Tag Archives: history

“AG Rewards”Allows American Girl Fans Early Access to their new 1940s Hawaiian Girl, Nanea Mitchell!

5 Aug

For those of you who don’t know, American Girl is a brand that produces a line of wholesome and family-friendly dolls centered on encouraging girls to be the best they can be and to make their mark on history. Pleasant Company originally produced the American Girl collection in 1986 with their line of historical dolls as the focus, now called Beforever. Soon, the brand was sold to Mattel, creators of the Barbie doll, and it has expanded since then to include Bitty Baby, Wellie Wishers, Girl of the Year, and other contemporary and historical lines throughout the years since it’s been around.

Lately, American Girl has been pushing for “diversity” in their brand of dolls. Earlier this year, the first African American Girl of the Year ¬†, Gabriela, was released followed by American Girl’s first boy doll. Z Yang, a young Korean filmmaker, was also added to the group.

And finally a new doll was added to the Beforever lineup: Nanea Mitchell, a native Hawaiian girl from 1941, during the early WWII era.

I’ve done write-ups on the dolls before, if you want to check those articles out. –>Check it out here.

To promote the new 1941-1942 Native Hawaiian American Girl doll, American Girl has allowed all of their “Rewards” members early access to the doll! That’s right. Instead of waiting until the end of the month, AG Rewards members will receive their Nanea as early as this week!

Many AG Rewards members received their Nanea on August 1st, and already there are reviews everywhere of her. American Girl fans who have been excited for her arrival were surprised when American Girl bumped up her release for their active consumers.

And Reward members weren’t just getting a doll. Oh no. They received a collection.

What is AG Rewards?

 

It is just like any rewards membership you get with any retail store. The more you buy, the more points you get. Attending American Girl events can also give you points.

It’s free to join.

It’s kind of difficult to find on the main website. But you can access it by going to the “Shop” page, clicking “Sign in/Register” at the top right-hand corner of the screen. Or you can access it by going to the “Shop” page or “Stores” page, scrolling all the way to the bottom, clicking “About American Girl”, which then gives a drop-down menu that includes “AG Rewards”.

You must be 18 years or older to join, so kids should ask their parents first.

Other F.A.Q.s are listed on the page if you scroll down.

But don’t expect to get Nanea just because you decided to be a member today. You had to have accumulated 350 points or more (Gold status and Berry status) to be able to get the doll and her collection.

The doll and her collection run about $216 for pre-order. Nobody over my way can afford that right now, but happy days to the rest of ya’ll who can.

What was included in the Nanea collection?

Included in the collection are the doll in her Meet outfit, some accessories that go along with it, a hula outfit with some floral accessories, her Pjs, and her cute little dog.

There are videos out now from people who received their collection. I haven’t gotten anything yet. :/

One of the best videos I’ve seen has been lead by a very intelligent and bright child.

 

Another great video is by the Youtuber American Girl Ideas.

After watching the videos, I have my own review.

My Review

Nanea’s Meet Outfit and Accessories

I’ve already seen it a thousand times already. But I never really gave my opinion on it until now.

Nanea’s Meet outfit comes with a pake “Teatimer” blouse that became really popular in the 1940s and 1950s.

More searches on “Teatimer” blouses

She also arrives with sailor-inspired moku shorts. She has crisscrossed strap sandals. She has a bag/purse that can turn inside-out to match her outfit. And she has a blue-white shell necklace to tie it all together.

I love the color and style of the “Teatimer” top as well as the cute little shorts. But I’m not sure I like everything together. For some reason, it just seems like the jewelry and handbag are off with the outfit. The red in the shirt is the only color that pops. The blue with it isn’t doing it for me. The blue is nice too on its own. But it doesn’t seem like there’s enough to go with the red in her shirt.

But separately, everything looks really appealing. The doll itself looks stunning. Yet, I don’t know why they saw the need to paint the ends of her eyes. Was that to make it look more slanted than it was supposed to look?

Regardless, I personally appreciate the historical emphasis put into the wardrobe. I was especially interested in her Meet items.

Some other Meet items include a letter from one of her best friends, Donna, and an envelope. I read a bit about Donna, but there will be no spoilers from me. ūüėČ We can see Nanea’s address on the front of the envelope. This friend Donna lives in California …I’m assuming Donna’s family moved after the events of Pearl Harbor, December 1941.

Nanea’s Meet accessories also come with¬†two $1.00 bills with HAWAII printed on the back. This is a very historical detail. Right after the Pearl Harbor attack (so these accessories have to have been related to events that took place in 1942), dollar bills were issued with a Hawaiian print. This was so the US could distinguish the money during a Japanese invasion, if such were to happen. If an invasion were to happen, the Japanese could seize millions of dollars from institutions on the island. But with the Hawaii print, the USA could easily declare the money useless since the notes weren’t actually the legal currency of the nation. It was like making a bunch of fake dollar bills for people so the Japanese wouldn’t still the real ones.

All ¬†“bank notes” that were not stamped had to be turned in. Hawaiian residents were not allowed to use any other form of currency unless they had permission.

History on the Hawaiian Bank Note

So far, the most interesting parts for me about the Meet stuff are the accessories. I like everything else, but the other items just adds to the overall historical and story experience, which is something I appreciate about American Girl. The letter in its envelope kind of reminds me of the American Girl’s “adventure” books. You know, like Kit’s Railway Adventure? Samantha’s Ocean Liner Adventure? Molly’s Route 66 Adventure? I loved those books so much.

The Hula Outfit and Accessories

Sigh. I am not shocked, but mildly disappointed. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from Nanea. It’s an era I’ve already collected so much for (because I’ve had Molly, one of the original dolls, since 1997, and have shopped around for off-brand WWII items for her). I knew the only things that would make her different was her culture, the setting, and the extra floral prints.

But I was sort of hoping for maybe a more authentic Hula dress that was less…I don’t know…stereotypical?

I thought it was bad enough that Molly’s perception of Hawaii was the grass skirts (to add Molly’s mom thought it was a good idea to be a hula dancer for Halloween, but this was the 1940s).

But having a “native” Hawaiian girl perpetuate the same stereotypes as Molly almost gives off a worse vibe. This doll could be a gateway for little girls to learn more about Hawaiian culture and history.

When girls see Molly, they know she is just an ignorant white girl who doesn’t know any better. But when they see Nanea, they will think that she really is what she’s advertised as: a “Hawaiian” girl.

So, something a little less stereotypical would’ve been nice. Where was the advisory board when this was designed?

This is not to say there were no hula outfits with ti-leaf skirts being designed in the 1940s. The ti-leaf skirts may have been more common in the late 1800s and early 20th century, but they had them in the 1940s, too.

Before more hula skirts were being made with cotton, hula skirts were often made from raffia fibers. But originally, in the 1800s and before, Hawaiian ladies would just wear the skirts-and nothing else.

Because white missionaries wanted to spread their morality and religion, the style of clothing for the hula changed. It had to so it could fit the current “moral codes”. The dance was banned sometime before the 1940s because of the movement of the dances, the different spiritual undertones, and how “scantily clothed” the dancers appeared.

But by Nanea’s time, hula had moved beyond a traditional spiritual ritual and had become more of an art form. Girls by the 1940s wouldn’t have flounced around in grass skirts all the time. They often wore colorful skirts that may have been made from simple cotton. Then again, if they were trying to appeal to tourists in the 1940s, they may have used the grass skirts instead. Still, there were other styles that I wish had been made for Nanea.

The true evolution of the hula outfits have yet to be elaborated on by any entertainment mediums presented to children. And American Girl joins the other bulk of companies that fall into capitalizing off of the stereotypes.

Perhaps someone should’ve looked up the various different outfits hula dancers wear. Even girls today could provide better and more accurate examples of what is appropriate for hula. And it’s certainly not always grass skirts. Maybe they didn’t want Nanea looking so close to Kanani, but Kanani’s Luau outfit looks more unique than Nanea’s “hula” outfit.

Kanani Luau dress

Today, the hula is mostly done for entertainment and to embrace Hawaiian heritage and culture. Many Hawaiians do still wear the raffia skirt. But wouldn’t it have been refreshing if American Girl had gone a little deeper?

But no. I wasn’t shocked they didn’t. It was exactly as I expected. Still, I was disappointed that they met my low expectations with this outfit.

Why didn’t they just release that Muumuu dress on the cover of Nanea’s second book?

And from the look and feel of the hula outfit and the accessories, it just seems cheap and lazy. I know doll companies are struggling, but come on. Any time the lei and floral accessories and outfit are worse than Kanani’s, we’ve got a problem. Even the kid in the video can feel it!

The historical line of dolls should be of higher quality than the contemporary dolls. People can get away with wearing plastic everything nowadays. Nanea’s outfit is supposed to reflect the 1940s. Plastic was rationed! I understand the floral accessories can’t be too real because then the flowers could wither and die without proper care. But it should at least look¬†and feel real. It’s just unacceptable.

Sure, Kanani’s doll came out years ago when American Girl could afford to make high-quality items. The doll industry is really suffering nowadays. Mattel might be losing two of its biggest doll lines of the decade (Monster High and Ever After High) and may not be able to bounce back from that. But it still would’ve been nice if there was some effort to be original or different.

The top that goes with the skirt is nice, but Nanea has enough red in her Meet outfit to go around. And it kind of makes it look like a tropical version of Molly’s “costume”.

The “strapless” look of the hula top kind of reminds me of Disney’s Moana, but okay.

Overall, again, Nanea looks good in the hula outfit once everything is put on her. But the look of it is better than the overall quality. It’s like having food on the table that looks better than the taste.

Nanea’s Pajamas and Mele the Dog

The pajamas are cute. They kind of seem to relate to modern fashion styles. This isn’t to say this style wasn’t popular in the 1940s, but I can see how it can be pretty trendy for today, too. American Girl presenters said on facebook that Nanea’s outfits were sort of designed to be “timeless” where girls could mix and match some of her 1940s outfits with modern outfits.

Presenters

While that’s thoughtful and all, I’m not too on board with the idea of mixing the contemporary styles with those of the past. I enjoy the authenticity of the historical line, and quite frankly I find the modern outfits to be something I can find at my local target from another popular 18″ doll line.

But overall, I find the pjs to be okay. They look soft and comfy and I would like a pair for myself.

Mele is cute as a button. I love that doggy!

Overall, her collection seems okay. I’m not as into the outfits as I am the accessories this time around. But I hope this dress is released sometime soon:

I’m also curious as to when this will release:

*************************************************************************************

I hope I don’t sound too disturbed in this article. But I’ve been put-off from her since I found out I wasn’t going to be learning about a new era and was revisiting the 1940s. Forgive my skepticism. I’m trying to be fair.

I was also put off when I found out she isn’t really fully “Native Hawaiian”. She’s also not really fully a “doll of color” because like all the other Asian/Pacific Islander dolls from American Girl, one of her parents are white. I supposed that’s to make her “prettier”.

But it is more realistic for a Hawaiian girl to be mixed in the 1940s. Few islanders were fully Hawaiian by the 1940s. And even fewer are today.

Oh well. I guess it’s better we get some history on Hawaii now than not at all.

That’s my review of Nanea’s collection. What do you all think? Do you like everything you see? Are you impressed? Are you disappointed? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

 

Ask the USA: “How Did Donald Trump Win the Presidency?”

2 Mar

united-globe

Hello readers!

Early in February, I introduced a new series to my blog called “Ask the USA”. In that introduction, I explained the purpose of this series, what inspired this series, and why I feel qualified to answer these questions (to the best of my ability, of course).

With that being said, the first question I’ve been receiving from foreigners all over the internet is:

‘How did Trump Win the Presidency?’

Since Trump has been running for office, he has been a topic all around the world. The news media hasn’t died down yet about him. This question was bound to come up sooner or later.

If you’re an American conservative, the answer is simple; if you’re an American liberal, this question may even baffle you.

However, I’m pretty independent. I try to remain objective and see both sides of this coin.

Here’s the deal.

Much of the media has painted the picture that the majority of America hated Donald Trump, America’s newest president. Many newspapers would reveal the polls back in October and November showing Hillary Clinton in the lead¬†with the popular vote. And there are many Americans that do dislike Trump, including the news media.

But let me inform you about American politics: ¬†during a political campaign, especially very close to election, it is normal to see “political propaganda”, propaganda that’s usually meant to discredit one candidate¬†in favor of another. Hillary’s team was very effective in painting a negative picture of Trump by pulling out his dirt. She didn’t have to try. It was no secret that Trump “distrusted” most news sources, so of course most of them would help Hillary. Trump dug his own name in the ground with his careless statements. Trump gave the media many reasons to discredit him and he left a bad history of carelessness that allowed the media to take advantage of it.

So Trump ended up looking like the villain. After observing the things he’s said, most foreigners can’t understand how he could have any fans. Don’t get it twisted.¬†Trump has insulted and offended many people across the board, and it was once considered a joke to even consider him the president of the USA.

But let’s also remember that what we see in the media isn’t always going to reflect the opinions of all the people in the nation. Despite his rhetoric, there are many people who actually agree with his ideas. Most people are just quiet about it.

trump-as-president

I don’t think most of us took him seriously like we should have. People felt there was no way this guy could be a president. He’s not diplomatic, he’s not well-spoken, he’s a rich guy who cares nothing about the “little man”. He was underestimated. This allowed him to make an impact on politics and maneuver things in his favor. There are many¬†ways he managed to take the presidency¬†from his last opponent, Hillary, despite what was fed to the media.

For the past decade, despite the positive reception Obama and his family have received, the average American did¬†not reap many benefits from Obama’s presidency. He seemed more like a celebrity than a president; a positive figure rather than a man of action. He was famous for being the “first president of color”. He was diplomatic with many nations, giving the USA a good¬†name to even our enemies.

However, he didn’t do anything impactful for his own nation (as far as we could see). He didn’t make any strong changes to the economy, he didn’t make many efforts to improve our overall security, and he seemed to sleep on many other matters that many Americans felt required urgency. Of course, none of us can pretend to know what it takes to do the job of president. Even the current president Trump is starting to see the challenges that come with it.

Still, Trump has things very few other candidates before him had.

Trump, the Business Man, Not the Politician

Trump may be blunt, rude, ignorant, and bigoted. But guess what? In a country that has honored and upheld the “freedom of speech”¬†portion of the Bill of Rights (the rights in the USA that make up the first ten amendments to the constitution, the¬†nation or state’s fundamental set of laws), in a country that has come to distrust government, Trump seemed to be the Honest John some Americans were looking for. He didn’t sugarcoat or take back his opinions. In fact, he is the first president to be truly active on social media, connecting with a wide range of people. With social media becoming a major form of communication, Trump is better able to get his ideas across on many different platforms.

