’t always pay pockets in a modern society (Ghost in the Shell, 2017), even if the actor is well known and loved. They even recognized that it could be a career-killer for movie studios and actors alike.

After complaints about the Oscars’ selection of nominees appearing as “White” as possible, the Oscars began to set new diversity standards of eligibility for Movie Academy Awards in 2020. The rules were as follows:

  1. At least one actor from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group must be cast in a significant role.
  2. The story must center on women, L.G.T.B.Q. people, a racial or ethnic group or the disabled.
  3. At least 30 percent of the cast must be actors from at least two of those four underrepresented categories.

This caused Hollywood to go through a frenzy of hiring people of color anywhere they could.  One way they have implemented this change is by casting Black people to play characters that were originally White, either by suddenly presenting them as Black…or actually calling them “White” (Hamilton-style) despite their race, with the audience having to suspend a bit of reality. This has been called in recent years “Black-washing”.

Just like with White-washing, Black-washing has also had its share of controversy. Some people find it to be hypocritical that “Black-washing” is allowed culturally when White-washing often gets met with disdain and backlash. Others don’t like “Black-washing” because it makes everything feel less authentic or unrecognizable as the cast doesn’t match the character in the source or most familiar material.

On the other hand, many like this type of casting choice because they feel it finally gives Black people and other people of color more representation. Some have even argued that blackwashing as an ideology doesn’t exist and that casting black people in these types of roles is simply another form of reparations for the mistreatment and erasure of Black people from media during the Golden Age Of Hollywood and during the days of the Hay’s Code (a time when Hollywood restricted what could be seen in cinema).

What I aim to do is give a nuanced perspective about “Black-washing”. Regardless of whether I think the theory holds any merit, as a Black person myself, I want to discuss the good that could come with this idea or concept, the bad that could come with this idea or concept, and the ugly that can often surround this idea or concept. Let’s break it all down.

The Good: More Opportunities For Black People

We are beginning to see a rise in Black characters in every source of media. According to Diversity Inc, roles for black actors in a variety of tv series have increased post pandemic in which 65.8% of TV series featured a Black actor pre-pandemic and 70.5% featured at least one black person post-pandemic. Roles for Black actors in films particularly have increased overall from 56.1% to 58.7%.

What this means is that Black-washing gives Black people an opportunity to be even more represented. That is a major feat, believe it or not. I actually remember a time when I went to to find auditions and many of the auditions would say “White-preferred”. As someone who used to be an aspiring actor, it was discouraging to say the least. This was in the early 2010s, not too long ago.

Make no mistake. Almost every lead character is still white, but at least more of them are starting to be people of color. I no longer feel like I would automatically be rejected from an opportunity just because of the color of my skin. I feel like I can finally be recognized for my talent, the talents I’ve had since high school, if I choose acting as a career choice again.

In a sense, this makes Black-washing different from White-washing. White people have never actually been barred from playing any roles in cinema. They have had plenty of opportunities; doors have been open to them from around the world and the doors still are open. Therefore, the effects of White-washing are actually a lot more harmful to Black people than Black-washing is to White people. Black-washing doesn’t bar White people from getting opportunities. Rather, it “evens” the playing field. Don’t misunderstand, I do see a lot of pitfalls that can come from “Black-washing” (which I will get into later in this article), but some of the arguments that many people make against “Black-washing” are usually based on misconceptions, bias, or racial prejudice.

Here is a common argument for example:

“Black people only make up 19% of the population in America. White people are the majority so why should black people get an increase in roles?”

There are two problems with this statement. One problem is that there is a sense of American-centrism, basically Americans acting as if the entire world demographic begins and ends with America. In the entire world, there are more people of color then White people across continents. To be frank, many actors hired in Hollywood are not exactly from the USA. Many of them are from other countries. So this argument that having more Black people in Hollywood is somehow inaccurate or inauthentic is strange.

Second, these kinds of arguments seem to assume that White people will not relate to characters that are of a different race, so by making more characters of color it will somehow push White people away from watching movies. However, people of color have had to relate to characters of various backgrounds for decades, due to the dominance of White actors in media, and are constantly told that it shouldn’t matter what color they are. So shouldn’t the same apply to White people? Furthermore, why is it that viewers must relate to what they see personally? Isn’t it great to learn about something new and imagine what that would be like? I don’t relate to Harry Potter as a wizard, but I like learning and imagining what it would be like to have wizarding powers. Why doesn’t this logic apply to movies featuring Black culture?

To add, many of the characters that are accused of being “Black-washed” in a movie or a show are often played by mixed or biracial people. This makes the outrage a little more complex. We often have a tendency to see every mixed person that has a drop of black as ONLY black. I don’t think this is fair, especially if the actor in question is mixed with White ancestry and understands White culture. If they can act as Black characters, why shouldn’t someone of mixed ancestry be able to act as a White character? Sure, we can talk about how often times the mixed person doesn’t, in any way, resemble the character they are meant to portray. I think in some ways this is a valid criticism. But are you really mad just because they don’t look as you envisioned the part, or are you mad just because the person cast has a little bit of Black in them?

Here is another common argument against Black-washing:

“It is culturally inauthentic to have Black mermaids, elves, fairies, black aristocracy, etc.  These things are based in White culture.”

To counter this, Folklore and other tales have existed all over the world.  Stories surrounding fantasy-like creatures didn’t start with the European diaspora.  Furthermore, Black people have existed in all classes of European society due to colonialism.  For example, many were upset that a Black man was cast to play Porthos in BBC’s The Musketeers.  But did anyone know that the original writer of The Three Musketeers novel, Alexander Dumas, was of Black heritage himself, as well as a General in Napoleon’s army?  I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded such a casting choice.

Finally, here is another common argument against Black-washing:

“It is unfair because the actor is being given a role just for the sake of diversity or “woke points”, not because they actually can do the job.”

I can understand this frustration.  Even as Black people, we don’t just want to be chosen because we’re Black, becoming the “token” actor.  We want our talents to be respected. However, it is a broad assumption to assume that every Black person that was chosen for these roles were simply chosen because they are Black. 

Furthermore, various people of a variety of racial backgrounds, especially White people, were and still are simply preferred because of their White features, not their talents, compared to talents across other racial backgrounds.  Therefore, this is not exclusively a Black-washing issue.  If anything, White-washing occurred as a result of this “White” preference in Hollywood; Black-washing is simply another way of giving Black people the same treatment Hollywood has been giving White people for many years.

On the other hand, whether Black-washing exists or not, Black-washing as a strategy for diversity does have some major issues that I think needs to be discussed.

The Bad: Race-baiting, Whiteface, and Blackface

Blackface is when a white person puts on dark make-up to mock Black people, particularly for comedic purposes. This form of entertainment has been popular for many years. White-washing was often compared to Blackface because many times Hollywood would cast White or lighter actors to play Black people or other people of color, which to many felt disrespectful and conflicted with the experiences of people of color.

So what about “Black-washing”? We can see it as synonymous with Whiteface. Whiteface is a type of performance in which a person wears theatrical makeup in order to make themselves look like a White person. While it doesn’t have the same racist history as Blackface (nor does it have the same level of power or influence over how White people are seen overall), it is meant to represent a caricature of Whiteness and White people’s way of being. Whenever I watch movies that have a Black-washed cast, I can’t help but feel like the Black actors are playing a caricature of White people. There are certain mannerisms and ways of being that sometimes seem more in line with the way white people navigate society and respond to it. Although skin color doesn’t necessarily come with a set of personality traits, there are certain cultural differences between those across the Afro-diaspora and those within the Euro-diaspora, and that makes “Black-washing” so obvious to those who are viewing it.

Another part of the issue comes with the demand for the Black actors to live up to the expectations of the public’s perception of Whiteness. When a Black person acts as a character that was once white, many people expect the Black actor to capture the White character from head to toe, and so Black actors are often forced to portray themselves EXACTLY as the White character would even without the nuance of the Black experience. They have to speak as a White person would (this is not necessarily about articulation but rather for environmental responses), behave as White people would in certain situations, and often times the nuances of being Black within the story is not mentioned because technically they are playing a White person. It’s as if they live in a post-racist world where they are celebrated. In theory, this is great news and not all stories featuring Black people should be about “the black experience”. Some people may even argue that’s the point of acting; to challenge yourself to behave as someone else.

But it doesn’t come without feeling that this new-found celebration of Blackness in Hollywood is less about colorblindness and more about Black people playing the roles White people are comfortable with. It creates a Hollywood form of cultural assimilation. For example, when we think of a Black princess, what exactly comes to mind? To the eyes of Hollywood, a movie about princesses should include a person acting, dressing, and adorning their hair as a European-inspired princess would because that is what Hollywood’s perception of a princess is: White and/or European.

I wouldn’t see a handful of Black girls in a lead role in cinema until my teens and early 20s. To make a comparison of the two movies I saw as a teen and young adult, one was Akeelah And The Bee (2006); the other was Annie (2014). Akeelah and the Bee was a story about a young girl who discovers she has a knack for spelling.  She beats the odds of her underprivileged background to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  In Annie, the movie follows the story of its predecessors where an orphan girl gets lucky enough to be chosen to live with the wealthy Daddy Warbucks, winning the hearts of many. Both actresses did a great job as far as acting goes, and both movies were mildly entertaining for me. When I watched Annie I admit I was excited to see a Black girl on screen as the lead (which I hadn’t seen since Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella). However, while watching Annie I couldn’t help but compare it to the original movie adaptation, Annie (1982), and all of the other Annie versions before it. While I understand it was meant to be a modern Annie, the only thing this movie had to offer was a “Black face”.

I already had an Annie movie version that I had grown to love long before this new adaptation and I became more critical of the newer movie as a result.

Whereas with Akeelah And The Bee, there was nothing compared to it. It was a one-of-a kind movie and, more importantly, it was an original Black story. You could feel the authenticity based on how it tied in Black culture in such a nuanced way and, yet, gave Akeelah her own personality and interests as an individual. People could watch it and enjoy it for what it was without making a comparison to anything else. Whereas with Annie (2014), if felt as if the Black actors were telling the story of a White girl who happens to have a Black face.

I also wonder: What more does Black-washing offer to Black audiences outside of the skin color of the actors? What more does it showcase to audiences outside of our community about Black people? In the end, most people are going to end up sticking to the more popular “White” versions while the “Black” version of the movie will be wiped from memory as the “knock-off”. Even as I enjoyed “Black-washed” movies like Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997) or The Wiz (1978), let’s be honest here, these movies are mostly remembered by the Black audience that tuned in to watch in their respective time periods during eras where Black people were a lot less visible than today in movies.

To make multibillion dollar industries and bring in the big box office money, which would help continue Black Hollywood, we have to have something to offer others besides a Black face. Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to do it by imitating White people. Most people in the modern world are looking for new and original story-telling; with an interest in diversity, why are we not taking advantage of this to hop on new ideas and introduce our culture to the world in a fresh, new way?

To add, while “Black-washing” makes some of us feel seen in the moment, will it have the same long-lasting cultural impact, especially in regards to how we see ourselves?

Of course, we can forgive Hollywood executives when they cast Black people as fictional characters, right? These type of characters are usually imagined and so changing their skin color is a matter of taking creative liberties to be more inclusive. This motive is not something I would scorn and sometimes the intentions are good.

However, Black-washing gets murkier when we start to see White historical figures being Black-washed as well. I’m going to examine a good example of this sort of Black-washing: the stage production Hamilton (2015). The Hamilton cast is filled with extremely talented black actors that capture the characters in quite an entertaining and charming way. I admit that I enjoyed watching it on stage and the talent was inspirational to say the least. To be honest, I even have forgotten that the characters they were portraying were White historical figures.

And that is sort of the problem. These White people, while they shaped he USA in many ways, were also slave owners and they could care less about Black people in their lifetime. So while the cast does a celebratory job of playing these roles, they still are playing White slave owners and colonists. Putting a Black face on these kinds of figures makes us sympathize with them more, I suppose. Yet, it makes us ignore what the actual person did because we see a Black face. We begin to fictionalize the real person because the stage production presented them as Black (even if what they did to Black people was questionable).  So the question is, who gets to be celebrated in history, and should Black people be celebrated only when they are acting as white people, especially white people that participated in our oppression?

And that is sort of the problem. These White people, while they shaped he USA in many ways, were also slave owners and they could care less about Black people in their lifetime. So while the cast does a celebratory job of playing these roles, they still are playing White slave owners and colonists. Putting a Black face on these kinds of figures makes us sympathize with them more, I suppose. Yet, it makes us ignore what the actual person did because we see a Black face. We begin to fictionalize the real person because the stage production presented them as Black (even if what they did to Black people was questionable).  So the question is, who gets to be celebrated in history, and should Black people be celebrated only when they are acting as white people, especially white people that participated in our oppression?

Understandably, I do believe that there has been a good reason historically for Black-washing. After all, as mentioned before, Black people were excluded from Hollywood after years of racism, and so we would often create movies or spaces that were made to mimic that of White entertainment just to be seen or represented. This was probably the only way Black people could gain visibility back in the past.

However, we are living in the 21st century. I think it is time we progressed past the need for Black-washing. We are one of the most visible minorities on-screen to date. Why do we still hold on to this old idea that the only way to have Black representation is by casting ourselves as White?

In my honest opinion, while I’m always happy to see Black people like myself on screen, I think Black-washing is lazy. It is a lazy way to give people “diversity” without actually giving them a unique story to call their own. There is a perception in Hollywood that black people cannot carry a movie by themselves without the help of White people. There is also the perception that people won’t go see Black-led movies unless the story is already familiar (or in other words Eurocentric). Whiteness is often treated as the “default” and therefore more acceptable and digestible.

In my honest opinion, while I’m always happy to see Black people like myself on screen, I think Black-washing is lazy. It is a lazy way to give people “diversity” without actually giving them a unique story to call their own. There is a perception in Hollywood that black people cannot carry a movie by themselves without the help of White people. There is also the perception that people won’t go see Black-led movies unless the story is already familiar (or in other words Eurocentric). Whiteness is often treated as the “default” and therefore more acceptable and digestible.

Black Panther (2018) was one of the movies to challenge these ideas. Black Panther, while known by most fans of the Marvel comics, was not as well-known among casual movie goers. In this movie, we see an African king of Wakanda and a true Black superhero who protects his own people, without the need of White intervention or European involvement.  In this sense, the movie adaptation introduced an all-new story because it was the first adaptation of its kind. This made a bigger difference in the legacy of Black entertainment when we compare it to the White “knock-offs” that Black-washing had to offer. To add, what we also see from Black Panther is culture. Black culture.

The Ugly: The Absence Of Black Culture

There are different ways to Black-wash. Black-washing can come in the form of a Black reimagination of an established property. What I do like about some movies with this approach is that it gives an opportunity to tell a similar story but with a unique “Black” point-of-view, inculcating the rich culture, music, and fashion that comes from the Black community. Take Disney’s The Princess And The Frog (2009), for example. While it can be seen as a “Black-washed” version of its predecessor (a fairy tale of European origin), it has its own way of telling the story that makes it feel unique from the batch of fairy tale movies. It also caters to the sentiments and experiences of Black people. Just for understanding, this is not to say the movie is perfect (there are various flaws with the movie, starting with the creative decision to showcase the Black princess as a frog for most of the movie). However, you can tell that the creators took an interest in Black culture and wanted to inculcate some of our rich heritage into the movie. Unlike Hamilton, this movie celebrates Blackness rather than Whiteness, even if inspired from a European tale. I feel the same way with The Wiz (1978), the Black adaptation of The Wizard Of Oz, where Oz is designed to resemble that of Black urban neighborhoods, music, and culture. In a sense, we as Black people can both relate to it and see ourselves being represented more authentically.

Unfortunately, many movies today are missing the nuances of our culture in them because they are simply casting Black people to play White people. Movies that Black-wash without the nuances of our culture often feel hollow. They give me nothing to look back and be proud of except the fact that the person playing in the role is Black. Trust me, there will be plenty more feats where the “first Black actor” is playing the “first Black something”. This will get old really soon.

Furthermore, when are we going to start embracing stories from Black communities and culture? I want more movies like The Black Panther (2018). I want to see our culture celebrated, our kings or queens honored, our “fairy-tales” or folk tales visible. When are we going to get an Anansi The Spider movie? What about Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters? There’s so many more Black stories that we need only Google search to find them.

I think about the show Bridgerton (2020-Present). It is a great show with a very diverse cast of characters. However, while the show is progressive in its approach, having as many diverse faces as possible, the styles and attitudes are meant to mimic that of the Regency era in White European society. While this story is based on historical facts (albeit controversially), and it is being produced through a Black-owned entertainment company (even if the writers of the show are mostly white), that doesn’t take away the fact that the inspiration of this show and most shows and movies are always focused on Europe. Why so Eurocentric? Many of these actors will be praised only when they are acting in roles that reflect European culture or aristocracy while movies that reflect other cultures are often criticized as being somehow “stereotypical” or less “universal” to audiences.

Ultimately, it feels as if we are more eager to praise this form of cultural assimilation rather than embrace cultural diversity and liberation. In a story like Bridgerton, we can pretend that people of color were equal to that of White people in those societies. We can ignore the racist history behind people of color at court, how they had to cut off family ties to be seen as more “White” in society, and dismiss their culture to assimilate to a European way of life. We can more easily see Black people in power when the backdrop is European because Whiteness and European values represent power in our minds. We can even ignore the atrocities that occur even within the story of Bridgerton towards people of color, such as when Daphne (a white woman) decides to force Simon, a black man, to have intercourse with her to get what she wants and gets away with it, especially in the book, which the series adaptation is based on.  Amongst the beautiful scenery and European-style costumes, we can pretend that this is what true diversity looks like.

Hollywood champions diversity when it comes to casting, but many of the White producers and directors there don’t actually have enough interest in diversity to delve into a culture that is not their own. No, they should not be able to use the excuse that they don’t know enough about other cultures because the opportunity is there to hire advisors or even have some of the actors give advice. Yet, Black-washing gives them the easiest way out because they believe that black people are desperate and accepting of their scraps. The truth is that many of the major producers in Hollywood are not interested in expanding their interest. Black-washing is simply another way for them to brush the issue under the rug, with very little effort to include diversity, especially when many of them are reluctant to recruit creative thinkers from even a small number of people from underrepresented groups behind the scenes.

Despite a major increase of Black people in media, what has been staggering is the amount of Black showrunners. Black screenwriters and directors are also very few. In 2017 alone, only 5.1% of showrunners were reported to be Black. Many of the Black people that are on-set sometimes don’t even honestly get a say in how the characters are created, not even when it comes to the creation of Black people in fiction.

As Cord Jefferson, writer of The Good Place (2016-2020), put it: “Something that happens a lot when it comes to diversity in Hollywood ― and everywhere else ― is that people will just populate the room with people of color or queer people or women but not really respect those people’s voices or pay attention to what they’re saying. It feels like you’re diversity decoration a little bit, as opposed to a valuable member of the team.”

Executives mistakenly believe that simply having a “racial-neutral” cast or staff is the best way to add more diversity. As we can see, that only addresses the problem of diversity superficially. When I see a movie that Black-washes in this sort of “color-blind” way, I become very skeptical of the intentions. I do recognize that some producers or casting directors simply want to show talent without discrimination, but this method makes it seem as if they do not actually care who they cast in the role. This is why we get diverse-looking characters, but an absence of diverse story-telling.

Abbott Elementary, a TV series that focuses on a predominately Black school and its teachers, manages to highlight Black characters in a way Black people, especially educators, can relate because of its authenticity. To date, Abbott Elementary has the best comedy ratings on ABC since Modern Family, even in a time when streaming services dominate traditional cable TV. What makes the show fantastic is that it is not “color-blind”. It is an original story with the intent of showcasing what it is like to work with Black children in a low-income area. Despite the fact that the show does not focus on White people (even with a handful of White people in the show), it still manages to relate to people of various backgrounds. The show didn’t have to be a Black version of an established “White” series nor did the show have to focus on White culture’s influence on Black people.

Instead, what makes this show appealing is that it is an authentic Black story, and because the cast is predominately Black, we don’t have to rely on “token” Black voices to get a full picture of what being Black is like. Through the characters of this show, we can see a variety of attitudes and feelings that can relate to anyone who is a teacher or has ever taught in a low-income school. The show also doesn’t have to shy away from Black culture in order to avoid stereotyping. Instead, it approaches stereotypes in a nuanced way, allowing for Black audiences to recognize themselves while relating to a variety of characters who approach these topics differently. While the show draws inspiration from the other mocumentary-style comedies before it, viewers can feel the intention was to tell a Black story. The best part is it is written by a Black person (Quinta Brunson).

This is what I’m hoping will happen in the future when companies are dealing with Black movies and shows. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being inspired from European stories nor do I think it is wrong to cast more people of color. However, I think we need to do better when it comes to recognizing Black people outside of the face alone, taking on the opportunity to also show respect for where we come from and exploring that experience to make more authentic Black content.

As far as acting as historical figures, we don’t have to be honored in White history in order to prove that we are a part of history. Believe it or not, Black people have our own history outside of the White European diaspora. We have had kingdoms. We have had Gods. We have had heroes and villains. But how will other generations know or understand this if all they have to see is a White interpretation of Blackness or culturally assimilated Blackness? Black-washing in Hollywood might give us temporary excitement and representation, but will it give us something to look back on that will make us proud to be who we are for a lifetime? I honestly do not think so.

I want to know what you all think. Do you think “Black-washing” is beneficial or is the concept regressive? Do you think it actually exists or is it just all in our heads?


Guest Writer VenusLove


3 Reasons Why The 1st “Girls on Top” Line-Up, “GOT The Beat”, Is The Most Powerful Kpop Girl Group

21 Jan

On January 1, 2022, SM Entertainment hosted its traditional SM Town Live concert, SMTOWN LIVE 2022: SMCU EXPRESS @ KWANGYA, via their Youtube channel. During the show, SME introduced their latest girl group project, Girls on Top, and debuted their latest sub-unit: GOT the Beat with a new song “Step Back” (produced by Yoo Young Jin and Dem Jointz, to name a few). Members of GOT were taken from many other major girl groups within the company (or from their own solo activities) and gathered to create the ultimate girl group.

SM Entertainment has found recent success with these “mix-’em-up” sub-units. In 2019, SM Entertainment debuted SuperM, a boy group sub-unit that consisted of Taemin (SHINee), Baekhyun and Kai (EXO), Taeyong and Mark (NCT 127), and Ten and Lucus (WayV).

By putting these members together, the fandoms united, and this created massive success for SuperM. Their self-titled EP, SuperM, reached number one on the Billboard charts upon release. They embarked on a live world tour, only being cut short because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Though all activities have had to be adjusted to fit online streaming, the idea of this massive sub-unit has come with massive rewards for the company and the group members.

It was only a matter of time before SM Entertainment tried this method with their girl idols. GOT appears to be that formula.

GOT (Girls on Top) will be a bit different from SuperM in the fact that it will rotate the members out, much the way SM Entertainment handles their group NCT.

But so far, the first line-up for GOT is getting the reputation of being the “Female Avengers of K-pop”. After the release of GOT The Beat’s stage video performance of “Step Back”, they were already being received as a very powerful girl group from SM Entertainment, and possibly the strongest one in the whole industry at the moment.

Here are 3 reasons why this group is considered so powerful:

1. The Members Are Considered The Best At Their Craft

Let’s just introduce this line-up of girls.

First off, BoA is in this line-up. Highly regarded as the “Queen of Kpop”, “Beat of Angel”, “Asia’s Star”, and now a creative director and choreographer at SM Entertainment, BoA debuted in the year 2000 at the age of 13, influencing the early Hallyu or Korean wave that brought Kpop to the international stage. She’s also respected for having allegedly saved SM Entertainment, one of the “Big 3” music labels in South Korea, when it was in financial crisis in the early naughts. Since her debut and near 22-year reign, she has become an adept solo artist, mastering both her dancing and vocal abilities.

She’s also had a major successful break-through career in Japan, becoming quite the J-pop artist as well. BoA is also multi-lingual (speaking Korean, Japanese, and English). Her various talents and world-trotting gifts make her an “all-around” presence in the group.

The respect SM Entertainment has for her is visible through the group’s name, “Girls on Top”, which pays homage to one of BoA’s most successful Kpop songs “Girls on Top“.

BoA may seem to have tried it all, but this is her first time navigating a girl group, showing that there’s still more on her bucket list. In her reality show, Keyword#BoA and in other shows, she’s confessed that she’s always wanted to be in a girl group, particularly Girls’ Generation (SNSD) and Red Velvet. Now, it appears like she took her opportunity, and she’s not disappointing anyone. BoA is proving that age is nothing but a number, and she inspires many of many ages to keep moving forward towards their dreams.

When the stage video dropped, it was pretty clear who had the potential to be the leader of the group, especially as some discovered she got the most out of the line distribution in this debut. Rightfully so, as she crawled so all those after her could walk and run. She is strong in many areas, so it’s easy for her to perform naturally with many members of this new group.

Next in the line-up, we have Taeyeon of Kpop’s iconic and legendary girl-group Girls’ Generation (SNSD), which debuted in 2007. Overall leader of the former NINE-MEMBER girl group, a group often literally called “The Nation’s [South Korea’s] Girl Group”, one of the first to break the “glass ceiling” (being the first girl group to chart for weeks on South Korea’s major charts and award shows), the first to sell millions of albums, and the first Kpop girl group to go on to achieve global success, Taeyeon contributed massively with her amazing vocal talent. To many, her vocal prowess remains unrivaled in Kpop. With her experience in such a large-member girl group, Taeyeon has learned how to make her personal talents and presence shine within minutes, and most fans of GOT learned quickly that they can’t get their eyes (and ears) off of her.

Since her debut in 2007 with her group, Taeyeon has mastered the art of vocal control and stage charisma. Being only slightly younger than BoA, and still being considered a Kpop “visual”, she’s also proving that age is nothing but a number.

Following Taeyeon from the legendary girl group Girls’ Generation (SNSD) is the group’s powerful lead rapper and dancer Hyoyeon. Debuting in 2007 with her initial girl group, she quickly became recognized as one of the few female Kpop acts that can “dance with the boys” (with the boys being more recognized for their powerful choreography). Hyoyeon has shown time and time again that she gives nothing less than 100% with anything she takes on. Her ability to give her all in a performance makes her rap verses flow naturally and her dancing fluid and precise. After all, this girl worked with Janet Jackson and was BoA’s silhouette dancer before her debut with SNSD!

