America's most famous plastic couple broke up around Valentine's Day 2004. Thanks to a digital campaign by Mattel, they may be reuniting. Whatever, Mattel. Like little girls weren't pretending their Barbies and Kens were boning this whole time.
If you're like me, you had probably forgotten that two mass produced fake dolls who once had a mass produced relationship had a mass produced breakup, but Barbie enthusiasts did not. Ken has apparently been revamping since 2006 to attempt to win Barbie back, and now during this, his 50th anniversary of being a doll with underwear molded out of his actual skin, he's finally ready to take to social networking sites and leave his fate up to owners of dolls, those cruel little girl gods who occasionally stick him head first into flowerbeds during rainstorms and sometimes remove his head and switch it with other similar Kens.
Ken's social media presence has been kicked into high gear in recent years. According to USA Today,
On Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, fans can follow Ken's adventures as he attempts to woo Barbie back into his arms. His tweets are currently heavy on promoting his romantic efforts, including a text campaign, where users can text THUMBS UP or THUMBS DOWN to 51684 to vote on whether the two love birds should get friendly again.
He also keeps his stream focused with his manly man style, tweeting about his favorite sports team, the Lakers, and his most recent reads in Men's Health and Esquire. Ken gets reminiscent on Foursquare, recalling memories and dropping charming lines.
He left a tip at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example, that says, "Barbie could spend hours looking at the timeless art, and I could spend hours looking at Barbie." Awww.
You say "Awww," I say "What?!" This whole thing is very strange. It's a doll, right? It's a doll. Is there a Ken spokesman out there manning his facebook account and like poking Midge behind Barbie's back? Is Ken on OK Cupid trying to meet hipster chicks with swallow tattoos below their collarbones? Is there a person whose job it is to be Ken on the internet? How does this person talk about what they do for a living?
"I'm in media. Actually, I work for Mattel, helping them with social media. Actually, I go on the internet and pretend to be a Ken doll and right now I'm pretending to want to get Barbie back as my girlfriend. Yeah, I Tweet as Ken. I should actually check Ken into the Magnolia Bakery right now on Foursquare."
Also, the idea of a doll that has achieved sentience and is sitting at a computer in a darkened room, his unmovable hands pecking away at the keys of a laptop computer as he pens love letters to another plastic doll, is a little terrifying. What other treasured childhood toy is about to invade the internet? Is Teddy Ruxpin editing Wikipedia articles? Are the Moon Dreamers playing World of Warcraft? Do my old toys obsessively comb my facebook account in search of pictures of me and my new toys?
It gets creepier!
Mattel also launched a web series called Genuine Ken, featuring host Whitney Port and eight "Ken-testants" competing for the title of "The Great American Boyfriend." Hosted on Hulu, the first episode of eight aired on January 18 - with three episodes down, the Ken-testants have already been tasked to showcase their talents, design a bachelor pad and conquer a wave to prove that they possess Ken-like style, athleticism and panache.
Ken's endeavors wouldn't be complete without input from Barbie. Her Twitter and Facebook accounts are flowing with updates about Ken's efforts, positioning her as an on-the-fence doll playing hard to get. It looks like Mattel has a lot more in store - the barbieandken.com website claims, "Stay tuned as Ken fights to win Barbie's heart back, one grand gesture at a time."
Why is Whitney Port hanging around Ken? What the hell is going on? And why are Barbie and Ken now taking their cues from those two people you knew from high school who have very public internet fights on their facebook walls, much to the discomfort and delight of their friends? Are Barbie and Ken related to the Palins?
All of these weird internet shenanigans coincide perfectly with the upcoming release of "Sweet Talking Ken," a doll that the company is bragging is "the ultimate boyfriend for every occasion." Yeah, every occasion except for those occasions when I want to have me some sex.
Mattel Digital Campaign: Barbie And Ken Reunite? [USA Today]