Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Barbies, Sims and Vampires, Oh My!

Barbie is just like a vampire.

You might ask how one could possibly relate vampires to Barbie, but it’s an easier comparison than you might think. Like a vampire, who survives on this earth for all time unless staked or destroyed by the sun, Barbie also lives an immortal existence in which her life can only be ended by similar violent means, such as melting her plastic skin with fire, or pulling her head off, as many ruthless big brothers have been known to do.

Like a vampire, Barbie does not wrinkle or become gray with age. That tight plastic skin stays firm; that tiny waist remains ever so tiny, and those large breasts – they are freakishly perky. Like a vampire, Barbie herself is physically perfect, yet also devoid of life. Her creepy all-knowing smile stays plastered to her face at all times, but she’s completely dead behind the eyes.

Despite all this, despite Barbie being the reason for countless eating disorders and our low self-esteem, we couldn’t help but love her. I myself was a devoted Barbie player until the summer before 6th grade, when I had to stop playing because my closest Barbie-playing friend announced she could no longer continue playing Barbies, as she was preparing for the 7th grade and 7th graders do not play Barbies.

Now I know what you're thinking: even 6th grade is a little old to still have an interest in Barbies. But then, you obviously did not play Barbies with Jamie Ann and me.

Our Barbies were up to no good. They were having sex, drugging Ken then kidnapping him and stowing him away tied up on the Barbie boat, drowning other Barbies in the bathtub, sending Skipper to jail for drunk and disorderly conduct (AKA the cat carrier, which conveniently had a metal door that looked just like cell bars)...we could increase their list of criminal/sinful behavior ad infinitum. Those bad girls – our Barbies were emulating Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian before we even knew who they were.

I thought I'd put Barbie and all her naughty tricks behind me until about four years ago in college when I discovered The Sims. For those of you who don't know what that is, The Sims is a computer game wherein you invent characters and control every mundane aspect of their puny little lives.

I am convinced that The Sims is a geeky yet socially acceptable way for adults to still play Barbies.

It’s just like Barbies. You get your Sim a house, decorate it, dress your Sim, get them a job, a boyfriend, make them "woo hoo" with their current romantic interest. They can have kids, get married, cheat on their spouses, get fired from their jobs, be robbed, cry, laugh, watch TV -- and you control every aspect of their activities. It's just like real life, but everyone in the Sim world could potentially be a guest on the Dr. Phil show. At least my Sims could anyway. You may be thinking I’m straying from the original topic of vampires, but watch me tie it all together now:

In Sims 2, you can do even cooler stuff, like create vampire Sims. So of course I found myself one afternoon creating a cute romantic cottage in my Sim neighborhood for a new Sim I'd created and named Gary. Gary lived alone in his little cottage. This chalet of love had a sweet little stone walkway that led to a garden out back, and Gary had a big jacuzzi tub with candles all around (kind of like Bill in True Blood). He had a big screen TV, modern kitchen with all the necessities, and chic artwork hanging on the walls (kind of like the Cullen’s house). But Gary was a little different from the other Sims of Pleasantview. Gary could only come out at night, he had a coffin instead of a bed, and his cottage had no windows to speak of. Yep, you guessed it -- Gary was a big bad ol' vampire.

Except, as you other VampChix know, he wasn't really bad. He was sweet and just needed the right human girl to come into his life and make his sad existence worthwhile.

And that's when I created Dawn.

Dawn lived a few houses down with her dad, who she had to cook for and take care of because apparently Sim men can’t cook or otherwise fend for themselves. She was just about to go to college, not because she wanted to but because that’s what good Sim girls did. Her life was boring and glum, and she needed some excitement…

Hey Dawn, meet Gary. Gary, meet Dawn. Hah hah nice conversation, Dawn and Gary now friends. Gary, bite Dawn. AHHH Dawn is vampire! Fantastic! Purchase one extra coffin for romantic cottage and we're good to go.

Except for one thing: Gary and Dawn, like all other Sims, have particular "wants" that must be fulfilled in order to keep them happy and help me win the game. And guess what those ingrates had the audacity to wish for themselves?!? TO BE "CURED" OF VAMPIRISM. I was so angry! You little jerks! I made you both! I created you in the super special Sim creator menu. You might even say this was a mystical or spiritual experience, one even I myself do not fully understand. I shared my essence with you and made you both vampire! And now you seek to revert back to your human existences!? Don't make me angry! I can remove all the doors and watch you starve to death! I can delete this house and watch you burn in the sun! I can put you in the pool and take away the ladder! I have done much worse to Barbies who have committed far lesser offenses than this!

But, like the benevolent goddess of all things Sim that I am, I have chosen not to destroy them. In fact, since discovering that their devotion is far from wholehearted, I myself have become completely disheartened with this cruel, cruel game. Since that sad day I have not returned to Pleasantview, and have chosen instead to devote my energies to writing about vampires, to divert my concentration to praising vampires who sensibly give thanks for their dark gift and wish not to have it removed. This is my happy place, where vampires run free and unicorns exist. Well, not the part about the unicorns, but you know what I'm getting at.
I thought The Sims were my perfect solution to a world where it is just not plain acceptable to play Barbies well into adulthood. But it turns out that just like Skipper betrayed Barbie by seducing Ken when Barbie was away on a business trip, these Sims have so duly betrayed me. For how can my Sims be a worthy vampire distraction when their main want is to be relieved of that which makes them interesting to me?

But thank God there's this. It turns out that writing is the perfect distraction to an ungrateful vampire Sim named Gary who just doesn't understand just how thankful he should be. What Barbie and The Sims have in common besides their likeness to vampires is their ability to distract and amuse us, to turn our attention away from the harsh facts of reality and allow our minds to wander in a special world where anyone can have size zero waist, live in a beach-front mansion and be a sexy vampire’s girlfriend.

Foreclosed homes, lousy loans, cutoff phones, dogs without bones: Devon Downeysmith thinks it’s time for some serious comic relief. She therefore sinks her teeth into a deeply biting distraction – the world of vampires. Check out her column on in the A&E section: The Portland Vampire Examiner.


Ida Brugler said...

Wow! guess i am sheltered, we were to poor to have barbies when i was younger. (well except for my one sister, but we were not allowed to play with hers.) And my husband and kids love playing Sims. Even my daughter did not want mom to play barbies with her. Guess i know why i never had the urge to play sims, because i was barbieless when i was younger.
I skipped straight to the Vampire books. Makes me wonder what else i missed out on.

JennJ said...

ROFL LOVE IT!!!!!! And you are so right Barbie has been a closet vamp all these years you know that explains a LOT!