Have you noticed the subject of TV news’s latest demonization of the Web? It’s [cue the killkillkillkill slasher music]: Webkinz. Webkinz is a sort of Beanie Babies meets The Sims. Little Timmy buys a plushy at Sweatshops R Us, enters a code found on it, and it unlocks a trippy-ass online world for him and his plushy’s virtual persona to play in. While the company apparently takes great pains to keep it kid-only, and everything is contained within the Webkinz domain, the media has been doing that great conflation thing they thrive on: because it’s on the Internet, it’s right there alongside the predators and the porno malls and the dens of identity thieves (which’d sorta be like warning you not to let your kid talk to grandma on the phone ’cause the phone system is used for phone sex and planning terrorist attacks). Anyhoo… now Barbie, that little synthetic crumpet, wants in on some of that Webkinz bank.
Barbiegirls.com will be a similar wonderland of kiddy eyeball kicks, beige pop music, and plenty of opportunities for buying virtual beads and baubles. The crapo-pop will be piped in via Barbie-shaped USB-based MP3 players that’ll contain music and code to unlock new features on the site. The site is in beta now but all of this’ll be in full pink swing by fall. Just in time for TV producer’s to cue up another round of “perils of the Internet; how to keep your kids safe!”