Both as research for this website, and because of the pleasant background drone it provides while I perform other tasks, I often put on long blocks of vintage TV commercials, which seem to be in endless supply on YouTube. Watch enough of these blocks and you start to notice patterns, like how virtually every commercial for a cleaning product starts with some nosey old bag criticizing a woman’s housekeeping abilities, or how the great “fluoride vs. gel for fresh breath” debate nearly tore families asunder.
You also notice the curious lack of mothers in Barbie commercials. I watched nearly one hundred 80s era Barbie commercials (yes, in a row, don’t tell me I don’t work hard to bring you the quality content you’ve come to expect from this blog), and while the majority of them featured no parental figures at all, only one, a commercial for the legendary Barbie Dream Home, featured a mother. Ten, however, featured a father. It would seem that Mattel feels about mothers the way Steven Spielberg feels about dads–they’re just gone, out of the picture without explanation.
Perhaps they’re dead. Or, perhaps they ran off with Derek, their 22 year-old tennis instructor, never to be seen or heard from again, and Barbie dolls are the only way their ex-husbands can make it up to the daughters they left behind. That scenario better explains the unsettling way the dads in these commercials behave, taking entirely too much interest in whatever it is Barbie is wearing or doing.
I had a substantial Barbie collection as a child. I even had the Dream Home (it was a Christmas for the ages the year Great Aunt Marguerite died). Never once did my father ask about Barbie, compliment Barbie, or, God forbid, ask if he could be invited to a pool party at Barbie’s house. He wasn’t a neglectful father, he just, like most grown men presumably, had not the slightest interest in Barbie. Most parents are content to let their preteen daughters play without butting in and saying something goofy, particularly if there’s another girl present. Not these dads, though, they’re eager to jump into the fun, laying on the admiration thick and even “playfully” ogling Barbie. Their daughters, of course, just laugh, as if this isn’t the most mortifying thing imaginable. I now offer you a carefully curated list of every creepy Barbie dad:
One can only hope that these bored, lonely dads eventually started dating a nice woman, someone named Diane or Linda who worked as a dental assistant, leaving their little girls to play with their toys in peace. Please feel free to use #creepybarbiedad on the social media outlet of your choice, if you can find a reasonable excuse for it.