It’s ironic that, at this moment in time, she’s teaming up with someone she once shadowed. This just shows how much her status has come up in the world.

Like her fellow band-mate, she can’t help but steal the spotlight whenever she takes the stage. Her confidence and “girl-crush” aura make her a crowd favorite. There’s no way she can fade into the background. Her chemistry with her new band-mates also amazes people, showing just how adaptable she is, too.

She also brought the beauty and the “style” visually with this debut, especially standing out with her popping pinkish-red hair. Like with BoA and Taeyeon, what is age?

The girls of Girls’ Generation (SNSD) can rightfully be called “Queens”.

Moving along down the line-up is Wendy of the ever-popular Kpop girl group Red Velvet. This group became SM Entertainment’s answer to JYP’s Twice and YG’s Black Pink. Debuting in 2014 to both controversy and wildly popular admiration, Red Velvet has since carved out their own identity from former groups by experimenting with new sounds, images, and styles. They are now one of SM Entertainment’s biggest girl groups.

Wendy has particularly been a stand-out with her vocals. As lead vocalist of her own group, she instantly became recognized as SM Entertainment’s “strongest vocalist”. This amazingly talented vocalist even appeared on King of Mask Singer as “Space Beauty Maetel”. And everyone knows that anyone who joins that reality show has to sell their voice and nothing else.

But Wendy has shown that she’s very capable of selling all she’s got in this debut. Pretty and talented, Wendy doesn’t shy away from performing on par with her seniors, vocally or in dance. It helps to have practiced doing solo work. It’s the key to why Wendy can shine so brightly in this group full of so much talent. When she sang in this debut, people quickly noticed how easy it was for her to hit a F5 (vocal range). People also noticed how well she danced next to some of the best. Wendy appears to be refusing to be outshined in any area. Known for being bubbly, she’s been surprising everyone with how well she’s merging with the tougher GOT concept.

As with her group-mate, Red Velvet‘s Seulgi can’t seem to fade into the background either. While most people know this diva is talented, with this debut, she has shown that her dancing, singing, and rapping chops make her a dominating force in her own group and in her new sub-unit, pulling out all-around gifts to spread to every area, similar to BoA. When Seulgi performs, it appears as if she’s been around as long as her seniors, which shows just how amazingly talented she is.

Seulgi has everything all the other girls have in one whole body, which is why she’s considered SM Entertainment’s “secret weapon” and the “ace”. She manages to maintain her own powerful identity within a group setting, merging well with the others and, yet, taking center stage effortlessly at the same time. She’s never out-of-step.

Finally, we have members from the newest and super popular Kpop sensation Aespa, which debuted in 2020. Aespa has been known to have a unique identity in SM, bringing the trap and hip-hop vibes, usually a staple of YG artists, along with some futuristic touches (such as having virtual “avatars” perform with them) to the label. From debut, they have seen significant music show success, constant streaming on platforms like Youtube and Spotify, and have charted on the Billboard 200.

Since pre-debut, everyone knew Karina was born to be a star. From being invited to perform with her senior (SHINee’s Taemin) and having the honor of appearing in a Tucson car performance ad (usually reserved for veterans), she’s already shown that she’s a big-dog in the Kpop industry already, and she’s only been full-throttle in the industry for a little over a year. Before debut, many could see her potential as a soloist, so it’s no surprise that she can so easily slip out of one group to another (from Aespa to GOT) within just one year of debut.

Karina has shown that she’s a powerful dancer, strong rapper, and obviously visually stunning, standing stronger than most of her peers and some of her seniors. Recently, she’s also shown to even have very good vocals as well! She’s quite a quad-threat. It’s no wonder she was selected to be first in line during the stage performance.

Winter is another story. Pre-debut, SM Entertainment hid her special talents behind her gorgeous and stunning visuals in her teaser videos. Yet, when Winter stepped onto her debut stage, she shocked everyone with her powerful vocals, rapping skills, and dancing abilities.

Being underestimated, everything fell in her favor due to the shock factor. It made her extremely popular and a fan favorite. Within her short time within the Kpop industry, she has also gained significant status. It’s amazing that she has been able to elevate to the point she is performing with all of the other queens in GOT. And she fits oh-so-well. Her shared “bridge” with BoA and Wendy in the “Step Back” song has had everyone talking, and it’s seriously got everyone wondering what she has next up her sleeve.

With these seven members, this sub-unit is definitely a strong forceful wind blowing in the industry.

2. FOUR Generations

GOT (Girls on Top)

Many sub-units have been formed from many labels, but very few can gather FOUR GENERATIONS of Kpop idols, let alone the most talented of them. The Refund Sisters may have been the only other one, and that was, to most, just three generations.

Many Kpop agencies haven’t even been around as long as SM Entertainment, who, quite frankly, is said to have pioneered the “Kpop-idol formula“. The agencies that were formed in the early days of the industry are either gone, having been dissolved by the industry, or all of their older idols have completely left their agencies, disbanding or retiring.

Well, considering the four generations of Kpop, the active participants in GOT cover them all. BoA is from the first generation, Taeyeon and Hyoyeon (Girls’ Generation (SNSD)) are from the second generation, Wendy and Seulgi (Red Velvet) are from the third generation, and Karina and Winter (Aespa) are from the fourth. This is already over 20 years of talent in one group, from 2000 to 2022!

Thus, this group, as it stands, is sure to bring to circle a large and diverse fanbase, one that has been both following the industry for years and the young blood. Already, newer Kpop fans are being introduced to older idols, and old-time Kpop fans are learning of the newer idols or are being reintroduced to them. This unit brings a unity to Kpop, especially because the fandom is largely divided as to which “era” of Kpop is superior.

In this group, all eras reign supreme!

3. All The Girls Are Well-Established

Finally, the reason this group is so perfect is because all of the ladies are well-established, so there’s no fight over who is getting more attention (or love from fans) than the other. Technically, each girl is a bias of some group of people, unlike what you might find in your typical Kpop group, where one girl appears to be more beloved than the others.

Many who have analyzed the line distribution have noticed that every line has been distributed as fairly as possible, allowing each girl to shine.

This could also mean that the company doesn’t believe that any one of the girls will be the main pull of this group. This is because all of the girls in this group are the pull. They have had major successes outside of GOT, have developed their own strong fandoms, and are moving into this project with a fresh outlook.

One of main causes of many fan wars (and even disbandment) has been attention disparity between members. In many other Kpop girl groups, it’s often obvious that one girl is favored. Usually, it’s noticeable when someone wears more unique outfits, gets more lines in a song, more screen-time in a music video or stage performance, and/or more side projects, like ads, than the other girls.

But in GOT, all of the usual “favorites” were combined in one group. Karina and Winter are the main “biases” in Aespa, Taeyeon and Hyoyeon are favored from SNSD, Wendy and Seulgi are favored from Red Velvet, and BoA is highly respected as a solo artist and Kpop veteran.

Thus, they’ve actually toned down on favoring the usuals, too. For example, while Karina appears to be favored in Aespa, often having the more interesting wardrobe and prettiest hair options, more lines in the song, and more visual presence, in GOT her hair is a normal dark color, with the more interesting colors given to Girls’ Generation’s members, BoA has the most lines of everyone in the song, and the visual beauty of the group is largely disputed (with many also complimenting Winter, Wendy, and Taeyeon for their feminine looks, too).

The same extremely talented individuals who always get praise for standing out also have their matches in this group. While Taeyeon, Wendy, and Winter each get praise for their powerful vocal dominance in their own groups, they are vocal equals in GOT, with BoA stepping down a peg, too, to let those ladies do their thing.

BoA also has to share the stage with her shadow Hyoyeon when it comes to dancing, and Karina and Seulgi deliver strong in that department as well.

Karina is a very powerful rapper in her group, and yet, Hyoyeon is able to keep up (and even dominate) the flow most of the time.

Together, many fans consider this the “best vocal line” in Kpop history due to there being six of seven vocalists in the group! It can equally be considered the “best dance line” as well, with over half of the members displaying significant body control in this choreography. Each member brings something to the table, and would be incomplete without everyone.


GOT the Beat on McCountdown “Special Stage” “Step Back”

While acknowledging that some talents shine equally in this group, it can hurt fans who want to believe their bias is superior. But it also leaves many people humbly and genuinely respecting the individual strengths of all of the ladies, leaving no one to find a weak link. No one can honestly leave disappointed with any of them, and suddenly, many fans may find themselves latching on to a different bias than the one they actually started with.

To be honest, this is possibly why most comments on them have been positive, with few fan wars sprouting out. There’s nothing to fight about when all of them appear amazing.


GOT the Beat “Special Stage” fancam view
GOT the Beat Winter (fancam)
GOT the Beat Karina (fancam)
GOT the Beat Seulgi (fancam)
GOT the Beat Wendy (fancam)
GOT the Beat Hyoyeon (fancam)
GOT the Beat Taeyeon (fancam)
GOT the Beat BoA (fancam)

Overall, this sub-unit will go far.

Unfortunately, they will be swapped out. It’s both bitter and sweet. On one hand, Kpop fans will get to see many of their other favorite idols get together and perform. On the other hand, could the next sub-unit really be as powerful as this four-generation group?

There’s still much to improve on. Many fans have found the lyrics of “Step Back” to be questionable, considering it sounds more like a “diss track” over a man than a “female-empowering” anthem, and there’s still no official music video released to really give the group justice. Before another sub-unit takes the stage, this powerful sub-unit should at least get another chance at making an even bigger mark, possibly with an EP, another comeback with fresh new lyrics, and a stylish music video. That may be asking for too much, but fans can only hope the potential here doesn’t go to waste.

Why The New Bratz Dolls Look Ugly To People (Holiday Felicia, GCDS, Another repro Bratz 2022, etc)

26 Dec

Hey, Gen Next readers! If you prefer to watch the accompanying video, skip to the bottom. For the rest of you, here goes…

Many of you who watch my channel or read my articles on my blog are doll fanatics, and more than likely, many of you all are older and are collectors.

If you’re a Bratz fan, what some of you may notice is that the Bratz dolls look far cheaper than they did in the past. In fact, all dolls seem to be getting more and more expensive (or seem to be around the same price as they were in the past), but are looking cheaper and cheaper. Either the dolls look like knock-offs of their original designs, with poor quality plastic, hair, and clothing, or they come with less accessories than they used to in the past.

In my video, Bratz “Comeback” Is A Mess (Rock Angelz/1st Edition Dolls, Talking Bratz 2021 Tik Tok Series, etc), I made a comment essentially stating that if any of you pay the current price of 24.99 for the cheaper 20th Anniversary 1st Edition re-release of the Bratz dolls, instead of paying the hefty prices on the secondary market, “you get what you pay for”. Meaning, you are paying a cheap price for a cheaper-looking doll.

One commenter did point out: “You said the 20th anniversary Bratz dolls look cheap so you get what you paid for, but your forgetting the first released Bratz dolls were that price too. There’s no way in hell am I going to buy $1,000 Felicia on eBay when I can get her as holiday Felicia for an affordable price.It’s absolutely insane how much people price these dolls.”

And that’s when I realized…how little I talked about INFLATION in that video, in my articles, and in general, beyond a brief mention.

Let’s Talk…Inflation

Now, anyone heavily invested in the doll industry for the last 5, 10, or even 20 years knows that the doll industry has been on the decline, and there are many factors that have gone into this.

But one key factor that I think many doll collectors forget, overlook, or possibly aren’t aware of is inflation. Inflation plays a role in why your dolls, while looking cheaper, are set at the same price higher quality dolls were set at 20 years ago.

According to Google’s dictionary, inflation, in economics, is a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money. According to Investopedia, inflation is the decline of purchasing power of a given currency over time.

A quantitative estimate of the rate at which the decline in purchasing power occurs can be reflected in the increase of an average price level of a basket of selected goods and services in an economy over some period of time.

The rise in the general level of prices, often expressed as a percentage, means that a unit of currency effectively buys less than it did in prior periods.

Basically, this means that our currency, particularly the US dollar (since MGA Entertainment is primarily based in the USA), doesn’t hold that same purchasing power it once did. Now, we need more dollars to equal the value of items we used to purchase for less in the past. Now that I think about it, this is really a global thing.

What causes inflation? I’ll try my best to explain.
Economics Help lists 5 main causes:

  1. Demand-pull inflation-This is an economic situation that occurs when the demand for goods and services is more than the supply of goods or services. Basically, it’s a situation when we all ask for more and more stuff, and the companies can’t give us all we want as fast as we want it. When this happens, companies will respond by increasing the prices.
  2. Cost-push inflation –This is when overall prices increase (inflation) due to increases in the cost of wages and raw materials. When our jobs start thinking about paying us more, the company has to earn more to pay everybody. Companies will then increase the prices for products to get more out of it. When the price to buy raw materials (a product), like rubber or plastic, increases, all the other things that rely on the materials (a product), like dolls, have to increase their prices, too. This means that people who make stuff won’t be able to afford as many of those materials like they used to, and so will only buy smaller and smaller amounts of the high quality materials, or the cheaper materials, just to make the same stuff.
  3. Devaluation –This is when a country’s government intentionally reduces the value of its currency. For example, this means a government can announce that 20 units of its currency would be equal to one American dollar. That currency (and thus the products in that nation) would end up being cheaper for US residents, but the US’s currency (and the US’s products) would be twice as expensive in the country that reduced the value of their currency. This would result in an increase in the cost of imported goods (foreign, and in this scenario, the USA), while also boosting domestic demand, or having more people buy from stores in their own country (in this scenario, the country that devalued their currency). It protects companies within a nation from foreign competition.
  4. Rising wages – Higher wages increase firms’ costs and increases consumers’ disposable income, allowing them to spend more. Again, the more money the workers ask for, the more the company has to pay out. In order to meet these demands, they have to increase the prices of the stuff they produce or make just to pay people more. Also, when consumers have more disposable income, they have more money to throw away, so a company might respond by raising prices, since people can better afford to buy stuff.
  5. Expectations of inflation – High inflation expectations causes workers to demand wage increases, which can cause firms to push up prices. When people believe the cost of living will increase, they will put pressure on companies to increase their wages. And you know where that leads…

Now, you may see signs of inflation around you personally. For instance, in 1970, the price for gasoline in the USA was, on average, 0.36 cents in USD. In 2015, the price for the same quality gas was 2.45 USD. In 2021, for the month of October alone, gasoline prices on average were around 3.38 USD.

It’s typically no secret that 1.00 USD now would get you less than it would have 100 years ago. Typically, 100 years ago, 1.00 USD could get you 10 boxes of cereal. Today, the price for 10 boxes of cereal can range anywhere from 24.00 USD to 50.00 USD!

In our most recent times, inflation has mostly been caused by the pandemic. The pandemic either put people out of work or cut their hours last year to comply with social distancing.

Unfortunately, this meant that there weren’t enough hands on deck to supply everybody’s needs. People who wanted ice cream or needed their hair cut now had to wait longer or had to go without because there weren’t enough people to meet that demand. There also weren’t enough products for everybody.

Companies then responded to the issue of having less goods or services by raising the prices of the goods or services they did have, just to make up for that loss.

To add, consumers would go to anyone who could meet the demand, causing the people supplying that hard-to-get service or product to see currency in their future. The result is that they pulled up the prices, seeing that they could get more out of this hard-to-get service or product than they would have before the pandemic.

Cargo trucks and trains had to cut down as well, and these are the people bringing the supplies to stores. Items became more rare as a result, so companies were at a loss. This gave them another reason to raise the prices of the goods they already had to make up for it.

Then, because items were so rare, people were willing to spend more for less just to have the item they needed or wanted. This happened with toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and surgical masks. Why wouldn’t a company increase the prices while it’s hot?

But the higher prices conflicted with people’s actual wages because they weren’t making enough to meet these high prices. This is actually currently causing workers to put pressure on companies to pay them higher salaries.

And companies are willing to do it. Along with trying to meet demand, companies are trying to entice people to come work for them so that people can help with supplying labor in a more demanding society. But people need more money now, right? This means the companies need to offer more money to appeal to people, which means they have to increase the prices of their goods in order to make enough money to pay people their desired salaries.

Now…What does all of this gibberish have to do with dolls?

Right now, the cost to make dolls has gone up WAY high. It has already risen the last 10 years, but now, it’s ridiculous how much it costs to design ONE SINGLE doll.

Think about what goes into making a doll: fabric of many kinds, plastic, paint, and hair…I can’t even begin to list just exactly all that goes into the design work.

This doesn’t include paying for the designers, sculptors, stylists, producers, marketers, developers, vendors, and others brought on board to actually help with the dolls.

This also doesn’t include operating a building and/or warehouse, including paying for utilities, keeping lights on, and paying custodians to keep buildings clean. They have to pay license fees, too.

And now some of ya’ll want a series and video games, too? The company has to pay for all of that, including for the tools and people involved with that.

The price of all of that has gone up. The people that MGA Entertainment is buying from today are charging more for their materials and services than they did in 2001.

In MGA Entertainment’s case, the company behind the Bratz, let’s tack on the fact people are scared off from working for this company…(Again, please watch the video or read the article “Bratz Comeback is a Mess” if you don’t understand what I’m talking about.) MGA has to entice people with high wages in order to keep workers, so they have to price their dolls much higher than they would have in the past.

Now, you might be thinking, “Okay I get inflation makes things more expensive. But the dolls aren’t MORE expensive, they’re the same price. If you look at the price of the dolls at Walmart and Target, they didn’t increase their prices. The 1st Edition dolls are the same price they were in 2001. What are you talking about?”

With the 20th Anniversary dolls, MGA has skillfully managed to fool us fans into thinking that we are paying for the “same doll” at the “same price” it was 20 years ago. Yet, all of the hard-core fans can see the quality difference, correct?

This is because you really aren’t paying “the same price” for “the same doll”.

How so, you might wonder?

Today, the 1st Edition 20th Anniversary dolls are going for 24.99 USD. Hypothetically, let’s say the original dolls were listed at 24.99. I say “hypothetically” because I can’t find the original listings I saved a while back.

Let’s look at an inflation calculator to find out the difference:
If a doll cost 24.99 USD in 2001, and if a company were to adjust for inflation today, given today’s prices for the same quality materials the dolls had back then, the dolls should actually be…(drum roll please) 39.05 USD in 2021.

However, your dolls are the 2021 price of 24.99 USD. Back in 2001, that would be equivalent to … (drum roll please) 15.99 USD.

In a nutshell, MGA Entertainment is selling you a cheaper doll for a cheaper price, and this is why I said anyone who is buying these cheap ugly ass dolls are essentially getting “what they paid for”.

The dolls from the 2000s that were even remotely close to that price were the 2009 Basic Bratz that came with nothing but re-hashed fashion, with even the fashion itself being lower quality. Back then, it was understandable, considering MGA was in a major court battle and the court ordered the removal of all Bratz from toy shelves.

Nowadays, the real problem is MGA was not prepared for this comback and really had no interest in investing in Bratz, which was why they weren’t prepared to create high-quality dolls, adjusted for inflation. They didn’t care to give fans what they deserved. I mentioned more about MGA’s lack of interest in Bratz in the “Bratz Comeback” video. If the company really wanted to bring the old Bratz dolls back “full force”, they would have made sure the dolls were on par years ago, right after the Hayden Williams dolls were released in 2018.

Instead, they waited until the end of 2020 to ask fans what they wanted, dipped into their pool from the successes of L.O.L. Surprise and Rainbow High, and threw some dolls together with the materials they could afford to hurry up and gather.

It’s understandable why they can’t just pour their all into the Bratz brand. Besides Bratz, they are essentially balancing two other brands at the moment, unlike in 2001, when Bratz was their only doll brand and their primary meal ticket. Right now, most of their money is going to the more immediately profitable brands.

Still, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have at least tried, knowing the Bratz Anniversary dolls have been in demand since 2018.

Fans are largely frustrated with the secondary market, markets like Ebay, that have priced older dolls at ridiculous prices (also not truly adjusted for inflation). The doll collecting game can be an expensive road if you want the best. However, the dolls aren’t worth THAT much. There’s an excellent video on Youtube that talks about the secondary market regarding the Bratz Dolls by Darling Dollz.

Unfortunately, this is causing many Bratz fans to settle for less, even if they aren’t getting the best quality.

Specifically when it came to the repros, MGA used nostalgia bait because they know people are now buying for the brand, not the quality of the product. They are buying cheaper dolls just to have something with the Bratz name on it. There are two types of consumers of Bratz nowadays: People who grew up with Bratz, who never got their wished-for doll, and want a trip down memory lane, and those who revolve their personal creative and business content around Bratz and other toys. MGA knows they only have to appeal to these types of people a little bit to get these dolls to sell out, and they don’t really have to invest anymore. There are people who will buy a Chanel purse that’s falling apart just to have Chanel. They pay money to see a horrible Marvel movie just because it’s a Marvel movie. As a result, the companies never improve because they know they don’t have to appease anybody in order to make a profit.

Back in the past, when the Bratz was a lesser-known brand and was building, they had to put more effort in order to build brand loyalty. They’ve got the loyalty and brand power now, so what effort do they need to put in? Unfortunately, a company has one too many options. They can choose to invest majorly, despite knowing they don’t have to, or they can cut costs for their more reputable brands and give fans only half of what they had 20 years ago. It seems MGA has chosen the latter.

If MGA Entertainment were paying attention, and if they actually really cared to give Bratz a new boost with a strong reboot, they would have realized just how dissatisfied fans have been with the secondary market and they would have tried to re-release these dolls with the same quality, with prices adjusted for inflation, to compete with that market. Ultimately, those second market sellers would have no choice but to come down to lower prices or risk not being able to sell the doll due to the main company releasing it with the same quality.

Even better if the dolls came with something extra special.

Unfortunately, I know if the dolls were properly adjusted for inflation, the average fan would still believe they are being cheated when actually they would be getting the same, if not a better, deal.

Many fans obviously find the price of 24.99 USD more approachable than the price 39.05 USD, the price it probably should be. Not really understanding inflation, if the company increased the price of a doll from what it was 20 years ago to the proper price adjusted for inflation, many fans would immediately believe the company is ripping them off just because it looks higher on paper. In actuality, this would be the better price for a reproduced doll with the same quality as 20 years ago.

In order to get the dolls to the more approachable price of 24.99 at this point, MGA technically had to cheapen the dolls. Some fans, not understanding this, may have complained about the quality, asking for the dolls to be fixed, while still insisting they will only pay the low price of 24.99, the way it was years ago. Let’s be honest, it’s really not completely possible to have nice dolls at that price from a company not prepared to invest or prepared to adjust for inflation. For all of you still asking for those fixed Rock Angelz dolls, all I can tell you is you may be out-of-luck.

It also doesn’t help that they’re marketing the Bratz to a few thousand adult fans either, as I mentioned in my previous content. That makes it difficult for them to go for the perfect price range. With only a few thousand adult fan collectors left, they have only two options. They can lower the prices, making the dolls accessible to more fans (selling a large quantity of cheaper-quality dolls in one gulp) or raise the prices (so they get more out of a small number of higher quality dolls than they normally would), which would all be used to cover expenses and line pockets.

To be honest, by catering to adult fans, they won’t be able to guarantee the largest return with either method, even if they were to adjust for inflation. They would have to market to millions of kids or a general audience, the way they did in the past, in order to reap the same mega rewards they once did, like what is happening with Rainbow High and L.O.L Surprise. Rainbow High and L.O.L. Surprise can be a cheaper price with decent quality because they are banking on millions of kids buying it and giving them a major return on that investment. While essentially being on toy shelves with all the other dolls, the Bratz repros are mostly being marketed in adult spaces, not where kids are allowed to frequent.

Overall, though, I still think MGA should think of creating a solid investment plan for the Bratz brand so that the quality improves. Then, they should consider pricing the dolls fairly adjusted for inflation.

The Bratz still may not be like their glory days, where they came out with tons of lines, but it’s better to have fewer high quality lines than a bunch of crap Bratz dolls. Quality over Quantity.

Bratz Dolls’ Reviews

Today, I wanted to review the newest Bratz dolls from head to toe. I will probably do this for the re-pros of the 1st Edition Bratz and Rock Angelz Bratz some other time. Right now, I’m more interested in the newest dolls.

Let’s get down to reviewing Felicia!

Holiday Felicia

To those who are not apart of an off-brand fan community, Felicia’s Holiday doll was released without most people’s knowledge. In fact, shockingly enough, they announced her arrival on Instagram AFTER she sold out…Make that make sense.

Unfortunately, and ironically, most of us fans will not be getting her in time for the Christmas Holiday. Maybe we’ll get her in time for Easter…Some people’s Felicia doll has yet to be shipped, and some people are fearing a cancellation. Some people’s Felicia doll has been cancelled.

Actually, it’s not so shocking at all that this is happening if you engaged with my former content regarding this Bratz comeback, though. This is basically how the new Bratz dolls are being announced and reproduced nowadays. Everything is just being produced and released in a messy fashion. Those on social media are trying hard to play it off, saying “Bratz fans are amazing!” when referring to how Felicia sold out so fast the social media team couldn’t keep up. I don’t understand how they couldn’t have when the Insta threads were crawling with fans asking when Felicia would be announced. There’s seriously a communication issue going on here. I’m not going to get too much more into it because I already spoke about it in the “comeback” content.

When it comes to Felicia’s doll, many in the fan community have mixed feelings about her. I have to say I also have mixed feelings regarding this doll.


Let’s start with Felicia’s head. First off, ya’ll know how I feel about the darker-skinned dolls having pink lips. The “jigaboo” lips I called them in Bratz 2018: Please Don’t!. I’m not fond of the peach-pink lips too much. Tack on the fact that I feel Felicia’s face is underwhelming in general, even down to the eye make-up. To get some perspective, Lookin’ Bratz gave a review of the doll, and informed us as to why the faces are looking the way they are. Apparently, back in the day, the faces were painted using a “spray” method, which I heard isn’t much in use anymore. Nowdays, UV printing is used instead, and it’s considered the more “cost-effective method” to apply dolls’ faces. Apparently, “spraying” is less common in the doll industry today. Also, the Bratz have new head molds created to accommodate these new “printing” methods, which makes them look even stranger to me. On top of that, again, as I mentioned in the “comeback” content, I hate the matte plastic that they are using nowadays. It doesn’t look as refined.