When did America become so leery of their government, enough to trust a man who has spoken badly of so many people, people he’s supposed to help and protect? I would say since the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, people have been looking for an honest man in office. Watergate refers to the incident where someone broke into the¬†Democratic National Committee headquarters, which was at the Watergate office complex. Richard Nixon, who was actually voted into office, tried to cover it up. An investigation exposed this and it lead to Nixon’s impeachment. Since then, most Americans have questioned their leaders, how their leaders are getting into office, and it even lead to people being more critical of the Republican party (the party Nixon was a part of).

But scandal from the Democratic president Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and little action during the Obama administration, has lead to a complete turnaround for the Republican party.

Trump has been super different from the “lying” politicians we’ve had before. Everyone doesn’t like what he has to say, but he says it anyway. I guess people figure if he¬†was this honest about people as a candidate, what does he have to lie about as president?

Trump¬†also became the hero or spokesperson for¬†the “white, middle class, aged man” who has come under fire thanks to¬†the “politically correct”. The politically correct far left have taken over media, politics in the last decade, and daily life. People have been slinging the word “privileged” around, which often refers to the white, middle class men in the USA, the people most assume never had to face prejudice and oppression, and the people who are assumed to actually have been and continue to be the oppressors. Our country has had a history of severe oppression, despite our “free” laws. This has been the reason many people are speaking out. I will go into more detail about America’s race and gender relations in future articles…

But people have been speaking out so fiercely in the last decade, white, middle class men have been fed up with being blamed for everything. They were tired for having to be apologetic to every sensitivity. Trump seemed to be the answer.

Before people began to really take Trump seriously, he was mostly funny, a celebrity, and a rich business man. His personality was definitely strong. But as propaganda began to reveal his derogatory statements, the media and the far left fought hard to keep him out of the white house.

It obviously didn’t work.

Trump is just too good of a salesman. Maybe it came from being a businessman for all of these years. Maybe he paid his way into the seat. Regardless, he was very clever throughout it all.

Speaking of businessman, because he was already a very rich man, he didn’t really need the charity of anyone to boost his campaign. Maybe that’s one of the reasons he had no reason to be so nice. He could pay off anyone he wanted, he could pay to run his own ads, and his name alone was promotion. He has had a book published, he’s spoken on several shows about the things he believes in, and he’s been a familiar figure in the entertainment world (and entertainment in the USA is a major industry). Really, there was nothing stopping him from being successful in this.

Hillary, on the other hand, was Clinton’s wife, and most people were done with the Clinton administration in the 1990s. Clinton seemed to be the same oily politician we’ve been seeing for years, the ones who lie and say nice things just to get the vote, just to let us all down by doing nothing remotely different. The only difference is she was trying to make history by being the first female president. But we learned that “different” doesn’t always make it better. Obama was a president that made history, but it didn’t make him a great president. He wasn’t bad, just not good enough. I think after Obama, we learned to pay closer attention to the campaigns. And frankly, Hillary’s campaign was weak.

Bernie Sanders, one of the original candidates during the early race, probably had a stronger chance with his campaign, but he doesn’t have a big name like Clinton or Trump. Most of the votes went to familiar names.

A Strong Campaign

That’s another thing. Trump had a really strong campaign. No, his ideas weren’t popular across the board. This is possibly why he didn’t quite take home the popular vote (though some argue he did, but if he had, it was definitely by a landslide). But he actually had ideas of his own. He wasn’t just mimicking politicians before him, like his opponent. He had real beliefs that he stood for, real solutions to these issues (even if they proved more difficult to implement than he planned), and the will to get there and make those changes.

In one interview, he said if he lost, all of this would’ve been a “waste of time”. You could say that he had a bad attitude about running for president, or you can say that shows how bad he really wanted it. ¬†But it’s this will to win that has gotten him to the top every time.

He played into the sympathies of people. He reached out to those who felt victimized by terrorism. Since 9/11, many families of the victims’ of major attacks in the USA haven’t felt safe. They didn’t feel that true justice was served, not with the Bush or Obama administration. Media did have a hand in sensitizing these events, causing a “scare”. But the victims’ families, friends, and associates obviously didn’t need the media to feel angry, grief, or fear. And Trump offered strong solutions to this problem. It was a sure-fire way to gain the vote from those who would’ve otherwise voted for Hillary.

On the other hand, despite a need for stronger national security from terrorism, many of these people didn’t want their gun rights taken from them. I think I explained how loyal most Americans are to their Bill of Rights, correct? After the recent mass shootings in the USA, many in the far left wing of politics offered a solution: stricter gun laws. This was a threat to gun owners. Those same people who wanted to better screen immigrants did not want to better screen guns. Most were fearing a ban. Trump seems like a free-spirited man. He doesn’t seem likely to ban guns. Hillary, on the other hand, openly promoted stricter gun control, which wasn’t really popular among moderate liberals or conservatives. Trump hasn’t really addressed the gun culture in America…

However, he has offered to send martial law in Chicago and other cities to rid it of gangs, guns, drugs, and violence in general. Possibly, this is his solution to America’s “violent” culture?

Last, Trump offered to bring and keep jobs in America, something many politicians have been promising but haven’t yet pulled through. Since the recession in the early 21st century, people have been concerned about the shortage of lucrative jobs. Trump seemed like the man to fix the problem. He is a businessman, after all. He seemed to many Americans to be the most qualified to handle the economy.

Despite Trump’s unpopular ideas, and his spontaneous actions, he actually has beliefs and stands by them. Though most people dislike the way he goes about his plans, he actually does go about them. And if there’s nothing left to respect about him, people can respect the fact that he has taken action the moment he was ushered in.

Clinton, on the other hand, has changed and rearranged her ideas, ping-ponging when it came to gay marriage, national security, and many other issues. This made her seem weaker and more motivated by the public pulse. She seemed to side with whoever would give her the vote, and she didn’t seem trustworthy. Most people knew what they were in for with Trump. With Hillary, it was difficult to know. She changed her mind too often, and that left some Americans insecure.

There are many other ideas Trump¬†gave, many other ways his campaign was strong, but those were the most popular ideas. Though most people were skeptical about how these ideas would be tackled, many people were ready to take risks and give new, more direct, more assertive suggestions a try. The passive-aggressive manner of tackling issues haven’t worked in years. People wanted someone who could make America “strong” and “sure”. Trump seemed to represent a stronger and bolder American identity.

Some democratic supporters¬†that voted for Bernie Sanders didn’t vote for Hillary, and¬†that left a divide on the democratic side. This brought strength to Trump’s campaign.

Electoral College

The final thing I want the world to know about American politics is the system.

I already kind of touched on the Bill of Rights and the Constitution (I will go further into it in the future).

But our voting system can be a little confusing.

Americans pride themselves on their right to vote. It’s one of the most important forms of “freedom of speech”. But our election isn’t completely influenced by our individual votes.

In fact, the popular vote¬†(the votes cast by the people) only makes up 1/3 of the overall “vote”. The other votes are based on Congress (our body of people who govern the land) and the Electoral College. Of the three, the Electoral College tends to have the most influence.

The Electoral College was designed to be a buffer between the people and Congress. They are supposed to be unbiased people who hardly meet with one another enough to influence each other. The Electoral College also gives power to the smaller states.

usa-map

America is divided by 50 states. Each state has its own governors, laws, representatives in Congress. If the popular vote had that much power over the vote, the smaller states’ views wouldn’t really matter. Bigger states, like California, obviously have a larger population. Their votes would make the biggest difference in the popular vote method (unless the people were divided).¬†In this case, most of our laws would be influenced by California, California’s laws, and California’s culture. This wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the United States, especially to the smaller states whose opinions would matter the least. The popular vote is influenced by the population.

History Central explains that “the founding fathers were afraid of direct election to the Presidency. They feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power.”

Hamilton and the other founders believed that the electors would be able to insure that only a qualified person becomes President. They believed that with the Electoral College no one would be able to manipulate the citizenry. It would act as check on an electorate that might be duped. Hamilton and the other founders did not trust the population to make the right choice. The founders also believed that the Electoral College had the advantage of being a group that met only once and thus could not be manipulated over time by foreign governments or others.

The electoral college is also part of compromises made at the convention to satisfy the small states. Under the system of the Electoral College each state had the same number of electoral votes as they have representative in Congress, thus no state could have less then 3. The result of this system is that in this election the state of Wyoming cast about 210,000 votes, and thus each elector represented 70,000 votes, while in California approximately 9,700,000 votes were cast for 54 votes, thus representing 179,000 votes per electorate. Obviously this creates an unfair advantage to voters in the small states whose votes actually count more then those people living in medium and large states.

One aspect of the electoral system that is not mandated in the constitution is the fact that the winner takes all the votes in the state. Therefore it makes no difference if you win a state by 50.1% or by 80% of the vote you receive the same number of electoral votes. This can be a recipe for one individual to win some states by large pluralities and lose others by small number of votes, and thus this is an easy scenario for one candidate winning the popular vote while another winning the electoral vote. This winner take all methods used in picking electors has been decided by the states themselves. This trend took place over the course of the 19th century.

While there are clear problems with the Electoral College and there are some advantages to it, changing it is very unlikely. It would take a constitutional amendment ratified by 3/4 of states to change the system. It is hard to imagine the smaller states agreeing. One way of modifying the system s to eliminate the winner take all part of it. The method that the states vote for the electoral college is not mandated by the constitution but is decided by the states. Two states do not use the winner take all system, Maine and Nebraska. It would be difficult but not impossible to get other states to change their systems, unfortunately the party that has the advantage in the state is unlikely to agree to a unilateral change.

Trump has openly spoken against the Electoral College until it ruled in his favor. Despite him reaping the benefits of it, it has become pretty clear that the system isn’t perfect.

Even though Hillary may have gotten the popular vote, she couldn’t win over the “buffer” votes. Those votes added to the overall vote. So, for example, if Hillary was winning the popular vote because most of California and the rest of the west coast voted for her, a smaller state with the majority of Trump supporters wouldn’t stand a chance unless the Electoral College stepped in to supply them enough votes. These votes put all states, despite the population, on equal footing.

After the votes of the Electoral College, Trump won the vote. But this means he had to have been pretty popular to begin with as well in order for him to gain a complete win.

Should this system change? 3/4 of the states have to agree with the change and the amendment has to be ratified. Would Americans be so willing to change that?

I think at this point, times have changed since the days of our founding fathers. Because of all of these changes, it has become difficult for Americans to know which amendments should be analyzed, which amendments actually need amendments, and which should be left alone. Some people feel our constitution is outdated. Some people feel that the constitution was built to stand the test of time.

Throughout the decade, throughout¬†the election race, and Trump’s new presidency, people have been paying¬†close attention to¬†the Bill of Rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of the press (1st Amendment), the right to bear arms (2nd Amendment),¬†and even questioning whether cruel or unusual punishments should be inflicted, especially regarding those who commit horrible felonies (8th Amendment). People have also been observing the constitution in general, our laws.

With the temporary immigration ban set up according to religion, it has brought up serious questions regarding our 1st Amendment. Is the ban against that Amendment? Or is this just one of the loopholes?

Trump has attacked the news press time and again. Many Trump supporters feel there needs to be restrictions regarding what comes out of media. This calls the 1st Amendment to question as well.

Since people have been victims of mass shootings in the last couple of years, the right to bear arms has come under fire.

And since we have some of those mass shooters and terrorists in custody, avoiding cruel punishments for these crimes is definitely coming under scrutiny (since it could conflict with the 8th Amendment).

People are also really skeptical about the Electoral College.

In our country, the minimum amount of years they can stay in office is four years per term. A president can get up to only two terms. We don’t know what kind of president Trump will be within the next four years (or up to eight years should he be reelected). We only know how his campaign went. So far, we see that he is assertive, but very rash. Hopefully, though, something good comes out of his presidency for everyone in unexpected ways.

If not, there’s always impeachment.

Leave me a comment and let me know if this answered any questions for you! Americans, if you have more to add, please feel free to add!

I hope it was answered as simply and as down-to-earth as possible.

American Girl and African American Beforever Characters: What does the future hold?

15 Aug

Rumors always spread like wildfire in the American Girl community. We are an enthusiastic group of fans.¬†Our latest rumor comes from (basically) the confirmation that the newest American Girl Beforever character, “Beforever” being the name of the historical line of dolls from American Girl, would be an African American girl and that she is due to come out in 2016.

fb african american girl doll

This is all exciting news considering that this year Maryellen Larkin, an enthusiastic girl from the 1950s, has joined the American Girl Beforever group of characters.

Maryellen2

Two American Girls within two years? That’s quite a treat considering American Girl dolls are very challenging to produce. American Girl has many lines of dolls. They have the Beforever line of dolls that teach girls about history, a contemporary line of dolls, and the Bitty Baby line that favors younger children. Of all of their lines, the Beforever line is the most challenging to create. First, market research must be done to understand how they can appeal the doll to modern girls. Second, they have to find a time in history that is important for teaching and relating to girls today. Then they have to research the time thoroughly while still observing children because the history will be told from a child’s perspective. Lastly, they have to create authentic clothing and accessories that realistically fit a 9 to 10 year old girl (Though I can honestly say lately they’ve been slipping on that. Julie in platform shoes?).

But American Girl has somehow managed to work on two girls at once. They probably got a lot of practice creating those Best Friend dolls over the years (for those of you who don’t know, the “Best Friend” dolls were dolls that were the friends of the lead American Girl characters in their stories and usually accompanied the lead character in the collection). Now, fans don’t have to wait anxiously for the next new Beforever character. It’s exciting news!

Well, since the African American girl is basically confirmed, many have been wondering what time period she could possibly be from. Many speculate that she will be from Detroit in the 1960s. This coincides with the heavy demand for a girl who has experienced the Civil Rights era. With all of the current racial tension being the focus, many people feel that now would be the best time to release a character that touches on controversial issues such as race. This would make the character powerful for now.

But many also are still hoping for that 1920s Harlem Renaissance character, too.

I can honestly say that I’m stuck. I feel that if either comes out, I will be happy and disappointed. I truly can’t decide which time period would be more interesting for African Americans. And honestly, the sad part is, I don’t think American Girl would release an African American character for both time periods, though that would be ideal. So to give in to one time is to lose something precious historically from another. And the chances that they would cover an era twice (with a white girl and black girl representing these periods in history) is just weird and time-consuming…Might as well cover the era once…

As an African American, I feel both times may do many different things for the brand, but what each period does for African American girls will be different. What do I mean by that, you ask?

