Just when you thought media influence on body image had reached the tipping point of toxicity, our pals at Beauty and the Breast (and parents, Feministing, mashable,and industry colleagues at Edelman Digital) are reporting in disgust on this new web game, Miss Bimbo making the rounds in Europe where “Girls are encouraged to compete against each other to become the “hottest, coolest, most famous bimbo in the whole world.” (video w/the creator here)
CNN reports, “When a girl signs up, they are given a naked virtual character to look after and pitted against other girls to earn “bimbo” dollars so they can dress her in sexy outfits and take her clubbing…”
I concur with Edelman Digital that a side of me didn’t want to blog this at all for fear of giving it ANY exposure, so I’m actually thrilled that advertising colleagues are crying foul rather than slough it off as another Axe ad “parody” where I was repeatedly told to “get over myself” and enjoy the irony and satire.
Nice to see there IS an ethical compass, industry limit and maybe even a pendulum swing, I suppose. Still, the fact that the Ma-Bimbo site originating in France has 1.2 million subscribers and leaked faster than a silicone implant into the U.K. sister site Miss Bimbo is disturbingly surreal.
Right now there are almost 300,000 ‘registered bimbos’ on the U.K. site, even with the outcry of foul…so who are these…um…bimbos?
When online games consistently hawk stuff and play by objectifying (as we wrote about here with custom body parts-n-billboards, viral tattoo placement etc.) Is it any wonder sexualization of teen health has evolved to this level of damage? I guess we should’ve seen this coming…after all:
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) noted that way back in 2002-‘03 alone, breast implants nearly tripled for girls 18 and younger and over 220,000 teens under 18 had a cosmetic procedure of some kind. (including 19,000 nose jobs & 22,000 ear protrusion fixes) Here are ASAPS 2005 teen stats from the NYDaily News disputing any increases. A paradox.
The APA report (72 pg. pdf) has hammered this point home for quite some time now, and the CCFC is hosting an entire summit about the damage to kids with these appearance based cues…(alas not a moment too soon) so regardless of quibbles in stats it’s readily apparent ‘Houston, we’ve got a problem.’ In Miss Bimbo:
CNN reports, “Users are given missions, including securing plastic surgery at the game’s clinic to give their dolls bigger breasts, and they have to keep her at her target weight with diet pills, which cost 100 bimbo dollars…Breast implants sell at 11,500 bimbo dollars and net the buyer 2,000 bimbo attitudes, making her more popular on the site…And bagging a billionaire boyfriend is the most desirable way to earn the all important “mula.”
For in-depth screen shots and a peek at the mindset of a ‘self-ascribed registered bimbo’ check this blog.
My question is an over-arching query…How do we counter-market toxicity when it’s already leaked into the marketplace and seeped into psyches?
What’s the best tactic to handle this ‘virtual fashion doll’ mind pollution? (short of hoping hackers and she-geeks crash their servers in a ping war or digital malice—um, I didn’t say that out loud, did I?)
Much like I felt the ‘Breast year ever’ radio contest awarding plastic surgery to teen radio listeners on the east coast at Hot 99.5 was the bottom feeder (you can imagine what they did with those numbers in graphics, here’s one teen journalists’ views on the demeaning promo) and as much as I TRIED to ignore the Miss Booty contest controversy encouraging teens to post their backsides on the web in a Virgin Records/Bubba Sparx promo so I wouldn’t ‘fan the flames’ or give it any heat…
There’s a side of me that wonders if silence is a solution-based action in itself…
If we all hush and just say shhhhhhhhhhhhhh, and let it melt into the media maelstrom of contempt the universal reverb could actually HELP the cluelessness factor as folks begin to ‘see the problem.’
This could actually end up being a very good thing for child advocates to trot out at the CCFC summit and open new dialogue on ways to counter-market this crud by using the power of media for positive change.
Meanwhile, I think I’ll snag a screen shot for my workshop and toss it in my next remix of my Animoto to get people brainstorming on how to teach critical thinking skills particularly 23-year old web designers who claim “this is not a bad influence for young children. They learn to take care of their bimbos. The missions and goals are morally sound and teach children about the real world.”
Real as in fake breasts. Real as in fake ideals..uh, huh, yah.
What are your thoughts? How can we best counter-market cluelessness?
Raise awareness and inform or chalk it up to a web-celeb-wannabe just going for ‘shock schlock’ profiteering to pull our collective chains?
Which is better media management, sounding off or the silent treatment? Weigh in, readers…