Revamping characters fraught with peril
§ The NYT looks at new spins on old characters in the 21st Century including some we may not necessarily find palatable:
“You want a dark, Goth version of Tweety Bird? Have at it,” said Lisa Gregorian, executive vice president for worldwide marketing at Warner Brothers Television.
New media applications have created opportunities that companies did not have before, Ms. Gregorian said. And one reason the characters bring in so much money is that their owners have pumped them out all over the place: on direct-to-DVD movies, television programs, toys, clothing, video games, furniture and even live stage productions.
The article suggest even Mickey Mouse may be getting a revamp, but points to the WB’s soul-destroying LOONATICS as an idea whose time should never, ever have come, and fondly recalls one of the biggest gaffes in toy history:
Earring Magic Ken is the industry’s nightmare. The character, who had blond highlights in his hair and a leather vest, drew howls from consumers, who did not see him as a realistic boyfriend for Barbie. Ken was already coping with arched eyebrows over his sexual orientation, and he seemed to have come out of the closet — something that Mattel most definitely did not intend.
Talke about euphemisms! “Did not see him as a realistic boyfriend for Barbie”! You’ll recall that Earring Magic Ken® was affectionately known as “Cock-Ring Ken” around Barbie circles because, well, because he wore a Cock-Ring as a necklace. Although the Times assumes that Mattel was unaware of Earring Magic Ken’s alternative lifestyle, given the number of Friends of Dorothy who follow Barbie, we’ve always been a leetle suspicious of that theory. Will we ever know what really happened? The truth is out there.