Unfortunately, the change in production shows. This might be a trend, but that’s probably part of the reason the doll industry is on decline. Who wants to pay for dolls with these cheap-looking faces and heads? I mean, they’re probably good enough for parents with kids, if that’s who they were catering to, which they aren’t anymore, and maybe these cost-cutting materials and methods allow them to be cheaper at a time when money is tighter. It might appeal to a casual doll fan. But not to me.

Because of the cost it takes to make high-quality dolls nowadays, many companies have to cut costs, and that includes the materials it takes to make high-quality dolls. What I notice, though, is that the bigger a company, the more people they have to pay, the more brands they have to juggle, the more people they have to produce for, resulting in them cutting costs. Isn’t it, as Alanis Morrisette would say, ironic?

While I understand that times change, I can’t say it makes me happy or satisfied. I don’t think I will be satisfied until they have that old-fashioned higher-quality look I loved back in the day. I realize now that I was spoiled. I wish I had the money to get every Bratz doll ever invented back then because I just don’t think I will even buy any reproduced dolls that look like this.

Despite the usual trend nowdays, again, I believe that MGA Entertainment had enough time to launch this brand the way fans wanted or at least had enough time to try. Couldn’t MGA Entertainment have invested enough money to hire someone to utilize that method at least for one throw-back line, in time for the Bratz 20th? We never needed thousands of lines for this 20th Year Anniversary. We only needed one special line, one that brought us back to the 2000s, possibly one playset, and then tons of merchandise, like t-shirts and make-up. The other lines could have come later. At least one of the repros or newer dolls could have had the “sprayed” look.

Maybe there are no more artists out there who can use that method. Possibly they don’t want to work for these companies anymore. I don’t know. But if they are out there, I think it would have been worth the investment, at least for one line.

I really liked fan TeZzi Carter’s photos of Felicia. Their touch-up gives me that sultry “attitudinal” dramatic Bratz look that I’m dying to have. That’s what Felicia deserves.

Touched-up Felicia

I think it’s important to note that to us Black fans it deeply matters how Felicia looks and is received. It’s no secret that the Black dolls are the least sold by retailers and the least bought by consumers, which says a lot about how people see Black people in general. We’re not just talking about in the Western world, but over in the East, too. Livin’ in a Bratz World: The International Distribution of MGA’s Bratz Dolls also outlined how Sasha basically didn’t debut in one whole country because distributors stated “she wouldn’t do well [there]”. Gee, I wonder why not?

Because of that overall dislike of darker-skinned dolls (or bluntly, racism), Black dolls have to look better than average in order to sell well. It’s especially important for Felicia to look good to the people she’s representing, the people who will more than likely buy her most. To me, personally, I just find her face to be underwhelming. She’s missing that glam factor, especially for a Holiday doll.

However, if people love the face and buy her, it’s still a “win” for the Black community. If she does sell well, maybe more Black dolls will be released. Who knows. Still, for me, it wouldn’t make much difference because new Black dolls will be created at THIS time, a time where companies are “cutting costs” to make cheaper dolls. I really wouldn’t be getting the Black doll I feel I deserve.

On a positive note, I do love the “natural” wavy-haired highlighted look that Felicia is sporting. She also has Bantu knots. They are using nylon for the hair instead of saran. Nylon is actually stronger than Saran and easier to curl. It is easier to style and it comes in more colors. To some people, Saran feels more natural and has a nice shine to it, but it’s more fragile. Personally, I feel that nylon is a good substitute. No, it’s not the same type as they had in the early 2000s. But it works when trying to give Felicia a more voluptuous volume to her hair. I think Nylon works for Black dolls. I’m glad they are finally giving the Black dolls Black hairstyles. They need to keep that same energy in the future.


Let’s talk about the body.

This is kind of funny and kind of sad, but I think I basically predicted Felicia would arrive in Trinity’s outfit in my Bratz “Comeback” is a Mess content, didn’t I? Yeah, I did. This is an example of what I meant when I said MGA Entertainment is not investing in Bratz too much. The outfit Felicia is wearing wasn’t “designed”. It was replicated. They took Trinity’s design, dyed it yellow, and fluffed it up a bit. Like I said back in October, no company jumps from planning to design one doll (since Trinity was initially the doll supposed to be released) to another that quickly unless they really don’t care about the outcome. I wish Felicia had been designed with her own special dress. This is sub-par to me.

Even the artwork on Felicia’s packaging is essentially Trinity’s artwork.

But I have to give it to them. At least they dyed the dress yellow, cut the top off from the bottom to make it look like she has a crop top and a skirt, and added a shag. Maybe they reviewed my content, and were like, “Damn, someone is on to us. We have to change this up quick.”

In any case, I’m glad it looks like they put effort into giving us something that looks sort of new in comparison to the re-pros, which didn’t do it for me because those dolls were inferior to their originals. Still, it’s unfortunate that, at this point, I’m mostly like, “Hmm”, instead of “Wow!” I can’t even make an interjection full of excitement and emotion.

It doesn’t help that Trinity’s dress was never considered the best of the holiday dresses, especially because most people felt the pink color was more suited to Spring and didn’t have the same quality as Holiday dresses prior. I guess if you live in a warm climate, you can work bright colors any day. For us living in the middle of blizzards, I can’t relate.

Holiday colors should have been used. It would’ve related to more people. You know, red and green to represent Christmas, blue and white to represent the frosty snow, and/or darker evening colors to represent the changing darker season. I mean, look at Katia‘s.

Back in the day, some real design effort went into her look. She is, by far, my favorite Holiday doll. Winterball Cloe was pretty, too, and perfect for the Holidays or for what most people would associate with the Holidays.

Now, I won’t lie, Felicia looks beautiful in yellow. It’s really her color, and it has her melanin popping. Still, they could have put more effort into the design of her dress. It also should have had a deeper golden feeling to it, to give it an evening vibe. One of my viewers suggested Felicia arrive in a green dress, and I think that would have been ideal for the season. Green and gold would have also looked beautiful on Felicia. I just feel, like with all the Bratz nowadays, and like the Bratz in 2010, the dolls are being rushed and cheapened to meet demand. I hope, at least, Felicia’s dress is actually made with strong quality materials.

Felicia’s fashion passion is layering different looks so she can change it up any time. I do feel that this look fits her fashion passion. The fact that she comes with a shag that is removable, has a detachable top that can go with another pair of bottoms, and a skirt that can go with any top fits with Felicia’s resourceful sense of style. Felicia is also Glam Gecko, so she loves to look a little glamourous at times. I feel like if her eyes had more of a gloss to it and her dress had a more unique design, she’d be even more glamourous. But this will do. I would definitely say this is better than the repros, but that’s only because there has never been a Holiday Felicia to make a comparison. Honestly, MGA Entertainment should just stick to making new dolls because when they try to reproduce the old dolls, people (well, some people) can obviously see the difference in quality. Unless they plan on reproducing all the old dolls the same way they made them, some people are bound to be dissatisfied. With the new dolls, they can make them as cheap as they like because many people will just be happy to see Bratz dolls in new fashions.


Felicia’s purse is a recycled item that is being released in yellow-gold. She also comes with a bracelet for fans, the one item coming from MGA’s CEO’s daughter’s fashion brand, Cult Gaia, a doll stand, and a star brush. All pretty standard, but not too interesting to me.


The shoes are okay. I actually almost forgot to even review them, which means they aren’t very memorable. Honestly, they feel like recycled shoes. It wouldn’t be the first time Bratz recycled their shoes. They’re alright. They do have a Bratz vibe to them and look comfortable enough for this outdoorsy Bratz girl. I’ll give them a pass.

Overall, people might dislike my content just because I’m railing on Felicia, and that’s tricky territory because she’s a Black Bratz doll. That’s fine. For me, I honestly don’t want a half-assed attempt at representation anymore. I would like people to take more time and effort, pouring the same love and care into the development of the Black dolls that they have poured into dolls that are white-passing or racially ambiguous (like Cloe and Yasmin). Perhaps, I’m too idealistic and should expect less. But that’s my desire.

Unfortunately, her early ratings on target were 2.2 out of 5 stars (her ratings have since increased to 3.7). At this point, I don’t think this is a win for Felicia or the Black community. Even worse that’s she’s going for 54.99 USD. They literally are pricing her higher than she’s worth, all because she’s not a reproduced doll and because they know that’s the only way they can get a return from a doll that’s directed towards a few thousand adult Bratz fans. At the very least, they could have thrown in another cheap outfit for that price.

For me:

Overall, she gets a 3.5/5 stars from me.

GCDS Yasmin and Sasha

I’m a bit more interested in the GCDS dolls than all the other dolls that have been released. First, I’ll review Yasmin.

Yasmin’s Head

By itself, Yasmin’s face looks okay to me. Her head looks bigger than usual, and I don’t know if that’s to accommodate the UV printing or if that has something to do with the design of the outfit. I’m still not a fan of the UV printing method, but I like her “make-up” print well enough. I like the colors. I feel like Yasmin adapts best to the UV printing method.

Yasmin’s Body

I personally think Yasmin’s outfit is okay, even if it does make her head look bigger than usual and has gimmicky Bratz print on it. Still, I don’t think it’s public-friendly. Everyday people wouldn’t wear this, and that’s what Bratz needs right now. They need to be sporting the latest fashion and styles in at least one of their new lines. I feel like the lines are either re-hashing old fashion or are so out-there that they can only be seen on a runway. They aren’t Read-to-Wear fashions. I think that Yasmin’s outfit speaks to a handful of adult fans who enjoy gaudy looks, which is why they sold out, but if these dolls were being sold to a general audience, they wouldn’t do as well.

On the other hand, this is the one of the best outfits we’ve seen on a Bratz doll in awhile. At least someone put effort into actually designing it, the quality of the materials actually looks good, and it appears to stay true to Yasmin’s fashion passion. Yasmin loves bohemian fashions with exotic prints, and often blends different styles together to make one graceful glam look. This outfit has quite a bohemian feeling to it, especially the ballooning and flared sleeves.

Still, I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with it.

I’ve heard that Hayden Williams’s 2018 bodies were used for these dolls, which means they can fit 2018 fashions possibly. I was fine with those bodies, to be honest, so it’s all good to me.

Yasmin’s Accessories

One of the best parts of this release are the accessories. I would like to buy them for just the accessories alone. Unfortunately, they were going for the hefty price of 85.00 and are sold out. Poor people like me can’t compete. But if they ever do become available again, I would like to get my hands on Yasmin’s sunglasses and purse. I absolutely love the designs.

I like the earrings and “Bratz” chain belt as well.

Yasmin’s Feet

Another one of my favorite parts. Actually, my favorite part. Yasmin’s shoes are very well-designed and very stylish. I would personally buy these shoes if they were made available in my size. The artsy print, the studs along the toe, and the side buckle are very nice touches. I absolutely love the heel construction as well. These are some very well-made shoes.

Sasha’s Head

I’m actually okay with Sasha’s head this time around. I hate that her lips have been reported to have misprinting, meaning there’s some quality-control issues floating around. Overall, though, I think she looks okay. Still not fond of the UV printing, the matte plastic, or the bigger heads, but this doll adjusts better to the changes.

The “baby hairs” are an interesting touch. I personally would rather utilize her own hair to give her “baby hairs”, but, like with Felicia, I’m happy that Sasha is finally wearing Black hairstyles. The braids look flawless.

Sasha’s Body

As with Yasmin, I’m not the biggest fan of Sasha’s outfit. Again, I do appreciate outrageous fashion, I just don’t think it’s wearable. I do like the mesh bits, but I don’t understand the rhinestone portion on top or the “Bratz” Cruella-Deville-style coat over it.

There’s more mix-and-match potential for Sasha’s than for Yasmin’s though, so I don’t have to settle with just this look.

That is another point. Why haven’t we seen any new dolls with more than one outfit? Where’s the “mix-and-match” fun Bratz was notorious for?

That aside, I do feel this outfit fits with Sasha’s fashion passion, which combines old school and new school hip-hop styles. Sasha loves avant-garde fashion as of 2008, and she’s always on the hunt for a new look. I would say this fits quite well with her style. These types of outrageous individualistic looks are very popular with hip-hop right now, and it’s definitely out-of-the-box.

Sasha’s Accessories

I LOVE Sasha’s accessories. The gold hoop Bratz earrings and the gold heart purse are just fabulous. I want, I want, I want! They are very well-constructed and detailed.

Sasha’s Feet

Just like with Yasmin, Sasha’s foot game is strong. I love the GCDS boots so much. The fact that these look like shoes people can actually buy from the store adds so much more quality to this item. In fact, the accessories and shoes all look like items that can be purchased from GCDS. That’s the kind of vibe I want from Bratz. I want to want to dress like a Bratz doll.

Overall, I think this is probably the best we will get for this year. The messed up part is that they didn’t include Cloe and, especially, Jade, who absolutely is the queen of Xtreme and outrageous fashion. That was a missed opportunity.

I want to point out, again, how this is another collaboration project, not a line solely produced by MGA Entertainment. This is mostly how the best of the Bratz products are being produced, and if you look at the matching price point of 80 US bucks, you understand how selling high-quality, designer dolls, to adult fans like this results in heftier prices.

The best shouldn’t have to come from a collaborator, from a designer doll, nor from a doll that expensive. Yet, that’s what is keeping Bratz afloat because MGA didn’t invest enough in time to meet demand.


Overall, they get a 3.8-4/5 from me.

Bratz News, 2021-2022

“Talking Bratz” Tik Tok Series

Just to do some housekeeping, apparently Talking Bratz came back with that “scrapped” episode starring Jade, Sasha, and the Tweevils (mentioned in the comeback content). Unfortunately, it didn’t update us on the girls’ lives and was mostly a promotional tool for that Bratz app game I don’t care to play. They can’t seem to get storylines right on social media, so I’m quite sure the game’s storyline is more than likely all over the place as well. I was also upset that they weren’t wearing new outfits like Cloe and Yasmin. Then again, it was nice to see the CGI-animated 1st Edition outfits.

I heard that the individual in charge of creating Talking Bratz is only 16 years old (Update: He’s 19). If that’s the case, that’s pretty amazing work for a teenager. However, that also concerns me. If the teenager is still in school, that means this kid is essentially juggling making Talking Bratz, sort of working for MGA, while going to school. The pressure has been on for Talking Bratz to be regular, and I’m just not sure a teen can handle that work load 100%.

Also, that means there really isn’t a strong production team around to make the same series that was produced in the 2000s. I don’t know. I just don’t think they intend to make Talking Bratz anything major at this point, not if a teenager is in charge of getting it off the ground. It’s mostly just promo being created right now.

There was an episode centered on the designer of the GCDS dolls. It was cute. Felicia’s outfit looked better than what they put on the actual GCDS dolls. Why wasn’t that outfit released? It’s actually wearable, that’s why they’re selling it to fans on their website. Anything you wish to sell to the public should be on the Bratz dolls because you know people would actually want to wear it. This will motivate fans to buy the dolls more, and make them long for replicas for themselves. Get people wanting more. That’s the fun of it, you know? Bratz should make people want to look like them.

Sweetheart Meygan Leaks for 2022

Next, I would like to share that there have been leaks of Sweetheart Meygan. I’m tempted to buy her and reunite her with her girlfriend Nevra, but I’m scared of what she’ll look like, as I was with Felicia. So far, I have not been wrong about these releases, and that’s what worries me. She’s due to be released March 22, 2022. Unfortunately, she will not be around in time for Valentine’s Day.

There are plenty other repros rumored to be releasing in 2022, such as Girls Nite Out, Bratz Boyz 1st Edition Dylan, the long-anticipated Tokyo A Go-Go Limited Edition Kumi, Flaunt It!, and the long-awaited designer Pride dolls (which will more than likely consist of Roxxi and Nevra, ew) due to be released. I will probably just replace Roxxi with Meygan after the purchase…

Help Carter Bryant Out, Ya’ll!

Finally, I want to share with you all that Carter Bryant, the original creator of Bratz, has fallen ill. He’s recovering, but he needs assistance with his hospital bills. His sister has asked for our help so he can recover. As you all who follow me and listen to me know, Carter Bryant was let go from MGA Entertainment around 2013/2014. He is not getting paid any royalties for these dolls, though he was the genius behind the whole concept. I’ve mentioned before that this is how LGBTQ+ people are often treated. We are used up, for all of our genius and ideas, and then thrown away by companies. The law doesn’t support us, either. Unfortunately, the doll industry hasn’t been kind to Carter, and as I covered in my last project (the comeback article and video), working for MGA Entertainment is like a Scarlett letter. If any of you can help him in any way, please do so.

Carter Bryant’s GoFundMe

Final Thoughts

To end this, I just want to say that I hope 2022 is a better year for Bratz. I’m scared to get my hopes up too high, because much of the damage is done. Still, I hope that they turn something around for the better, at least with the dolls.

I really do hope Carter Bryant recovers and that MGA steps in to help him in some way. At least assist with his medical bills. I think he deserves it.

What other factors do you all think contribute to the cheapness of these dolls or the decline of the doll industry? What do you all think of Felicia, the new designer doll leaks, and the Bratz’s whole comeback as of now? Leave me a comment if you’re able and let’s get the discussion rolling.

In the meantime, Ciao, Peace! HERE’S THE VIDEO

Doll Companies Do Indigenous Dolls Dirty | Thanksgiving Special

26 Nov

Welcome back!

No one is going to like me today because I’m going to ruin everybody’s Thanksgiving talking about your “unproblematic” faves.

If you would like to watch the video version, it’s at the bottom.

As we Americans from the United States of America approach our Thanksgiving holiday, many of us (well, many of us more over-thinking individuals) are reflecting on the tale of the first Thanksgiving.

You know, the tale where the pilgrims and so-called “Indians” joined hands in harmony, ate wild turkeys, and other delicious foods, to give thanks for the fact that the “Indians” helped the European Pilgrims survive in a land they soon conquered from the “Indians”? Yeah…That “tale”.

Well, Thanksgiving has got me on the more interesting side of Youtube, the side where Indigenous people (some of many various ethnic groups, that may refer to themselves as First Nations, First Peoples, among others) speak out regarding their perspective on the holiday.

It also got me peering into the one industry that targets the next generation, the toy industry, where our “unproblematic” favorite toy companies reside, to see how they’ve been doing with representing Indigenous people with their toys…

And just like in cinema, television, music, politics, and the like, it’s sad to say most of these companies haven’t done too well.

Recently, I reviewed the world’s top toy companies, and I reviewed their list of characters labeled or “coded” Indigenous. I’m using the word “coded” to refer to dolls that resemble even the most stereotypical aspects of a culture, whether it was designed right or all wrong.

After combing through everything, I must say the results were overwhelmingly sad, nauseating, and traumatizing, to actually say the least.

It seems toy companies have performed the same three main behavior patterns when approaching Indigenous characters, none of which are brilliant.


I’m sure we’ve all seen the caricatures of Indigenous people all over media. Well, we’ve probably only seen even these tropes in the few media that exists with Indigenous people.

You know, the “Magical Native American” with “Tanto Talk”? Possibly a warrior with spears? Yeah. Those kinds.

Well, in the doll industry, when a company does decide to create an Indigenous character, these dolls often come in the form of random buckskin dresses, adorned with fringe, with some fancy footwork that resembles something like moccasins, and some elaborate trendy beadwork, all designed to look “fresh and modern”, and often designed to better appeal to the more financially powerful demographic (i.e. White people). Then, they are labeled “Indian” or “Native American” doll so that the rest of us get the picture, and so the companies can say, “Well done. We did it.”

Companies need to know that throwing a buckskin dress on a doll and calling them “Native” doesn’t make them an authentic and well-designed Indigenous character. It makes them a caricature, a stereotypical model, of what it is to be Indigenous.

Summing up one traditional look as “Native American” or “Indian” is a problem all on its own. There are many different types of Indigenous people around the world, they all have their own forms of dress with intricate designs that go into their personal cultural attire, and they all have different relationships with their culture. Not all Indigenous people relate to “buckskins”, “fringe”, and “moccasins”. To add, all tribes and ethnic groups do not design those same materials the same way. When making these dresses for the Indigenous doll, I’m often wondering is the dress inspired from the Cherokee? Potawatomi? Seneca?

Disney’s Pocahontas, with her mostly trendy modernized buckskin dress, seemed to have inspired so many companies in the 1990s to jump on the train in creating these generic “American Indian” dolls. Unfortunately, none of them really felt they needed to take the time to fact-check.

Mattel Barbie’s “Native American” dolls have been examples of this.

These are some of the synopsis that have come with some of the 1990s “Indigenous” dolls:

“Native American Barbie doll is part of a proud Indian heritage, rich in culture and tradition. Her tribe-inspired COSTUME (notice they said costume) is a white dress decorated with Indian artwork”.

Damn. She doesn’t even come with a name. She’s just “Native American Barbie doll”.

And there’s no specific tribe or ethnic group tied to this look. Just an overall “Indian” look with some random “Indian artwork”.

This is another good one: “Dressed in a festive outfit for ceremonial events, Native American Barbie doll looks authentic from head to toe.” They had to make sure they stated that she looks authentic. Because this doesn’t mean she is authentic.

While it’s great to see companies attempt to diversify their line in any way, this doesn’t make companies less harmfully stereotypical in their depictions, and it doesn’t absolve them of the responsibility to make sure that the dolls they create are authentic and/or true to the people they are attempting to represent.

That’s like trying to make a doll based off of Queen Elizabeth II, and you depict her in a crop top and some hot pants…Imagine how many panties would be in a bunch.

How you represent a group of people is just as important as representation itself. It leaves a message to people purchasing the doll about the people the doll is trying to represent. And honestly, can you truly say you have representation if the people you’re claiming to represent can’t relate to or even recognize whatever you just threw together and released at them? What is it truly representing then?

For a lot of these companies, they believe they deserve a pat on the back just for attempting to create one Indigenous-looking character, especially because, for them, they’d rather avoid attempting the effort and the risk that making dolls of color could bring to them in the first place. Obviously, companies fear backlash, from people of color, for their crap dolls. So, these companies think we should be grateful we see Indigenous characters at all.

After all, none of them really wants to hire Indigenous people onboard to help with the design of these dolls. They don’t want to have to speak to the people of these various distinct tribes and ethnic groups to make sure the dolls and characters are authentic. No. That would be…putting in too much money and effort. And their goal is to stay rich, above actually making sure little children have toys that represent them…

I would say American Girl, now another part of Mattel, possibly the side of the company that puts forth more effort, has actually been the best at designing an authentic character from an Indigenous tribe and/or ethnic group. Their Historical character, Kaya, was designed with special permission from the Nez Perce tribe. They worked “with the author to make sure the story was told in an accurate and respectful way”. This is why Kaya doesn’t “bare her teeth” like the other dolls, as it was basically rude or a sign of aggression in her culture.

It’s ironic that I’ve had some almost-woke individuals try to explain to me how this is racist…not knowing that it has some cultural significance to the people of the actual culture…

That aside at least American Girl put their best foot forward with creating a Nez Perce doll. Not “Indian doll”, “Nez Perce” doll. It took them five years of extensive research to develop her. That’s some dedication. Of course, this is why the doll is so expensive, yet it is a quality doll worthy of respect.

For most doll companies, they really shouldn’t have to spend that much money or go to that great of lengths to create an authentic Indigenous character. They can just, ya know, hire more Indigenous people to come work for them or bring some on as consultants. I guess that makes too much sense.

They could also opt for more modern depictions as opposed to the more expensive and difficult historical interpretations. Somehow, that seems to go way over these companies’ heads.

That being said, while American Girl did create a very well-crafted historical doll, there’s a lot to be said about American Girl’s failure to include more dolls of color in their contemporary lines, such as Girl of the Year and World By Us (a line they claimed would have more diversity), and that includes dolls from an Indigenous group. Truly Me really doesn’t count because they are largely customizable…

Yet, I still would have liked a contemporary Indigenous doll for their Holiday line-up.

On that note, there’s the fact that companies just love to keep Indigenous people tied to the past, as if they aren’t modern groups of people living, thriving, and surviving in modern times.

Even when they do make them semi-modern, like in Zodiac Girlz’s case, they have to have some stereotypical “Indian” accessory to highlight the fact that they are Indigenous.

We as consumers have to also get out of the mindset that an Indigenous character has to look like a stereotype, and that we’d only buy her if she (or he) were a stereotype, coming with some of our favorite “Indian” items like buckskin dresses and teepees. We kind of have to hold ourselves accountable, too.

That can be difficult when most companies, along with their consumers, forget that Indigenous people still exist outside of history books. Ultimately, all parties end up associating modern Indigenous characters with other people of color as a result…

And that brings me to…

Racebending, Ethnic-bending, and Ethnic-Cleansing

When companies are too afraid to “stereotype” Indigenous characters, their next resort is to bend the ethnicity or “cleanse” it to fit the majority’s tastes.

It’s no secret that dolls of color sell less than White dolls. Studies have shown this.

So, many companies do not often want to invest in creating dolls of color primarily. Some countries don’t want them sold in their nation at all. Basically, there are risks due to worldwide racism against characters that aren’t of the dominant and preferred race.

You’d get all of this if you understand that racism means to believe one race is superior or one whole race is inferior. Ya’ll understand that right? In a nutshell?

Yet, many companies know that they have to have some diversity in order to appeal to the masses. So, what do they do? They draw up a racially ambigous character that can pass for all minority groups.

With that being said, some companies may find that there’s no benefit to really making a specific Indigenous character. For starters, most people around the world don’t even know who Indigenous people are, so companies don’t often know how to market a character like this on a global scale. Second, most people confuse them for being Black, Hispanic, and/or Asian, especially if those people don’t live in a colonized nation.

It doesn’t help that some people of color are guilty of this, even those from a colonized nation. I think that’s kind of how Pocahontas got popular. Many Black people in the 1990s were starved of representation, and saw themselves in Pocahontas, one of the few characters of color to come out of Disney…There were too many girls in my class trying to straighten their hair to look like her. Some of them really thought Pocahontas was really black…

In Japan, there’s even the Pocahontas Joshi (I hope I’m saying this right). It’s basically a slang term meant to criticize Japanese women who want to be westerners, with many people claiming they want to “wear their hair long” and “wear heavy make-up”, making them look like “Pocahontas”.

