This fall, Mattel plans to introduce Hello Barbie, a Wi-Fi enabled version of the iconic doll, which uses ToyTalk’s system to analyze a child’s speech and produce relevant responses. “She’s a huge character with an enormous back story,” Mr. Jacob says of Barbie. “We hope that when she’s ready, she will have thousands and thousands of things to say and you can speak to her for hours and hours.”
Scripting "thousands and thousands of things" for Barbie to say sounds like a lot of work. As a writer, I can't help but empathize with the folks assigned the task. To lighten their load, I've anticipated some questions Hello Barbie will likely be asked. And I'm happy to offer Mattel free, unrestricted use of the following exchanges. I'm confident they'll add depth to the iconic character's "enormous back story."
Q. Barbie, do you have a job?
A. I've had lots of jobs over the years, and while I used to think that I'd end up getting married and being a stay-at-home mom, Hanna Rosin's "The End of Men" persuaded me that I should not bet my future on a gender with waning prospects. Don't get me wrong: My boyfriend, Ken, is great. But let's be honest. I'm always going to be the primary breadwinner in our relationship. So I've begun to lean into my career. Right now, I'm leading a corporate initiative that could revolutionize how consumer intelligence is collected from children just like you!
Q. Barbie, how did you and Ken meet?
A. We were in Las Vegas. I was staying in my suite in The Palms and he was in town for a convention of some kind. I can't remember if it was feminism? Or pickup artistry? Anyway, he walked by me at the pool and he was like, "Your face is pretty but your body proportions make no anatomical sense!" That got my attention.
Q. Barbie, are you religious?
A. When in Malibu I religiously attend a Pilates class taught by a man who is not actually Buddhist but appropriates its trappings.
Q. Barbie, what don't people know about you?
A. I was offered the lead in Legally Blonde before Reese Witherspoon but I turned it down. And Roger Ailes has tried to hire me as an anchor 13 times now.
Q. Barbie, what's your favorite book?
A. Is it too cliche to say The Brothers Karamazov? This isn't popular but I love David Margarshack's translation. I go back and forth, but after reading it in the original Russian I think he does the best job of capturing Alyosha's goodness, which is my favorite part of the novel. I totally want to set up Alyosha with Dorothea Brooke!
Q. Barbie, do you have a favorite song?
A. My colleagues at Mattel hate it when I say this, but definitely "The Girls on Minnie Street."
Q. Barbie, will you ever run for president?
A. Oh, I haven't even thought about that. Sorry to give such a boring answer! There are just so many other things on my mind. For example, the bravery of Cuban dissidents, the Keystone Pipeline, which I so look forward to, and how much I venerate the state of Israel, America's greatest ally :) Just the other day, as we enjoyed our annual vacation in scenic Iowa, I was telling Ken, "I'll always root for you, Ken, as surely as I'll always root for a secure, prosperous Jewish state in the Middle East."
Q. Barbie, it sounds like you're a Republican. What do you think will happen if Hillary Clinton wins? Wouldn't it be good to have a female president?
A. I'd celebrate that part of it. But I have concerns. It starts with a secret email account but where does it end? A White House photographer who can only use Snapchat?
Q. Barbie, if you were getting married who would your bridesmaids be?
Q. Barbie, what strain of marijuana do you prefer?
A. OMG, there are so many I could mention. Right now I'm really into Bhang Lavender Kush. I first tried it back in 2005 when it won the High Times Cannabis Cup and then got back into it to deal with the insomnia I've been suffering since Ken and I moved in together. You wouldn't believe how loud he snores!
Q. Barbie, do you have any recurring nightmares?
A. Definitely. I'm a role model, so I'm always very careful to avoid profanity. In the nightmare, I'm assigned as the celebrity sign-language interpreter at a rock, paper, scissors tournament. Suddenly, my index finger is gone and I don't know what to do!
Q. Barbie, what's the next doll that will share your likeness?
A. Basic Barbie. We're reclaiming it. She wears Ugg boots but mostly because she's on the swim team and they're so warm and easy to slip on when you get out of the pool. And I don't want to say too much but there may be a Starbucks tie-in too.
Q. Barbie, what recent doll concepts has Mattel declared not-yet-ready-for-primetime?
A. Sriracha Barbie, Fifty Shades of Barbie, Solange Barbie, It's All About That Barbie, Cold Pressed Barbie, Ethics in Gaming Journalism Barbie, The Grand Budapest Barbie, Orange Is the New Barbie, Gangnam Barbie Style, The Hunger Games: MockingBarbie Part I, Coconut Water Barbie, Sally Draper Barbie, iBarbie, and Caribou Barbie.