|Playmo Vikings. I seriously want these from Amazon|
Saturday, January 28, 2012
How to tell a story, or not. With Barbie.
Once, when I was about seven or eight, my Dad invited a mate over. I think it was possibly an old army mate, but I’m not sure on the specifics. It was probably explained to me at the time, but I was busy thinking about protecting my bedroom from vampires (thanks to an older sister who swore they were coming for me), protecting my toes from gnomes (they hack them off if you sleep with your feet untucked, you know), and protecting my Playmo men from the dog.
Anyway, Dad’s mate was coming to visit and he was bringing his daughter, and my sister Kath and I had to play with her. When she turned up with all her pristine Barbie dolls in her massive Barbie Camper Van, we knew it wouldn't end well. I mean, they all still had their original high heels.
Our Barbie dolls did not do Barbie doll things. Ours went to alien planets to hold back the invasion, or time-travelled, or busted open international crime syndicates, and they did all those things in high heels and sparkly halter-tops. Now that’s girl power. We suspected that the Interloper would want to play Barbies how most girls did: by using the pictures on the box as a strict instruction manual.
We were right.
The Interloper (Bronwyn, was it Browyn?) didn’t play like we did. It was excruciating. When I was seven or eight I probably didn’t know the word excruciating, but I sure as hell felt it every time Bronwyn began every sentence with “Let’s pretend!”
Let’s pretend Barbie is going to a fashion show.
Let’s pretend she has to drive the camper van there.
Let’s pretend Barbie meets her friend Barbie at the shop
Let’s pretend Barbie and Barbie go to the beauty salon where Barbie works.
(All of them were called Barbie. Every single one. Except the three Kens.)
Let’s pretend Barbie and Barbie are at the fashion show.
Let’s pretend Barbie and Barbie and Barbie and Barbie are in the audience.
Do you feel it yet? Your muscles clenching? Your skin crawling? That tic in your eyelid? That’s excruciating, and that’s not how you tell a story.
Lesson of the day: I don’t care how flash your Barbie Camper Van is. If I hate the way you tell your story I won’t play with you. I may even hit you over the head with one of your vaccuous, bimbo skank Barbies and my dad will smack me and send me to my room.
And it will totally be worth it.
What are your pet peeves when it comes to storytelling?