My cousin is Afro-Latina, and as a gift, one of my relatives bought her an American Girl Nanea doll, a bi-racial, Half Native Hawaiian doll. This was because that relative stated the doll “looked like her.” This idea was flourished even more after my cousin dressed up as Moana for Halloween.

Overall, companies would just rather make a neutral racially ambiguous character that can cover many different ethnic groups, allowing that doll to sell to more people, and increasing profits, rather than taking the time to develop an Indigenous backstory for Indigenous people and their children, just to reach the smaller minority. Largely, this leads to Indigenous people getting left out of the consciousness of consumers and fans of toy brands, and ultimately out of the consciousness of the greater social and political world, too.

Even when a company does create an Indigenous character, they will opt out of making other minority groups, thinking that an Indigenous character would cover all basis, and vice versa. It’s quite common to find companies making one or the other. For example, they’ll design an Indigenous character instead of an Asian character, as they did with Native Hawaiian Nanea (instead of making that Japanese American character everybody wanted for WWII). To some execs, a doll like Nanea looks Asian enough to pass for Asian, so there’s no point in actually creating an “Asian” historical character…

It was the same with Mattel Barbie’s Kira…She was coded as Native Hawaiian, but passes as Asian American, too…Though, granted Hawaii is such a mixed place now, that it’s not uncommon to find many Hawaiians mixed with Asian ancestry. Then, there’s the debate of whether those of Polynesian ancestry are technically Asians… Eh…

The worst of the companies, though, often design Indigenous characters, but later completely bend the race or cleanse the ethnicity from the Indigenous characters entirely, White-washing them, or worse, making them a whole new race or ethnic group, preferably the more profitable one at the moment.

The first sign I saw this happening was with The Magic Attic Club’s Rose Hopkins. Rose was one of the rarest. She was actually a pretty well-developed Indigenous character, one of Cheyenne heritage, and she was actually modern. In fact, her personal collection showed her displaying a variety of interests. Yes, she did have one traditional-ish Cheyenne dress. However, she also had a collection that showed her in a beautiful ball gown playing a saxophone, a soccer collection, and had camping gear, too. Her interests were playing soccer and utilizing the computer (back when computers were a novelty).

Yet, when Marie Osmond and her ex-husband Brian got a hold of The Magic Attic Club dolls, Rose was transformed into a Hispanic character…

Allegedly, they felt that since Rose had a larger Hispanic fanbase, she would sell even better if she related to the larger minority group, the one that would get them more profit. Ultimately, her heritage was erased, and the representation she provided went with it.

This also recently happened with Bratz’s Kiana. Though MGA Entertainment claimed in the past that they didn’t want the characters tied to any particular race, they didn’t hesitate when it came to borrowing significant cultural staples.

Just like Kumi was advertised with a Kimono, reflecting coded Japanese heritage, Kiana was definitely coded Indigenous. Sure, she wore stereotypical buckskin, was largely present in a Wild Western line, and had hints of turquoise in her collection (which I’ve already mentioned in another video how that is significant among Native American tribes). But however stereotypical, she was still a form of representation for Indigenous children and fans of the doll brand.

Instead of developing her into a more nuanced Indigenous character, with a strong Indigenous backstory, those recently running social media decided to just change her to Black, especially because the G. Floyd tragedy brought attention to Black people. They knew this would be more profitable and make the company appear as if they had all these “Black” characters. Honestly, it just feels like they unknowingly confused Kiana for being Black because of her “deep brown skin”, and obviously had no Indigenous people in their conciousness.

And few Black people spoke out about it because, even to some of us, Indigenous people are not in our consciousness, either.

It seems like it’s just so much easier for companies to refer to the minorities that have an influence on the entertainment industry, rather than developing for those lesser known folks.

For many minorities, if it doesn’t effect us, and if it’s some type of representation for someone, we often ignore Racebending or Ethnicbending. But actually, this is not okay, and it robs people of the representation they need and deserve, while also leaning into cultural appropriation.

But this is only getting started when it comes to Bratz…There’s the White-washing of coded Black characters, the mix-up between Russians and Morrocans, and the Chinese name given to Japanese characters…So why be surprised that they erased their only Indigenous representation?

I think the worst offender of this, though, is Hasbro.

This is their Blonde “Indian” doll and White-Washed Pocahontas…

What is this Hasbro? Why? Just why?

I think if most companies could, they would have most of their White dolls play “American Indian” for a day, at least as a costume. Then, they could sell more blonde dolls.

All of this does bring me to my last point…


The final effort these companies make towards including Indigenous characters is by avoiding making one at all. You might think this is the best option for companies. I mean, if you can’t make them right, and if everybody’s going to complain, why make them at all? Right? Right?

This behavior is cowardice. It shows a company’s lack of ability to take risks and challenge themselves. It reveals a company that lacks innovation. Lastly, it reveals what the company really thinks about Indigenous people, their potential consumers. Ultimately, to that company, Indigenous people don’t exist.

As a Teen Vogue article pointed out, “Invisibility is the Modern Form of Racism Against Native Americans“, and this is true of all Indigenous people, and of all people of color, really.

The article points out that Native Americans live in a country that consistently pretends like they don’t exist.

The then 15-year-old Peyton Boyd remembered her teachers showing videos about diversity “where all the races of the world came together and held hands, [but one race was always missing].” You can guess which group of people were missing. Really, Indigenous people are missing from media in general. The article challenged us, the reader, by asking if any of us can name any famous Native people who were born after 1950. Can you?

Why do doll companies participate in this erasure? Well, as mentioned before, it’s just easier to avoid controversy by not stepping their toes in the water at all. If they don’t try, they can’t fail.

Second, since many of the doll companies are owned by White people, there’s this discomfort with addressing Indigenous people because of the ugly history. Some of those with European ancestry living in colonized lands want to see themselves as natives of that land, and having to face Indigenous people is a reminder that they are just like the immigrants many of them so often despise. It’s a reminder that they brought diversity into a land that was once homogenous. To address their lack of Indigenous characters, they would have to face history head-on.

Third, some of these doll companies are run by people who are not from colonized nations, but from other foreign countries. Therefore, they don’t know anything about Indigenous people, and may not refer to their original people as such.

The average consumer, the average doll fan, also doesn’t think too much about Indigenous people. So, the Indigenous group gets left in the dust.

The final problem is that even when a company attempts to create Indigenous characters, once the company folds, the Indigenous representation goes with them, as in the Global Friends’ case. This is why we need the bigger and more prosperous companies to try developing proper Indigenous representation.


While you all digest your turkey, I want ya’ll to marinate on these thoughts about Indigenous representation, and maybe, by next year, we can get these doll companies to come up with better Indigenous representation in time for next year’s Thanksgiving. Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll!

Ciao, Peace!

While you’re at it, learn how to Decolonize your Thanksgiving next year!

8 Ways to Decolonize Your Thanksgiving

Bratz Dolls’ “Comeback” Is a Mess (New Bratz Dolls, Talking Bratz Tik Tok Series, and All)

31 Oct

Hello, GenNext readers! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

Today, I finally want to talk about Bratz again. To watch the video, skip to the bottom.

I know that I promised earlier this year that I would be posting more to promote the Bratz’s 20th Year Anniversary. The last project I did to promote it was Ranking the Worst to Best Bratz Movies article and video. During that time, amidst work, life and career changes, as well as battling sicknesses, I have been working on that Bratz project I’ve been telling everyone about (the Bratzpack wiki or fandom page, as it’s now called).

Like the stubborn Sun in Taurus and obsessive Moon in Scorpio that I am, I’m still dedicated to it. If you were to go to the website now, it might not seem like I’ve initiated much. That’s because I’m waiting until I gather everything, all of the information I could possibly find on this brand, before officially fleshing the place out. Because of my goal of making it a huge database for all Bratz information, it has been costly and time-consuming, both of which this poor Black-American doesn’t have.

However, that’s only been partially my reason for delaying the process of posting more videos and articles about the Bratz, though. I know that if I really felt motivated and compelled, I would have stopped everything I was doing to push forward with promoting my “Girls with a Passion for Fashion”.

Yet, here I am, not feeling that sense of motivation. I purposefully set aside making content so that I wouldn’t jump to conclusions about the Bratz’s 20th Year Anniversary. I told myself that I would wait it out this time and see how I felt about everything.

In years prior, I would give commentary on my articles or in my videos about the Bratz dolls’ comebacks, and so often I felt there was something I was missing. This time, I told myself I would wait until I saw most of what was being produced to celebrate the Bratz’s long reign in the doll industry before forming a conclusion.

And as someone who has been into the Bratz for 21 years, yes, 21 years (I think I’ve over-stated how I discovered Bratz when the website was under construction in the year 2000), I can honestly say…that the Bratz’s 20th year anniversary has the face of nostalgia, but is really missing the heart, the soul, of what the brand really was back then. For me, this has been a very superficial re-launch. Honestly, and truthfully, I feel disappointed with the Bratz’s 20th Anniversary.

The great majority of Bratz fans may not agree with me nor understand why I’m not geeked-up for the Bratz this year. I’m accustomed to being a Bratz fan outsider. If you’ve been into the brand as long as I have, you’ve seen the faces of Bratz fans change all the time.

For those interested, I’m going to share what’s been bothering me about the Bratz’s anniversary. And maybe not just this year, but what’s been bothering me since the brief hiatus after the release of the 2018 Collector Dolls. I felt certain events after that release led to this point.

Lack of Investment

To be quite frank, it is becoming pretty obvious that MGA Entertainment isn’t investing in the Bratz brand the way they used to.

It’s possible they see the brand as risky since all of the reboots haven’t had the same success the brand had in the 2000s, the dolls are pretty controversial, and the brand has been subjected to so much legal trouble in the past. It might not feel worth the risk. There’s a possibility Bratz or the company is surrounding current legal trouble or will surround future legal trouble if launched. I’ll talk more on this a little later…

Or maybe MGA just can’t find the same strong team they had back in the day. I mean, if you look at some of those reviews from job sites, such as Indeed and Glassdoor, the designers and other teammates who worked with MGA…Woooo. The reviews they have left are savage, for lack of a better word. I will really go into this later. However, for now I can just say the current and former employees don’t have many nice things to say about working with the company. The best thing they have said is that they have “learned a lot”. I compared MGA Entertainment’s reviews with some of their competitors, and…it’s just not the same.

With that in mind, it’s possible MGA can’t find a strong solid team for the brand. I know that with most start-up or creative businesses like this one, the turn-over rates tend to be high. But in comparison to other doll companies, MGA’s reviews were nasty. The company has been through ups and downs, so maybe that plays a role in why the company has been like a revolving door the last couple of years. I don’t really work for the company to speak on its character. However, I do know that this maybe gives some clue(s) as to why they can’t seem to find a solid team to help re-launch the Bratz brand.

It doesn’t help that the doll industry isn’t as strong as it was back in the day and that the tween market has largely been demolished. Companies have given up on appealing to tweens, even in television. Honestly, I heard Disney Channel is folding and moving online. The UK’s Disney Channel already shut down for good. There’s a very good video floating around Youtube on the subject of the end of the tween era and there’s another good one focusing on Disney Channel’s demise.

The tween market was once a very good market back in the day because it made content both innocent and youthful, but something adults could get away with liking as well. Nowadays, content is usually for young children, teenagers and/or young adults, or older adults. Parents don’t feel that “Tween” content is passable anymore, and “Tweens” are actually now often watching more young adult content now.

Still, MGA could try harder to appeal to their current demographic (Millennials and Gen Z) in a more powerful way than they have in the last 10 years if they really backed up and really dove deep into what made the brand so successful in the past, as they’ve been promising they would for the last decade.

Remember this statement? From 2014?

So, here’s the deal with Bratz. We finally got the go-ahead to give it the time and backing to make it awesome. We want to really dig in to the direction of Bratz, what makes the brand awesome, and bring that back full force! In order to do that, and to have the epic come back that the brand really deserves, we are taking a year off. We are giving ourselves and the buyers a chance to cleanse palates of expectations so we can come back in 2015 and deliver something cutting edge, disruptive and awesome.

It’s like they’re almost there every time, in 2010, 2015, 2018, 2021, but seem to be missing something every time as well. The reason they keep meeting a brick wall is because they really need to invest time and money into re-building this brand from every angle, and it doesn’t feel like they are willing to do that. They may not have the time or resources. MGA Entertainment seems more focused on their newer more immediately profitable products such as L.O.L. Surprise and Rainbow High. I really don’t blame them, especially post-pandemic.

Still, it’s obvious the Bratz isn’t their focus anymore. They may have some people fooled, but I can see it. There are many signs that the company isn’t really invested in Bratz anymore. It’s pretty clear the 20th Anniversary was thrown together as a result.

Let me just run down how I could tell they aren’t investing anymore.

There Are Too Many Issues With The Dolls

First off, the “20th Yearz” Anniversary was off to a rocky start when they “asked fans” what dolls we wanted to be re-released this year. When did they ask that question? NOVEMBER 2020. That means they hadn’t been planning this launch for very long. It didn’t become a thought until the END OF LAST YEAR.

Honestly, this launch should have been planned shortly after the 2018 Collector dolls were released because fans were asking for 20th Anniversary releases since then. They should not have waited until the end of last year to focus on re-setting the Bratz brand for 2021.

Normally, a solid release at least takes a year, even two years, to prepare for. For every doll brand that I’ve studied, a solid launch (and re-launch) has normally taken two years of development. For all of you who have worked on a doll team, correct me if I’m wrong on this. I know I’ve had several developers and creators comment, so I would love your input regarding this.

From what I know, a strong launch takes time. This is especially the case when a brand has been stagnant for years and is re-launching as if this is their debut. MGA Entertainment isn’t treating this like a serious re-launch if they asked fans no more than six months before the anniversary what lines they want re-launched.

It’s no surprise that when the 1st Edition 20 Yearz dolls first launched at Hot Topic, with only a few weeks’ notice, they appeared a little “wonky”, with quality control issues, and they also SOLD OUT within an hour, which to me means they didn’t prepare for the dolls to be so high in-demand. We had Mar the Cantos (who is now the confirmed social media content creator, which I suspected since last year) scrambling to reassure people that the dolls were mass-produced and were going to be launched more widely soon.

The dolls were eventually released more widely, and appeared on toy shelves at Walmart and Target, but they still had the same quality control issues and sold out too quickly in many areas, with few replacements on the shelves. Some people simply couldn’t find them at their local Walmart and Target, (and I’ll talk more about my theories as to why later in this content). The truth is Walmart and Target are stores that cater to moms, and the vast majority of moms don’t like Bratz that much. Some Walmarts and Targets haven’t approved of having the dolls on their shelves.

Even worse is no one stopped to think that maybe Walmart and Target don’t exist around the world, so if an individual lives in a different country or in a location that doesn’t have these stores, they’d still have to buy them online, like they would have had to for the collectors’ exclusive dolls. The whole point of fans asking for the dolls to be in stores was so they could see them on shelves, so they wouldn’t have to use banking info to buy them, wouldn’t have to convert coinage (if from a different country), wouldn’t have to pay delivery fees along with expensive ass dolls, wouldn’t have to crack a code to get into an American website if their country doesn’t allow them to get in, and so those under the age of 18 would have access. While I know the pandemic has basically placed everything online, many people aren’t comfortable with online shopping. Some people don’t like buying everything online. Some people want to see these dolls on their own shelves, where they can pay in person, possibly with cash.

Apparently, this was not a planned worldwide launch, where people in their own parts of the world could find the dolls sitting comfortably at their own local stores. If the company was really invested, they would have made sure they were prepared for a worldwide launch. There is another interesting video out on Youtube going into detail on how MGA used to prepare for worldwide launches back in the past called “Livin’ in a Bratz World: The International Distribution of MGA’s Bratz Dolls”. Honestly, I don’t know any company that only launches stateside when they have a globally popular brand.

If MGA was still interested in really investing, they should have also had some brand new collector dolls ready for launch shortly after the 1st Edition Bratz dolls re-launched. Some MGA customer care worker supposedly stated that new collector dolls were supposed to be released August 2021, along with the 1st Edition dolls. Well, the 1st Edition dolls released in May, and we are now in October. What happened to the collector dolls that were supposed to come out?

Yes, we all know the pandemic has pushed things back and changed things around, including the production of products. However, if they’d been planning this since 2019, the pandemic should not have been an excuse. Within the timeframe of the lock-down in 2020, MGA managed to launch sister brand Rainbow High solidly. The pandemic didn’t prevent that launch from being pretty solid; it should not have prevented a solid Bratz launch, either. They should have had a solid team ready for this launch, especially because they had quite a bit of time to plan for it.

Yet, all the confirmations we’ve gotten from social media, customer care workers, and listings have all been conflicting. It seems like we aren’t receiving definite answers about releases. Unfortunately, I feel like everything that was planned for this “20th Yearz” Anniversary was either rushed or scrapped.

Last I heard, MGA had a Pride collector doll and Holiday Felicia listed (initially Holiday Trinity was going to be re-produced).

I’m excited to have a Pride doll, especially since, as ya’ll know, I am queer myself. I’m also happy to have more Felicia, especially as a Holiday edition, since no dark-skinned dolls really had that honor before. However, due to the poor quality of the 1st Edition re-produced dolls, I’m afraid of how Felicia will look. I’m even more afraid that she will just arrive in Trinity’s old outfit instead of having a one-of-a-kind Holiday dress designed for her. Honestly, a few months ago, the listing stated Trinity was being released. Now, shortly before she’s supposed to arrive, it’s been changed to Felicia? To me, that’s suspect.

What nearly confirms my fears is the Rock Angelz re-release. Rock Angelz is also being re-launched and it appears they will be suffering from the same quality-control issues the 1st Edition dolls had. When I saw the leaks, Roxxi and Sasha didn’t look too good. I’m very happy I already have my old dolls. I feel sorry for all of you who are getting what’s new.

I did hear that they delayed the release of Roxxi and Sasha because of the backlash, so hopefully, people get better-looking dolls. Still, I don’t see them looking better than they did in the 2000s. It’s also really bad to have them delayed, considering I’m sure they will be the rarest regardless, since many communities, along with their retailers, still do not largely accept dolls of color or those who identify as queer.

Maybe it’s too soon to ask for Collector dolls. Now that I think about it, I don’t know if I want the new dolls to look the way they’ve been looking. With the strange eye coordination, and the plastic skin that looks too oiled down with Vaseline, I just can’t get with it.

Beyond the look of the dolls is the problem that we fans are mostly getting re-releases in the first place. I feel like the re-releases only offer something to new fans or fans who were not able to purchase Bratz dolls in the past. Unfortunately, these new dolls don’t offer anything to old-time fans. Why would I buy 20 Yearz Anniversary dolls when I have the old dolls? Even if these dolls did look as good as the originals, what would they offer old-timers?

I guess I really shouldn’t have much to say, considering the 1st Edition dolls did sell out, so maybe many fans wanted these re-releases. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t know if the dolls sold out because of the new fans or old fans, but MGA follows the money, so whoever is buying it is who they will cater to. I’m probably alone in the pool.

The only way I can visualize old fans buying these dolls is if I conclude that there are some old-time fans that have to have every Bratz item ever invented in their collection, the good, bad, and the ugly. I’ve come to develop this mindset myself, so I understand it. Some of my viewers have helped to open my mind about certain dolls, like the 2015 dolls for example, which I wasn’t initially a fan of. I admit, I’m a skeptic and I can be stubborn. My Mercury in Taurus is very rooted. I also have Saturn in the 3rd house, which doesn’t help. Maybe some old-time fans don’t mind having two versions of the same doll.

I personally would rather have something new.

The other old-timers might buy them just to do videos on Youtube about them. I’m not beyond that either, when and if I get some more money.

But what other value do the dolls really bring to a collector?

I felt that if they wanted to re-release the dolls for older fans, they should have included something new, something that would get us excited for the re-releases. Instead they gave us the same old thing, but with wonky screenings. I don’t really make a whole lot of money to be throwing it out to just any old dolls. I love doll collecting, but as ya’ll can see, those who follow me on Youtube and visit me on my blog, I am interested in some very high-quality and expensive doll brands. In my case, if I had to decide between a “20 Yearz” Anniversary re-produced doll, and an older doll collection on Ebay, I’d be saving up for the latter. I’d rather invest in finding the older releases than in investing in MGA’s newer Bratz re-releases right now. Unless they give me a really good reason to buy these dolls, I don’t even feel compelled to prioritize it.

If we compare Bratz to their competitor, Barbie, her dolls have been released with the same amount of quality it has had for 10 years. She hasn’t improved, but she hasn’t worsened either. In some ways, the design is better. The sculpts are more detailed, Barbie has more body types than ever before, and with each release, it is clear when the dolls will launch. And when they happen, they happen on time.

Many of you might be wondering why I’m comparing Bratz to Barbie. Do you know the saying, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”? If you want to see where a brand stands, you can compare them to other dolls on the market to see where this brand can improve on their level or even past them. When Barbie releases an old collector doll, it’s a doll that has been in the archives for 30 to 40 years, been created by an expert designer, or it’s a doll that is super detailed and well-crafted. Often times, the dolls are re-released with something extra special for old-time fans who have the dolls, or they are usually so rare, no current major fans have them. Right now, on this level, Bratz isn’t leveling up past Barbie.

The Promotional Media Is Messy, Rushed, and Not Updated in Unison

Other signs that MGA Entertainment is not investing in the Bratz brand are seen through how they are handling Bratz through their promotional media.

Let’s compare this launch with Hayden Williams’s 2018 Collector dolls launch. Say what you will about his dolls, they might not have been everybody’s taste, and yes, there were quality control issues with that launch, too, but mostly everything was well-prepared for the release, especially the promotional media.

First off, the website. When Hayden Williams’s dolls launched, the website was updated to include his dolls, the characters’ bios, and even sources showing where to find and buy the dolls. It was a centralized location for all the latest Bratz information, even allowing fans to find all the social media websites connected with Bratz.

Second, EVERY SINGLE form of social media was on the same level of promotion. They were all in formation. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube all had posts promoting the launch. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook all had the same posts as one another. Youtube had a video to promote the launch.

Third, they didn’t rush into a series before building the brand back up. If you follow me, you know how I felt about the original series, despite the fact so many fans seem to be in-love with that damn thing. If you want to know directly how I feel, please investigate Ranking Worst to Best Bratz Movies From a HUGE Bratz Fan’s Perspective (In-Depth Analysis).

The only thing that held the Hayden Williams’ 2018 Collector dolls launch back was the dolls themselves, and that’s pretty crucial, considering Bratz is primarily a doll brand (NOT A TELEVISION SERIES, though some fans tend to think that’s the heart of this brand). For me, the dolls weren’t that bad, but I admit that a lot of people didn’t like the style and there were issues with quality-control even then.

But let’s just compare then to now, shall we?

While, in recent times, the Bratz seem to be superficially “paying homage” to the old days, why does the website still say “Coming Soon”? If MGA Entertainment was really invested in this launch, wouldn’t they have prepared an official website?

And before anybody tells me, “No one goes to websites anymore, anyway”, consider the fact that they didn’t hesitate to launch a Rainbow High website when they were released last year. Notice how they still update L.O.L. Surprise.

Websites still have use when it comes to centering all Bratz products, information, and social media connections in one location. It’s still an extra extension of promotion. A main website can have “Shop” information showing where or what stores people can find the dolls, especially online, for each country.

At minimum, it would have been a great way to pay homage to the 2K era, to really play up that nostalgia, for the 20th Anniversary. It was a missed opportunity.

Now, they did try to organize all of the releases with a “tree” on Instagram, and they managed to put together a “Rock Angelz website” for those of you who bought those ugly ass new dolls, used the QR codes, and found the website. But that’s just on Instagram and if you are interested in one release from the new re-produced Bratz Rock Angelz line. apparently

Again, what I’m finding when it comes to social media and their websites is, this time around, they are not all in formation. Twitter posts certain things that you won’t find on Instagram. Instagram has things you won’t find on Tik Tok. Tik Tok has things you won’t find on Facebook. And I don’t even know the last time there was anything posted to Facebook and Youtube, really.

I have literally run into fans on Tik Tok who didn’t even know Bratz had an Instagram, fans on Twitter who didn’t even know Bratz had a Tik Tok, fans on Youtube who didn’t know Bratz had a Twitter…

And they all had different stories when it came to what they knew about the Bratz’s so-called “comeback”. I’ve discovered that the people with Tik Tok knew little about the posts found on Instagram. I mentioned an Instagram post about Nevra to someone on Tik Tok and they stated “That never happened on Tik Tok, so I don’t know about it”.

Someone who watches Youtube, maybe specifically my Youtube Channel, has stated they couldn’t find any new releases from Bratz and were asking me where I heard this information. Some of them tried to go to the main website but it looked like it did above (“Coming Soon”).

The bulk of Bratz promotion and content is coming from Instagram, which everyone doesn’t have access to nor likes to use.

Even on Instagram, they have delayed posting updates on products, with many fans finding out about releases from retailers themselves or off-brand fan sites. Bratz Rock Angelz was said by Walmart and Target to have released October 11, 2021. Did any of you all see any posts about it? Because I haven’t.

None of the social media pages have updated any information prior to the release of this long-asked-for line. Maybe because they saw how the fans were reacting to the leaks…Still, there should be some sort of information about these dolls that retailers are telling people about.

Fans are running around like chickens with their heads cut-off, trying to figure out what’s happening. All of this could have been resolved by leading them to one simple central website. We need a free website, that doesn’t require a sign-in, and is accessible to people of all ages, countries, and backgrounds. The website should be listing all of the available products coming out of MGA Entertainment at this time.

But that didn’t happen for this 20th Anniversary. I know the year isn’t over yet, but we have two more months to go, which still means they didn’t invest in this launch very much at all.

Now, Bratz did get a little series on Tik Tok for promotion. I want to talk about Talking Bratz. Someone from my Youtube channel did ask me what I thought about the Bratz series Talking Bratz.

I will now give my thoughts on that.

First, on a positive note, I want to say that I believe Talking Bratz has the potential to be better than the original series. As I’ve stated, I am not a fan of the original series, and I’ve stated why in Bratz 2018: Please Don’t! and I’ve stated it in Ranking Worst to Best Bratz Movies. I’ve been into Bratz too long, and know the brand and characters too well, to enjoy the TV series fully, especially because I was a bit older than the target demographic when the series launched.