Let’s look at the 1960s, the most popular rumor.

The 1960s

People have made many interesting points about the 1960s girl being interesting. I’ve always been in favor of the 1960s prior to Maryellen’s release.

The 1960s is a very popular modern era. It relates more to modern African Americans than does the Harlem Renaissance.

The 20th Century is a big deal with children and adults alike. The possibilities for those “stereotyped” fashions are endless. When thinking of Maryellen, for example, people focused on a poodle skirt. Realistically, not every girl flounced around in a poodle skirt all the time and listened to a jukebox. These are stereotypes. But they did exist.

Likely with the 1960’s girl, many people are probably looking forward to fashions that may reflect more of a teenager’s look rather than a kid’s look. I’ve heard some people say they hope her hairstyle looks like something from the Supremes…Like a 9 to 10 year old girl would look like that in REAL life…

So people are not very realistic with their hopes and dreams regarding American Girl’s Beforever, but that doesn’t stop people from wanting American Girl to touch on a moment in history that strongly relates to the parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of today.

The 1960s were an interesting cultural time for African Americans as well. The “Motown” era emerged when an all-black label helped transcend racial boundaries by producing artists that appealed to those outside of the black community. We have the birth of funk (James Brown, “say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud”). Talking about hippies? The sixties was the true era for that. The afro and all the colorful clothing marked the generation. Of course, we’re thinking about a child’s perspective here. The most she may have is an afro, and I’m inclined to believe she’ll have braids in her hair with hair ribbons.

Last, but not least, the 1960s were known to be a transforming period for African Americans because the Civil Rights Movement sought to equalize people of the minority group with white citizens, and many African American political and social leaders rose from this movement. It was an empowering time for African Americans and influenced many people throughout the nation and around the world. The efforts of African Americans/Black people in this period showed great accomplishment, intelligence, courage, and strength when it came to their use of the justice system during this period. It’s very American.

It also relates to modern African American children, who mostly understand their history through the Civil Rights movement and 1960s music.

People of other nationalities were also greatly affected by the Civil Rights movement. Desegregation moved black children into white schools, changing the environments that they were used to. Much prejudice had to be overcome in order to help this transition work. People of other backgrounds, such as the Native Americans, saw this movement as inspirational for their own Civil Rights movements.

Still, it’s obvious that the Civil Rights Movement mostly impacted African Americans, so it’s fitting for the newest Beforever character.

The 1960s weren’t¬†all about Civil Rights and funk. The Beatles rock era and Bob Dylan/Joan Baez’s folk music influenced the sixties hippies as well. There are a lot of exciting things to get into regarding this era.

The downside to this era is that, when dealing with African Americans, this era focuses on the negative side of being black in America. It heavily brings out the same problems Addy had: racial oppression. Again, the story focuses on black people being held back versus prospering and inventing. It doesn’t show how African Americans influenced all of American culture. Instead, it shows¬†how racial tension and oppression influenced black people. This is the strength I’ve found with covering the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. The history is more positive in that era.

The content may also be controversial. This may scare away certain ethnic backgrounds and the sales of the collection may suffer for it.

I also don’t like that the doll is being released so close to Maryellen, the white character who is just 10 years prior to 1965 (assuming that’s where the era would begin if the new girl is from the 1960s). We saw how promoting two girls of different ethnic backgrounds can be when they are from the same time when it came to Marie-Grace and Cecile. Though Maryellen and the new girl wouldn’t be from the same time, they are near one another in very popular moments in history. Having the two girls fight for the spotlight can be rough when it comes to marketing.

The 1920s

The 1920s shows the elevation of black people and focuses on the positive side of African American history.

If you want to know the truth, there isn’t any 1960s without the 1920s. The 1920s were the first time, since the Civil War, black people were able to receive an education, find opportunities to prosper, and grow into the modern African Americans we know today. Know any Black people who live in Harlem, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, or Los Angeles? You can thank the Harlem Renaissance. Many African Americans lived in the South prior to the 1920s. Big cities began sprouting upward. Schools, libraries, office buildings, and parks sprouted up all over the big cities in the nation. African Americans moved into the inner city areas which were becoming more affordable for living. With all the modern technology came a social-cultural explosion in music, art, and literature.

In Harlem and other northern cities, many African Americans saw the benefits of their freedom. Many black people owned their own businesses in the North. There were black-owned stores, black-owned libraries, and even schools.

The libraries were the biggest contribution to the black community. Education laws made school mandatory and African Americans benefited from having access to free books to help them study. They began to learn about the laws in America and began taking steps toward “civil rights” through organizations like the NAACP. The rise in education helped give rise to many poets and even to great literature.

One of the biggest parts of the 1920s was music, even outside of black communities. The 1920s were often coined around the world as the Jazz Age. Guess where Jazz originated? In the African American community! Many people do not give credit to African Americans for this fun, modern music that made the 1920s glamorous. But without African Americans, Jazz music wouldn’t have made the 1920s as “roaring” as it became.

The 1920s didn’t just affect African Americans or Americans at that. Big cities around the world, such as Berlin, Paris, and London caught on to the modernized lifestyle. This is why a 1920s girl would be more appealing to others than a 1960s doll. Many African American dolls don’t sell as well as the white dolls. A lot has to do with the fact that most of the African American dolls lack “glamor”. The 1920s were such an exciting moment in history, it would really make African Americans look good. I’m sure the fashion choices would be lovely, though, maybe for a young girl, not too different from Rebecca.

Sure, most people know about Prohibition, flappers, and gangsters, but from a 9 to 10 year old perspective, they wouldn’t have been involved too heavily with these things. Still, the flappers showed that attitudes about “proper” behavior were loosening, especially regarding women. Even the men loosened up.

Home decor became a thing in the 1920s as well. Automobiles started replacing carriages. And the radio stepped into people’s lives.

Women were able to vote for the first time. Imagine how this influenced the modern black woman!

People also began focusing on celebrities and sports stars for the first time. Movie theaters and sports stadiums brought attention to talented individuals in these fields. All-black teams were created, which greatly influences the black community to this day!

Certainly the 1920s can relate to anyone of any background. Because of this, I think that a black girl in this time won’t just be looked at as “the black girl” who fights “racism”. She will be looked at as the American girl, the girl that can relate to any girl no matter their background.

While I know American Girl will only choose one of the two eras for next year, I still hope both eras are eventually represented by African American characters. I often doubt that American Girl is that open-minded and I often get the feeling that, in the future, the 1920s will be represented by a white girl. I would be sorely disappointed if I find a white girl dancing to Jazz without proper respect to the African Americans who brushed in the genre.

From the rumors, it looks like the new American Girl may be from the 1960s, which is really great. But I hope they don’t get rid of Addy because her story touches on racism. There are hardly any 19th century girls as it is. Josefina and Addy are the only two. I also hope that this doesn’t stop them from making an African American character from the 1920s. After all, there are many white dolls from many different times. Why not have many black dolls if they are more suitable to a time period? Anyway…

Which era in African American history would you like to hear? What are your hopes for the newest African American character and any future dolls?

Leave a comment in the comments’ section and let me know what you think!

American Girl Beforever Maryellen Larkin from the 1950s and Melody Ellison from the 1960s!

4 Jan

Rumors always spread like wildfire in the American Girl fan community. This is partially because American Girl fans often do their homework and find new leaks that start rumors. We have a lot of excited and eager fans. American Girl keeps us all on our toes. We can’t help it. We love this 18″ doll franchise with the historical dolls and contemporary lines that actually reflect real girlhood (rather than Monster High and Barbie dolls). Since the Digital Revolution, fans have been finding¬†information about future dolls easily. Nowadays, the “surprise” American Girls are not really so surprising to most fans anymore.

Either the fans are excellent sleuths, or American Girl, LLC sucks at keeping their product ideas under their hats. If they had competition, they would really be in trouble because it is so easy to find out what they are releasing. But since they don’t have competition, I guess it really doesn’t matter. They have the strongest hold on the 18″ doll market.

It somewhat benefits fans when they know all of the information beforehand. For starters, American Girl is so expensive. When fans learn about new dolls, they know to save their money. By the time the new doll is released, fans will be able to get her as soon as she comes out rather than having to wait until she’s released to try and save up. If we had to wait to hear about new dolls, it would be hard on the pockets. By the time most of us would have saved up for one doll, another one would be on the way. The American Girl “sleuths” have actually been of serious use to the American Girl fanbase. I think American Girl feels the same way. When they release a doll, the doll sells faster the day of release when fans know about the doll ahead of time. I think this is why American Girl isn’t as tight with their information. They seem like they kind of want fans to know some of their secrets.

The only sad part about knowing all of the information beforehand is how it influences the kids. When I was watching “Good Morning America” for the Girl of the Year 2015 release, it was both funny and sad that the girls already knew what the doll was like. The American Girl, LLC president asked, “Do you girls know why you are wearing aprons?” And they all responded, “Because she bakes.” I don’t know why that was so sad for me, but it was almost like a child already knowing their Christmas presents before they even open them. It was like taking a child to Disney World and they tell their parents they know the real name of the man behind the Mickey Mouse costume. The magic, no, the childhood, is gone. It is so hard to surprise children today, thanks to the internet.

On the other hand, at least kids know their options. When the kids know a new girl is on the way, they will think carefully about the doll they want. They will also be able to tell their parents in advance the doll they want before she is released, which helps parents save carefully. Again, this benefits parents and adult fans mostly, who have to pay for the dolls. Well, this may also benefit those girls who save up their birthday and allowance money for dolls, too.

All of that being said, recently a new slew of American Girl rumors have resurfaced.

There are rumors about not one new Beforever character, but TWO new Beforever characters. No one is certain whether the two girls are the same, whether they will be part of the same collection (though American Girl has stated they are not doing the “Best Friend” thing again), or whether one of them is being discarded for the other. We do know that both girls sound interesting and that at least one new doll will be added to the new Beforever line within the next two years.

The 1950’s¬†Strawberry Blonde¬†Character, Maryellen Larkin

American Girl is all set to release Maryellen!

American Girl has stated, “She’ll inspire your girl to follow her heart instead of the crowd”, so she seems like the type of character that marches to the beat of her own drum.

American Girl Publishing, American Girl’s business website, goes into detail about her personality:

“Maryellen Larkin is an enthusiastic, imaginative girl growing up
in the 1950s‚ÄĒthe era of poodle skirts, sock hops, and exciting
new steps in space travel! She longs to stand out but often feels
lost in the shuffle of her big, busy family. Her favorite TV shows
are Davy Crockett and the Lone Ranger, and she dreams up
episodes where she gets to be the hero. She finds fun ways
to help others, and even uses her birthday celebration for a
special cause‚ÄĒwhich ultimately puts her in the spotlight and
makes her stand out from the crowd!”

So, she’s another attention-seeking character like Rebecca and Cecile. XD That seems to be what they’re trying to sell to kids today.

From the boxed set, we learn that she is from Daytona Beach, Florida.

Maryellen2

Maryellen

Mary-Ellen-mini-doll-700x810

Such a beauty! It looks like they changed her starter outfit. I like the original dress better (and I liked the fact that her hair had more of a¬†“red-ish” color in the prototype too), but she’s really cute and I want her!

Valerie Tripp is the author of the three books set for Maryellen. I love the way Valerie Tripp writes. She was the author of Felicity, Josefina, Kit, Molly, and three books for Samantha.

So far there are three books for “Maryellen” up for order:

The One The Only

maryellen book 1

Maryellen Larkin is nine years old and longs to stand out, but in a family with five brothers and sisters it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle! A painting mishap gains her some attention, but not the kind she’s been longing for. Being invited to stay in at recess and practice her handwriting earns Maryellen a new friend, but what does that mean for her old friendships? Then, Maryellen is wishing for a white Christmas like the ones in the movies (not very likely in Florida!). Will she find a way to make her dream come true?

Taking Off

maryellen book 2

Turning ten is a big deal, and Maryellen Larkin wants to celebrate it in a very special way. Will she choose a western theme or decide on a superstar celebration, or will the event turn out to be something even Maryellen doesn’t expect? And which party participant surprises her the most? Then, Dad comes home with a silver surprise and big plans for a family vacation. On the trip, what will Maryellen discover about Joan and her wedding plans? What will Maryellen decide about her own plans and “flying high?”
maryellen 3
¬†What if you suddenly found yourself in Maryellen‚Äôs world during the 1950s? How would your life be changed, what would you do to fit in‚ÄĒand, more importantly, what would you do to stand out? Join Maryellen on an adventure where the two of you can put on poodle skirts and head to a school dance (they were called sock hops back then!), enter a contest, or take a trip in a streamlined silver camper that looks like a rocket ship! Your journey back in time can take whatever twists and turns you choose, as you select from a variety of exciting options in this multiple-ending story.

Someone has done an entire review of Maryellen’s COMPLETE COLLECTION! Check out some of the items that will be sold!

Several things concern me:

  1. How expensive the playsets are! The TV console is $90! Uh-uh.
  2. The quality. What happened to the days when tables would actually be made of wood, and lunch pails actually felt like tin lunch pails? Velvet would be velvet and buttons would actually button?
  3. Maryellen’s play shirt doesn’t button like Kit’s Meet sweater used to. I really wish it did. Or at least put the Velcro in the back of the shirt. I just don’t personally like it in the front. :/
  4. I’m also disappointed that the TV console set is plastic. The encyclopedias are stuck to the tv console and so don’t seem like literal books. ūüė¶ That’s no fun if you want to put them somewhere else, like on a desk or something…
  5. I also hate that the scarf is sewn together. That’s no fun. I would like scarves I could tie in funky bows and loops.
  6. All of the buttons on the jukebox don’t work. That kind of bothers me a bit because it doesn’t make playtime easy. First, you have to figure out which combos work first. I hate playing around with things and kind of want to make the most of the whole item. That completely turns me off from the jukebox.
  7. Most of them seem focused on the living room. Not much attention was given to a birthday set or the school set. I also would’ve liked some “character” items. Maryellen likes drawing cartoons from what I know and she likes rocket science. She also likes Davy Crockett and the Lone Ranger. I was perhaps hoping she’d have some character-story-ready items that introduced her to people and not just standard 1950’s items people could grab from the secondary market or make themselves. Kit had a baseball outfit and a camera for reporting. Addy had her doll Ida Bean. Maryellen only has a TV…It doesn’t seem like she will come with anything that pertains to her personality which is disappointing for me.
  8. Where is her bedroom set? No bedding? I was hoping that would come soon…

But other than the things I mentioned, I’m loving the ’50s theme. And I’m so glad they didn’t grab for cliches too much, like over-emphasizing poodle skirts by making each outfit have a poodle on it. This feels more authentic.

