(This classic Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, March 26, 1995)
As an American, I am ticked off about Sailor Moon.
What is Sailor Moon, you ask? Shut up and I will tell you.
Sailor Moon is a licensed-cartoon-character merchandising concept that is about to be dumped on us by the people who brought us the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. If you've never heard of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, go to a window right now, open it, and listen. You'll hear the high-pitched, irritating sound of small children all over America demanding in whiny voices that their parents take out second mortgages so that they can buy official Power Rangers action figures, lunch boxes, backpacks, underwear, snow tires, forklifts, assault rifles, ponies, marital aids, members of Congress, and hundreds of other licensed spinoff products.
The cause of this whining is a daily TV show starring the Power Rangers, a group of low-IQ trailer-park dwellers who have extramarital affairs with their in-laws and screech at each other in front of a live studio audience.
No, wait, that's the Jerry Springer show.
The Power Rangers are a group of teenagers who have the ability to transform themselves into crime-fighters with the power to beat the living starch out of evil beings while speaking very bad dialogue. I don't see this show very often, so to obtain more information, I called up my Research Department, Judi Smith, who has young children and therefore has Power Rangers coming out of her pores.
"How do the Power Rangers transform?" I asked her.
"They call on the power of their Zords, " she explained.
"The power of their swords?" I asked.
"No, " she said, in the tone of voice that you use to talk to a dog, "their Zords. Z-O-R-D-S. Zords."
"Thanks, " I said.
A few minutes later, Judi called back to report that she had discussed this issue with her husband, Tim, who is a college history professor.
"Tim says they don't call on the power of their Zords to transform, " she reported. "He says they just morph."
"I see, " I said.
"I asked him HOW they morph, " she said, "and he said, quote, 'They have morphing capability.' "
"Well, " I said, "that certainly clears . . . "
"He says the morphing capability must come from that guy with his head in the tube."
"Ah, " I said.
"But they definitely call on the power of their Zords for something, " she said.
So we see that the Power Rangers can have a dangerous impact on our brain function, and now we face the additional menace of Sailor Moon. According to an Associated Press story, Sailor Moon is the blond, ponytailed heroine of a wildly popular Japanese cartoon show. Sailor Moon leads a team of female superheroes who wear miniskirts and go-go boots; according to the AP story, they "combat evil and sexism" using special powers that they get from their "magical brooches, scepters and compacts."
That's right: These heroines, striking a bold blow against sexism and outdated stereotypes of women, get their power from jewelry and makeup.
We can only try to imagine the plot action:
FIRST FEMALE SUPERHERO: Uh-oh! It's the evil villain Lord Pustule! He's going to destroy the world!
SECOND FEMALE SUPERHERO: Not if I can help it! Toss me the eyeliner!
The AP story also says that parts of some Japanese episodes will not be shown to American audiences, such as the one in which a member of Sailor Moon's team "proudly refers to the size of her breasts."
Do you want to know what really ticks me off? What ticks me off is this quote from a male spokesperson for the company that's importing Sailor Moon to the U.S.: "Today's little girls want to be just as strong as boys. Barbie is not really an appropriate role model anymore."
Do you hear that, Americans? He's putting down Barbie. He's trying to tell us that Barbie -- who smiled perkily through the entire Cold War; who has remained fiercely loyal to Ken despite the fact that her hair is combable and his is molded plastic; who has been used to set fire to a set of underwear on the David Letterman TV show; who has NEVER felt any need to refer to the size of her breasts -- this guy is trying to tell us that Barbie is not strong enough.
Well, Mr. Sailor Moon Spokesperson, perhaps you would change your tune if you took a gander at the Nov. 28, 1994, issue of Fortune magazine, sent in by several alert readers. On page 170, you will see two photographs showing the kind of grueling tests Barbie is put through by the Mattel Corp. The top photograph shows Barbie in a complete scuba outfit (of COURSE it's pink), submerged in a tank, where she has been underwater for 15 STRAIGHT HOURS -- and her hair still looks perfect.
The bottom photograph -- which is, for my money, the most fascinating photograph ever published in Fortune magazine -- shows Barbie in a machine labeled "BITE TESTING FIXTURES." This tests to see whether Barbie will crack when young people, for whatever reason, bite her. Barbie is wearing black hot pants and a pink blouse; her right foot is clamped tightly inside the jaws of a scary-looking machine, and there's a noose-like string going around her neck.
You'd think Barbie would feel depressed, being treated like this by her own manufacturer, but she looks just as chipper as ever. Her right arm is raised in a cheerful wave, as if she's saying: "It takes a lot more than strangling me while crushing my foot to make THIS licensed character lose her fundamental American spunk and perkiness, Mr. Sailor Moon Spokesperson!"
You tell him, Barbie! The rest of America is standing behind you on this! We're sick and tired of seeing our precious cultural heritage undermined, and we're going to defend our traditional licensed characters against attacks from abroad, no matter WHAT it takes, even if this means -- and I do not say this lightly -- that we must call on the power of our Zords.
© 2010, Dave Barry
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