Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pedophile Barbie

About 6 months ago Mattel released the “Barbie Video Girl,” a doll that was equipped with a video camera in front and compact monitor in the back. The doll could record up to thirty minutes of video before it had to be connected to a computer in order to upload the footage. The idea was that a young child could utilize the inexpensive toy ($50) to make their own movies without having access to more expensive electronic devices.

Since its release, Barbie Video Girl has been a hot selling item and was even nominated for Toy of the Year (yes, that’s a real award) before the FBI rained on Mattel’s parade. It seems that the law enforcement agency is concerned that such a device could be utilized by a sexual predator to clandestinely film nude children. Said predator would then use the images for his own nefarious purposes or, worse yet, distribute them online. 

I would like to offer the following rebuttal:

If a total stranger can easily present your child with a doll and return frequently enough to amass a significant porn collection out of 30 minute clips without your knowledge, you may not be providing the level of supervision that your offspring needs. You may also want to have a conversation with your child about what type of films they are making with their dolls.

I applaud the philosophy of child safety, but doesn’t the FBI have more immediate threats than an extraordinarily patient pedophile that has access to a copy of Final Cut Pro? If anything, reports like this probably give sexual deviants ideas that would not have occurred to them otherwise. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this is that the memo was never meant to be seen by the public at all; it was to be circulated only to law enforcement agencies but was sent to media outlet by mistake.

How many of these warnings does the FBI produce? Is there a special “theoretical toy threat” division running sting operations at Toys R Us? Again, there is a difference between being proactive and unnecessarily creative when it comes to threat assessment and I believe we have arrived at the later.

However, if Mattel releases a Pedophile Playhouse companion set next Christmas then perhaps I have been too harsh on the F.B.I.

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