Talking Bratz fixed two major things: Dylan and Felicia. As most hard-core Bratz fans know, Dylan was heavily “Black-coded” as early as 2004. He wore box-braids in many of his earlier releases, such as in Wild Life Safari and Wintertime Wonderland. He was darkened in many of his illustrations to fit his heritage more, such as in the book Xtreme Outdoors, and some of his dolls followed suit, such as Play Sportz Dylan and his Kidz doll.

Yet, for some reason, the original Bratz TV series, Rock Angelz, and that live action movie decided to white-wash him.

I talked about this and went in on it already. Whoever is in charge of Talking Bratz seems very aware of this, took notice, and updated accordingly, which means someone is doing a bit of research over there. Thank goodness for that.

They’ve also given some of the lesser known Bratz pack members, particularly Felicia, screen-time, which I feel is very exciting and could really serve to boost all of the main Bratz pack characters in the future, if they plan on giving all of them a chance to shine.

I like that they attempted to bring back some of the old cast, which obviously connects with the fans of the series. To me, this means they are trying to unite the universes, fixing what was wrong with the original series and bringing back what was right.

Despite this, though, considering the people who are being put in charge of the brand, and considering the way things are being promoted lately, I’m not sure just how deep the developers, animators, and writers are willing to go into the brand to really create the ideal TV series that I’m looking for. My standards are YAY-High.

I’ve been working on writing a series for Bratz. I’m still working on it. But as someone who is passionate about the brand and sees its potential, I would never just launch a series flimsily, and to me, I feel like Talking Bratz was launched a bit too soon and carelessly.

This fandom wiki project that I’m working on regarding the Bratz has done more than help me build a one-stop database. It’s also helping me understand the brand, in-and-out. I’m learning about the characters, their universes, their lives, what the fans enjoyed about the different series, movies, and books, what they didn’t, what I enjoyed, what I didn’t, the dolls, the fashion, everything. I’m analyzing everything. That’s the kind of dedication I want to see from a TV series developer and producer. I just don’t know if they really are that dedicated right now. It’s too early to tell.

My own work may never get green-lit, read, or fully visualized. I still want to write it because I believe there needs to be a stronger universe for the Bratz brand. I like that I get to take my time with it and really do the homework. If I make a film or series, I want it to be a production that truly leans into the brand, like what I’ve seen from the directors and producers who made Harry Potter. I want it to be almost like the original source material. In Bratz’s case, they have many source materials, even sources some fans may not have even heard of.

What really disappointed me already about Talking Bratz was the fact that Jade and Sasha’s segments were “scrapped”.

I was very disappointed. I’ve talked about the “Closmin” issue before in my Bratz 2018: Please don’t! content. I don’t want to see Yasmin and Cloe getting all the shine while Jade and Sasha get side-lined. Yet, this is what is happening again. And we were not given any real reason as to why this happened. But again, if MGA was really investing in this comeback, they would have had this series prepared way before this year, just like Rainbow High’s series was prepared. Nothing would have had to be “scrapped”.

MGA must have forgotten why the 2010 10th Anniversary dolls failed. Those dolls also failed because MGA, admittedly, rushed to put the dolls on the shelves, which created issues with quality. It caused them to go on a hiatus. Why haven’t they learned from that?

I don’t think they anticipated the demand would be so high for the Bratz right now. If they were really interested in investing in Bratz, they wouldn’t have waited for people to be interested. They would have been STRATEGIZING to GET people interested, making moves BEFORE the demand swarmed in. They would have been analyzing how fans were responding to the brand over the years, and would have taken notes on what fans were looking for and expecting. They should not have just looked on social media, either.

Instead, they put little effort towards the brand over the last couple of years, and only rushed to invest when they saw the success of the 1st Edition 20 Yearz re-release (which was a surprise to me, considering how wonky they looked).

Of course, we are in a different time and era. No brands can be as successful as they were in the 2000s, before internet and social media popped off. There’s just so much that can catch our attention nowadays. But if the brand was strategic, they could have managed to maintain a loyal fan base and could have gained way more new followers, at the very least.

If you compare them to their competitor Barbie, though her sales have declined, she’s managed to maintain a loyal fanbase and has kept her hold on the fashion doll market for over 50 years. On all of Barbie’s socials, she has managed to maintain millions of followers. The only place Barbie is emptier than Bratz is on Tik Tok, and this is only because it doesn’t have content yet. And yet, YET, she still has a few hundred followers and tons of Tik Tok fans that hold her name, those same people having millions of followers. All of this, without dropping content.

How? Barbie never forgets her “Hedgehog” concept (Review Jim Collins’s business book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t to learn more about that concept). Barbie tries to keep up with what’s new while never losing what Barbie is. The fact is the company actually dove deep to find out who Barbie has been and who she is now. They’ve found a way to merge all of her universes, too, through Barbie in the Dreamhouse, or at least they’re trying. I’ve seen some guest appearances of her old friends from her early days on there.

I’ve mentioned this before. Everybody knows that Barbie’s world will always be centered around her. She’s white, blonde, middle-to-upper class, pretty, and forever young (technically). She’s been developed to become anything to anybody. Yet, she’s found a way to maintain one solid identity, no matter how much she evolves.

In order to meet the demand for diversity, instead of changing who she is, they just added that diversity to her universe. Since 2016, she’s added newer skin tones, gender expressions, and body types to her universe. The company knows Barbie herself can never be everything to everybody, and they aren’t trying to make her that. They’ve tried that several times in the past and it failed. It would never work, because of Barbie’s reputation. Barbie is Barbie now.

What they decided to work with in the present, though, is working in Barbie’s favor, even if it’s silently behind the scenes, focused on her surrounding friends instead of her. Nowadays, most people have little negative to say about the brand. It certainly isn’t worse than what critics are saying of Bratz.

While meeting customer demand and maintaining Barbie’s identity, she’s able to make enough money to have new lines and new movies every year. It’s now a tradition to watch a Barbie movie for many generations of Barbie fans.

Like I said, MGA should “keep their enemies closer”. Barbie isn’t my enemy, but she’s Bratz’s number one rival. If they expect to get back on top, they should observe how she’s managed to last this long.

But that would only be if MGA is even still interested in Bratz like that anymore…which it clearly appears they’re not.

MGA’s official company website doesn’t even include Bratz as one of their “featured brands” anymore, and it is listed at the very bottom among all of their brands towards the bottom of the page.

Fans Are Investing In Bratz More Than The Company

To be honest, the main one really adding to the universe and building the brand is Mar the Cantos, the social media content creator. Mar the Cantos started off as a fan photographer. I believe she was a designer in New York. She hated it there, and when she returned back home, she found her doll collection and decided to post pictures of them.

Well, from those photos, Mar helped the Bratz go viral back around 2017(?)-2019(?). A few years later, Mar the Cantos was brought on to be the primary social media content creator. Mar the Cantos has been primarily responsible for all the photos we see on social media, from the Roxxi and Nevra “coming out” photos, to the celebrity photos we constantly see on social media, to the little throwbacks here and there from video games and commercials. Mar the Cantos is even the one highlighting other Bratz community fan photos from House.of.plastics and Monstorlool, among others.

An article titled “A Brief Investigation Into the Complicated History of Bratz” has stated that Jasmin Larian, CEO Isaac Larian’s daughter, seems to be working with the brand more lately, and has prioritized collaborating with Bratz “community leaders” and digital creators. That’s what, and who, is driving the brand now. Really, mostly fans.

From my experience, fans have always had a certain power over the Bratz brand. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

Back in 2003, I felt this fan power when they used to make the official MGA business email accessible to us. I used the email address a lot. In fact, I was one of the earlier fans to ask for Bratz to have a world-wide release for their music albums, since at the time they only had Show Me What You Got, which was only released in Japan and was hard to access online. Two years later came Bratz Rock Angelz.

Back during the 10th Anniversary and 2015 doll releases, other Bratz “community leaders” like Berry Bread and Alex B. were brought on to promote the Bratz brand.

Alex B. was around since the early days of the Yahoo fan group Bratz World. I do remember when Alex first joined, back when Snowflakebebe was the admin. However, I believe Alex really started to have more influence after connecting with MGA more intimately, possibly through a working relationship.

I’ve heard Hayden Williams was a big part of the Bratz community since 2001, too, before being brought on to design his own dolls. He was recognized in one of the earlier editions of Bratz magazine.

MGA is a company that has utilized the power of the fans to drive their brands, and it does wonders in their favor.

It’s partially what makes the Bratz community so exciting. We all feel apart of this brand, like we are all designers and developers right alongside those actually working at the main office.

However, it seems that the fans are the ones really putting in all the time, effort, and money to keep the brand afloat nowadays, even more so than in the past, where fans would be invited as consultants or interns within the company to work alongside the full-time hired-on employees.

Right now, it feels like with the social media, the merchandise, promotion, websites, videos, the fans are the ones making it happen now, not really official employees, and it shows. Most of the releases for the anniversary have been collaborations, supported by outsiders. From Make-Up Revolution to No Name Mexico, this year, they have relied on others to support the continuation of Bratz.

On a side note, I really loved No Name Mexico’s collection out of all of the collaborators. I enjoyed the fashion show immensely, and love their style. They are really cutting-edge, and, to me, represent what the Bratz stand for.

Overall, though, MGA isn’t lifting much of a finger in that direction. Maybe they are putting out some funds towards it, but they aren’t investing what they used to. To my knowledge, they probably can’t (and won’t) because there are other brands that are a priority within the company.

Mostly, all of the people working on Bratz have been independent contractors, freelance, ambassadors, collaborators, or public relations promoters of some kind. None have been officially signed on as permanent employees. I don’t know if Mar the Cantos has, but most have been working independently. This means they aren’t getting paid a solid salary with paid benefits from the company. They are putting their own passion and personal talents into the brand. At any time, they can pull the plug and say they don’t want their products associated with this brand anymore, and that would be it.

With that being said, with fans driving the brand, it’s hard to know what’s an official release and what’s not, what’s canon and what’s not, who is in charge and who’s not, who has insider knowledge and who doesn’t…It has created quite a bit of confusion.

There have been quite a bit of fan photos that people have confused for official releases, especially news outlets that aren’t too familiar with the brand. When the Roxxi and Nevra “coming out” story was posted on Insta, the lesbian news outlet AfterEllen thought it was an official launch of new “lesbian” and “bi” dolls. It really was just a viral photo that got a lot of attention. However, MGA just let everybody run with that idea, an idea they had no intention of following through with.

And honestly, that’s basically how MGA has handled Bratz. They just gave up all the power. The brand is like a run-away train now. They are letting any fans who can sensationalize Bratz do their thing.

While that might not be a bad thing in some cases, it can get bad when the fans have different levels, and even different years, of investment in the brand. Every Bratz fan is different. There are some Bratz fans that have been into the brand since debut, some fans that have been into the brand since 2005 when the TV show was launched, some fans that have come into the brand in 2010 or 2015, and some fans who became hardcore after the 2018 dolls were released or after Bratz went viral on social media. To quote my sibling, since they put it so eloquently, “every Bratz fan has their own life span” when dealing with this brand.

As a result, depending on when the fans got into the Bratz, those fans are going to have different, often conflicting, expectations from other fans. Those who have been with Bratz since debut are going to have a certain attachment to the things that they fell in love with at DEBUT, and may be more averse to changes. Newer fans would be more open to change. If you were there when the brand started, you’re going to have different expectations from those who came in with the TV series, and especially from those who are just now getting into the brand hard-core. We’re all going to have very different experiences with the Bratz.

Trying to appease these different types of fans requires a certain sensitivity, which can’t just come from one type of fan. It needs to come from a solid marketing team or a team of fans, from all different life spans. It’s not easy, but unfortunately, it is necessary, even in this largely inconsistent brand. This brand has had several evolutions over the years, and it needs to be analyzed and rectified. This will help create lasting power because they can hone in on the things fans will always find familiar about this brand, while finding what gets us excited, by putting many different minds together.

There especially needs to be some Board of Directors, some team or experts, that can review what’s posted on social media, the source of the Bratz dolls’ current development.

I say this because I’ve found that some of the “Bratz community leaders” brought on to support Bratz’s social media appear to be relatively newer hard-core fans who haven’t really invested in the brand for the last 20 years, and so the content they offer appears to conflict with what hard-core fans know about the brand. They might have had a few Bratz dolls back in the day or liked the dolls, but they weren’t INVESTED in the brand, meaning a part of the communities, analyzing the lines, observing the characters, watching all the movies, reading all the books, etc. In many cases, it has appeared that way to fans.

I first noticed this when a “Blind Date” post went up, and it listed Dylan’s Zodiac sign as a Sagittarius. Now, some people might find this to be a little petty post, relatively meaningless. However, fans still had opinions about this post. I saw comments like, “Isn’t Dylan a Leo?” and “Not this saying Dylan is a Sagittarius when there’s multiple evidence he is a LEO!”

I don’t know who made this post and who allowed it to get up there like that, but it was not met with the best reception. Again, while that little post might seem meaningless, it’s the little posts that can make or break people’s loyalty to the brand. If long-time fans, who know this brand in-and-out, can sense a change in values, management, even in story-telling, it can make them write everything off in the brand as “fake” or not worthy of any respect any more. They would get the feeling that someone “doesn’t know what they’re doing”. People often have those kinds of thoughts worming into the minds, even if they don’t say it out loud. Consistent universes allow companies to draw out relatable elements of a story or character to draw in and connect with fans. There’s a reason why brands like to create a universe for their dolls. The universes give the dolls identity, and identity sells. If things get too confusing, people tend to lose interest. There’s no point in using promotional media if it isn’t consistent, especially if you’re using it to tap into nostalgia.

The “Blind Date” incident was not the only time the social media posts created confusion. I will talk more on the other confusing posts in this same article later. For now, I will just say that if a company really was invested in this brand, they would encourage all on board to take the time to study the brand thoroughly before launching random posts.

I don’t want to sound elitist. I believe there should be room for all kinds of fans, and even new fans give the brand a fresh new perspective. To be honest, brands change and they do evolve.

However, when a “community leader” is put in charge of building the brand for the future, even if its just via social media, it becomes obvious when they don’t know much about the history of the brand, and it does ultimately isolate older fans. This can create not only fan tension, but it can also create a loss of respect for those in charge, to add a loss of faith in the brand. This weakens the brand.

It feels like those put in charge of social media are just posting anything, and I mean ANYTHING. Any company that is interested in investing in their brand would know to be careful of what is posted on social media because they would want to maintain the brand so that the dolls can get sold to the major demographic, ie. kids, particularly tweens. That’s not what’s been happening with Bratz.

Many fans were also taken off-guard when someone from the social media team re-posted the rapper Saweetie flipping her middle finger up in her Bratz robe.

Some fans called the social media team out on it, reminding them that they still had younger fans who visited the platform. It was only then that the “Bratz social media team” responded and said that they wanted to “cater Bratz towards their adult fans now”, which is apparently their new primary demographic. There was no warning of this beforehand, so it left many fans divided and confused. Some fans loved the openness; some fans felt it went too far. In any case, it wasn’t carefully thought-out, and no one prepared fans for the shift in focus. But it was a sign that Bratz was changing, for better or worse. It was also a sign that MGA had really let loose the reins of the brand.

People are also calling the Bratz social media a “stan account” now, since many posts, especially on Twitter, seem to have nothing to do with the Bratz. There was a recent post about Player 067, and most of the comments were about how “unprofessional” the account was getting and how desperately MGA needs a new social media team.

Most companies really interested in investing in a brand would stick to photos about their products, like MGA is doing for Rainbow High and L.O.L. Surprise.

Barbie may not get the same traction to each post made on Instagram, but there’s a reason she’s sitting on 1 Mil subscribers while Bratz is barely maintaining 700K.

Some people say if you’re a true fan, you should be a fan of everything. I don’t believe that’s realistic. To be honest, if you fell in love with a brand for some things, and they scrap everything that you loved about the brand, it isn’t what you loved about it anymore. You can still be a fan of all of the old parts of the brand, without embracing every new thing that comes out. Newer things might be more difficult to adjust to overall. Ultimately, the way Bratz is being handled has made my passion for the brand simmer down a bit. I’m trying to adjust, I really am, but I’ve had to swim through disappointment.

These points about the direction of the brand brings me to the next few reasons why I’m not really happy with the Bratz’s 20th Yearz anniversary nor even excited for the future of Bratz. I’m going to get deeper into some of the points I made in the next few parts.

CURRENT Adult Direction

As stated before, the social media team has stated that Bratz is now catering to an adult audience. Being an adult, you would think I would be over-the-moon about my favorite brand growing up with me. But I’m not.

I know in the past I stated I hated the kid-friendly Bratz that were released in 2015. I did at one time think that Bratz should start catering to their adult fans. However, how I envisioned it and how its being executed is not exactly how it’s going down. I believed that catering to the adult fans meant giving them the same type of Bratz energy (the funky, fun, fashion-forward lines, a really strong Bratz series or media content, and the same Tween-Teen formula) that they gave us in 2K. I was looking for the Bratz to be the same brand I have loved for years. What I’ve come to learn is that brands do change, especially because times change. Ultimately, this new “direction” just makes me feel old and more nostalgic for the old stuff that made me feel young.

Personally, I hate a lot of reboots for that reason. They just make me feel old. I also hate when companies try to make a product more “grown-up” by taking away anything that made the brand light-hearted and fun, as if being an adult means being grittier, darker, grimier, and more risqué. Many adult fans were hoping to share their love of Bratz with their offspring, passing the brand down to their kids. Now, many adult fans aren’t comfortable with that.

Recent Instagram post @Bratz

I felt the Bratz took enough calculated risks in the past without going overboard, which made them likeable. They felt young, free, wild, but good-natured overall, as Carter Bryant intended them to be.

Carter Bryant once told me that he enjoyed finding out what would get children excited about the Bratz. He wanted the fashions to be detailed, thought-out, and mixed and matched within one product. He wanted them to go beyond the “nostalgia regurgitation treatment”, bringing it into the future.

That’s some forward-thinking there. To be honest, how long can Bratz last if it’s just going to appeal to Millennials and Gen Z? What about Alpha? Sure, we can buy our kids the toys we loved, but that doesn’t mean it will have the same impact on them. It doesn’t mean they will like them enough to ask for them. What parent would buy a toy their child doesn’t show interest in?

Dolls like Barbie and American Girl have lasted for generations because they transcend time and have been catering to many new generations. They have managed to adapt well. Bratz has the ability to do the same, but no one is willing to put in enough power behind the brand, despite Bratz’s strong loyal following.

What does a brand give up when they start to cater to adults? For starters, the brand gives up playlines ultimately, the main thing most fans are asking for. This is not to say the Bratz won’t be able to release a few, like they were able to with the 20 Yearz Anniversary dolls, but it won’t be at the level it used to be. Investing in Bratz is probably already seen as a financial risk, since the brand hasn’t produced the same level of success they had in the past. But a company can’t make a fortune off of adult doll collectors alone, that’s for sure. And they need the money to really push this brand forward.

Though we’ve seen the 1st Edition dolls on the Walmart and Target shelves, many of you may also have discovered you can’t find it at every local Walmart and Target store, and certainly can’t find the dolls in stores outside of the USA. Why? Because retailers, who follow parents, decide what is appropriate to sell to kids. I’ve mentioned more about this in my video What Happened to the Bratz?. Bratz struggled enough to be seen as a proper toy for kids in the past; with their current online reputation, it’s even harder for the Bratz to be deemed appropriate enough to sit on toy aisles next to kids’ toys. I don’t think the average parent wants their kids exposed to all of what the Bratz has going on lately. It’s probably the reason most of the dolls landing on shelves are re-releases and why they aren’t being replenished as quickly.

The final issue that comes with catering to adults is the demand for high quality. Yes, I know we all think even kids deserve high quality, but kids don’t demand it. With inflation and the doll industry on decline, many dolls are made cheaper now, with a lot less accessories and playsets. Kids don’t typically mind. Adult fans tend to want their money’s worth. This means the dolls will end up being more expensive.

That won’t appeal to moms buying toys for their children post-pandemic. That doesn’t appeal to young college students who are on a budget. That doesn’t appeal to someone working two jobs struggling to make ends meet.

Unless all of the future dolls are old re-releases, the stuff that appeals to nostalgia, for any new dolls, the bar will be set very high.

These demands can only be met if they continuously release collectors’ exclusives, possibly only online, which means very few playlines found in actual stores.

And since the same old team from the 2000s is no longer with MGA Entertainment, we may have to settle with new designers and artists that may be incapable of meeting the demand for the Bratz dolls to look on par with 2K dolls.

Many fans have been speaking out about their lack of support for this new direction, but instead of taking fan feedback and re-evaluating the direction of Bratz, the “social media team” is dismissive. Recently, they posted this:

It’s clear they will not listen to fans’ constructive criticism until it’s too late.

Ret-Con Universe AND RE-TELLINGS

Retroactive continuity (or Ret-Con for short) is a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events, typically used to facilitate a dramatic plot shift or account for an inconsistency. It’s a revision of fictional work, in which established diegetic facts in the plot of a fictional work are adjusted, ignored, or contradicted by a subsequently published work which breaks continuity with the former. 

Basically, it means changing the core of the character(s) or altering the story to the point it contradicts itself.

A re-telling is simply to tell a story again, from a completely new angle. Bratz, as a brand, is guilty of both.

One of the biggest weaknesses of the Bratz brand, and really most of MGAE’s brands, is the universe-building aspect. Sister brands Rainbow High and Project Mc2 had the strongest universes of all of the MGA brands. Unfortunately, only one of the two is currently and consistently getting product releases.

Bratz is one of the weakest when it comes to the universe. To be honest, there is no canon Bratz universe (though you can’t tell fans of the Bratz TV series and Rock Angelz this, because that’s the only thing they know of Bratz). There have been too many series, books, movies, video games, electronic games, dolls, toys, all with different stories, different moments, and conflicting messages, many of them designed and produced before the Bratz TV series even aired. Bratz is like the Marvel universe.

It got like this because the brand debuted early in 2K, before the universe-building thing really got popular with fashion doll brands, and it scrambled to compete with dolls that were ahead of trend in this regard, like Myscene, which developed their universe online through webisodes, blogs, and movies way back in 2002.

The Bratz couldn’t catch up, so they ended up with a bunch of media that conflicted with each other while trying to land with producers and writers that would stick with fans. Now, it’s just all a mess. However, the universes can be united if those in charge of adding to the story recognized the Bratz’s vast universe and sought to bring some form of unity to the stories.

Some of you might ask why this is important for a brand like Bratz. At one time, this didn’t matter, because fans liked Bratz for its ambiguity. In the past, the more ambiguous a doll, the more fun they could be. But this was when we were dealing with Generation Next and older Millennial doll collectors (as well as Millennial Tweens) back in the early 2000s. Older generations didn’t get engaged with doll products based on the media associated. Jem dolls tried that in the 1980s, but it never transcended beyond that decade. Kids were more mesmerized by the functions of the toys or the vast array of items toys came with. They only needed to see them on toy shelves, in commercials, or in catalogues to get interested. The price to create these very detailed doll universes wasn’t as high, either, so dolls had very large mini worlds to play with, creating even more interest.

Somewhere, in the 2000s, as Tweens were losing interest in toys, many toy companies lost money, causing doll lines to be reduced, and the novelty of just owning a doll with amazing accessories or interesting functions, like hair color changes and talking dolls, fizzled out. Companies found a way to gain the interest of Tweens again by aligning their toys with engaging shows or online content, creating identities for the characters.

Now, the newer generations can’t even get into a brand unless there’s some universe-building media attached to it, whether it’s social media or other. Dolls have to have identity.

We’re dealing with younger Millennials and Gen Z, and I’ve noticed that most of them only remember the more popular movies and shows that attempted to create some universe(s) for the Bratz. In the 2000s, several different stories were pitched to see which ones would stick, and the Rock Angelz movie and TV series stuck the most.

As a result, those universes are currently influencing what kind of dolls are in demand right now, and what ultimately gets designed and released for the Bratz. That’s mostly re-releases, whether it’s some of the best of Bratz’s lines or some of the mediocre (which I’ve always found Rock Angelz as a line to be, considering the official doll releases, even back in 2005, only came with one pair of shoes and poorly matched outfits in comparison to, say, Girls Nite Out or Sun-Kissed Summer, but OKAY).

As we all age and comb deeper through the Bratz catalogue, many of us are discovering how much the Bratz universe clashed with itself.

What is needed for Bratz is someone who understands all of the universes very well, and for that individual to take charge in masterfully linking them up one-by-one. Unfortunately, though, lately those being put in charge of driving the story of Bratz were hand-picked just based on social media finesse. None were added based on long-term investment in the brand (financial, time, energy, or otherwise) nor on the level of knowledge about the product. Without someone who has a strong understanding of this brand, you are going to find those in charge clashing with the larger fandom all the time, which has been happening.

And worse, you’ll end up with the situation of having “Bratz community leaders” adding more confusion to the Bratz story, which frustrates Bratz fans of all life spans.

Lately, the main one who has been in charge of creating the modern-day “story” of Bratz is the social media content creator Mar the Cantos. I don’t know much about Mar the Cantos’s background, but I’ve read in the article mentioned earlier, “A Brief Cultural History of Bratz”, a bit about her past before the Bratz and how she became an influential “Bratz Community Leader”. From what I read, it appears that Mar the Cantos was quite young when the Bratz debuted, and honestly didn’t seem to really have much passion for the brand until her photos went viral a few years back.

In the article, I found it a bit intriguing that Mar stated “As a child in Ecuador…[she] was too young to truly appreciate [the Bratz dolls’] passion for fashion through the plastic encasement…”. She only saw their diversity.

However, it’s that very lack of understanding of the brand in the past that creates a disconnect from long-time fans today. Bratz is and has always been about the fashion, even more than the diversity. That is very key, hence their slogan. The diversity is a plus. Their passion for fashion is the basics of this brand.

It became apparent from this statement, along with an alright score of 15/20 from the Bratz 20 Questions Quiz posted on Instagram’s IGTV, that Mar the Cantos is quite a newcomer to the deeper fandom.

I sound so elitist, forgive me. I’m not trying to say that she, and others like her, can’t sit at the table because of it. However, it is what many hard-core fans pay attention to when watching those in charge of the development.

