I’ve had innumerable battles with The Divine Miss T over letting videos and books featuring the hooched-out Bratz dolls into the house, so I’m happy to see that Scholastic Books is dropping Bratz products from its catalogs and fairs. There’s too much good stuff out there for Scholastic to be wasting space on training manuals for the Little Lolita League, and any Humbert Humberts who are disappointed by the news can console themselves with Internet porn.
I realize that this is a complicated situation for a company like Scholastic. The field of children’s books has been fully colonized by toy companies, and I’m not sure at what point one can argue with any consistency that a series or its characters are beyond the pale. I thought I could draw the line by supporting only things that originated as books or movies and otherwise wouldn’t exist, which allowed Harry Potter and Star Wars through the gate. But when I saw Dances With Mermaid’s instant rapture at her first sight of a Barbie doll, I capitulated without firing a single shot. There really is no rule of thumb. Even products that started out as crassly obvious marketing campaigns disguised as children’s stories, such as the Smurfs or Transformers, now have lots of people who remember them with affection and nostalgia. The Divine Miss T has a Blue’s Clues pillow and a Powerpuff Girls backpack and no doubt they will be her totems of childhood forevermore.
At least the Bratz crew were so out-and-out creepy that parents could line up against them. There are plenty of other battles ahead, and I know the issues won’t be nearly as clear-cut.