I’m so happy to see another ponytail red-head in the American Girl’s Beforever line.

Favorite things so far:

  1. TV console that actually plays a program. That’s just amazing. It’s cool that the music actually plays on the console, if I’m hearing correctly. My only question: Does this tv set play without an ipad or with different tablets like an ipad mini? If not, I may not like this playset as much…
  2. TV guide is so authentic and amazing.
  3. Maryellen’s mint green purse.
  4. I like the classroom set (though I would’ve loved a desk along with it).
  5. The let-out bed. I like that little detailing.
  6. Red hair! Strawberry blonde hair! Yay!
  7. Maryellen’s capri pants and school outfit. They are cute and authentic. Most of Maryellen’s clothes are appealing.
  8. Her hair set. Those curlers are really authentic, especially with the hair cap to keep the curlers in place.
  9. The lamp actually comes with batteries and lights up. Really cool.
  10. Haven’t seen the diner thoroughly, so I need to see it completely to really say I love it. But so far, I like what I hear. ūüėČ It has a lot of little details and accessories and that says fun to me.

The 1960’s African American Character, Melody Ellison

Melody has arrived! American Girl Publishing goes into detail about her personality:

“Melody¬ģ is a sweet, hopeful girl who loves to sing. She‚Äôs growing up in Detroit in 1964, a city filled with big dreams and big changes‚ÄĒfrom Motown to the civil rights movement. Melody is inspired by her family and by leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After experiencing discrimination for herself, she decides to add her voice to those who are speaking up about equality and making things better in her community.”

She has the Sonali face mold, shoulder-length hair, and brown eyes! Lovely!

Her collection has been posted at americangirl.com! She has many beautiful items!

Some of the things I love:

  1. Holiday dress and coat! It has been a while since I’ve seen an American Girl outfit with¬†that quality. The gold is lovely and stands out to me. It is very sophisticated and very period-ready. And I’m so happy it isn’t pink or some fruity pastel color. That seems to be the trend in Beforever and it is annoying.
  2. The recording studio peaks my interest. The detail is very interesting and educational. I’m super impressed with it. I would like to add Melody’s piano with it. ūüėČ
  3. I love the “picnic” playset. I’m glad they made a table and chairs for Melody, something missing with Maryellen. I love all the pieces that go along with the set.
  4. Melody’s pink floral dress is actually really cute! Though I’m not a fan of pink, the color is really flattering on Melody.
  5. Bo! I love that cute little doggy.

Things I’m disappointed about:

  1. I really was hoping for a 1960s salon and spa to go with Melody since it was so significant in her story. Instead, American Girl released a “Truly Me” salon. That’s fine, but it isn’t historical.
  2. Again, just like with Maryellen, very few character items. Melody has more character items than Maryellen, but I was hoping to see some items related to her love of gardening…
  3. The collection seems small, like it’s missing something. All of the Beforever characters’ collections have down-sized. In Melody’s collection, there¬†aren’t any “school” items, which is really disappointing. I guess I could easily put Maryellen’s school items with Melody.

The collection is new, so there is plenty of room for it to grow. Time will tell.

I love the doll, though!

I’m surprised, though, that some¬†of the responses from fans have been negative. A lot of people are disappointed. ūüė¶ Which is bad. American Girl already thinks black dolls do not sell. In fact, most people think black dolls are ugly and don’t sell well in general.

I was really hoping this doll would be really appealing to many people. But so far, some fans have stated several disappointments:

She doesn’t have dimples. I don’t know why anyone ever expected her to have dimples. I know the girl on the cover has dimples, but so did Caroline’s cover girl. At one time, Kaya’s illustrations showed us a dimpled girl. But neither of the dolls turned up with dimples and instead went with a more “American Girl” look. Felicity’s covers always showed a girl with freckles, but the actual doll never had them. So why did people expect her to be any different?

Maybe that’s just it. To most people, she doesn’t look unique and so she isn’t appealing to most consumers. I’ve honestly felt that way about the dolls American Girl has been releasing lately. But I mostly collect the dolls with stories to tell, so I found Melody to look very unique. For those who are interested in the Truly Me line, she may remind them of #47. She has the Sonali mold except she has textured hair. I thought this mold was a favorite among fans. Guess not after the finished product. Some people were saying they wish she had the Josefina mold instead, which probably would’ve been more unique considering there are no dolls of color with that mold. Then again, people would be saying she doesn’t look “black enough” and that her features are just like a “white girl’s”…

The negative responses are bad for those who are hoping for more diversity in the future. Maybe this isn’t anyone’s idea of diversity, considering she looks like other dolls most fans have collected. I suspect that most fans are looking for dolls that have something unique about them, which is the only reason they will purchase a doll. Many are underwhelmed by her. If Melody doesn’t get a good response, her sales will decide the fate of any dolls of color in the future. This seems to be a test doll for American Girl. They didn’t want to risk making a modern doll, because they rely on those yearly sales to keep the brand afloat, but they wanted to see if this could be a success. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will be.

Her hairstyle looks odd. I was personally all for the braids. I was reluctant about the flipped hair. But after seeing her, I think it’s cute. Some people don’t like the bangs and feel they are too short. But looking at several pictures below, it looks like the bangs vary.

People who asked for an Afro…You just don’t really know 1960’s history, especially in the North. NO little girls walked around with Afros. MOST little girls had their hair in braids and, for special occasions, their hair straightened with a hot comb. Look at pictures of little girls in the 1960’s. You hardly EVER see them with Afros.

Her features look Caucasian.¬†I’ve heard people tell me she doesn’t look black, which is ridiculous. Most of the dolls in the company don’t look like their ethnic background in every way. Josefina’s face mold has been shared by White girls, and it was originally designed for a girl of Mexican heritage. So why make a big deal about it?

With these ridiculous complaints, it’s no wonder American Girl hardly EVER releases dolls of color.

I just think American Girl should’ve reached out to fans more about their wishes. They should’ve had votes on several prototypes before the final project. This is a big deal. This doll will decide the future of American Girl dolls of color. This doll could also affect their 3rd and 4th quarter sales. Their sales have already plummeted 13%. If this doll doesn’t do well, who knows how this will affect the company. We are going to see smaller and smaller collections. They really should’ve made sure this doll was a major hit.

Maybe the doll could sell on her era alone, but I’m so sad that many people don’t feel compelled to buy her. ūüė¶ Let’s just hope that some people change their minds when they see her in person.

I think the book gave people too many expectations. Then there were too many spoilers. They probably should’ve waited to release the book with the doll. With people having such high expectations, everyone was bound to get disappointed.

I’m personally happy she looks like a normal girl and not some made-up model (like Lea Clark, Grace Thomas, Caroline). I was missing Molly so much because she was one of the few dolls that looked like a normal little girl.

What do you readers think? Check her out at americangirl.com and let me know!

melody

CBS News takes lovely pictures of Melody's collection! (I was hoping for a Salon and Spa though)

CBS News takes lovely pictures of Melody’s collection! (I was hoping for a Salon and Spa though) Meet Melody!

Melody's Motown dress-CBSnews photos

Melody visits Motown! She loves to sing.

Melody

Melody's picnic set

I’m so happy she has braids here! So adorable! This is her picnic set.

Melody bedroom set-CBSnews photos

Melody’s bedroom set! Maryellen doesn’t even have a bedroom set yet…

Melody holiday coat Melody's holoday dress

 

American Girl Publishing website says that “she will lift her voice and sing out.” Her full description:

Melody¬ģ is a sweet, hopeful girl who loves to sing. She‚Äôs growing up in Detroit in 1964, a city filled with big dreams and big changes‚ÄĒfrom Motown to the civil rights movement. Melody is inspired by her family and by leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After experiencing discrimination for herself, she decides to add her voice to those who are speaking up about equality and making things better in her community.

NoOrdinarySound

 

No Ordinary Sound: Melody can’t wait to sing her first solo in church! What song will she choose? She gets advice from her big brother, who has his sights set on being a Motown star, and she gets inspiration from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Melody’s also inspired by her older sister, who’s home from college with new ideas about making life fair. What isn’t fair is their cousins’ struggle to buy a house. Melody learns that they’re not welcome in certain neighborhoods because they’re black. Just as Melody’s ready to sing, an unimaginable tragedy leaves her silent. Can she find her voice when it really matters? 

Alternate synopsis:¬†Melody is an optimistic, enthusiastic girl growing up in Detroit, Michigan during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. She is excited and proud to share a special surprise with her family‚ÄĒshe‚Äôs been chosen to sing a solo for Youth Day at her church! But what song will she choose? She gets advice from her big brother, and is also inspired by her older sister, but it‚Äôs the inspirational words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that help her pick the perfect song. There are many unfair things happening during Melody‚Äôs time, even to people in her own family. But it‚Äôs an unimaginable tragedy in the South that leaves Melody silent. Who can help her lift her voice and sing‚ÄĒwho will inspire her to ‚Äúkeep stepping‚ÄĚ?

NeverStopSinging

Never Stop Singing: Melody Ellison just turned ten, and she’s dreaming of new ways to make her community a better place! When her pastor issues a New Year’s challenge, she decides to fix up a neighborhood playground and plant a garden. But when her friends put her in charge, Melody finds out just how hard it can be to lead. From opportunities of a lifetime in Motown, to learning what it means to not give up in the face of setbacks and adversity, Melody discovers that working together makes everyone stronger.

MusicinMyHeart

Music in My heart: What would it be like if a girl suddenly found herself in Melody Ellison’s world in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s? Together, she and Melody could speak up about fairness, join a demonstration, volunteer with a civil rights group, or even use her voice to sing backup for a Motown musician! Readers’ journey back in time can take whatever twists and turns they choose, as they select from a variety of exciting options in this multiple-ending story.

The last name ELLISON brings to mind the Ralph Ellison book Invisible Man published in 1952. The book addressed many issues African Americans were facing in the early 20th century through a character who calls himself “invisible”. This excites me more!

Melody also has a movie that is supposed to be coming soon. American Girl already had auditions and picked the girl who will be playing Melody’s VOICE (another girl will play as her character)! She will be the first American Girl of “Color” to have her own movie!

Melody’s movie is set to be an Amazon exclusive “special” release. The movie is called Melody, 1963: Love Has To Win, An American Girl Story !

The project falls under a multi-year, mulimillion dollar production deal Amazon inked earlier this year with Mattel subsidiary American Girl to produce four live-action specials based on the company’s popular American Girl line of dolls and books.

Denise Lewis Patrick, author of Cecile’s books in the Marie-Grace and Cecile series, is the writer for the new Beforever character.

For Black History month, Melody might be able to introduce children to the Civil Rights Era from a child-size perspective:

—->American Girl Has Three Characters That Represent Black History

To read more about future possibilities regarding African American characters in American Girl—>Future African American Dolls

In Conclusion…

Are you excited about the new red-haired character and another African American character? Are you excited about the possibility of four new movies?

I love the idea that they finally created another red-haired girl. There are none in the Beforever line. As an African American, I also like that more African American characters are being added to the line. But am I the only one a little disturbed by the fact that there are no Asian girls in the plans? We have had two beautiful African American characters as lead characters in the line already. Felicity was the only other lead red-head in the line, so I can see why they are trying to make another one. Emily was only a best friend doll. Ivy was also barely acceptable as an Asian character, and yet, she was the ONLY Asian character ever released in the historical line. It’s sad really.

Want to see a funny video about the exclusion of Asian American dolls?

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/asian-american-doll/2836284

Well, I’m going to try my best to be positive about the new releases instead of thinking about what American Girl didn’t do right. Think positive…Think positive…

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the releases!

7 Animated Movies That Almost Seem Like Disney Movies + 7 of Disney’s Sexiest Characters

13 Dec

In the 1990’s, Disney experienced a Renaissance of sorts. Most people know of this. It was Disney’s greatest age. Disney gained popularity once again after a Dark Age during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Little Mermaid brought Disney back on their game.

During Disney’s Renaissance, there were other animation studios that tried to imitate Disney’s musical movies, due to Disney’s success. Some of the studios failed, some studios actually succeeded in making movies as great as Disney.

This article is to share with you 7 movies that were just as good as Disney’s movies, and almost could’ve been Disney movies, but weren’t.

1) Cats Don’t Dance

With stronger animation than most movies of it’s day, it could remind someone of movies like The Goofy Movie or Oliver and Company. The movie’s focus is on an animal and how he paves his way to stardom. Randy Newman contributed to some of the film’s music. Name sound familiar? He was in charge of the music in The Princess and the Frog. This style of music really makes the movie feel like a Disney film. Of course, it’s missing the strong story elements that Disney had, but the music and characters were just as lovable as any Disney movie.

2) Thumbelina

This sweet story about a female heroine the size of a thumb always brings us back to Disney, who is often known for their heroines. The story was written by¬†Hans Christian Andersen. Sound familiar? He was the same writer that wrote The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen. Most people know The Snow Queen‘s loose adaptation, Frozen. Hans’s name was even used for one of Frozen‘s characters! It’s no surprise that this movie reminds people of a Disney movie. With all the interesting characters and Thumbelina’s long voyage from home, we begin to wonder if Disney had some hand in the story. Well, technically they did. Don Bluth, the director of the movie, once worked for Disney. He left Disney during Disney’s “Dark Age”, and started his own rival company. He had quite a few successes, many of which will end up on this list.

3) The Iron Giant

This story takes place in 1957 during the Cold War. I think the story carries a deep past and an interesting message. The critics have looked favorably on the film. But it isn’t Disney. This is a movie you would not want to miss. Unlike some of the other movies on this list, it had no Disney animators, directors, or song-writers influencing it’s direction. It reminds me of Disney without even trying to be like Disney. I still think this is one of the greatest animated movies of the 1990’s.

4) Balto

Balto is actually based off of a true story and actually holds a deep past. The story creates Balto into the animated hero he deserves to be. In 1925 Alaska, a diphtheria outbreak threatened the children in the area of Nome. This brave dog is expected to carry antitoxins from one part of Alaska to another, meeting dangerous weather and circumstances along the way. I learned about the intensity of this outbreak through this movie. Man, was I shocked to find this wasn’t a Disney movie. It should’ve been. Well, Steven Spielberg was in charge of the movie and he was known for his great story-telling. This movie was underrated, but very well-developed and touching.