In fact, most of the questions she got wrong were from the TV series, and many fans consider that to be surface-level knowledge of Bratz. Many Bratz fans like when the brand pays homage to the TV series, but if you don’t know much about it, fans will pick up on it.

During the 20 Questions Quiz, Mar the Cantos admitted that she hasn’t watched the series in years, and that leaves many fans wondering why she wasn’t made to catch up with the series before being hired to post.

Unfortunately, so many posts have been made in-between that have really deviated from the “infamous” TV series (along with the posts deviating from certain commercials, Bratz songs, books, among other media, too) that now it’s hard to track what is canon or not.

I hate to bring up the 20 Questions Quiz, especially because I can’t say I know every single thing about the Bratz myself. Sure, I answered all of the 20 Questions Quiz questions they gave to Mar right, and created my own Ultimate Bratz Quiz, but even I am still learning about this brand, especially because it is an inconsistent brand with too much media content. I can only imagine how hard it is to be the content creator at this time, and can’t profess to do a better job.

I don’t want to act like newcomers aren’t welcome and can’t drive the brand in whatever new directions are possible. I’m not the gatekeeper or the one who can tell anyone who gets to be a Bratz influencer. The company can hire whoever they want to.

But, in truth, would many old-time fans continue to respect a newcomer, who appears to have had vague memories of the brand growing up, and doesn’t seem to have really gone deeply through the brand, even to watch every episode of the basic TV series, as a “developer” or “lead creator”? Fans are really passionate about this product, and they do expect a high level of knowledge from those working with these dolls and their media, at least on par with their memories of the brand. Their memories of the brand are what’s driving its popularity right now. If fans are spending money, that’s what they almost require.

My level of knowledge goes beyond the series, so for me, much is forgivable. What form of media hasn’t conflicted with one another in the Bratz universe? I’m there mostly for the dolls, and have basically given up on caring too much about the media.

However, for other fans, the media is all the Bratz is to them.

This is why the “Blind Date” post was considered such an outrage. Everybody knows Dylan has constantly stated he’s a “Leo”, not a Sagittarius.

Yet, we have social media posting him as a Sagittarius.

Nowadays, the social media posts have been twisting the story more and more, and this is largely because the Bratz universe isn’t being considered or isn’t being analyzed closely.

Personally, there have been a few posts that have bothered me more than the “Blind Date” one. I want to talk about the “Indigenous-Wiping” of Kiana.

I dislike when companies and creators take a character that appears to be another race, ethnic group, culture, and color, and “Blacken” them to add more diversity, without thinking about the deeper nuances that go into creating an authentic Black character, as if our experiences are easily written into another body. It’s worse when you take representation from one group just to pretend like you had all this representation for another group.

Now, it was very obvious to ANY HARD-CORE Bratz fan that Kiana was coded Indigenous/First Nations/Native American. On Ebay and/or Worthpoint, whenever anyone tried to sell her off, she was listed as “Native American”, showing the ethnic group she was strongly linked to by fans.

Her connections with the west (from being in the Wild Wild West collection), her pseudo-buckskin dress, and hints of turquoise (which shows a strong connection to the Southwest Native American tribes) were all indicators of Indigenous heritage. Sure, you can call them all stereotypes, but so were Kumi’s and Tiana’s traditional Japanese Kimonos. There are certain obvious cultural factors that are connected with a certain group of people.

Tokyo A Go-Go Kumi Prototype

But, of course, I’ve realized that some people don’t seem to remember that Indigenous people exist, even people of color. They associate anyone with a darker skin tone with being Black, and that’s just not always the case.

This representation was very important, and still is. Can you list any Indigenous characters designed for a doll brand? You can probably count them with one hand, possibly with only a few fingers.

Bratz was revolutionary for actually introducing a modern TEEN Indigenous-Coded character.

Unfortunately, lately, social media has been interpreting her as “Black”. Granted, Kiana being Indigenous doesn’t mean she can’t also be Black. Kiana can be mixed. Yet, I don’t remember one single post of Kiana during Indigenous People’s day. Not last year or this year.

Ever since the G. Floyd tragedy last year, MGA has been over-trying to pretend like they’ve had all of these Black characters they’ve developed. Don’t get me wrong. They’ve had more than other doll brands, but most of them were developed after the 2000s because of the obvious lack of them.

In the 2000s, there was Sasha, Felicia, Dylan, Zada, and Deavon who were obviously Black. Nevra was obviously meant to be Turkish (due to that name being considered more popular in Turkey at the time of Nevra’s release), but we can pass her as Afro-Turkish.

In the 2010s, Lydia, Myra, and Brigitte were introduced, adding a little more to the Afro-American mix. So, we don’t need to pretend dolls of other heritages were Black.

How many of the new 2010 dolls were definitely considered First Nations or Indigenous? None.

This kind of modern interpretation of Kiana is actually a major annoyance of mine. I’m very disappointed because the only other doll brands that had modern Indigenous characters were The Magic Attic Club, Zodiac Girlz, and The Global Friends, and they have been out of production for 20 years or more.

Secondly, I am still not fond of the Roxxi and Nevra pairing. I am queer, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept every bit of representation I get. I’m looking for proper representation, and after doing deeper research into the brand, I’m even less fond of the pairing. Being Black, I know all too well how things can go haywire when you aren’t represented properly as a minority. For many queer people, they are just starting to see themselves in media, so they are just happy to be recognized. Well, Black people have been there, done that, from the 1930s to the 2000s. What we slowly came to realize is that just seeing ourselves on television wasn’t good enough. In fact, the depictions gave people even worse ideas about who we were. This is why I’m also careful not to just dive into supporting a queer couple just because it exists.

First off, I felt the timing of the “coming out” story was bad because it was amidst controversy over Amina Mucciolo, a queer Black creative, who wanted royalties after she felt her likeness was copied by MGA Entertainment. Shortly after, some comments were made by Isaac Larian, the CEO, that didn’t go over very well. I believe he was just trying to protect his company and his workers, who are mostly people of color, but it back-fired. I really felt like that should have been settled first before the announcement because it left me feeling all kinds of mixed emotions, like they were using the couple to cover something up…

Ultimately, when I think of the two of them, I think of the incident. It ain’t cute.

Second, I feel like Roxxi was Bi-erased. On Youtube, my sibling VenusLove, as well as Jessi Gender and verilybitchie, really go into talking about this.

My sibling is very passionate about this topic, and they got me thinking more about this, too.

It has become a problem in media lately, where a character shows obvious attraction to both girls and boys, but is written off as “Lesbian”, “Gay”, or “Straight” to appease Monosexuals. Mostly, I feel like Roxxi was stereotyped as being “Lesbian” because she’s a rock star, and for some reason female rock stars are always associated with Lesbianism. But when you really get into her past, she has shown heavy attraction to boys. This is a part of the “ret-con” problem.

The Treasures! commercial has her flirting with some random boy on a party island.

In the Bratz TV series episode, “New Kid In Town”, she was flirting with Cameron the whole episode, and even had lunch with him at the end of the episode. She DATED Shane, along with all the other Bratz pack members, in the same episode.

She asked Dylan out in the “Miss Fortune” episode of the Bratz TV series (even though maybe that was just a part of the episode’s amulet curse, but I’ve noticed that the characters affected by the curse still had agency throughout the episode, despite the magic of the amulet).

Roxxi has a whole song, “I Don’t Care”, from the Rock Angelz album, about some other love interest that was “more than a crush”, and this song was not describing Nevra because “her friends think this person is weird” and “their hair is a mess”. That’s definitely not Nevra. After listening closely, I’ve come to realize this person from the song isn’t even one of Roxxi’s friends apparently, either.

Largely, I don’t think any of this was considered. Again, Mar has admitted she hasn’t watched the series in years. It’s possible she hasn’t really listened to full albums, or read any of the album booklets they used to come with, either.

Sure, we can have conversations about comp-het and heteronormativity, though I personally think, if used inappropriately, the terms can come off Pan-phobic and Bi-phobic.

Regardless, when taking that energy to characters in media, we have to consider it in context, how the visual media outlines the characters’ personal experiences, and how that impacts others’ views of the characters in relation to others and themselves. The newer visual media has to be detailed enough to explain Roxxi’s new-found Lesbianism and how she went from A-to-B. Yet, it just feels like all the events that happened in the Bratz TV series are being treated as if they never happened.

Further, I don’t understand why companies, or rather “influencers”, feel they have to change the complete development of a character just to make them Queer in the first place. It’s like they don’t think being Pan or Bi is “queer enough”, which is a part of Biphobia honestly. It’s also ridiculous that many developers believe two Bi individuals can’t be in the same relationship, that one of them has to be Lesbian, in order for the relationship to be “stable”. I see it happen all the time, and it’s honestly annoying.

There are a plethora of Bratz characters who have shown more interest in the same gender and don’t even have a heterosexual past at all. Wouldn’t it have been more advantageous to tap into those characters for a Queer story arc? I would prefer a character that hasn’t shown attraction to boys at all to come out as Lesbian than someone who has been actively seeking attention from the opposite gender only to come out without context. Roxxi’s sister Phoebe is probably more likely Lesbian than she is, but because she’s not a walking stereotype, no one tapped into that.

As a result, the announcement came off as either an obvious lack of understanding of the brand, Queer-bait, pandering, and/or Bi-Pan-erasure for the sake of “superficial diversity”, anything that would make the Bratz go viral, because anything Queer is guaranteed to garner thousands of likes on social media nowadays.

When handling visual media, the imagery impacts people and the way others are seen, and this kind of writing off of her past relationships makes it all feel like it was just a “phase”, which mirrors the way people see Bi-sexuals and Pan-sexuals in relationships. This actually damages the way sexually fluid people are treated in society, both in heterosexual and Queer spaces. It contributes to Bi-phobia, even if the character has never been designed to be Bi. It’s very disappointing.

When this relationship was announced, people were wondering, “When did this happen?” It was so random, lacked so much development, lacked so much nuance, that no one could even understand what these two even had in common to even bring them into close proximity. They’ve never appeared in a line together, never in a show together, and Nevra mentioned Roxxi only briefly in a book. And now, we’re supposed to believe they’re lovers? I’ve never been a fan of love-at-first-sight narratives, and being Queer doesn’t redeem that narrative.

Anytime I call out the poor development of Queer couples coming out of companies, I’m shut down by other LGBTQ+ members who will accept anything, as long as they are represented. Hey, everyone is entitled to like what they like. Still, I do wonder, does anyone care about how we’re represented? It’s not self-hating or homophobic to set your standards for how you want to be represented in media.

If anyone had been doing their homework really deep into the brand, they would have realized that Nevra’s real romantic lover should have been Meygan. Nevra has only appeared in six main lines in the past, but in THREE of them, including Secret Date, Meygan has appeared. They partied in Wild Life Safari together, kicked butt in Dynamite, and they even kind of flirted in Starrin’ & Stylin while getting ready to take prom pictures together.

Nevra has appeared in more books with Meygan than with Roxxi. Further, Meygan has often been seen flirting with the girls while all of her friends were with the boys, like in the Lil’ Bratz Spring Break Blitz commercial.

My ship has sailed with Nevra and Meygan. All of you who follow me on Instagram already know, so don’t come over here with that Roxxi and Nevra bullshit. Maybe I’m in my feelings because they’ve always been my preference since 2004. I’m probably just biased, but I was hoping for them to be acknowledged as the first LGBTQ+ couple.

Instead of looking into the brand at characters who actually have had development with one another and the right chemistry, they just threw two dolls together and said, “Happy Pride Month!”.

I’ll tell you why Roxxi and Nevra were chosen, for real. They were probably two of the only dolls that those on the “social media team” had in their collection. Someone designed some Pride outfits for them, they got attention on social media, and voila! Official couple was born! They gave Bratz attention. That’s the only reason they are being recognized as official. In truth, they were not planned at all. It’s obvious they weren’t. And that’s pretty much summing up how Bratz is being developed nowadays. Everything is just being pushed together, without any conversation, development, or deep dives into the brand. This is why no official dolls have been released with the two of them.

I’ve seen some companies really plan a Queer couple, with deep research, nuance, interesting descriptions and all. American Girl has done it the best for me with Kira Bailey’s aunts.

American Girl Kira Bailey’s aunts

We can make the argument that maybe Roxxi is Lesbian in the “reboot”. But if this was such a reboot or re-imagining, why have they recently re-released the Bratz TV series for streaming on Kabillion? The same series where her “attraction to boys” plays out? If they really wanted to transform Roxxi’s character, why are they still promoting the old show?

They are also promoting Rock Angelz, knowing good-and-well she has a whole song on the Rock Angelz album dedicated to somebody she fell in love with that’s NOT Nevra. None of Roxxi’s friends ever mentioned that “Nevra is weird” and that her “hair is a mess”. One of Nevra’s assets is her hair.

The biggest issue here, when we all put it together, is that the brand is currently giving us superficial forms of diversity, a bunch of woke clichés that don’t go deeper than that, all while ignoring the real thing the fans want: nostalgia.

I’m not a fan of Cloe and Cameron at all, but at least more development was put into that than what came out of Nevra and Roxxi.

Now, lately, it appears social media is scrambling to come up with stories for them. But even as they do that, none of their real personalities seem to be shining throughout it all. Nevra is hella bossy, and Roxxi is a free spirit. These opposites should be clashing. Where is the development? Even the app game failed to capture their spirits.

I don’t tend to bond well with “canon couples” that haven’t been developed well. Watching Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura growing up gave me high standards for what a queer couple should look like. My ideals are Seiya and Usagi (lead Starlight and Sailor Moon), Haruka and Michiru (Sailor Uranus and Neptune), and Yue/Yukito and Touya. Don’t play with me. I need something more.

It’s no secret I’ve never been a fan of any of the Bratz official couples. In my Bratz 2018: Please Don’t! video and accompanying article, I requested that they get rid of the official couples. However, instead, they seem to be adding more, which annoys me.

Once the official couples started rolling in, that ruined lines like Secret Date. It made lines like that impossible to recreate. The mix-and-match potential, so uncommon in other doll lines, was gone. It ruined the fun.

I also absolutely hate Cameron and Cloe. I mentioned one reason why in Ranking Worst to Best Bratz movies. If you’ve watched that, you know the first reason is because I feel like Cameron was always more into Cloe than she was him. She had way too many crushes throughout the series, the books, and the online blogs. I felt Cameron should’ve moved on.

Second, back in 2002, when the first Bratz Boyz commercial aired, I was very much impacted by Cameron attempting (and failing) to kiss Sasha. Now, back in the day, the Bratz commercials told a story all their own. This visual imagery impacted me. Back in the 2000s, you just didn’t see many interracial couples in media, and you certainly didn’t see it shown visually among doll brands. It was a bold statement. Whenever Barbie had a boyfriend, he was White. Her Black best friend Christie had a Black boyfriend.

It had never occurred to me that many different races of people could be attracted to Black women. Studies have shown that the world considers Black women to be the least desirable, and I internalized that as a child. When I saw Cameron flirting with Sasha back then, I knew this was not going to be a brand like Barbie…

And then Cloe and Cameron happened, and Cameron got Ken-dolled.

I was hoping that maybe some social media experts and new Bratz team members would bring Cloe and Cameron back to their independent days, when they were both single, flirty, and ready-to-mingle. However, as I’ve deeply come to realize, those working with Bratz now don’t know the brand well enough to bring it to a point they don’t remember.

With no consistency in sight, the story is getting so convoluted, it’s giving me whiplash. It really stops me from looking forward to the future of the brand, especially as far as media goes.

FanBase Divide

Ever since the release of Hayden Williams’s 2018 dolls, there has been a big fan divide.

Maybe I’m exaggerating here, but it appears that some of the old-timers that used to frequent the Bratz social media platforms and the ones that used to be heavy promoters of the Bratz brand have gone ghost.

It started with a little back-and-forth in the Bratz World community back in 2018. Eventually, it spilled over onto Instagram. The old-time fans didn’t feel that Hayden Williams’s dolls were good enough. They didn’t like the outfits nor the facial screenings. When they gave their criticism, some of them weren’t too polite about it, and Hayden Williams wasn’t too polite back. Well, it ended up causing a huge rift in the community.

Those old-timers were more supportive of all the other Bratz dolls up until that point, even the 2015 Bratz dolls. Heck, some of them even had a hand in the development of those dolls.

Well, those who supported Hayden Williams have given away their 2015 dolls and have boycotted any dolls from that era, and those who were against the 2018 dolls have boycotted Hayden Williams’s dolls and anything associated with him, even any future support of the brand.

This is all possibly just a feeling I have, but it appears that way because I haven’t seen a few certain Bratz fans around in awhile. I’ve also read comments of both sides stating they’ve “sold off” certain dolls.

During the Bratz’s 20th Anniversary week countdown back in May, social media was not hesitant to post some snark towards the 2015 era.

Unfortunately, even I feel I haven’t done enough to keep the Bratz fanbase together, and have regrets for participating in the divide. At one point, I seemed to side with one party over another rather than trying to be more diplomatic and understanding in my approach. Now, I understand many of the fans I once struggled to understand, at least to some degree.

When I really think about it, the fandom divide is actually hurting this brand. Division allows other brands to conquer. It lowers the amount of money that can go into a brand, too, even if no one realizes it. If one group of fans support one thing, they will pay for it, but if the others don’t, they will boycott.

It’s probably why Bratz is staying at 700K followers on Instagram instead of climbing into the millions, which I believe is the brand’s highest potential.

I really felt the throw towards the 2015 dolls broke the camel’s back. Believe it or not, there are fans who got into the brand through the 2015 dolls.

Heck, there are fans who entered through the 2010 Anniversary, too. I ran into one person who is personally more of a fan of those dolls than the ones in the 2000s, if you can believe that.

Even though they may seem like a minority, if we know anything about minority groups, they actually have more power than we realize. The minority group could potentially add to the majority.

Rather than writing off the old eras, acting like they didn’t exist, or down-playing what happened in the past, the solution is to integrate. Barbie and American Girl (both by Mattel) have slowly but surely learned this.

Bratz needs to bring the best of their weakest eras back and update it to fit with their best eras. For example, instead of acting like Raya, Lydia, or other newer dolls didn’t exist, they need to re-release them with the 2000s-style face molds and updated fashion. They also need to fix what was the weakest parts of their best eras (such as their Ret-Con universe).

However, without a strong team to analyze the Bratz brand’s past failures and successes, they can’t move forward. The brand feels like it’s in limbo.

And with the way the facial screenings have been looking lately, it also appears like even if they did bring the old-new dolls back, they’d still look pretty bad to the general public.

While Bratz is gaining many new fans, they are also losing their old fans.

The problem with this is that the fans all want different things now, which makes it difficult for fans to unite for a single purpose. Many of them want new dolls, but others want a new show and video games. Some of those working on Bratz have been trying to update to keep up with the dolls, such as Talking Bratz trying to rightfully design Dylan Black, as he’d been interpreted as a doll. However, there were fans on Tik Tok, fans who only watched the movies and TV series, who accused them of “Black-facing” Dylan. This kind of divide occurs when the fans of the series or movies don’t realize Bratz was a DOLL brand first, and have never really analyzed the dolls well enough to understand Dylan’s interpretation. If all the fans aren’t on the same page, and there’s no one seeking to unite the universes, this kind of confusion will continue to happen, dividing the fanbase even more.


I’ve been wrestling with back-and-forth feelings about whether I should continue to support this brand or even the company any more. I still absolutely love the dolls coming out of MGA Entertainment, and I feel the visions are so next-gen. I’m Gen Next, as ya’ll know. I like to find what’s advancing into the future. MGA Entertainment has always been filled with visionaries. It’s also always been a company that’s inclusive and has always hired more diverse groups of people than any other company, long before their competitors saw the advantage of that.

However, there are some things that have been weighing on me. I don’t have all the knowledge about what’s happening behind-the-scenes, but I have fingers, keypad, and internet. I’ve been seeing and hearing some things that have made me feel uncomfortable. Until it’s settled, I don’t really know if I feel right investing my all into MGA’s products.

The first incident with Amina Mucciolo last year jarred me a little. Just to give you all a little history on that again, there was an influencer named Amina who claimed that MGA Entertainment appropriated her likeness without her permission when creating an L.O.L. Surprise character. She wasn’t being paid any royalties. Isaac Larian then went onto social media to rant about how she was a scam artist and a “disgrace to black people”. He had to shut down his social media after that because last year was a very sensitive time, especially regarding race issues.

However, I was able to see both sides of the coin, even if it wasn’t popular to do so. Still, I was caught between understanding Amina, someone that I really could see myself in, and understanding a businessman like Isaac Larian, who was protecting his business and his employees. After all, a Black woman worked on the doll that was being called into question.

But then…other things came to mind and came out.

I ran into a Saatchi Art page created by Carter Bryant. This is what I read:
“Hi I’m Carter Bryant. I’m the creator of Bratz and co creator of Pinkie Cooper and the Jet Set Pets and Sugar Planet. I continue to invent toy concepts, but I am now also adding painting and writing and illustrating children’s books to my resume. I currently only have 2 works up but I have several paintings in the works. Much of my work was taken hostage from me during the Mattel/MGA court battle years ago and I still have not been able to retrieve it, so much of my back catalogue is unavailable for me to share. No mind, tho, I have thousands of drawings that I will begin sharing soon. I’m currently super busy with a couple very intense concepts, but once I wrap them up, I will start to post more of my work. As far as painting goes, I’m exorcising a lot of demons from the past 16 years or so, but probably better said as most of my nearly 50 years here. I’ve experienced and been a witness and a subject to many things that most people would not want to experience or be witness to. But my work isn’t relegated to the past; my work-in-progress speaks to a socio-political climate that reverberates with me daily. A person of a very brittle religious upbringing, my coming out as a gay man has been fraught with tension and loss. I look back in my current work with much sorrow. I’m afraid my journey into painting is not terribly optimistic. I’m also working to explore issues that confound and confuse me, but also things that I am not above or apart of; guns (my partner loves them, go figure!) religion, sexuality, social isolation, PTSD, culture shock, addiction, abuses of power, to name a few. As an observer of American culture, mostly, I have succeeded in the past to bring to light the fact that ours is a completely fascinating, beautiful, diverse, wild, hopeful land, littered with so much tragedy and pain. The characters I create in my toys are almost always full of joy and optimism, and through them I get to escape into a world of pure bliss. The characters in my paintings however, fill my need to express my deepest thoughts about things that I can’t always verbalize in any sort of eloquent way otherwise. I look forward to getting to show you what I mean.”

Carter Bryant also left some comments on my blog back in 2015, about six years ago. I don’t know if any of these things have been resolved, and I even doubt they have. Carter stated he would not work with MGA again, and it had nothing to do with the lawsuits, but simply “the way [he] was treated over the years by the leader of that company”. In regards to royalities, he also confirmed that he wasn’t getting paid anything for the Bratz, though they were his babies.

Personally, it doesn’t seem like the company wanted to put in any more fight for Carter Bryant to maintain some ownership of the brand, or to even get paid any royalties. They didn’t have his back.

Really, this is a reminder of how companies AND our justice system treats minorities, like Amina and Carter Bryant, who are Black and Queer. We don’t have the money, connections, or legal knowledge, and so often get taken advantage of in this system, even by our own.

Carter Bryant’s comments mirror the same reviews left about the company on career websites like Indeed and Glassdoor.

On Indeed, one designer left a review titled “Roller Coaster Ride not for the faint of heart” in 2019 stating,
“There are many super talented and dedicated people here. I learned a lot.
But I have to agree with what several reviews have to say about the leader and have more to add……

  • too involved in day to day activities
  • passionate= good . angry, berating=bad
  • unethical, dishonest, shady
  • [long-term] vision and direction was [non-existent]
  • created an environment of stress and insecurity leading to distrust and in-fighting, competition between employees to try to survive.
    Brainstorming, talented employees, bagels, flexible hours
    Endless rounds of lay-offs, vendors left unpaid, stressful and insecure often”

On Glassdoor, one former employee left a review titled “The most miserably toxic workplace in the business”.
They stated:
The pay is decent so they can draw you in. Isaac (Owner/CEO) is probably a genius and seems to be finally working on himself. Their HQ is a very modern and nice space.
Far and away this is the most toxic organization I have ever worked for. The entire place is fueled by fear and stuffing more money into a billionaire’s pockets. It’s not exactly motivating. Very few stay for more than a year or two.

All of those toy awards they collect? They make every employee vote for MGA toys. If you haven’t voted, they will SIGN INTO YOU EMAIL ACCOUNT to vote in your name. Assistants have spent entire weekends doing this.

The reviews here are the same. Every positive review you may see here is entirely forced. They make people write positive reviews to balance the authentic reviews because they know they haven’t earned them on their own merits.

Back stabbing, lying, throwing co-workers under the bus, all of it is not just tolerated but encouraged. Screaming at teams is a-ok with them too.

NOBODY there is happy. Even the handful of loyalists say “I can’t believe I’ve been here this long.” It’s a miserable place to work. Avoid at all costs.

Advice to Management: Maybe try treating your employees with some respect and decency for a change of pace. You know you have ridiculous turn-over rates. Do something about it.”

Another post on Glassdoor was called “Do not work here, RUN!”.
This is what they stated:
None. The one and only perk of this job was 2pm release “Summer Fridays”, and those were taken away from employees without them ever being told from leadership.
Where to start? I’m am writing this review to give future employees an insight to the day-to-day culture of MGA Entertainment. Something I wish I was given before [accepting] a role here. This company offers ZERO flexibility. You want to work from home? Forget it. This type of work is not allowed, period. The CEO lacks the humility or foresight to allow his employees to work anywhere but in the office. If you aren’t at work, then “you’re stealing from him.” You want to see inside the psyche of the CEO? Follow him on Linkedin. His attitude is one of a bully, who shows a complete lack of empathy for others.

Anyone who has worked here will tell you that he/she lived in fear while working for MGA. Fear of the CEO, fear of the head of HR, fear of leadership in general. The positive reviews posted on glassdoor are fake. The CEO demands that employees log on to glassdoor and instructs them to leave positive reviews in order to increase his and the overall company rating. If you don’t follow orders, you get fired. Do not believe any of the positive ratings. Educate yourself before you ever think about taking a role at MGA. Ask former employees and they will provide you the honest information about the culture and work/life balance (which there is none).

