Sunday, 8 March 2009

Dora's new silhouette announced

Back in August, The ex-expat wrote about the makeover Dora the Explorer was getting. Like so many other makeovers, it wasn't sure exactly why such change was necessary.

But the change is still coming, and this week Mattel published the silhouette of the new and, ah, improved, Dora.
Creators of Dora the Explorer, a favorite character among preschoolers that teaches kids English and Spanish, say they are just making her move with the times.

The tweenage Dora will live in the big city, attend middle school and have a new wardrobe and accessories.

"For nearly ten years, Dora the Explorer has had such a strong following among preschoolers, catapulting it into the number one preschool show on commercial television," said Gina Sirard, Mattel's vice president of marketing.

"Girls really identify with Dora and we knew that girls would love to have their friend Dora grow up with them, and experience the new things that they were going through themselves.

"The brand captures girls' existing love of Dora and marries it with the fashion doll play and online experiences older girls enjoy."

Critics say they would prefer Dora to grow up true to the character she is as a child.

"If the Dora we knew grew up, she wouldn't be a fashion icon or a shopaholic. She'd develop her map reading skills and imagine the places she could go," the petition says.

"It's such a sell out of Dora, of all girls."
Click through for the whole article.

The petition mentioned in the article can be found here. The letter to Mattel and Nickelodeon heads which the petition organisers are asking people to sign begins:
Dear Mr. Eckert and Ms. Zarghami,

Don’t give Dora a tween makeover. She is beloved by little girls and boys everywhere for her adventuresome spirit, curiosity, and bravery. If she is to grow up in doll form, please keep her true to herself rather than follow in the footsteps of the makers of Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobby, and Trollz. We don’t need any more tween dolls teaching girls that growing up means turning into a fashionista, excited about secrets and crushes and going shopping. We don’t need dolls that replicate the thin ideal. The APA Sexualization of Girls Task Force report shows that teens only rarely achieve this body type and when they don’t they are vulnerable to depression and body image problems. Please don’t push this version of what it means to be a teenager on young girls. It limits them, narrows their options, and leads them to think that what matters most about themselves is how they look and what they buy.
Wriggly's not old enough for Dora yet, but I was looking forward to introducing them in due course. Now I'm not so sure.

The new Dora is planned to come out in the American fall, so I guess about September. Here's the before and after:

Depressing? I think so.

Grass-stained baseball cap tipped to Tamar who emailed me about this via Facebook.


Giovanni said...

Nothing they could ever do to Dora will irk quite as much as the basic product with its hyper-patronising faux multiculturalism.

To the outrage mobile!

Anonymous said...

I think it's getting worse. I mean my mother used to complain about Barbies and then you look at Bratz dolls and they're ten times worse.

Dora The Explorer seems like the only character for young girls that doesn't have full breasts, make-up and heels. It would be nice if it stayed that way. Unfortunately it seems like a slippery slope - it'll only get worse.

And that's very depressing!

Anna said...

I wish I had an outrage mobile. I've just got a Corolla station wagon.

Is Dora really that faux? And is a bit of feeble multiculturalism better than none? I can't say I've paid much attention to Dora, but my kids both love her, and have learned from her to count in Spanish.

The margin in kids' lives when they can be happy without worrying about peer pressure or their bodies is really small. Dora was the last little bulwark. Sigh.

Pauline said...

My girls love Dora but are more enthused about Diego these days. I am horrified by this new change. I hadn't picked up on the "faux multicultutalism" as such although I did suggested to Maori TV at one stage to dub it in Maori instead of Spanish.

Giovanni said...

Is Dora really that faux? And is a bit of feeble multiculturalism better than none?

I'd much rather have none myself - on the basis of the three episodes I saw I found it incredibly patronising. But I might be overly sensitive to such things.

Tui said...

@Giovanni, have you watched any children's television on your life? Ever? Because patronising tends to be the foundation level. (I mean, patronising usually means treating people as if they're ignorant or childlike, and, um, I hate to slag off preschoolers but I've rarely met one I'd call worldly.)

Giovanni said...

You're kidding me, right? If anything the children programs my kids watch are the opposite of patronising - they treat children with the presumption that they might be able to grasp some pretty complex stuff and who know, perhaps they do. That seems to be the thing with the new wave of post Toy Story movies, no? To make the example of one that was truly derivative, Over the Hedge, even that one tried (and failed, but hey...) to make some pretty profound points. But the best ones - Mosters Inc., Wall-E, Toy Story - verge on the sublime and are everything but patronising.

I'm not up with what's currently on the telly due to the fact that we source stuff in Italian for the most part, but some that I've seen - Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, the one that is not completely un-Dora like with the girl in Africa who can talk to the animals (Thornberry something?) - were pretty sharp. Even television for the very young (Blues Clues) can be pretty good, certainly better than it was when I was a wee tacker.

But Dora, or the Little Einsteins? No thanks. Although they are better than Thomas the Tank Engine, I'll grant you that.

Anna said...

Yes, the Rev W Awdry did us a great disservice with Thomas (although my son would disagree).

I agree with you that there's some fairly sharp kids' entertainment out there, Giovanni - although I think it stems from the clever market realisation that adults are more likely to take their kids to bearable movies than shite like the Care Bears.

But that sort of sophistication is a bigger ask for entertainment aimed at preschoolers, I think. Part of Dora's appeal (for me, anyone), is that it's completely, unselfconsciously aimed at little ones.

I once saw an episode of Rugrats where a child went to a fancy dress party as Alan Greenspan. I just about wet my pants laughing.

muerk said...

Argh! That really peeves me off. Poor Dora now has to shake her money maker.

Total crud.

Julie said...

I used to love Rugrats, as a late teen, except for Angelica, she was too bossy. Wriggly used to look very much like Tommy before his hair got long.

Isabella said...

Parent are more ignaorant as the days go by, trying to conceal the real world from their kids. If you feel like its wrong flip the channel, let your children grow up ignorant to the horrors of the world, but when they cry because the real world crushed their dreams, then tell me how do you explain everything you taught them isnt all that true because you hid so much.