5) An American Tail

Steven Spielberg and Don Bluth both had a hand in this film, so it was inevitable that it would be confused for a Disney film. This movie taught me the hardships that people endured trying to come into the United States. This movie was definitely an engaging story. This was a movie I always watched over and over. But it didn’t have to be a Disney movie in order to be good.

6) The Prince of Egypt

Based off of the Biblical story about Moses, the animation and musical scores in this movie made it powerful enough to compete with Disney’s movies. It always reminded me of The Huntchback of Notre Dame because of the religious elements involved. The story was very powerful and I seriously thought I had Disney pegged on this one. Nope. I was wrong.

7) Anastasia

Though I’ve always known this was a Fox movie, because the beginning didn’t have Tinkerbell or Mickey Mouse like so many Disney movies had in the 90’s, I know many people who confuse her for a Disney Princess. She’s a spunky, lost princess. She sings epic musical Broadway-style numbers. She wears pretty ball gowns and her love interest is an orphan. The main villain has supernatural abilities, a musical score all his own, and is deadly. What isn’t Disney about this movie? The fact that it doesn’t carry a Disney logo. This is one of the greatest animated films in the history of animated films. It is loosely based off of the real Duchess Anastasia. I can honestly watch this movie until times get better.

So, you people should check these movies out. No, they are not Disney movies. But if you love animated films, get the nostalgia jones, or just want to try something new, give them all a watch one day.

6 of Disney’s Sexiest Characters

Well, talking about animated films has brought me back to Disney films. I recently started watching some old Disney movies. Now that I’m older, I can catch some of the “suggestive” jokes I couldn’t really grasp as a child. But I’m also starting to realize how hot certain characters are. Some characters were even deliberately made to be sexy by Disney! I’m not sure you’ve noticed, but I’ve acquired a list anyway.

1) Prince Naveen 

He speaks French, he’s a prince, and he’s romantic. What isn’t sexy about that? Only a man this charming and handsome could woo the focused Tiana in The Princess and the Frog. What makes it better is that he speaks French, duh! Didn’t I say that? ūüėõ French is a romantic language, and thus, a sexy language. His accent also adds charm to him, as well as his ability to let go and just have fun. And hey, he’s pretty handsome…When he’s not a frog…

2) Megara

Megara, Nut Meg, was the “femme fatale” character from Hercules who worked with the Lord of the Underworld, Hades. She is an anti-hero of sorts, so her moral and ethics are not the strongest, but she turns into a good girl eventually. Of course, as a servant of Hades, she’s expected to coerce and seduce Hercules into giving away his secrets, particularly his weaknesses for Hades’ evil plans. And she does it so well, she oozes hotness. Just the way she says, “Bye, Bye Wonderboy” can send shivers down the spine. “Femme Fatale” says hot to me.

3) Flynn Rider

He was never meant to be sexy, but he just is. He oozes bad-boy charm and is the handsomest “prince” to date. He is probably one of the few well-developed male characters in a princess movie created by Disney. Though he’s a bad boy, he is also sweet and cute. Every girl’s dream.

4) Princess Jasmine

Princess Jasmine, from the movie Aladdin, is the only Disney Princess with an hour-glass curvy body and a skimpy wardrobe. And man can she work her bod! The best part is that Jasmine is strong, beautiful, and smart! She’s very sharp. That makes her even sexier. But Jasmine knew how to turn on her seductive powers whenever it was convenient, which shows she was very aware of how attractive she was.

5) Esmeralda

Esmeralda is a gypsy street-performer who does what she can to survive in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. She is quite the under-dog, the outcast, and has a deep spiritual side to her. But when she gets in front of an eager crowd, she knows how to draw a man’s eyes to her. In fact, she made the Archdeacon, Frollo, so mad with lust, he burned down all of Paris just to find her! If anyone has a strong sexy power, it’s her. And all she had to do was pole dance. Well, she kind of flirted with the crowd, too. But just about every man in the story was in love with her and super jealous of Phoebus, who was the only man that actually won her heart. She has an “exotic beauty” aura about her. And boy, does she look good in red. This movie is a little too deep for kids, now that I think about it…

6) Jack Sparrow

Pirates of the Caribbean is Disney’s most successful live-action film, and it is geared towards a 13+ crowd. Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp) is a charismatic pirate who creates most of the comedy and seduction the movie provides. He is edgy, but definitely full of charisma. He persuades and seduces everyone throughout the whole movie, man or woman! He convinced Will Turner to join his crew. He happened to wheedle himself out of danger just with his charm. And he’s slick as ice. Does it help that he is also handsome? It was made clear that he has had many women in his lifetime, and he can’t always remember each of their names! Even Elizabeth Swann had a taste of his smexy lips in one of the sequels…Before she turned on him…What woman, of any generation, would think he is anything but sexy? He’s probably not the best for a long-term mate, but he’s certainly a gem for those who want to have a good time.

7) Jessica Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit introduced us to Disney’s (and animation’s) most racy character, Jessica Rabbit. Jessica Rabbit is now considered a “sex icon”, producing erotic responses from many males the world over. There are so many perverted sketches of her online, it’s pretty evident she is an ideal. Her infamous line “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way” reveals it all. This “femme fatale” character is hot and a bit naughty, and we, the audience, like it. Just like Esmeralda, she sings and dances for the feasting eyes of men. But let’s just say she’s a little more interactive…And there’s just something about her that just feels a little more deliberate.

This “bad” girl has a body that is so bodacious. Her breasts are so large, she keeps everything she needs in them! Is she really a Disney character? XD

This “fiery red” chick spells hot all over.

Leave me a comment and share some of your favorite animated stories!

American Girl’s Samantha Parkington Is NOT an EDWARDIAN doll

7 Sep

I have been a fan of American Girl since 1996. I have been a historian for years. (Wow, time flies).

American Girl, LLC, while being a company that prides itself on its historical line of dolls, haven’t always been historically accurate when it came to their dolls. Kirsten with bangs? That was never a trend in the 1800s. The new Beforever re-vamp really shows them stretching things a bit. They have Samantha and Caroline sporting modern-styled headbands…

I’m not the type of fan that glosses over everything related to American Girl just because I’m a fan of¬†American Girl, and if you’ve been following my blog, you know that.

Just check out my Beforever article. Click Me.

But I have to disagree that the stories themselves are inaccurate. I’ve found all of the stories to be as close to historically¬†accurate that it can be for nine year olds. It has only been guilty of glossing over greater issues. But considering most of life in the books is from the mind of a nine year old, it’s pretty accurate. It would be less accurate for nine year olds to go through many of the experiences many adults went through (For instance, it would be unrealistic to put a nine year old like Molly in the middle of a battle in Germany during the actual D-day invasion). Sure, many things happened in the stories that seemed far-fetched. But some of the adventures have been based on real-life events that some young people have experienced. It is fiction, but any other additions that are historical have been pretty accurate.

The biggest controversy that many people throw at me is Samantha’s Era. Many people believe it was inaccurate for American Girl to label her as “Victorian” when Queen Victoria had died in 1901 and King Edward was ruling.

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Many support that argument by claiming that the the social culture, even Samantha’s attitude, is more “Edwardian” than Victorian. While some may recognize that Grandmary’s home was old-fashioned and Victorian, they believe that Samantha¬†herself was more properly Edwardian, as well as her environment.

This would be historically false.

Whoever has been teaching anyone that needs to be fired. The rule of King Edward is not apart of American History, and thus is not an era in the American nation. How are we supposed to teach the world American history when we are throwing around this false information? Perhaps people from the U.K. are the ones spreading this around, associating the time frame with the era that was relevant with the history of their nation.

Before you strike, please understand that difference between the rule of Victoria (1837-1901), the Victorian Era, and “American Victorianism”.

American Victorianism

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Unlike when King Edward was ruling, when Queen Victoria was ruling, she sparked many social-cultural trends in Europe¬†that eventually began to influence America. It became known as “American Victorianism”. It was an off-shoot of the European Victorian period lifestyle, which means it was kind of a bogus or reject version. This cultural influence was not to necessarily define Victoria’s reign itself (because¬†why would Americans care who is ruling another country?). It came simply from fascination with her lifestyle and the lifestyles of MANY other European nations. ¬†This is the difference between the way England experienced the Victorian era and the way Americans experienced it. It was not to honor Queen Victoria¬†as the ruler, but to utilize her lifestyle as a model for social-cultural reasons. During this era, the wealthy wanted to distinguish themselves from the growing middle class. The era emphasized the battle between the two major upper-classes in America, and emphasized the shift from inherited wealth to self-made wealth.

In other words, the American Victorian era did not reflect the true English Victorian era.

To add, the American Victorian era didn’t just reflect ENGLAND’s lifestyle. And that’s what makes American Victorianism so different from Victoria’s actual reign and England’s Victorian era. America’s Victorian era also came from the influence¬†of France as well! Please read the following page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_America

Basically, the Victorian Era for AMERICANS focused on “old money” (people who inherit wealth rather than work for it) individuals who were uncertain with their American identity, as this began shortly after the Second War of Independence and lasted from¬†the 1840’s up until around 1914. That uncertainty showed heavily. “Old Money” Americans began to show interest in “richer” cultures. They borrowed heavily from¬†European culture. The first nation they borrowed from was England, hence why the term was coined. But they “borrowed” more social-cultural trends from FRANCE than they did from England throughout it all! Though Victoria was the inspiration behind the coined era title, she isn’t exactly what the Victorian Era in America¬†is all about. France’s culture was actually more influential in this era. “Old money” people ate French foods, imported goods from France, drank french wines, and even spoke French! Nothing to do with England,¬†but still a part of the Victorian era in AMERICA. For some of you who went around thinking that the rulership of a queen defined this American period, you’d be shocked to find so many other influences marking the Victorian period in America. The one thing they did adopt from England, however, was their “proper” rules of etiquette. This was a very distinct characteristic of this period, and why England is so associated with the period. But again, many other trends came from France.

If you people remember Samantha Learns a Lesson, Samantha and the other girls in her classroom were expected to learn French! This was a part of American Victorianism. To learn French was obviously not a trend in England. It came from France.

Another part of American Victorianism was influenced by Asia as well, another continent known to have “rich” cultures. Many wealthy elites imported goods from Asia as well!¬†Japan was particularly a fascination. Kimonos became a heavy part of the culture. Japanese screens were also popular in this period. I believe Samantha’s doll-sized room scene had a screen designed on the far left. India and China also had goods that were of interest to the elite. Pajamas originated in India from traditional Indian fashion! This is why the doll Nellie is marketed with pajamas. ¬†Really, the American Victorian era was not only “English”-inspired.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pajamas

There were many other trends that marked American Victorianism, made it different from Victoria’s literal reign, and different from England’s Victorian era.¬†Unlike in Europe, American Victorianism was mostly about the wealthy competing with one another. The upper-class Americans funded the arts through donations to emphasize their status and power. The wealthy were patrons that donated money to found opera houses,¬†symphony orchestras, and art museums.¬†One of those Opera Houses might have been the inspiration for the Opera House mentioned in Samantha Learns a Lesson, where she gave her speech on Progress in America.

So many of the wealthy competed with one another, trying to make one seem more wealthy than the other. Europe did not have this problem, as all arts were funded by the government. They also didn’t have the same problem with their growing middle class (They had their own social issues). So competition did not mark European wealth or European Victorianism.¬†It only marked “Victorian” wealthy classes in America.

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The other difference between the era honoring Queen Victoria’s reign in England and American Victorianism is that it first began to influence America in the 1840s, not EXACTLY at the time Victoria took the throne in 1837. That’s not how influence works.¬†It just doesn’t show up the moment someone becomes a ruler. It grows over time until it reaches beyond the borders. It also just doesn’t end abruptly, just because someone suddenly dies. Influence spreads and is hard to clean out when it’s all over. One event really can’t bring in a whole era without a series of events following after it, so equally, one event can’t kill an era. There needs to be a series of new events to kill an old era. That’s how powerful and influential eras are.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorian_America

The American Victorian era began a bit after Victoria was crowned and ALSO ended a bit after her death. American Victorianism officially died in 1914. On the page above, scroll down to Poverty and Immigration. Massive Immigration marked the American Victorian era as well, something that had nothing to do with the reign of Victoria or Victorianism in England. And that wave is said to have ended when? In 1914.

This book, published about¬†1904 America, is properly coined “Victorian” by historians, no matter what was going on in England:¬†Gertrude Jekyll’s Old West Surrey: Some Notes and Memories (1904).

Many “Victorian-style” homes were built in 1904 as well. One Victorian-styled home was built by a doctor in 1904. It was specifically named Victorian. And this is not out of ignorance. Victoria still had major influence on America in 1904, despite her death just three years before! Do you think they just tore these homes down and immediately got rid of their decorations, just because she passed away? And an old-fashioned woman like Grandmary certainly would’ve kept her home and household as it had been for years: Victorian.

The influence of Victorian America expanded cities in the nation, especially New York City, the setting for two of Samantha’s stories. The influence of the American Victorian era’s expansion didn’t just end¬†when Queen Victoria died. New York City STILL remained a big city, still continued to grow even after her reign, and it still housed the great number of immigrants. This is all¬†considered a part of American Victorianism.

The Industrial Revolution had a lot to do with American Victorianism in the 1800s, but the body of “new rich” (people who made money from business, hard work, and genius ideas) were threatening the status of the “old rich” (people who were rich simply because they inherited it from a family member), and this influenced the American Victorian era more distinctly. The two rich classes were culturally different and they were in great conflict.

And this is where Samantha’s story comes in. The “old money” developed a “society” made up of “proper families”, as quoted from the above page. But the new rich¬†could not easily join the “society”, which was the point. Most of the “new money” came from poor families, and the “old money” didn’t want to integrate with them. The Industrial Revolution in America helped poor families make more money, moving them up in the social ranks.

Towards the end of the Victorian era, the youngsters of this era were getting tired of old “Victorian values” and society’s restrictions.

The new generation was in fact getting tired of it after the upheaval of the Civil War in the 1860s. But after Queen Victoria’s death and the onset of World War I, that’s when it really died. The world no longer seemed so glamorous. During World War I, all connections with other nations were closed off, not allowing any immigrants into the nation. This also limited the amount of imported goods that could come into the nation. Thus, the final end of the Victorian era. Americans finally began to form an identity of their own rather than be led by European and Asian cultural values.