Overall, there is absolutely no compassion for employees and their families. The leadership at MGA will own you 24/7.

Advice to Management: Absolutely nothing. They will not listen and they do not care. Not worth wasting your breath.”

Another one was titled “Shithole”.
The paycheck is the only perk
-management, owner, HR, work environments are all garbage.
Advice to Management: [MGAE] does not care about their employees. This year we got a $50 amazon card holiday bonus and the company made BILLIONS! The company is top heavy with not nearly enough people that actually do any work. This company is all style-no substance, exactly like their products. The owner doesn’t even talk directly to the employees anymore, he sends out LinkedIn links-SMH! This place is worse than …..(Covid)-avoid at all costs.”

Another was titled “MGA is a mixed bag”, which had a very nuanced and balanced review. They stated:
Reviews on Glassdoor are highly polarized for good reason. MGA has a lot to offer but falls short in so many areas. I will go over the shortcomings in the next section, but MGA isn’t as bad as the worst reviews on here paint it to be.

The best thing about being a creative at MGA is the lack of excessive layers of management interfering with design. [If] your manager likes your ideas, you can easily realize your vision with some exceptions.

Management knows how to sell [products] in a challenging market filled with stiff competition. MGA stuffs the channel every year with more [products] and new brand launches.

Honestly, if you’re looking for good experience and need to fill your resume and portfolio, MGA isn’t a bad place. If you are looking for more salary, benefits and promotions, look elsewhere.

Isaac Larian is a whip-smart business leader but he is not a kind man. He is impatient, out of touch, and conflates intense pressure with good leadership.

He has built his company from nothing to the fourth largest toy company in the world and he owns it outright. Far be it for me to criticize him in that respect—he knows how to survive and thrive.

His company can be better though…

MGA tries to be organized, every couple of years they introduce some new system or process. Ultimately, however, no training, or enforcement, ever accompanies these directives and they fail or litter our workflow with unused or misunderstood technology, and steps that only serve as pitfalls to efficiency. Hong Kong counterparts are overworked and designers have little support or guidance unless their manager knows how to do what they need.

Some divisions lack project managers to help everyone keep to schedules set by planning—instead they rely too heavily on their designers to track everything themselves. In general many items and details get missed, making for an extremely sloppy process that is burdened by constant last minute fixes and running changes. Inexperienced designers have to learn quickly how to project manage several items quickly or fail utterly. The pressure can be crushing designers and the reason many choose to leave or are fired.

Salary and benefits are mediocre and raises…are anemic at best. I have never received so woefully inadequate a raise as I have at MGA. Some people are lucky to receive one in 3 years—when they do…it could be 3%.

Inflation is at an alarming 5% in 2021 and the highest merit raise MGA offered its staff (without a promotion) was 3 pitiful percentage points.

To add to the lamentable compensation package, the health insurance is mediocre by even US standards (or lack thereof). The 401k is rather weak and laden with fees. There is some match but nothing compared to Mattel.

Remote work:
It seems like the CEO is personally opposed to remote work—he built this campus to encourage communication and productivity (the last offices were a dump). He is not a trusting sort by any means. While they did allow workers to work remotely during the pandemic, there is pressure to return to the office that many workers are not yet comfortable with. To be sure, when the pandemic is over, there will be little discussion or remote days for employees.

Lately, many talented people have chosen to leave. For many and varying reasons. I suspect the top three reasons will be lack of adequate pay/raises, lack of promotion opportunities and last, the intense pressure to succeed or else culture.

The biggest reason to NOT work at MGA:
Some companies in the toy industry will not hire you straight out of MGA over fears of lawsuits. Working at MGA, despite its amazing success is something of a scarlet letter for other HRs. MGA needs to rectify that situation so people aren’t scared off from taking a job here because they worry they will be untouchable elsewhere.

Advice to Management: There are significant, real-world good reasons MGA can’t fill important positions and why there is such high turnover. It does seem like MGA is starting to look at salaries and benefits due to the great difficulty they have filling higher level positions but a lot remains to be done.

Pay your people!
MGA has a new campus and that’s great. Its time to build a compensation package that matches the caliber of the company we work for. Salaries vary wildly but raises are pathetic across the board. Promotions are rare, often end up being either meaningless or attached with a meager increase in pay.

MGA should at least match inflation if sales are so great. Its incredibly disappointing to receive a 3% raise after going a year without one at all. Considering 2021 has 5% inflation…

The pandemic has proven some people can work as well or better from home. It has also proved that some people can’t function at home either and need to be in the office.

For toy designers, MGA is not usually anyone’s first choice. Some of MGA’s best people were laid off from other toy companies and took this job for security, many more are young up-and-comers recently out of school with no real experience anywhere else. Give people reasons [to] want to leave Mattel, Hasbro and others to come work for MGA.

Industry Status:
Last, please fix MGA relations with the larger Toy industry. Traditionally, the toy industry has always been fairly incestuous with great talent leaving one to go to another and then back again. Many HR managers and Headhunters won’t touch MGA over the history and rampant threat of litigation from MGA. Stop using litigation as competitive strategy—it hurts employees’ chances to work anywhere else.

Work is about passion, challenge and pursuit of success. However, it is not a charity. We trade services for money, benefits, and security. It’s also important to people that the skills and experience they gain at one company make them more attractive to work elsewhere in the future.”

Another one is titled: “You have been warned”.
Sell your dignity, respect, health and happiness for life for money.
Isaac Larian is an evil man. He’s a tyrant who lies consistently to his employees. He’s destroyed and continues to destroy many people’s lives. The company is very unprofessional and supports this tyranny. It’s shocking that people like this exist. He has an inspiring story but just uses it to destroy more. The company is a reflection of the poison in this world and his henchman support his lies and illegal behavior for a small paycheck. His design team is also severely underpaid. VERY UNDERPAID.
Advice to Management: Stop selling your integrity, heart and health to be apart of such horrible organization. I don’t know how you all look at your selves in the mirrors or sleep at night. Do your self and the world a favor and leave. Take a stand for justice for your self and other loved ones around you. Also, you can get paid more by working somewhere else. Good luck!”

Finally, and this was the real spill here. This one was titled: “A Culture of fear!”
None. This place was toxic and not an environment that I would ever refer anyone I know (friend or enemy) to work.
The CEO is the worst part of this company. He is a #Fraud. Though he will tell you different, this guy could care less about his workers and only about his bottom line and proof of this is in his actions. He’s a corporate bully who finally broke on social media and showed his true colors outside of the MGA walls. Search MGA CEO and #BLM if you’re not familiar. Nothing that is done here is innovative or ground-breaking. The ideas and products coming out of MGA are mostly stolen and everything is done to make it look like MGA is a “think factory.” Hardly. Hopefully, the latest act by this complete and utter spoiled, [narcissist] will doom his company for good and truly have [a] negative effect on his profits.

There were some good people that I worked with, while serving my time. The majority of them were fearful for their jobs and were basically robots to serve one purpose, make the CEO money. Have you ever worked somewhere that requires you to post on Glassdoor or social media? Well, it happens here and your posts need to be positive. Yet, another example of the hierarchy of MGA trying to paint a picture of something that truly doesn’t exist. #Fraud. The final piece of the culture to be aware of is nepotism. During your time, you’re sure to have exposure to the CEO’s kids.

Like with any job, take your time and do your research. Find your place that respects not only time, but also your values. If these things matter to you, don’t ever apply to a role at MGA.

Advice to Management: Go public and have the CEO step down.”

One positive review did state in 2019, under “MGA is fast-paced, nimble, and a great place to grow“.
MGA embraces out of the box thinkers and innovators. They push you to the limits of your capabilities so you are sure to grow and develop. They have quick turnarounds and embrace new ideas. Minorities make up the majority throughout their organization and specifically the executive table – VERY refreshing to see. No old boys club. Women are equal at all levels. The culture is like a start up and they are constantly innovating and striving to raise the bar. They are successful for a reason!!! You have to work here to understand why they will always deliver the next hottest thing – there is a formula to their incredible success! The teams are amazing and everyone is helpful, kind and very smart. Free snacks all day, special afternoon snack put out for the team, coffee, tea, and candy bar. Summer hours, on site gym, daycare. The facility is gorgeous, new and trendy. I have not had a problem with work life balance.

Resources are stretched but that means you can learn and do a lot if you have the ambition to do it.
Advice to Management: “More reward and recognition initiatives.”

One employee with a positive review stated, under “Great Company to work for! Cutting Edge creativity! Amazing People!”
Management wants you to learn and supports your growth. Constantly new innovation which is very exciting and keeps MGA growing and succeeding. Departments work great together as we all share the same goal and support each other in order to reach our goals. President/CEO, Isaac Larian is very involved in the company. He truly cares about MGA and its employees.
MGA is very fast-paced which could be a con to some but I have never learned so quickly anywhere else, which is a plus!”

Even with some positive reviews, there’s an overwhelming amount of negative reviews, tipping the scales, giving MGA a rating of 2.7 out of 5 stars on Glassdoor. MGA’s most positive traits were being cutting-edge and having a diverse work environment. At first, I thought maybe this is just the nature of the creative business, especially in the toy industry, where it is high-pressure. Isaac Larian started from nothing in comparison to other toy companies. And it’s normal for people who are let go from a company to be bitter. You would think it would all make sense, right?

But then I compared it to Mattel’s Glassdoor, and their rating was 3.8 out of 5 stars. That’s a little closer to 4 out of 5 stars. Mattel’s weaknesses were a lack of diversity, very little innovative thinking, some bad management practices, particularly from HR and other management besides the CEO, such as workers being belittled in front of others or a lack of clear communication, there was no growth path, and that the leaders are “bone-heads” who don’t really know what’s going on. However, despite the bad points, no one was literally pushing for the CEO to step down, no one stated they were shady, no one stated they felt ideas were stolen, and no one has lost their ideas to the company. More importantly, they had more good reviews than bad.

I also looked at Walt Disney Company, a company many people have said is shady, and even their rating was a solid 4.0 out of 5 stars. Both Mattel and Disney had a 70% satisfaction rate with their CEOs. Isaac Larian was at 45%, which is a little less than half. Hasbro has 3.7 out of 5 stars, with the CEO satisfaction rate being 89%!

MGA had several people stating they were forced to make good reviews, so we don’t know what’s real and what’s not, even as it stands. We don’t even know if the positive reviews count.

What is the point of having all of this diversity when you, allegedly, don’t treat the diverse individuals under your company well? Even if none of these reviews are true, it definitely makes the company look bad.

I swear, according to these reviews, Isaac Larian fits the description of a less evolved Sun in Aries leader. Ya’ll should read up on Sun in Aries on my “Your Sun Sign” article when you get a chance. A video of that may be coming soon. All of us have the potential to express less-evolved behavior, and when we don’t recognize it soon, it will come to bite us in the ass eventually. I remind myself of that every day. I know if I ever become a boss, my Sun Sign can have some horrible ways that can spill out. Unfortunately, it is tearing MGA Entertainment apart, and it’s starting to be noticeable to hard-core fans like myself.

With these kind of reviews, what kind of skilled, professional team can this company build for the Bratz brand? If we are questioning why there are issues with quality control regarding the dolls, look no further than this. Probably everybody working on this line of dolls are new to the business, and feel the pressure to rush and create for the brand with little to no training or experience. All of the experienced individuals are gone. They are also confused as to what brands they should be prioritizing right now.

I even hate to post all of this negativity because I worry about the workers still around losing their jobs if this goes viral or gets any traction. I feel very caught and guilty, either way. I feel I should mention this, and that’s why I’m doing it. But I don’t know the consequences of this. This company has really given minority groups opportunities, and I don’t want to see that taken away from them. As I’ve said in videos prior, I support the designers, developers, producers, the CREATIVE teams who worked to make the brands at the company possible. There isn’t only one genius behind the Bratz brand, and it’s not fair that so many people have lost creative rights or have felt belittled, despite their contributions. This really isn’t just a problem of companies, but of our justice system, too.

As I’ve stated time and time again, I don’t get paid by MGA Entertainment to promote the Bratz. When I promoted Bratz back in 2010, 2015, and 2018, it was because I WANTED TO. It was because I loved the concept of the Bratz. It was the most innovative doll brand I’ve ever encountered. The brand itself taught me so much about the toy industry and business in general. I have a certain attachment and fondness for the brand, having been a loyal supporter for 21 years since the Bratz were being developed. I have typed up statements on how to make the brand better and sent it by mail to MGA Entertainment. I’ve been involved in Bratz communities, poured as much money as I’ve had supporting releases and media, and I’ve always spoken fondly about all products coming out of this company.

It is tough and heartbreaking to see Bratz go down this hill like this.

A part of me wants to keep fighting for this brand, but a part of me just doesn’t know if I should keep supporting it. Where do I see Bratz in the future? So many things can go into the success of a product, and when those things are neglected, I just don’t see a strong future unless these issues are rectified.

If I could have launched the Bratz’s 20th Anniversary…

I’ve been pondering what I feel would have made this 20th Anniversary extra spectacular. Here’s what I would have done if I were at the helm of this re-launch of the Bratz brand:

1) I Would Have Focused on a General Demographic, with Different Portions (Lightly)

I would’ve shifted the focus from the adult demographic, and focused on trying to reach a general audience, giving a little bit of something of the brand to everyone. I would re-release Bratz Babyz and Bratz Kidz for a younger audience, the primary Bratz brand for older kids and tweens, and adult collector dolls and content for the older crowd. Neither would lean out too far, making them all likeable for all age groups.

2) I Would Have Created A Standard Play-Line Formula

I would’ve RE-RELEASED old lines with NEW fashions as SECOND or THIRD waves, like they attempted in 2010, but with better quality and high-fashion. It would be a way to pay homage to the old while pushing the brand forward into NOW. If the dolls and outfits are well-received, this could become a tradition every 5 or 10 years, where the outfits are re-vamped or re-launched constantly for a new crowd. It’s a formula I’ve seen other really successful brands pull off. Some brands find one successful formula and they utilize it annually, bi-annually, or every decade. It keeps money consistent and stable.

American Girl’s Girl of the Year has become that way, and it brings attention and attraction to the brand every year. If we analyze that kind of formula, but do it differently with Bratz, Bratz could have their own traditions, where fans look forward to new updated fashion through a familiar line, and can save up in anticipation for it. The newer waves could be used as ways to show improvement from the last release as well.

If I’d planned on releasing replicas of old lines, I would have come up with something extra special to add to the release, like maybe a new extra outfit, accessories, or playset ideas, to make it more appealing to both newcomers who want to complete their collections and old-time fans that may have gotten the dolls already.

Of course, it’s also important to have the same materials that made up the original dolls so fans who didn’t have them can complete their collections. I would want the new dolls to look identical to the original dolls, and I would consult with a random sample of fans for their input before release, having them sign a non-disclosure agreement promising not to reveal before launch, just to make sure the dolls looked ready to be sold.

3) Adult Collectors Would Be Utilized ONLY for Formerly Unreleased Lines and Characters

For this 20th Anniversary launch, I would have planned a release of all of the UNRELEASED DOLL LINES from 2K for the adult collectors, like the original Fashion Pixiez dolls. It is clear that many fans wanted some of those unreleased lines. Instead of releasing the unreleased artwork out of the closet, which they did on Instagram, I would have released those dolls out of the closet. It would have been the perfect way to appease adult fans. Since lines like the original Fashion Pixiez weren’t acceptable enough for Walmart and Target back in the day, those are the kinds of lines that could have been released as collectors’ editions. In fact, I would have released all of the prototypes as official collectors’ editions.

4) I Would Have Created Brand New Lines For 2021

Someone created dolls out of Hayden Williams’s artwork for the Bratzpack’s 18th Anniversary. I love them!

If I’d re-launched Bratz this year, I would have conceptualized a few new lines to make this brand fresh and exciting again, outside of re-releases and revamps of old lines. I would possibly do a throw-back to Cyberpunk, Steampunk, more Vintage lines, possibly Dark Academia, Soft Girls, E-Girls, Instagram Baddie, androgynous-inspired, Kpop, and/or more cultural lines, especially for Black History month. I think I agree with Hayden Williams when he posted that we need to see more “black icons”.

He may have just been referring to the VMA posts being made on socials, but it’s also true of the brand. We need to see more cultural lines, and more lines celebrating the diversity present in the Bratz brand. World Destination lines are always fun. Cultural lines could add to the fun, and it could be empowering, too. I’ve pitched some of these types of ideas to MGA Entertainment back in 2014, but it doesn’t seem like anyone listened.

5) I Would Have Spear-Headed A Fresh New Series Paying Homage To the Old One But Uniting the Universes

If I were to write or animate a series for Bratz, I would do a deep dive into the brand and try to unite all of the universes. I would give a fresh story, clearing up what past shows and movies didn’t, while also tapping into stories from back in the past that went over well with fans. It would focus on the “true story” of the Bratz with a nod to the older shows.

Many characters that were ignored or underdeveloped would get screen time, making old die-hard fans excited, while also giving new fans or fans who only watched the original TV series and movies new characters to explore. I would attempt to try to bring back some of the old voice actors. However, that can’t always be controlled. At minimum, I would go for voices that match book descriptions of the characters’ voices, such as Jade being described as having a “raspy” voice in the Bratz: Keepin’ It Real book.

I really enjoy when a producer, screenwriter, and animator really takes the time to understand the source material.

The problem nowadays with the people writing the narratives surrounding Bratz is they haven’t really watched all the old movies, the TV shows and web series, the commercials, or the books with Bratz in it. I personally wouldn’t have the gall to tackle writing anything for the Bratz without considering the universe from all of those perspectives. Prettier animation isn’t enough for me.

This would take some time, so it wouldn’t come right away. It wouldn’t be rushed. It would have been developed in the two years before this year’s anniversary. I would make sure the series had 13 solid episodes prepared before launch. This would ensure that Jade and Sasha’s segments aren’t “cut”.

6) I Would Aim to Re-release and Re-produce all Characters and Line Concepts from 2010 and 2015

This may seem like a crazy idea to many fans, but it’s actually a good way to bring the fanbase together. Instead of scrapping everything from 2010 and 2015, I would have brought back what worked and left behind what didn’t.

What worked was some of the new characters and line concepts. In 2010, the 10 new dolls brought a wave of diversity to the Bratz brand. For the 20th Anniversary, I would have worked on re-releasing all of those characters with older-style screenings, within new lines, with new outfits, and some screen time in a new show. Dolls like Lydia and Nadine deserve more love. I would even bring back Raya and possibly Vee Filez with a new updated look.

Lines like Study Abroad could be brought back and updated to fit the original Bratz formula, especially because Sasha never got her Pretty N’ Punk London look until that line. The concept was still a great one and should be brought back, it just needed some tweaking at the time.

The brand should be focused on uniting fans and giving everybody something they can love.

7) I Would Ensure That All Social Media Platforms Are Consistent and that the Website is Updated

Promotion should be consistent on all platforms. If I were to launch the Bratz again in 2021, I would have built anticipation on all social media platforms at the same time, including on Youtube. The official website would be ready for launch, at least as a throwback to 2K. I would put where to shop for all new dolls, where to find all social media content, and I would have profiles set up for all 160+ Bratz pack members. The website would pay homage to websites from 2001 to 2015, with fans being able to select any one they want.

At minimum, at least launch a page to promote the 20th Anniversary releases.

8) I Would Have Released the Characters from their Relationship Bondage

It might be too late for this, because the damage is done, but I would have released all of the characters from being “Ken-dolled” or basically in settled relationships, returning it to what it was in 2001 and 2002. Bratz should be young and free, independent and not settled, with mix-and-match potential. They ain’t like Barbie, who couldn’t seem to shake Ken for the last 60 years of her life. She broke up with him, came out as bi, and still had to stick with him because fans couldn’t see her with anyone else. She’s stuck with him…and that’s not very fun.

When characters are too settled, the characters often lose their identity, especially if they were underdeveloped to begin with. That’s what’s happening to Nevra. Most TV series and Rock Angelz movie fans only know Nevra as Roxxi’s girlfriend. It would have been nice to know Nevra first, to introduce her as a character to the more casual fans, before sticking her with Roxxi, so she could be identified on her own. Otherwise, they just become “relationship” dolls, co-dependent, dolls that only sell if with their partner. It happened with boy dolls in the past, and now, with more queer representation, it’s happening with the girls. It really needs to end for both. “Ken-dolling” kills a character in the long run. It’s what really killed half of the Monster High boy dolls, but that’s a topic for another day…

If we release the characters of these settled relationships, lines like Secret Date can be revived, giving many different date night play options, maybe even mixing the girls and boys up in that one line with the same original characters, just with updated fashions.

9) I Would Have Settled All Legal squabbles and Paid Royalties

This is probably easier said than done, but I would have resolved this year to try to pay royalties to those who contributed to the brand, would try to settle all legal disputes, and finalize any loose ends that would prevent the brand from going forward. I would analyze why my company can’t maintain strong hands on deck, what needs to be improved, and what needs to be kept. I would seek to employ skilled designers and sculptors who can capture the magic of the 2K Bratz so there are no quality control issues.

I would try to make good with all of my old team members, try to get them back together or create some sort of reunion, swallowing all ego, and at least keep them on as consultants or trainers to train the new blood. We need people on board who understand what the Bratz should look like and have long-time experience. Only some of the old-timers can help with that.


I know all of this sounds so negative, and I’m sorry. I’ve been feeling some kind of way for a long time, and it’s just spilling out.

I still love the Bratz concept. I respect the developers, designers, and other creators that have put their blood, sweat, and tears into this. I’m still going to finish my fandom page and update it with all that I know and have gathered.

However, I’m going to be just as honest on my fandom page as I am on all my platforms. I will speak my truth, but I do it out of love for the brand. I still see potential in this brand, but if they don’t turn it around soon, they will lose their most loyal following and the brand will crash.

Let me know what ya’ll think in the comments section below. Do you think the Bratz is better than it’s ever been? Or do you think the Bratz are tumbling downhill? Let’s discuss!

Ciao, peace!

Here’s the video, at “the bottom”, if you would rather watch it than read.

The Bottom

On Bratz, Representation & Empowerment

15 Oct

Bratz influenced many women to be bold, confident, and to do everything, whether hanging with friends or surviving heartbreak, with style!


Most of us grew up with Bratz as a major part of our childhood; falling in love with the glitz and glamour of their high school popularity, Bratz magazine, their passion for fashion, and above all their empowerment as girls with big dreams, leaving their mark on the world. This world of ferocious glamour held within it what Barbie didn’t: a range of ethnicities, such as Sasha who’s black, Yasmin who’s Latina and Jade who’s Asian.

View original post 956 more words

My American Girl Catalog Collection Part 1 (1992-2000)

7 Oct

Imagine What an American Girl 1990’s Character Would Look Like Through Their Old Catalogs!

dollightful dolls

Here is what many of you have finally been waiting for; my catalog pictures. This is going to be very pic heavy and I’ll add my thoughts here and there. Unlike what I said in a previous post, I only have one (the Samantha cover) catalog from 1992, the other is from 1993 (Molly cover).

 Hopefully all of you have seen the old catalog pictures of the doll collections (meet, learns a lesson, surprise, happy birthday, saves the day, changes, and bedtime) because I did not include those pictures. If you haven’t seen them let me know and I’ll add them. I thought I’d show pics of interesting things that make these catalogs special.

The very first page shows the heart of what the company was all about: the books! They don’t even show the dolls with the books! That’s how important these books were. You can tell Pleasant Rowland…

View original post 2,595 more words

The All-New Babysitters Club Netflix Series Hit and Missed Me

27 Sep

Greetings, Gen Next here!

As most of my readers know, I’m a huge fan of the Baby-sitters Club books. I grew up with the books in the 1990s, and became a huge fan around 2002.

Though the books were first published in 1986, it continued to be relevant and modern to me. They never once felt timed-out.

The books always focused on friendship, family, romantic relationships, and, most of all, the young lead characters owning and running their own baby-sitting business.

What was so empowering and mesmerizing about the books for me was their organization and drive to start a business at such young ages. I was fascinated with Kristy’s “big ideas” (see that pun there?). From organizing how they would be contacted, to creating meeting times, to adding Kid Kits so kids could have toys to play with, the business was booming in a fictional sense.

Was I the only one who tried to organize my own club just like it? I’m sure all of us fans have tried it, only to fail. If any of you readers have been successful, please share your story in the comments ‘ section below!

With the release of American Girl’s Courtney Moore, a gamer from the 1980’s, Stranger Things, and now the Netflix version of Baby-sitters Club, it appears everyone is attached to the 1980s at the present.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t expect much from the new Netflix series. I didn’t watch the trailer, but I heard that there were attempts to diverse the case. I didn’t know if I was ready for that. I am an African American femme, but that doesn’t mean I expect every character to be changed into a different race just to appeal to me. For me, changes have to be made within reason, and they have to make sense.

Often times, I really find myself wishing a production would actually adapt books, shows, dolls, or any other form of media or entertainment accurately. It doesn’t happen too often. I enjoy watching books come to life on screen, but there’s no point if they change so much to the point it doesn’t feel like the books anymore. I have little interest in token black and Latinx characters. I care more that their personalities relate to me on a personal level, that the “diverse” characters are nuanced and detailed, and that they are well-integrated into the story.

Mary-Anne and Dawn were “diversified”, and I was afraid that Mary-Anne and Dawn would be those “token” characters that they force into the series for the sake of diversity, forgoing all of their original personalities and interests just to tell us they thought about “diversity”.

I am pleased to say that’s not the case with the Baby-sitters Club series. While, yes, Mary-Anne is no longer Kristy Thomas’s twin (as was often pointed out in the books), it’s actually a good change, for casting purposes. I never understood why two characters had to look the same anyway. It was the same issue I ran into with Dawn and Stacy. Why do we need both blonde Stacy and Dawn? Back in the day, the introduction of Dawn seemed like a way to bring in another blonde in the event they needed to replace Stacy’s character (who had many unlikeable traits).

Having two blondes always made Dawn’s physical appearance less interesting to me. I know appearances aren’t everything, but the appearances of the characters helped to distinguish the characters as I was trying to find my favorite books by cover, without having to read the titles.

However, the change for Mary-Anne and Dawn turned out to be pleasantly refreshing, and allowed them to distinguish themselves from their “twins” Kristy and Stacy.

