This production will focus on a cultural studies style critical analysis on the toy, Bratz Instapets Nail Salon.
Based on the commercial of this toy, the targeted audience for this toy appears to be for girls age 5 and older. The commercial starts off with an animation of the Bratz characters strutting down a salon with their hands on their hips. Then proceeds to show the actual toy and two young girls having fun and enjoying themselves. The intention of having a quick shot of the real life girls seem to be that by owning this toy, you will be as happy as these girls. As Varney (2002) mentioned, people look to toys for practical experiences. It is important to note that these Bratz dolls are all girls and there are no dolls of the male gender. The dolls outfits are predominately pink and purple, and 4 out of 5 dolls are wearing miniskirts. These are anticipated identities of the company, which create identities that have been projected for the consumer (Wohlwend, 2009).
The Bratz dolls image portrays that of the popular kids at school, having a group leader with some friends. For the consumers that do not associate themselves as the popular kids, this creates the imagery of possible worlds and forming any identity imaginable through play. With this pervasive ability, it allows consumers to blur the line between play and reality (Wohlwend, 2009). With these dolls, they look a certain way with their makeup, hair, and clothing. Comparing it to the traditional Barbie toys, this seemed to be targeted towards more of the rebellious girls that are not prime and proper but “cool and fun”, hence the name Bratz. It is interesting to point out that, there is a halo on top of the toy name Bratz, symbolling an innocent image despite the dolls looking the way they do and the word itself. The dolls big lips, long hair and style mirror popular trends in our pop culture society today. Next comes the introduction of the cute animal pets, which brings back the more feminine side of the toy, showing that although these girls look cool and tough, they still have a soft caring nurturing side. Varney (2002) pointed out that “girls…revere whimsical, cuddly, cute, sweet and gentle creatures.” (pg. 156). This explains why the cute animals were added into this toy set and somehow condition the user to play a role of a mother figure to the animals (Barthes, 1957).
During the commercial, you can hear the lyrics “ let’s make a video with our Instapets” and “ getting famous”. This emphasises the integration of how relevant technology is within children’s daily life today. The Bratz dolls are holding cellphones and talking about making videos so they can be famous. This toy is trying to make it relatable to the everyday world by incorporating relevant life; Instagram and YouTube. As Varney (2002) mentioned, technology plays a part in blurring the boundaries and creates endless possibilities. Once again, portraying that by looking and dressing a certain way (makeup, hair, clothes, nails), and acting a certain way (making videos and hanging out with friends), you will be popular, accepted and well liked in society. To add on to the extensive list of gender expectations of how a girl should look, the toy company throws in a nail salon aspect, to ensure the feminine aspect is still there. At the end of the day, regardless of how the toy is intended to be played with, it is the exercise of power and control that the children have; to create a world of their own and choose how to manipulate the toys in front of them.