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This is what Samantha’s personality represents. She steps in to represent the new generation that questioned American Victorianism,¬†and the generation that brought about sweeping changes in the nation. Uncle Gard is also considered young, and so is Cornelia. They represent the new era that was gradually rising.

Though it’s debatable whether we should call the era Victorian or not, that “new” era rising in America was not called the “Edwardian Era”. King Edward had just become King, and therefore, could not have made that much of an impact in the beginning of his reign. Even if he eventually flourished in England, England’s values¬†no longer had much of an influence on America. King Edward never flourished any trends in America. Any trends that even hinted to be “English” were the¬†aftermath of the Victorian era. If you do deeper research, there is no such thing as an Edwardian Era in America. You really don’t even have to dig that deep.

The Edwardian Era is a part of WORLD history, but not American history. There is a difference. Just like the American Civil War is a part of American history, but do you really think that’s a part of England’s history? No. They had their own Civil Wars.

The Digital Revolution is a lot like the Victorian Era. The Digital Revolution is influencing the world as we speak, and will be a part of everyone’s history. But how that era is experienced, how long it lasts, and when it even all began varies according to nation. The Victorian era was similar.

What was that era called that the “new wealth” brought in? It was called the Progressive Era, and Samantha’s story takes place smack in the middle of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Era

The Progressive Era began in the 1890s, and was flourishing even when Queen Victoria was alive. By Samantha’s time, it was slowly taking over Victorian values. Samantha’s stories highlight the conflicting attitudes between the dying Victorian Era and the new Progressive Era. This conflict continued, really, until around WWI.¬†Most historians consider it’s final death to be 1914. These two conflicting cultures greatly influenced Samantha’s life, often causing her confusion as to what¬†is right. Her personality really reflects much of the uncertainty of the nation itself, as it struggled to find an identity in the middle of all of these changes.

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Just as people were slowly losing interest in European culture, what we eventually see is Grandmary slowly moving away from her own Victorian values (the Victorian era being an era that reflected a time when Americans defined themselves by foreign nations) to a more American Progressive society (where Americans were beginning to form their own identity as a nation). The American Progressive way of thinking believed in progress and helping the underprivileged.

Many social changes were a part of American Victorianism. We saw Dorothea Dix trying to help the mentally ill. We saw laws making it mandatory for children to be in school. There were many social changes made during this period. And even though all of these social changes weren’t necessarily created in 1904, all of the efforts of these movements were at their strongest by Samantha’s time, making 1904 the perfect time to express the bridge between Victorian values and Progressive America. The Victorian way of thinking didn’t mind finding work for immigrants, but¬†they kept separate lives from those who were not of their “class”. The Progressive way of thinking sought to encourage self-made wealth, which can put any poor man in a wealthy position if he worked hard enough. This was EXTREMELY different from the era that marked King Edward’s rule in England, and they were not linked.

The conflicts of this era were evident between Grandmary’s way of handling Nellie’s friendship with Samantha, and how Uncle Gard, the more progressive man, handled¬†their relationship. When Samantha asked Grandmary in Samantha Learns a Lesson (a book we could all learn a lesson from), “Why won’t Edith Eddelton’s mother let her play with Nellie?” Grandmary’s response was in simple Victorian fashion:¬†“Why, Edith Eddleton is a young LADY”. Something like that. Samantha then tells Grandmary, “But you let me play with Nellie.” Grandmary then states, in typical Victorian fashion, “You are not playing with Nellie, you are helping Nellie. There’s a difference.” The chapter then ends by saying that Samantha didn’t like that difference. Which seems like something a 9 year old, who usually is more unaware of social classes, would think and feel.

Uncle Gard and Cornelia, however, show more American Progressive attitudes. They adopt Nellie, where Grandmary just simply found work for Nellie and her family. They presented two different solutions to the same problem. Though the fashions, huge Christmases, and glamorous displays of wealth from the Victorian era still traveled into the Turn of the Twentieth Century for many of the wealthy (because you just can’t get rid of clothes and houses, and not just because a Queen has died), IDEAS were starting to change.

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You still don’t get the picture? Still don’t understand why Samantha can appropriately be called “Victorian” as well as “Progressive?” Still don’t understand how she can be Victorian even after the death of a faraway queen? Still don’t understand why the Edwardian Period never existed in America?

Let me share an example of how this can occur. Most American Girl fans consider Molly the “WWII era” doll. When most Americans think of WWII,¬†they think of the 1940s, correct? WELL, WWII had been going on around the world since the 1930s! Did you know that the Italians first invaded Ethiopia in 1935? Though the actual war was declared in 1939, many invasions happened throughout the mid to late 1930s. For many people around the world, they define the WWII era¬†as the 1930s! Hitler became the Chancellor in 1933! It was then that political scientists predicted another “Great War” was on the way. For many overseas, Kit would be more appropriately called the WWII era girl. So why do Americans only associate the times from 1941-1945 as WWII?¬†Because that is the time when America was most influenced by the war. ALL of the 1940s can be considered apart of the WWII era, even though the war was over in 1945! This is because there is always an aftermath. The war just doesn’t¬†affect one period of time, end, and then the effects from it disappear. The influence of the war was much deeper than that. WWII changed things, during and after the war. Women had to give their jobs back to men, they had to reconstruct their families after years without loved ones,¬†and they had to replace worn things in their homes with all the things they couldn’t get because of the war. Though this is post-WWII, it is still considered a part of the era. Do you understand how eras work now? If you don’t,¬†leave me a comment and we can discuss further.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II#Italian_invasion_of_Ethiopia_.281935.29

The confusion comes when you confuse an era with an event. An event is different from an era, though events often lead to eras. An event would be WWII, the Yellow Fever Epidemic (this is why I never considered MG and C to have their own era), or the crowning of Queen Victoria and her reign. An ERA is a period of time that is usually marked by not only events, but distinctive characteristics, changes on the earth, and so many other things. Events don’t define an era exclusively, and this is why the death of Victoria did not end the era. In fact, it became an event that was a part of that era. Thus, also, the crowning of King Edward did not just cut the Victorian era in America short.

As I also mentioned before, you wouldn’t call an 1860s historical doll representing England’s history a “Civil War” era doll. There was no Civil War in England at that time and the Civil War in America did not greatly influence England’s history beyond hearing news about it. You equally wouldn’t call Samantha an “Edwardian Era” doll just because Edward is King in England. If it doesn’t affect America, it is not apart of American history.

So, what is my conclusion? It is incorrect to call Samantha the “Edwardian period doll”. Any real historian will LAUGH at you. You can correctly call her Victorian, that is not inaccurate according to AMERICAN HISTORY. American Victorianism was not directly influenced by Queen Victoria alone, but all European nations, some Asian nations, and a desire for the “old wealth” of America to feel more important than the “new wealth”. That is nothing like the Victorian era in England, which was mostly marked by national self-confidence, peace, and prosperity, not wealthy conflicts…And there was no true peace in America during the American Victorian period. The Civil War erupted during this time, which disrupted the “peace”.

Samantha appropriately represents the shift from the American Victorian period to Progressive America. It would also be appropriate to call her the “Turn of the Twentieth Century” girl as well. Either one is historically correct.

Edwardian is NOT.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. If you think I don’t know what I’m talking about, leave me a comment, and I will gladly give more supporting evidence.

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Alice in Wonderland

16 May

Alice in Wonderland has become a popular part of today’s culture. It has developed into a “cult” film. There are many people interested in the story, and there’s a lot of merchandise that comes with it. I’ve seen clothing items, handbags, school supplies, toys, jewelry, posters, and many other items dedicated to this story. Teenagers had made it into somewhat of a sub-culture.

The story is quite fascinating. Many people can’t decipher the reality or inspiration behind the story. Nothing makes sense-but that’s the point, right? It’s very “mental”.

Most people are most familiar with the Walt Disney film that came out in 1950’s titled Alice in Wonderland. What most people don’t realize it that film was the most inaccurate portrayal of Alice in Wonderland out of all of the portrayals. But because most people are familiar with this one, it is often considered the main story. Whenever a new movie comes out that is more accurate, I hear people saying, “Oh, I hate it. It’s nothing like the original.” The “original” they are usually referring to is Disney’s version.

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But did you know that Disney’s version was based off of Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) AND his second novel Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There¬†(1871)?

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Disney chopped up both stories and stuck them in one movie, combining the queens together, even combining some characters with the Mad Hatter, and omitting the scariest antagonist in the story, the Jabberwocky. The story made the “Jabberwocky” poem a popular part of poetic literature and modern culture, even though it’s purely, well, nonsense. I think there’s even a rock band named Jabberwocky. See why this is a “cult” film now?

The most accurate live-action portrayal of both books was the two-part 1985 film Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. It was made-for-tv, and it had a huge all-star cast.

Though the graphics are boo boo, the costumes are bogus, and the musical numbers are distracting, this film brought out all of the elements of Lewis Carroll’s novels, so the story was good. Once you watch this version, you can really see just how whimsical the TRUE story is. I just wish Disney had done true justice to the story. There are some characters I would’ve liked to see animated or re-done with modern graphics.

So, take a look at the 1985 version of the film and let me know what YOU think!

If you like Disney, here is a sneak peek at Disney’s next live-action film, Cinderella! Watch the trailer! Set to come out March 2015!

American Girl’s Beforever

14 May

Many rumors are flying around for American Girl, many of them include extreme changes to the American Girl’s historical brand of dolls. Many of them aren’t very positive. Now, I can just conclude that maybe most American Girl fans aren’t comfortable with change. But in the fans’ defense, American Girl doesn’t make change an easy transition, either. Every doll line deals with changes. Heck, every company makes changes. But American Girl isn’t like most doll lines. The reason why fans have a harder time dealing with changes to American Girl is because the “changes” cost so much.

Many people who actually buy and support American Girl dolls have been fans for years. The things that made them love the American Girls are slowly diminishing. And I’m sorry, the kids don’t make up the largest percentage of fans. They are too busy on I-pads, computers, and buying Monster High. And kids don’t have $100 on them like adults do.

I’m included in this bunch of adult American Girl fans. For years, since the retirement of key historical American Girls, I’ve seen the American Girls tumble down in an endless cycle of modern-day emphasis and a lack of quality. Now, there are even more changes being made to the American Girl brand. I already did an article on the Beforever line, but I’ve seen even more about Beforever. This time, I have more to say. I’m going to hit hard here.

 The Introduction of BeForever

I’ve seen the books. American Girl gave some dolls new “Meet” outfits. With the consolidation of the books, that means there will be less clothes and accessories to represent each book. Last, Marie-Grace and Cecile aren’t apparently included in this new and “improved” line. American Girl is also giving the historical dolls a different name: BeForever.

Consolidated books

This time, American Girl is selling three books per character.

I love this idea. I love the fact that, instead of lugging six books around for EACH girl, I would only have to lug three, or in my case, two, because I don’t see the purpose in getting the boxed sets…if I do decide to buy these sets at all.

For those who don’t know, the books aren’t being re-written, according to American Girl. They are just making the text smaller and making alterations to fit the new outfits. They are fitting six books into two. They are trying to make their beginner books “feel” like novels since children today are more “sophisticated”. I mean, look at how many children read Hunger Games? This will basically be like the American Girl Story Collections they had a long time ago…

The only problem with this is that it will intimidate children who are not so comfortable with reading. The smaller books encouraged easy reading to young girls. The Story Collections didn’t make much money (maybe because the original series was also still being sold). Though that was a different generation, there are still children who won’t gravitate to a book that’s too thick.

The first two books come together to form the core series. The third book is meant to be centered around a modern girl who travels back in time and goes through an adventure with the historical character. So, yea, anyone can see that they are trying to make the historical dolls more “appealing” to modern children. Readers get to choose what happens next and decide the ending.

I read the My Journey with Samantha excerpt on Facebook. They are taking a concept they could’ve used for Girl of the Year, and are placing it in Beforever so that it shows how relevant history can be for children today. The third Samantha book seems to focus on divorce. The Girl of the Year line, supposedly American Girl’s modern line of dolls and books, hasn’t even dealt with divorce yet. Really? You’re going to give a good modern story to the third Samantha book? But all they can come up with for Girl of the Year are some ballerinas…

The stories kind of remind me of the Magic Attic Club books. If you’re a ’90s kid, you probably remember those. To children in the 1990’s, they weren’t as detailed, unique, educational, accurate, nor as interesting as American Girl. Ellie, the neighbor who sends the kids in the story to her attic so that they can go on “adventures”, creeped me out as a child. But maybe this generation might appreciate that type of story-telling more than we did.

I like the idea of the new Journey books. They tell me so much about the characters. My only sadness is that Molly and Felicity don’t have books for their time periods. It would be so interesting to see girls travel back to WWII or the Revolutionary War. It would also be interesting for African American girls to see that there is more to Black American history than slavery with a My Journey with Cecile book. And since she shares a story with another American Girl, it would be better. I’m such a dreamer. I recommend these books to American Girl collectors. When reading this, children will recognize how privileged they are to live in modern times. It definitely helps children appreciate history more, and it’s also very entertaining.

My Journey with Samantha Book Excerpt

My biggest, BIGGEST pet peeve with these books: Some of the stories require you to have internet in order to finish reading. I know this is the “Age of Technology”, but believe it or not, every child does not have internet. To add, some children are often reading while traveling. They may not have internet access while traveling. This is also a miss if children want to read this at school. Who’s bright idea was this?

What I also dislike is that this is the end of the six-outfit-per-book tradition. This is also the end for all of those beautiful accessories that brought the stories to life. With just two books, there are only a few items for each character in comparison to what they used to have. Bummer Summer. Many of the outfits look like spring-time outfits. Samantha and Julie are the only ones that have coats. So, there won’t be much variety, so far. I saw this happening on a smaller scale, but now it seems like American Girl is changing that tradition altogether. I’m not totally against it as long as they give us new and BETTER outfits…which so far, doesn’t seem to be happening…More on this later…

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NO MORE LOOKING BACK SECTION OR ILLUSTRATIONS

After a huge panic, I realized that there is sort of a “Looking Back” section: Inside __’s World. And while it isn’t as detailed, doesn’t have any pictures, and has been condensed to two pages, I think girls can get the point. At least they have something that focuses on the history. I do feel that the original “Looking Back” sections were parts of their books that American Girl’s competitors always tried to imitate. I guess now their competition can move right in on that opportunity. But I’m absolutely fine with a brief two-page segment that, at least, sums the whole thing up. I also like that in Beforever there is a lot of focus on the characters. To me, the books are turning out to be the best improvements to the line.