Despite this, there was some significance to the Baby-sitters Club members’ appearances, which became lost as a result of the change. This is often the problem I find with “color-blind” casting. For starters, Mary-Anne’s new biracial (Black and White) presence drowns out Jessi’s purpose and significance in the story, and the show distances itself from the reason why Mary-Anne was interpreted to look so identical to Kristy in the first place. By placing characters of color in “White” roles, it gives the impression that you can “Black-face” a white character without considering any cultural or racial nuances. To me, that requires discussion. Mary-Anne can’t suddenly become “Black” because her clear written experiences were truly “White”. Wouldn’t it have been better to add a new member that was Black, with a nuanced and clearly defined Black experience written for her?

Then, with the new casting, a light-skinned girl got cast for the role of Jessi, which was the same problem in the 1990 TV series. The 1995 movie made sure they cast Jessi correctly. The new character doesn’t appear any different from Mary-Anne, which to me is a colorism issue.

That aside, there were other significant changes as well. A transgirl named Bailey Delvecchio was introduced. In this Netflix series, she makes an appearance in “Mary-Anne Saves The Day”, a re-telling of the book Mary-Anne Saves The Day. Though she replaces the original little girl in the story, Jenny, Bailey’s inclusion, especially the development of her trans backstory, makes her an even more important character than she was in the books, as well as makes Mary-Anne’s courageous moment in the story even more distinct and relevant to today.

However, again, I think that the scene also takes away the context of the original story and what it was meant to teach girls left in charge of small children. That lesson was “What to do during an emergency?” I still think that also should have been highlighted in the episode. In fact, they probably should have referenced the “Dear Reader” section of the books within all of the episodes…

Overall, the changes left me with mixed feelings.

There were a few other changes to the story-telling as well, which would normally make my peevish self squirm. I’m still a little put-off by Dawn’s father “coming out” as gay and that causing her mother to have to go to “therapy”. That didn’t quite put LGBTQ+ relationships in a positive light (since so many of us are seen as home-wreckers). And where was her younger brother Jeff in all of this?

I also didn’t like that they had to over-explain how “witches” were greatly “misunderstood” through now Dawn’s aunt Esme (originally “Morbidda Destiny” or Tabitha Porter in the original novels). What’s the fun in that? I felt the original story better highlighted Dawn’s “spooky” side. This new Dawn just took the fun out of it for me.

Yet, despite all of these changes, I could still watch it and enjoy it as a modern take on my favorite series.

The producers stated they wanted to make the new series more relevant to today. From what I watched, they did a perfect job of modernizing the story without taking away what makes the series so iconic.

The characters still sit around a landline phone, despite finding the phone to be “vintage”. The first few episodes are more true to the first few books than the 1995 movie or even the 1990’s HBO series have been. The characters actually look their age, too (which is between 12 and 13 years old). I found myself recalling the events as the episodes continued, with very slight and meaningful changes. I have to say that I look forward to more; yet I’m also apprehensive about getting any further into this, fearing a complete change heading my way. I hope they don’t change things too much.

The one thing I hope this show actually produces is the 8th member, Abby Stevenson. I know a lot of fans don’t remember or know her, and possibly disliked her presence in the original series. But I loved her. She was dorky, an identical twin, like myself, and Jewish. Very seldom do books tackle alternative religions, so it would be nice to have a character provide that perspective.

I also hope the stories continue to flesh out Jessi’s and Mallory’s characters. In the original series, Jessi was known as the “token Black” girl, but she was important when it came to talking about racism. Her experiences with being told to “go back to Africa” wouldn’t be as relevant with Mary-Anne being a biracial girl, so I wonder how they will tackle Jessi’s experiences in the modern world. It’s a curiosity of mine, and it makes me excited (and a bit nervous) for the future of the series.

Mallory was always the one being baby-sat, and struggled to be taken seriously as a member. I would like to see an episode focusing on Mallory’s struggles with not only being a younger member, but the struggle to move from charge to sitter.

If I can name one other con of this series, it would be Logan Bruno’s appearance and accent. Logan was known for having a very “attractive” Southern accent and blonde hair. Now, he’s just a boring brunette and blends in with all the other love interests (who are all ironically bland brunette characters).

Overall, though, and this is shocking, I don’t have too many negative things to say. I recommend all fans of the original series give this a chance. Just don’t expect what you got from the 1980s.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve watched the series! Did you enjoy it as much as I did, or did it disappoint you? Let’s get a discussion going! Ciao and Peace!

American Girl’s 1980’s “Gamer Girl” Courtney Moore Has Arrived! She’s Totally Cool!

16 Sep

Greetings, welcome back!

Gen Next is here to bring some exciting news to fans of American Girl: the long anticipated “historical” character, Courtney Moore, has finally been released!

A 1980’s themed character has been in demand since American Girl’s 30th Anniversary in 2016, since many of American Girl’s earliest fans, who grew up with the dolls in the mid-to-late 1980’s, are now full-grown adults with their own children.

Stranger Things has also contributed to the recent surge in popularity of everything ’80s, especially piquing the interest of children.

Many expect Courtney to play the tune of nostalgia.

I’d like to share a little about her collection, then I will give my complete review of the doll and collection.

Courtney Moore is growing up in California’s San Fernando Valley. She’s a total ’80s girl whose favorite place is Smiley’s Arcade because she loves playing video games. Courtney likes being in control of what happens, which isn’t always the case in real life. She and her stepsister, Tina, don’t always get along, and now that Courtney’s mom is running for mayor, things are changing at home. It’s a whole new game for Courtney, and she’s figuring out the rules as she goes.

Here’s a preview of her current collection:

After review of the entire collection and the book, I can say there’s a lot I’m impressed with. While I do still have my criticisms about the entire Courtney release, I can say I’m much more on board than before.

I do still hold some bitterness, since this is supposed to be around the 100th year anniversary since women began exercising their voting rights, which was why I was hoping so hard for a 1920’s character. It would be especially timely given this is the year of the presidential election.

However, given the fact that I know my desires are hardly ever popular, and given the huge interest in pop culture from the 1980’s, I was expecting too much. My 1920’s character may just have to wait another, what, 10 years?

Anyway, my opinions have changed a bit since my last article on the subject: Why is American Girl Sleeping on the ‘Roaring 20’s’?

I decided to toss a coin to decide whether I should share the pros or cons first. “Heads” was for pros; “tails” for cons. I landed “heads”, so here goes.


For starters, I have to say I’m in love with the gamer-girl theme. If you haven’t noticed from the various articles and video-game themed background by now, I’d like to inform you that I’m quite the gamer girl. It took years for me to feel normal for it. When I was in high school, there were very few girls interested in video games.

Nowadays, who hasn’t played a video game? Whether on a phone, tablet, laptop, or console, everyone is into it now. Still, Courtney poses many questions that still plague girl gamers today (I mean, her time period only exists some 30-something years ago): Why aren’t there enough games centered on girls? Why can’t we have more female representation in the gaming scene? Yes, it’s true that there are still more men supporting the industry as a whole, but as more women enter, the faces of our gaming developers may start to change, too.

I like that American Girl has partnered with “Girls Who Code” as well. American Girl allows customers to donate to the cause and plans to award four girls $5,000 scholarships towards a STEM field. I would have died to have this as a child. It’s really exciting to know that American Girl is following after GOTY Luciana and supporting more STEM-related themes.

Aside from the gaming and technology themes, I am actually loving the ’80s-specific collection! I really can’t resist a historical character, no matter how much I pout and cry and throw a tantrum about how she doesn’t fit into the “historical” collection. Who can resist a Pac-Man arcade? Bandai-Namco has partnered with American Girl, and they happen to be one of my favorite video game developers (Tekken comes to mind).

The school supplies give me Lisa Frank vibes as well, which brings me all the way back.

I’m obsessed with Courtney’s style. I am particularly fond of the androgynous colorful top with the tie.

As a huge fan of Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley, Courtney’s era is my era. All of the books, movies, and music that I love to this day were developed in the 1980’s. I believe this era inspired everybody. The collection is my favorite part about this release as a result.

I think this release was a smart move from American Girl, especially considering the pandemic and how difficult it is right now for businesses. While it may not be strong in the history department, and the doll may not look very unique, the era is totally sellable when it comes to the collection.

Finally, the best part about her collection is the mini Molly doll she comes with. I know a lot of fans were hoping for this. Personally, I didn’t expect it, considering we’ve had tons of Girl of the Year characters who could have had their own American Girl doll, and no one has ever asked for any of them to have their own historical character nor has one been released to tie into their collections. Then again, I’ve noticed there hasn’t been too many characters that even come with dolls anymore or are even written as girls who play with dolls, not since Rebecca was released (I plan on doing a video and article on this topic later). With Courtney having Molly, it means the dolls are canon in each of the characters’ worlds. We might start seeing some Girl of the Year characters with their own dolls soon. The possibility of the mini dolls returning full-throttle is exciting for me as well.

Of course, this does present another problem, which I will explain later. Let’s keep focusing on the pros.

I am also happy to announce that American Girl stated her birthday is officially February 12, 1976, which officially makes her the first Aquarius character in the American Girl historical collection (and possibly beyond).

I’m surprisingly intrigued by different parts of her story, particularly the trauma of the Challenger explosion and how that impacted students watching in their classrooms at that time. I’m also interested in how her story will tackle step-families, as none of the other American Girl characters actually have had a whole new family after their parents remarried. Sure, Josefina received a new mom after her father remarried. Samantha received new adopted sisters. Julie was just dealing with the initial trauma of divorce. But a whole new extended family? It’s a little different in a way. There’s also talk of one of Courtney’s friends having a “scary disease”, mentioned in American Girl Publishing’s synopsis. After reviewing the reader’s guide for the first book, it’s likely that subject will go more in-depth in a second book. Courtney feels like a Girl of the Year character, but with more depth, so it’s a nice balance for fans.

American Girl has announced on Facebook that another book will be released for Courtney. I’m not sure what subjects will be covered, but I’m hoping for the traditional holiday story, birthday story, a sweet little summer story, and something that shows she’s changed and grown.

I can’t help but really relate to Courtney as a character. Obviously, I was born close to her time period, so everything feels familiar. It’s so cool to see a miniature world similar to the one I was raised in.

Plus, as a character, she reminds me of myself. Even better, she has the spirit of a true American Girl: brave, empathetic, and imaginative.

Despite my earlier reservations, I’m actually excited for more from her collection.


Overall, even after reading a bit of Courtney’s book, I don’t feel she’s a “historical” character. And I say this with all sincerity. Maybe it’s because I’m old. I did just make 30 years old this year.

I was slow to discuss more about Courtney because I thought she would be like Julie. When Julie first arrived, I thought she was too modern to be a “historical” character. After I read her books, Julie’s story surprised me. It turned out to have shown more history than I anticipated. Julie’s world showed how the 1970’s shaped all of our modern world, from societal norms to politics, fashion, language and speech, music, movies, television, pop culture, education, the environment, the economy, and much more.

But after reading a bit of Courtney’s stories, here’s what I discovered is the difference between Julie and Courtney. Julie’s stories actually VASTLY differed from any of the American Girls that came before her. She was the first American Girl advertised with pants or trousers. Her world showed a strong shift from the reserved and conservative values of Molly’s world (the most modern American Girl world at the time of Julie’s release), and is still even more distinct in comparison to Maryellen and Melody, two characters in decades prior to Julie in the American Girl historical timeline. As mentioned before, the stories thoroughly highlighted how the 1970’s shaped modern society or how events in her time modernized the world. Julie was a unique character in the historical universe.

Courtney’s stories on the other hand feel largely designed to appeal to nostalgia, pop culture fanatics, and overall the doll was just released to give people appealing accessories. She was in demand, and everything that was in demand was written into a story. But it doesn’t feel like the history of the era was really considered, not by those demanding for a 1980’s character or by those developing one. The idea of having a fun throw-back collection was too tempting.

While 1980’s pop culture references throughout the books show how the era largely shaped pop culture today, as far as the historical topics chosen and the way 1980’s history was approached so far, I kind of felt let down.

First off, many are challenging the fact that Courtney comes with scrunchies and that her sister, Tina, in the books is obsessed with them. Courtney is marketed as being from 1986 (though her story timeline appears to be from 1985-1986 thus far). Apparently, scrunchies weren’t patented until 1987, and was said to be more popular in the decade afterwards. From my recollection, Claudia Kishi sported scrunchies in the 1986 illustrations of the Babysitters Club, but it still seemed more like a 1990’s staple. It’s possible that American Girl felt since she was modern, they wouldn’t have to do much research. Many of the people working with American Girl were kids or teenagers in the 1980’s, so they may have drawn from their own experiences rather than waste too much money on an advisory board. The problem is that it shows. Personal memories are valuable, but often flawed. I can barely get dates and times right in my own timeline. Still, like all the other American Girls, it’s likely Courtney’s stories will cover the whole latter half of the decade, so her scrunchies may fit in sooner or later.

If they ever do try to develop a 1990’s character, would she include scrunchies, too? That would make the 1990’s girl look too much like Courtney. They may have to stick with daisy hats if they want to make the 1990’s distinct.

Can’t say I’m too thrilled about the idea of a 1990’s character, considering how I feel about Courtney. When it comes to collection, Courtney is all American Girl offers from the 1980’s, so that makes at least her items appealing. I enjoyed American Girl Today products from the 1990’s a lot more than what I’m sure would be coming out in the near future from the company, so I just don’t have as strong of a desire for a 1990’s character. Then again, if they were to re-release all of those items, I would definitely be excited. My pockets would have holes for sure.

I found Courtney to be too modern to call “historical”, so I’m sure 1990’s would be worse. I might as well begin calling any character released from the 1990’s an “American Girl Today”. Unfortunately, my favorite part about American Girl is the books, and I prefer the historical fiction to the contemporary. The further back it feels, the better for me, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be fun to relive that time period. The 1980’s is pretty fun to relive actually. The history portion is just weak, that’s all.

It’s interesting that her “teacher’s guide” even so obviously pointed out that the 1980’s isn’t even an era that is often taught in classrooms. I mean, why would any educational institution cover the era in-depth? There weren’t many era-defining historical events, and the education system has the challenge of covering EVERYTHING. Pop culture would be last on their list. They would prefer to cover wars, economic hardship, the building of a nation, politics…subjects that impact people on a personal level. We are facing more history-defining events today, in 2020, than Courtney did in her version of the 1980’s, to tell the truth.

After reading Courtney’s books, it’s obvious that the 1980’s isn’t as important as other eras in time. It’s fun, not important. But maybe there should be some room for eras that aren’t necessarily important but just fun. Not my cup of tea, but it’s what the public wants, right? I guess not every American Girl has to tackle the harsh subjects. Still, I always thought that the Girl of the Year characters were for fun subjects; the historical dolls were supposed to be for us grittier people. I digress.

So far, I hadn’t read about any real society-shaping events. The Challenger Explosion was devastating in the 1980’s for sure, but we’ve certainly had more society-shaping events happen decades later (9/11 is a prime example of that, which equally aired in the classrooms and devastated millions of people worldwide).

I dislike that feeling, the feeling that the historical stories I’m reading are shallow in comparison to my world today. Maybe I’m used to thinking that things were much harder for people in the past and that I should be grateful to be living in a modern world. But after reading Courtney, it’s pretty clear that times were much simpler in the 1980’s.

Of course, times were not good for everyone in the 1980’s. Yet, they didn’t choose to tell the story of a family really struggling in that time period. They didn’t choose a character that could really educate its readers. Therefore, Courtney’s story feels like a true modern story to me. Aside from a few 1980’s references, I didn’t really feel the history.

Possibly this comes from reading an overload of Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley books as a child. I used to read them in 2002, and they felt just as relevant to me as to kids in the 1980’s. In fact, I didn’t even know those books were written in the 1980’s until I became an adult. Sure, fashions have changed, but events, situations, politics, economy, and the general outlook of most Americans haven’t changed much since the 1970’s, or at least it doesn’t seem Courtney shows the general difference. I will say the 1980’s invented “pop culture” for sure, but the decade isn’t remembered for its historical moments.

The three things that separate her from a Girl of the Year character are the moments of trauma, such as the Challenger Explosion, the struggle to merge families, and hearing your friend has a disease, which the Girl of the Year characters are careful to steer clear of. However, I believe a modern character, if constructed well, would have a more compelling story than a white middle-class 1980’s character like Courtney, and may even touch on the same subjects.

American Girl may have had an opportunity to teach 1980’s history through a different lens than the white middle-class suburban character. This is also the next disappointment for me. I personally didn’t put much stock in American Girl’s initiative to “include more black characters” in their line-ups. After all, these expensive dolls are mostly purchased by those who have the most money in our society, which would mean the characters have to cater to the largest consumer, i.e. white.

Still, I believe the stories would have been more compelling and interesting if they had deviated from their general “norm”. Lord knows I wanted my Claudia Kishi, and American Girl is dry of Asian American characters. It’s sad that one of Courtney’s friends is Japanese, but they couldn’t decide to create a protagonist from an Asian or Eastern background. They had one more opportunity to create a character of color in an exciting and fun era, and they chose wonder-bread white instead. There will not be another better opportunity to introduce an Asian character, not from a fun and modern era that kids actually find interest in. In any other era, she will surely struggle to sell, aside from Asian dolls struggling to sell to the primary consumer in the first place. Our only hope is another Girl of the Year, which would only last one year, unfortunately. I’m extremely disappointed.

Courtney is so “generic”, both in concept and as a doll. While I still like her personality, I struggle to be interested in the actual doll and her world itself. She’s bland and not very interesting.

The elephant in the room is that she looks a lot like Maryellen. She could have been brunette. Yes, Joss was just released, but among the historical collection, the white brunettes are mostly archived. Though big hair was really popular, not every kid in the 1980’s had trendy hair. They didn’t have to do the curly-haired thing again.

Second, how many characters do we need from California? I get the Valley Girl theme ties in well, but we have had Kailey, Julie, the recent GOTY 2020 Joss…I’m interested in learning more about other parts of our great nation, and I’m tired of reading about the Pacific coast. We have FIFTY freakin’ states…FIFTY! They couldn’t choose one other one besides California again?

It doesn’t help that Courtney is meant to come right after Julie in the timeline. Another blonde, from California, from a family of divorce, who has an older trendy sister. Unless Julie is headed to the archives, I don’t understand why Courtney’s life had to be so generic.

Last, the Molly doll thing. I both love the inclusion of Molly and am bothered by it. Yes, having her around makes me feel old, just as many have stated.

Someone on Twitter, Audrey Dubois, stated it perfectly:

The fact that the character Courtney owns an original 1986 Molly doll means that the American Girl Company is canon within the American Girl universe. History has caught up with itself. The cycle is complete. This Ouroboros has swallowed its own tail.

There is the realization that American Girl is going to be continuing a cycle that never ends. Eventually, American Girl Today dolls will be considered historical. Blaire Wilson and Luciana will be historical, too. And some future character may have their own Blaire Wilson or Luciana doll. It’s a scary thought.

But there’s one other issue here: Courtney and Molly are meant to be real people in their own respective universes. To the rest of us, they are fictional. In Courtney’s world, Molly is a doll with a book. Does this mean Molly is a fictional character in Courtney’s world? Or is she meant to be a non-fictional character in Courtney’s world, who just happens to have books and a doll? This is the issue when we try to blend the American Girl stories into the same universe, and is probably the reason they’ve never done this before. We are left questioning whether each American Girl is only real in their own universes, but fiction within each others’ universes, or whether the American Girl characters are generally real people with books and dolls in each others’ universes…

Maybe I just think too deeply about it. I didn’t finish reading the books, so Molly could very well end up like the Barbie Cut N’ Curl in Julie’s collection, possibly not even being an important part of the story. That could explain that away.

And not to be a prude, but the illustrations in Molly’s Meet Molly book aren’t the original 1986 illustrations by C.F. Payne. The illustrations they chose weren’t designed until the 1990’s. I’m kind of confused as to why they used the newer ones, though they have been claiming accuracy and authenticity throughout the website on every single page. Possibly they no longer have the rights to the original designs. It would have been best if they just had the doll without the book, if we’re talking accuracy.

Last, I would like to say that I was hoping the outfits would be tied into more specific collections. All of her outfits are mostly mix-and-match. I surely do miss the days of the large collections for each scene or event in the books. I would have liked her pet and school desk to be included. Who knows. It all may be coming soon. It’s not like she’s a Girl of the Year character. She’ll likely be around a while. Still, judging by the other more recent historical characters, it’s not likely her collections will be designed around the events in her story too neatly. Oh well.

Overall, that’s my spin on Courtney Moore.


Pros-Collection, Character’s Personality and Profile, Theme

Cons-Historical issues, Doll, Lack of Diversity

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of Courtney. Are you excited and happy? Or underwhelmed and disappointed? Or somewhere in-between?

Don’t forget to check out her new stop-motion movie coming soon! It’s bound to be cute! Ciao and peace!

American Girl’s Newest Girl of the Year 2020, Joss Kendrick, Flies Above Stereotypes

1 Jan

American Girl kicks in the new year and decade with Joss Kendrick, Girl of the Year 2020, who dares to surf and take cheerleading chances…despite having a personal disability!

Book Synopsis

Book 1Joss: In this first book of her series, catching waves on her board, Joss is all in, 100%. When the surf’s up, she pops out her hearing aid, hops on her board, and paddles into the waves. Joss is stoked to enter a surfing video contest with her surf sister Sofia and Murph the surfing bulldog. If she can master a killer aerial like the frontside air and get her brother Dylan to catch it on video, maybe she’d even have a shot at winning. But Dylan throws her a curve: he dares her to try out for the cheer team. No way—Joss can’t see herself as a cheerleader. (What’s with those ginormous hairbows, anyway?) She’s 100% surfer girl, and Dylan knows it! Still, if she takes him up on his dare, then maybe he’ll help her with her video—it’s worth a try, right? 152 pages. 

Book 2Joss: Touch the Sky: In the second book in her series: Joss Kendrick is always looking for new ways to soar. So when her cheer team needs a new flyer, she can’t wait to step up (literally). Her high-flying skills on her surfboard and skateboard make her a natural for the role. But when her skateboarding act at the talent show turns into a total catastrophe—make that a dogtastrophe—Joss loses her confidence all around, even at the cheer gym. The cheer competition is coming up fast, though, and her team is depending on her to nail a tricky stunt. The problem is, Joss doesn’t trust them not to drop her. She wants to do an easier stunt, but if she plays it safe, can her team still win? And if they don’t, will her team ever forgive her? 144 pages.

The author is Erin Falligant.

Her Collection:

American Girl states, “Whether she’s on her surfboard or in the gym, Joss shows girls the importance of trying new things, pushing past stereotypes, and being a good team player.”

What American Girl might mean by “stereotypes” could be more than just the character Joss re-thinking her stereotypes regarding cheerleaders or about cheerleaders overcoming their prejudices about surfer girls.

Good Morning America stated,

American Girl partnered with experts specializing in surfing, competitive cheerleading, hearing loss as well as the portrayals of deaf characters in literature to create Joss.

In general, American Girl may have seen that among the hearing-impaired, or those with hearing loss of any kind, it’s a struggle to find diverse characters. Yes, American Girl’s Julie’s stories touch on such a disability from a friend’s perspective, but the character is what you would expect of an “underdog” character with a disability: kind of shy, timid, sad, and overtly bullied. This is actually a common depiction of kids with disabilities in literature, especially literature directed to children.

Well, in 1976, that may have been the real case, as people didn’t have the proper education or knowledge to truly understand people with differences. Even if they did, prejudice was normalized.

In 2020, people are making strides to show more confident and self-reliant characters, despite their disabilities, and are seeking to re-educate the public’s perception on America’s minority groups.

What is so empowering about these stories and the character Joss is that she’s not so absorbed in her disability the majority of the story. She has other things on her mind, other things to do, like surf and cheer. Like the average child today, she doesn’t appear ashamed of who she is and doesn’t let her disability set her back from achieving. As a collector, I tend to lean more towards the cocky, confident characters than to the shy and overtly well-behaved (which I never resonated with as a child and still can’t connect to as well). She’s also got that tomboy thing going on, and you all know how much of a tomboy I am. Joss is well-liked in this house.

However, by not really focusing on this character’s disability, it proves to be a double-edged sword, so I’m conflicted. On the one hand, the stories definitely capture this particular challenge as a minor inconvenience, not something to pity, and it is delivered to show that Joss is still a normal girl, no different from any other Girl of the Year.

But that’s just the thing. If we didn’t notice this character had a hearing aid, she would literally be just like any other Girl of the Year we’ve had before: white surfer living off of the California beach. In fact, the collection and concept is just like Kailey’s from the year 2004.

Before you go off saying, “That was over 10 years ago,” I moseyed on over to Youtube, just to see what the little chil’ren were saying about her. The most common comment is “Her collection is okay. Didn’t we have a surfer already before?” With the internet just at their fingertips and fandom pages around to give the most enthusiastic fan all the American Girl information they need, kids today don’t see the past the way we used to as children, before we had internet (I’m showin’ my age). They know what you did, and they are seeking to find that character you created on the secondary market.

Second, Joss is your typical brunette with an average collection. The only unique aspect to her collection is the cheer-leading portion (thank goodness). I felt this collection could’ve survived without the surfing aspect tied in, but hey, they had to rise above stereotypes in some way, I guess. Still, how many characters can you create with a bathing suit theme? I can run down the list of characters over the last decade that had bathing suits tied in, but there’s too many of them, so I don’t feel like putting forth the effort.

Honestly, if Joss’s story had touched more deeply on her challenges, it would have resonated more with with me. The depth that the historical characters have is still my standard, and for some reason I haven’t let that standard go. A part of me yearns for a modern story that shows both struggle and victory, but maybe I just get off on depressing story-telling. Hey, history isn’t all rainbows, and that’s the gritty truth.

And no, it’s not like the historical characters go way deep or anything, but they go much deeper than their contemporary cousins, that’s for sure.

Despite that little quirk, I’m loving Joss as a character and interested in her cheerleading adventures. Luciana, Girl of the Year 2018, is still my favorite from the last decade, but Joss is a great start to a new era and, in my opinion, a lot more interesting than last year’s Girl of the Year, Blaire Wilson. I can’t wait to see what else American Girl has in store in the 2020s.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you all think about Joss Kendrick!

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