“Bratz” on the big screen: Should I care?

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One of the tag lines for The Bratz Film (released this Friday)

is “For Friendship. For Fashion. For Real.” — and that’s exactly what

I’m thinking. For real? Someone at Lionsgate wants me to believe that

this is an actual film and not just a 110-minute commercial?

I don’t buy it. Sure, Hollywood is overrun with marketing machines (Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, anyone?), but

even Transformers transformed from the most expensive ad ever

made into an independent cultural phenomenon.

For the live-action Bratz, based on the best-selling line

of

dolls with a rather controversial history, I have little such hope.

Just check out the trailer:

 

They clearly didn’t follow Sarah’s suggestion for a Dinah Shore plot, but

theoretically Bratz has a few other things going for it:

1. Diversity

At first glance, the girls do look like a veritable Benetton ad. However, MGA Entertainment CEO Isaac

Larian belies his priorities when he announces proudly that Bratz “has

become the number one lifestyle brand for girls ages 7 to 11 in almost

every country it is sold in around the world.” Explain to me how a

“lifestyle brand” that’s the same in every country promotes diversity,

and I might change my mind on this one. Or I might just launch into a

diatribe about the whole May Lin debacle. ‘Cause really, I don’t think it

counts if it’s simply to sell more dolls.

2. BFFs before boyfriends

According to press and previews, the focus of the “film” is on

friendship rather than on finding Boyz, and indeed most of the stills

and clips are strictly Bratz.

Thankfully, the movie doesn’t seem to subscribe to the alarming Greek system of attraction. However,

since

boy craziness has been supplanted by materialistic

clothing craziness, I’m reaching the same conclusion on this one: It

doesn’t count if it’s simply to sell more dolls.

3. The geek quotient

Brat Jade is a chemistry whiz, standing in for the

idea that sexy

girls can be smart, too. Or is it that smart girls can be sexy? (Either

way, the idea of sexy girls is wrong on so many levels. Just ask

the APA
). CEO Larian again: “Bratz are about teaching and

education.” Hmmmm … considering the fact that the movie character

bios talk about fashion far more than they do about favorite classes,

I’m not so sure. Even the messages I get while the pages load are cool

rather than correct.

No stack of textbooks there. Nope, just more things to buy — but

remember, smart girls can spend money, too.

4. A tidy moral

Every tweener movie needs its redeeming Full

House
moment, right? During their moment of revelation, the

Bratz — who have been split into separate cliques by the ultimate high

school meanie — decide that the only way forward is to “be ourselves,

just like we used to be.” Messages about individuality are great, and

I’m glad I’ll be able to sleep at night knowing the Bratz eventually

make up, but I’m with Variety critic John Anderson on this one: “It’s really about

furthering an MTV-defined version of cool, which means too many

clothes, too little education, and too much money.” And very little

genuine individuality.

Is it fair for me to judge so harshly when I’ve only seen clips and read reviews? Probably not. But what’s even less

fair is that girls are subject to this movie at all. Turns out I do

care about Bratz on the big screen, and I’m not the only one.

What do you think, readers? Is Bratz just one more cog in

the homogenizing wheel? Or is it sending some sort of subversive

message about diversity and individuality, delivered with a spoonful

(or eight) of the sugar that’s oh-so-popular these days?

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