I am a bit sad that there are no illustrations. I can live without it, because I enjoy using my imagination. I also understand that the illustrations caged American Girl into making only outfits that were “in the pictures” (or otherwise be shamed for¬†“deviating from the pictures”). Some of American Girl’s other books, like the original History Mysteries and the Girls of Many Lands series, didn’t have illustrations.

But those illustrations in the American Girl books helped put pictures to words. It helped children understand what American Girl books were talking about. For instance, the horno in Josefina’s book is unimaginable without a clear explanation. Even a glossary to translate it can’t help a child understand what it is. A picture would make a child even more curious about it and its history. Now, it’s even harder to get the kids to understand what’s going on…

Even though children are reading books as advanced as Hunger Games, children still find it easier to read with visuals. Hunger Games is more appealing to kids than it was before because it has a visual now: A movie. Now, as an educator, I, by all means, believe in challenging children to read age-appropriate material, especially considering the target age. However, I notice that some kids don’t usually read for fun, and even when they do, they find it hard to finish what they start. It is usually much easier for children to pick up a smaller book, especially with illustrations. It encourages “fun” reading, so that it doesn’t feel like “homework” reading. I just wish two versions could be made available: one with pictures, one without. But overall, I’m pretty happy with the changes made to the book series.

 New artwork

I love the new artwork. I love the realistic portrayal. I just wish Marie-Grace, Cecile, Felicity, Molly, and Kirsten were able to enjoy the new art…

Josefina Is Missing a Book?

Don’t panic people. I received an email from American Girl about this. My Journey with Josefina is expected to be released in the FALL of 2015.

Although Josefina doesn’t have a Journey book at this time, we expect to
introduce one for her in the Fall of 2015.

Thank you for being a fan of American Girl!

Best wishes,

Your Friends at American Girl

No Marie-Grace or Cecile or Best Friend dolls?

On http://www.americangirlpublishing.com , I don’t see any books with the Archived dolls. MG and C JUST came out two years ago and are already being archived. American Girl has announced that they would keep the Archived girls’ books even after the launch of the Beforever line,

archived dollsbut they don’t have the other books open and obvious to find on their shop website anymore. Now you have to flip through 8 pages of the “Historical Fiction” section to find them. I’m just happy that they are still around.

Oh, and, btw, they GOT RID of the website games for all of the old dolls. That means no MG and C games.

A huge load of crap is the fact that there was no notice, no press release, no news of anything regarding these girls. There was inconsistency between what the store workers were saying and what the Facebook workers were saying. Nothing added up. Now, we all find out American Girl just basically LIED when they clearly stated to most fans who inquired about archivals that they weren’t “archiving any dolls this year”. American Girl has been designing these dolls for TWO years (maybe even more than that). It was trademarked long ago. They KNEW that these dolls were not in their plans, and yet waited so late to announce it. It was almost like they “forgot” about them. I’m sensing another 2000-2001 Felicity problem here, if anyone remembers her retirement back then… These girls ended up retiring on the spot, without warning, and fans are upset because they will not be able to collect and gather items before they disappear. They act like people can just pop up with $100 PER DOLL in two months. That’s someone’s rent money.

Maybe they plan on re-releasing the Archived dolls in the future with the new books. That is left to be seen. Samantha was re-released, so that option isn’t completely far-removed. The only positive thing about this whole change is the return of Samantha, and they couldn’t even get that right…

I’m not even concerned about the Best Friend dolls. It’s also as I said before, they are “accessories” to the main girls. It never was fair how some girls got friends, and the others didn’t have one. I was so mad when Julie got a friend before Addy or Kirsten, but I knew their friends’ dolls “wouldn’t sell” like some of the other best friend dolls they released. So, look how fast they disappeared. Just like all of the other outfits and accessories. What is a loss is the disappearance of their only Asian historical. Pathetic. But it was pathetic when they decided to make their only Asian historical a “sidekick” to begin with.

American Girl says they want to “move away” from the “best friend strategy”. I can see why. It stops them from making new historicals, and they stay stuck in one time period. The outfits they could’ve been making for the actual American Girls often got placed on the best friend dolls. Just a waste of space.

The difference between the other “best friends” and the Marie-Grace and Cecile collection, however, is the fact that MG and C represented a whole new event that was never touched on by any of the other American Girl historical characters. Now we don’t have anyone representing that event. Even with Ruthie and Ivy gone, Kit and Julie will still be around to represent the Great Depression and the 1970’s. We can still hope to see outfits and accessories for their collections. Since Ruthie and Ivy were best friends to two of the main American Girl historical characters, when and if they make new books for the Beforever line, we will get to read new books with Ruthie and Ivy in them. That is not the same case with MG and C. And yet, there was still a lot about the NOLA collection that was left half-done. I still didn’t get my musical stand and notes. Neither did I get my medical kit for MG. Oh, and by the way, now we’re only stuck with ONE black girl.

So, I guess that means Addy’s not being Archived any time soon, huh? I was quite sure Cecile was supposed to be the “pretty, well-dressed” black doll that was going to replace Addy. I was wrong. In this case, I’m glad I was. It’s just sad there isn’t room for two black characters.

Another additional mess is the fact the majority of Caucasian characters are blonde. Samantha will stick out like a thumb on a hand. Maybe that’s what they want, so she will get more attention, but I think we are lacking in the Caucasian variety as well (Perhaps if you don’t consider Rebecca a part of that Caucasian variety, and rather ethnic variety…). There are different hair colors besides blonde in the Caucasian ethnicity. Where are the red heads? Where are the brunettes? We lost three of our lovely bruns (Ruthie, Marie-Grace, Molly), and ALL of our redheads (Felicity, sort of Nellie, and Emily)…

No More Archived Dolls’ GAMES

As mentioned before, the Archived girls’ games are GONE. I know a lot of children who enjoyed playing Felicity’s and Molly’s games even though the girls’ dolls were no longer around.

This really bites my head off.

New “Meet Outfits” and other clothing¬†

I blame the fans for this one. Fans whined and complained about new outfits for the American Girl historicals so much, American Girl just decided to get rid of the old outfits altogether and replaced them with new, less accurate wardrobes. Way to go, fans. Again, as I always say, fans are always the first to beg for ridiculous things, and then blow a candle out when they realize it’s worse than before. The point is there is no point in fixing what isn’t broken. But fans didn’t see it that way.

So now, Kit, Rebecca, Samantha, Addy, and Julie will be getting new outfits…and some of the clothing items stink. Kit’s birthday outfit hardly seems like Kit. It’s so flouncy, I wonder, again, how much American Girl reads their own literature! Everything is so drenched in pastels, my head is spinning. Sure, everything is frilly and pretty. But not all of it speaks to my historical tastes. This is not to say everything is bad and ugly. Some items are very attractive. But it just feels like the vast majority is…missing something.

Samantha is marketed with a freaking HEADBAND on! It’s almost as if they stuffed a modern girl in a pretty dress from the 1990’s, and labeled it 1904. It’s almost as if they drew inspiration from Disney’s 1950’s version of Alice in Wonderland! And okay, I know bangs were never extremely accurate for a Swedish girl like Kirsten at the time of her release in the 1980’s. Bangs weren’t an extreme trend in the 1800s, though the trend came and went often. I mean, there were bangs, but the convenience of every doll that came out in the 1980s (the era of fringe) having bangs seemed like an attempt to modernize historical dolls rather than focus on historical accuracy at the time.

Am I asking too much to expect an improvement?

Oh well, at least the actual Samantha doll has a bow, even if she does still come with a headband…

Possibly, the girl on the front cover IS a modern girl, since the third book is supposed to center around a modern girl. Perhaps Samantha has go-go boots because she got “tips” on modern fashion from this modern girl. That doesn’t make me happy. I get enough of modern girls with the Girl of the Year. And I’m not a big fan of Girl of the Year story-telling.

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Samantha’s Holiday outfit is awkward for me and a far cry from the beautiful cranberry dress she used to have. The plaid fabric makes it look more like a school outfit than a holiday one. But maybe that’s just my taste. I love the boots, though. The shoes are getting better and better every time…

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Samantha wasn’t the only doll stuck with a headband. Caroline follows the trend from all the way in the 1800s! And the outfit that matches that headband looks like they borrowed inspiration from Disney’s Elsa from the movie Frozen…Yes, it looks like a DISNEY PRINCESS costume. In person, it looks cheap. I do not recommend this at all. And yet, this is the only new outfit Caroline got. I didn’t think her old birthday outfit was all that great, as I wasn’t fond of the “stickers” on the dress. BUT at least the style was more authentic.

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Kit looks like she belongs in the 1950’s instead of the 1930’s. I really miss that bell cap. They “dumbed down” Kit’s wardrobe. It lacks so much detail and authenticity. I expected an improvement, not a down-grade. Kit’s school dress was more realistic than this. Would a Depression-era girl wear matching shoes with her outfit like this? And what about Kit’s androgynous overalls? Oh wait, maybe they don’t appeal to these girls today…It takes the next generation to ruin a perfectly-created line. Kit’s collection, by far, is my least favorite.

They added too many bright colors to this line. I understand that the colorful dresses make it more appealing to little girls (I suppose), but Depression-era kids found it hard enough to keep their clothes clean. Pastels would’ve made life harder. I would understand if they made one colorful dress for Kit. But they went crazy with the fabric colors and designs. I don’t like Kit’s designs or fabrics. It’s just too busy for me. Kit’s collection was once my favorite collection. It is now a collection I hope will have many items retiring.

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I’m really going to miss Kit’s feed-sack dress, which brings me to another conclusion. Because they changed the birthday scene on the cover, they changed the text dealing with Kit’s birthday, too. If you are not a fan of the series, this may not bother you. I know most fans only collect dolls anyway. I got into American Girl for the stories, so I’m a stickler about the books. I am in fact more in love with the stories than the dolls. And yes, I know it’s a doll company, and doll companies will change outfits to fit their business, but I don’t have to support something I don’t like, either. Everything has a consequence. If American Girl makes changes that I don’t like, then they have to deal with the loss of my money and support. Simple as that. However a fan becomes a fan varies, and I’m one who appreciates their story-telling. I collect so many other historical dolls, I don’t care so much about American Girl’s dolls alone. American Girl had appealing characters and story-period-accurate clothing,which made them stand out from other historical doll lines. In fact, I’m more about story-character accuracy than even historical accuracy. I absolutely love the individual character personalities. These characters have more depth than any other personalities associated with doll lines. They have distinct interests and hobbies. Most doll lines (and I collect many) have¬†cue-card descriptions to characters, descriptions that usually give typical, superficial diversity (she’s the sporty character, she’s the glam character, she’s the sweet character, she’s the smart character, etc). But now, the things I happened to appreciate about this doll line are a bit screwy.

Just look at the hideous birthday dress Kit’s wearing now. I’m disappointed. My favorite part of¬†Happy Birthday, Kit¬†*SPOILER ALERT*¬†was when Aunt Millie made Kit her mint green dress. Kit had been grouchy from the heat, and from having to wear winter clothes in the spring and summer. Then Aunt Millie surprised Kit with a mint green feed sack dress. The color and style was so cool, that Kit felt cool in the middle of the heat as she put it on. I loved that moment, that connection with Aunt Millie, and it made me love the dress even more. This new birthday dress¬†doesn’t even compare. I hate when companies change the book to go along with future plans. They could’ve at least made the dress a cool color.

This also goes along with all of the other dresses that they’ve changed. Samantha never talked about her dress in¬†Meet Samantha, so that’s an easy change. But what about Addy’s dress? That hardly looks like a simple dress she would’ve gotten from a simple southerner in¬†Meet Addy. Rebecca’s dress is okay, it just really isn’t AS authentic, but it will do. That’s how I feel about most of the outfits. Many are just barely hanging on a historical thread. Some are just out-right modern. Many outfits seem re-used or seem to belong in another time period besides the one it is being marketed to. It’s just…messy. I’m not one of those fans that like cute and frilly, semi-historical, semi-contemporary outfits. Some people like to collect dolls for their cute-ness, and if you’re that type of fan, you may fall in love with Beforever. But as for me, I buy things that are story-accurate and historically-accurate, even if it’s not cute. I prefer a home-museum of hideous but authentic artifacts to just a bunch of pretty semi-historical items, though I like pretty things too…If they represent the characters and history well. I am a fan of that first and foremost, so most of the clothing items turn me off.

This is also what I hated about Felicity’s lavender dress. It was just not as authentic. But at least, they didn’t have to change the text. They had to change the text in Felicity’s books after they changed Elizabeth’s hair from brunette to blonde in¬†Felicity Learns a Lesson, but it didn’t change the nature or emotions of the story…Though I never bought any of the new books with blonde Elizabeth…

brunette elizabeth

And no, the above is not a photoshopped picture…

blonde elizabeth

For those of you who don’t know, Felicity had been retired in 2001. Prior to 2001, Felicity’s best friend Elizabeth’s hair color was brunette and her eyes were brown in the original book illustrations. When Felicity was re-released with her movie in 2005, they decided to change Elizabeth’s hair color to fit more with the movie. They changed the character’s hair for the movie so that she wouldn’t look related to Felicity or wouldn’t be confused with Felicity because many of Felicity’s relatives had dark hair in the film. I still don’t understand how they thought people would confuse red hair with dark hair, but that was their explanation…Yea, I didn’t really like blonde Elizabeth.

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Aside from the fact that the text will change, Kit’s new birthday dress is hideous. It’s the ugliest and most disarranged dress I’ve ever seen coming from American Girl. The collar stretches awkwardly to an obvious make-shift bow. If I were Kit, this would be more embarrassing than the rick-rack dress she was always complaining about. The ribbon belt on the lower half of the dress looks like it’s awkwardly holding up a skirt that’s too big to fit on Kit. It looks embarrassingly raggedy. The dress LOOKS like it came from a sack. It looks like it was cut up every-which-way, and thrown together at the last minute. It definitely doesn’t look like a kind and caring Aunt took the time to put a beautiful dress together for, basically, her granddaughter. It looks like she slapped some table cloths together just to shut Kit up…

To add, Kit hates pink. That’s a “no, no” in my book. I am all about character-portrayal accuracy. Thus, this piece is definitely not something I like. I would be so embarrassed to wear a color I despise to my own birthday party. Maybe a Depression-era girl would appreciate just any dress. But wouldn’t it have been better if it was a dress that was in a color she actually liked? Wouldn’t it have been better if it was in a style that was true to Aunt Millie’s talent of making things “beautiful and useful”? It just looks useful…not beautiful.

Kit’s birthday dress isn’t the only dress I’m not feeling. I’m not a fan of polka-dots, so they can have Kit’s reporter dress.

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AQ_BKC52_FL_1Julie’s Meet outfit is so plain without all of the fancy accessories. It lacks the detail that the original outfit had. They simplified her outfit with a shirt, jeans, and a sweater vest. Really ordinary. The original “Meet” outfit had embroidery near the neck-line of a tunic-styled top, a little belt on the waistline, and even had pleats. It even came with two tops instead of one. This new outfit looks like a costume. Any kid today can throw this look together, and I think that’s what Mattel is aiming for: girls can draw inspiration from this simple fashion and create their own Halloween look-a-likes. Any girl can find a tank-top with decals on it, jeans with flowers on them, put a sweater vest on, and call themselves a 1970’s girl. Everything about this look screams “costume-ready”, and, yes, Mattel has taken advantage of this.

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It takes a little more effort to make a perfect costume that matches the original “Meet” outfit…There are just so many details to consider! It had more of a “historical” and an “authentic” feeling to it.

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Most children wore stripes and tunics in the 1970’s, and fashion magazines don’t show children sporting decal-printed tank tops in the 1970’s…

Just go to Google, type in 1970’s tank tops, 1970’s tops, 1970’s fashion, and look at the results…There are no results showing 1970’s decal-printed tank tops…There are hardly any results showing blue-jeans with decals on them…

But there are plenty of stripes and plenty of tunics, so we know it must have been popular and common. Let me make it easier on you. Click the links below.

Google Search

http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/7kf/1978girlsclothes.jpg

http://cdn2.retrowaste.com/wp-content/gallery/1970s-womens-fashion-ads/1970-girls-fashion-01.jpg

Instead of creating actual time-period costumes, they have designed some “modern-day” outfits that are “inspired” from the historical American Girls’ outfits! That…is even worse than I thought they would do. But at least they didn’t funk up time-period costumes. Apparently, they have been shifting through Polyvore…

I’m assuming that American Girl decided to make the dolls less “historical” and full of pastels so that it would make it easier to make more modern clothing for girls to match. I guess their “market research” showed that little girls don’t like dressing up in historical costumes, and would rather wear clothing that is trendy; clothing that they can wear anywhere without looking weird. These “inspired” outfits are supposed to promote the Beforever line because it’s supposed to show how girls can borrow styles from the past to apply it to modern-day clothing. And that is a lovely idea–in theory. However, if the cost is a less educational approach or a more inaccurate approach to the actual dolls’ wardrobes, that defeats the purpose in promoting Beforever with girl-sized, “history-inspired” modern wardrobes when the doll’s clothing is basically modern itself. This is fundamental proof that American Girl is trying to “modernize” a HISTORICAL line of dolls.

They also tried so desperately to turn Julie into a 1970’s teenager. “Let’s grow her up a few years so she can have trendier clothing”. One of Julie’s outfits come with some platform shoes! What? No child at the age of 9/10 would look like this in the 1970’s! What research do they do? I’m sure over half of those designers at American Girl LIVED during the 1970’s as children. Do they honestly remember wearing PLATFORMS as children? It’s like they got amnesia the moment they began working on Julie’s design! However, the outfit that is marketed with those shoes are to DIE for. I think the outfit is period-accurate and attractive in person.

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There’s one more pet peeve I have with Julie’s collection. Julie’s Christmas outfit doesn’t even look like a Christmas outfit, even for a girl who lives in California…And yet, that’s what American Girl calls it. At least it’s cute. Anyone can buy it and pretend it’s for some other occasion. I accidentally told a friend that this was Julie’s birthday outfit. They believed it. When I told my friend what it really was, after looking it up again, my friend said I didn’t even need to explain because it can pass for anything. This won’t go well with “Christmas” playtime. So that just means Julie is without a Christmas wardrobe…The only thing that even slightly screams Xmas are the bow and belt as they are of a velvet fabric.

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Julie’s outfits are not where it ends. Most of the new outfits for all of the girls look more like modern-day costumes effortlessly trying to depict the past rather than actual antiques. Some of them are just completely “out-of-season” and don’t match the events they are marketed to represent…

Some outfits just feel recycled and re-used. They basically recycled Cecile’s outfit, dyed it a different color, tweaked it a bit, and threw it on Addy. Talk about a lack of creativity. And if any of you know the story of Meet Addy, you would also remember that *SPOILER*the southern woman in the story gave Addy her “Meet” dress while she was running away from slavery with her Momma to the North. Can you really see a girl running away from slavery in a dress that looks as fancy as Cecile’s dresses? Addy, sitting on a ship for months (*SPOILER*At the end of the first story, the southern woman takes them to a ship heading North), in a dress that possibly a wealthy girl of color would’ve worn? It just doesn’t seem very realistic.

In fact, isn’t that the exact same dress Harriet wore in the Addy: An American Girl Story play? Fellow blogger and American Girl wiki admin, Nethilia, pointed this out. It’s obviously a dress a wealthy girl of Color would’ve worn…

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Nethilia’s photo, from Americangirl.wikia.com and American Girl Outsider blog. A very strong-willed African American woman. ūüėČ

Despite the lack of character-accuracy, which is a must for me to buy, many of you may be pleased to find that the dress is really gorgeous in person.

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I also like Addy’s school outfit. It is the most period-accurate out of all of the outfits. I love that it’s still a blue color, though the pastels are getting to me…But that outfit was done perfectly.

Click to see Addy’s School outfit

But even this isn’t enough to ease my irritation.

To strike the lowest blow, what is with all of this PINK? All of this barfing pink! Samantha, Caroline, Rebecca, Kit! Kit even has some hints of pink in her “Meet” dress! They even changed Kaya’s and Samantha’s background colors to PINK! Didn’t the Girl of the Year JUST come out with PINK?! I mean, aren’t there other colors in the rainbow that people in history bought? All of these pastels are sickening! Attack of the Barbie, anyone? Not that I don’t get enough of it walking down the toy aisle in my nearest Walmart…

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AW_BKC60_FL_1 ¬† AS_BKC63_FL_1 If this is what’s supposed to sell to these kids, then I’m glad I’m not a kid today. This is pathetic. At least throw in some white.

I was impressed with Josefina’s Meet outfit. I love the color tones in her skirt much more than I liked the old one, and it is period-accurate, but maybe not as practical for a rancho worker and her daily life…It looks more like something a New Mexican girl would wear to a fandango. But since that happened in the first story, I like it. If you see it up close, it looks really nice. The colors are rich and vibrant. I like it.

Click to see Josefina’s outfit

Rebecca’s outfits are rather nice in person. Her Holiday dress is a favorite of mine, but NOT necessarily appropriate for a winter holiday. It fits more of a “spring-time” theme in my opinion.

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What really “Grinds My Gears” about Rebecca’s collection is how badly they are trying to¬†“remove” the emphasis on her religion in her collection. They changed “Rebecca’s Hannukah Dress” to “Rebecca’s Holiday Dress” as her title description. When my classroom kids clicked it, they thought it was her Christmas dress…

Overall, we have some outfits that are pretty, but many others that fail at being story accurate, character accurate, historically accurate, age-appropriate (Julie, you’re guilty), or just simply beautiful (Kit, why did they screw you over). The rest are one color, you guessed it: Pink.

American Girl is starting to realize people don’t like many of the fashions, so they have revived their old “Meet” outfits. They are now called “Classic Outfits”. So, they are still available for purchase, if any of you are interested. I know I am.

Accessories

As I mentioned before, there are not as many new outfits for the books as there used to be in the 1990s. Many of the old accessories have retired. In just TWO MONTHS, some of the items have disappeared. Some items are still around, and some have been re-used from other American Girl collections (Many from the NOLA girls’ collection).

And guess what ya’ll? The quality of some of the new items are horrifying low. One example would be Samantha’s locket. Samantha comes with a locket that DOESN’T open. All of the old lockets could open. And that new thing costs $24! Maybe they are so low on funds that they couldn’t produce high-quality lockets, but it’s so disappointing that American Girl has lost so much value with such high prices. Advice: Keep your old locket. When buying something from this new line, I recommend you see these items in person before you buy them. Or ask questions about everything you desire to purchase before you buy the item or before you decide to replace your old items. Many of the items are not of great quality…

Another problem I have is, again, Rebecca’s religion being “neutralized” to appeal to more “Christmas-celebrating” households in the advertising of Rebecca’s products. They mashed her tea time collection with Sabbath. ¬†Her Sabbath set is now called her “Tea-Time Traditions”. Come on, American Girl. State it as it is. They are a part of her Jewish culture. Don’t try to mold her to feel more comfortable with “Christmas-celebrating” households. Educate children on the diversity of religion in the USA. Please.

THE PRICE

Despite the obvious lower quality and inaccurate “period” clothing, American Girl decided to BUMP the price of the dolls up $15! Apparently, in American Girl’s mind, they think they deserve a pat on the back, a job well done, as if we should grace them with 15 more dollars! No they didn’t just screw us over by discontinuing FOUR $100 dolls in TWO MONTHS. No they didn’t just retire MOST of their old accessories in TWO MONTHS, which would usually take months to collect. And now they expect US to buy their $115 dolls? And that is not including the prices of the playsets and accessories, which are at very awkward prices as well.

One of Samantha’s outfits HAS to be bought with a tea set! They made it a “requirement”, which bumps up the price of that outfit. Um, I don’t need another tea set, thus I don’t need that outfit.

American Girl, you’re making me laugh as I start to realize the joke you are. I am NOT fitting $115 in my budget. Considering how people feel about some of these horrendous outfits and your poor unprofessional moves, you would think they would make it easier by lowering the prices. But oh no! You just have to find more reasons to screw people OVER!

And they just gave me more reasons not to¬†support Beforever’s dolls. If I do get a doll, she will be naked and half this price. She and her outfits won’t be coming home at the same time, I’ll tell you that. I feel sorry for anyone who wants to put this kind of money into the line. Good luck pumping this kind of change out. I have plenty of bills to pay that I won’t put on the side for this mess of a doll line.

Beforever

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The new “title” for the historical characters is “Beforever”. Whoever thought that this name was a good idea must have been drunk. Or they wanted to appeal to the “hashtag” generation (I suppose “historical characters” doesn’t go over well on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, or whatever other social media). I guess this is supposed to be easier for kids to read and understand more than “historical”. But it cheapens the brand. What’s wrong with children learning about the word “historical”? It is supposed to be an educational line, after all. Apparently, they think this lame, cheesy new title will appeal to children more. It might. But it’s still lame. Let’s replace the value of history by telling them to “beforever”. I hope they don’t keep this title “Forever”. What’s wrong with keeping it simple? They are historical characters, therefore, historical. Period. Apparently with Mattel, fans don’t talk, money does. So this fan’s money will stay in her pockets.

So that’s my spin on the new Beforever line. After reviewing everything I’ve seen and heard, I am just completely torn apart when it comes to the line. Man, it looks like I’ll be saving a LOT of money this year, first with the Girl of the Year and now with this. I am open to some changes. I am considering getting the new consolidated books with the pretty artwork, but without the “Looking Back” section, my old books are more valuable to me than the new ones. I want the My Journey with books. I really would’ve appreciated books focusing on WWII and the American Revolution-two of America’s most important events, but I’m still getting those My Journey with books. I still do like some outfits, but many of them are not amazing enough for me to rush out and buy them. Many outfits would look really nice on some of my dolls, but sadly, many outfits fit well with a modern setting rather than a historical one. And I like only a few of their modern dolls’ outfits, so that doesn’t help a fan like me. Maybe that’s what American Girl wants. Maybe they want girls to see that historical girls didn’t dress much different? Not sure how they want to work that. I am a stickler for story-character-accuracy, perhaps even more than historical accuracy, and that has depleted.

I did get the chance to visit American Girl Place. Everything that I thought was bad was pretty bad, but things that I thought were “meh” turned out better. See everything for yourself. ūüė¶ Too disappointed in Kit. The only thing that caught my attention was the My Journey with Kit book, and that’s sad, because I usually come into the store excited with all of the items. The prices were also scary, too.

Click Me to see what this Beforever line is all about so you can form your own opinion. Amazon.com has them set to be released August 28, 2014.

Read Other articles about American Girl:

American Girl Videos

Samantha is NOT Edwardian

The “Real” American Girl models who brought the dolls to life!

American Girl dolls: Do blondes sell better?

Grace Thomas, the New American Girl + My Qualms with American Girl

Meet Cecile and Marie-Grace!

Meet Caroline!

Kit Kittredge: American Girl’s “bad girl”

Farewell Molly

Black History Month Honors Addy and Cecile

Meet Saige Girl of the Year 2013

American Girl Isabelle 2014

Felicity’s Archival¬†and Part 2

Kirsten’s Archival

McKenna 2012’s American Girl

American Girl and my obsession

American Girl at McDonalds

American’s Girl’s first EVER American BOY?

Video

Adrian Von Ziegler and Brunuhville: Youtube’s Best Celtic Composers

23 Apr

I have always loved Celtic and Medieval music. It does really well for filming soundtracks, and just for some good authentic listening.

Brunuhville and Adrian Von Ziegler both make it to the top of my Celtic music lists. Their music is really touching. I can feel every sound running through me. I get the chills when I listen to their music. Beautiful, magical, and simply EPIC.

So have a listen. It’s quite a cultural experience. I, being the history and culture lover that I am, am always interested in world music on every scale.

American Girl is Bringing the Samantha Parkington Doll Back!

18 Feb

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American Girl announced on their facebook that, as of this fall, Samantha will be returning to the American Girl brand! American Girl has also said they are making some changes to the historical line!

Time to celebrate, Samantha Parkington fans‚ÄĒyour favorite is coming back this fall! Our Victorian-era character’s return is just one of the exciting changes to our historical line. Stay tuned for more details‚Ķ

This is exciting news for fans of the doll. I am not surprised she returned. She was the money-maker of the doll line. I can’t wait! This also gives me hope that Felicity, Kirsten, and Molly will be returning some time in the future, if their demand is still around.

Stay Tuned! Time to save your pennies! WOOT WOOT!

Samantha's doll

Samantha’s doll

Samantha's painting

Samantha’s painting

Let’s celebrate with a return to the first American Girl Movie EVER!

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