You Scream I Scream: New Monster High Doll "Scarah Screams" Debuts at Comic-Con, Is Just as Bad as Other Monster High Dolls

Last year, we gave the Mattel's Monster High series the lowest honor we bestow here on the Bitch blogs: The Douchebag Decree. At the time, Deb Jannerson had this to say of the franchise:

Well, what do you know? Hypersexualized, heavily made-up dolls with über-Barbie proportions. Not only are their waists much narrower than their heads; they're close to the size of one of their calves. The ladies are homogeneous in height, shorter than their few male counterparts so as not to be intimidating. The designated nerd, zombie Ghoulia (third from the right), is the only female to come with a pair of pants; mummy Cleo de Nile (second from right) appears to at first glance but is actually clad in strips of fabric prone to gaps and *wink-wink* wardrobe malfunctions.

These are the quintessential high school outcasts?

Though Monster High claims to be about celebrating differences (tagline: "Freaky is fabulous") the dolls themselves are very similar—not only to one another, but to their blond older cousin. Turns out the newest Monster High doll, which debuts this week at Comic-Con 2012, offers fans more of the same.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8294/7551158764_ec4cd0f282_n.jpgScarah Screams doll on a stand
Well, at least she and her friends can share clothes.

Like her Monster High classmates, Scarah Screams is the daughter of a classic monster—in this case, a banshee. According to the diary that comes with her, Scarah wears what she calls "monster retro fashion" and rarely uses her speaking voice at school because "it would just cause more trouble than it's worth." When fellow student Heath Burns makes her feel bad for wearing vintage clothes, she says nothing—speaking up would just make things worse. Presumably she's referring to the legend of the banshee—an Irish female spirit who announces death—with the voice thing, but a high school girl who's afraid to say something when a guy makes fun of her outfit is hardly role model material. Why couldn't her extraordinary voice be used for something cooler, like telling this Burns character to shove it?

Scarah Screams was chosen by fans at last year's Comic-Con to be the next Monster High attendee to make the transition from webisode/book/spinoff character to real-live plastic. Oddly enough, she comes with a BFF named Hoodude Voodoo—a male Monster High-er and "human-sized living Voodoo doll, created by Frankie Stein to be her emergency boyfriend. For this reason, he has a major crush on her." (Okay then WTF is he doing in the box with Scarah Screams? Doesn't she know he's Frankie's Voodoo doll?)

Scarah and Hoodude
Scarah with her BFF and boxmate, Hoodude.

Plot holes aside (this Monster High wiki has me thinking that Scarah and Hoodude's BFFship was fabricated for Comic-Con), adding a Voodoo doll to the mix "for the sole purpose of being Frankie's boyfriend when she thought she needed one to connect with her friends" is a problem. Unlike, say, Frankenstein monsters or vampires, Voodoo is a real religion, practiced by real people who aren't just trying to fit in in school. And isn't it contrary to the "be yourself" ethos of the Monster High franchise that the main character would be so desperate to impress her peers that she'd make a fake boyfriend? How "fabulous" is that?

Okay, back to Scarah. We don't know much about this new monster yet, but we've learned so far that she's into retro fashion, she likes reading, and she doesn't like to use her voice at school. She's also Irish, in keeping with her banshee roots, and her diary is full of uncomfortable Irishisms like "boyo," "Janey Mack," "'tis and 'twas," "auld sod," and "wee." We get it! She doesn't need to write in the voice of the Irish Spring announcer to convince us, and kids probably don't need such an Irish stereotype for a doll either.

Lest you think no one cares about Monster High save for a few supernatural-loving tweens, keep in mind that a toy buyer friend of mine tells me these are the most popular girls' toys on the market right now. The announcement of the Scarah Screams doll made big waves on the Internet, the dolls are selling for upwards of $80 on ebay, and are set to do big business at Comic-Con.

As far as dolls go, this could be worse. At least Scarah Screams likes reading and has her own sense of style, right? And that Hoodude guy is supposed to be quite sensitive. Monster High is even part of a tween self-esteem initiative "to inspire tween girls to celebrate and embrace the unique qualities that make them 'perfectly imperfect' through specially created online content, downloadable activities, and an animated webisode." (So yeah, basically a chance to sell more dolls. Embrace your unique qualities though!)

The Monster High franchise encourages girls to be "imperfectly perfect" in the same way the dolls are: thin, feminine, and "freaky" in a socially acceptable (read: hot) way, and though Scarah Screams is new, she's no different. Sure, it could be worse, but when it comes to pop culture for girls, shouldn't we hope for better?

Further reading: Douchebag Decree: Monster High

Images: Paul Nomad via Flickr

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Comments

16 comments have been made. Post a comment.

While I agree on the points

While I agree on the points made about the lack of speaking, and the ridiculous body proportions, I'm not afraid to say that I, as a doll collector, own four monster high dolls myself, and I'm not a tween, I'm 20 years old. I know women upwards of 25 who collect the dolls - this isn't strictly a tween thing. And while they may be uncomfortably similar to Barbie in their proportions, I believe they are a step in the right direction for toys aimed at young girls.

The fact that Mattel are realizing -albeit very slowly- that toys that look different, and are not the typical blonde trope type of doll can gain popularity is something, even if they are currently still playing very safe with just how 'freaky' they can get. I think the unnatural skin colours, the fact that the doll Ghoulia Yelps is into intellectual persuits like reading and the idea of embracing ones 'imperfections' is much improved from the usual obsession with purely physical attributes. They're certiainly not perfect and have a LONG way to go, but I think they should be applauded due to the fact that Mattel finally stepped out of the gneder stereotyped, ridiculously restricting box they are in with Barbie and focused on creating dolls that are all different, not carbon copies with different skin colours, as they did with Barbie.

I don't see what you're

I don't see what you're complaining about. These dolls TOTALLY celebrate acceptance. Like Scarah, here, teaches us that instead of thinking "The kids at school read too much into what I say and that's THEIR problem," she goes with "I'd better shut up to be accepted."

See. ACCEPTANCE, right?

/sarcasm

I think she means that if she

I think she means that if she speaks, since she's a banshee, it will literally kill the person hearing it. (Which is pretty awesome.)

But you're right. The allegory is super obvious and super troubling: a girl who chooses not to use her voice at all just for the sake of social acceptance and the comfort of others. :(

The use of "monsters" in

The use of "monsters" in popular culture to signify empty faux-rebellion and to sneakily reinforce societal norms (see Lady Gaga, the explosion of the supernatural romance sub-genre, these "Monster High" dolls...) really irks me. Mostly because I just personally love monsters for what they traditionally represent.

Definitely

I agree—a series about a Monster High could've been a lot cooler than this! Traditionally, monsters are anything but conformist. That (used to be) the point!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Afraid to use her voice? Some

Afraid to use her voice? Some banshee. Siouxsie would wipe the floor with her, LOL.

I agree with the poster who pointed out what a faux-rebellion things like this represent. Besides, if I want a horror or supernatural themed doll, give me the Living Dead Dolls any day.

this is a really

this is a really disappointing article to have on here.

Get more specific

Why is this article a disappointment? Because the dolls are a disappointment? The attitudes the dolls represent are a disappointment? The article is poorly written? The article's analysis is disappointing? You are just generally disappointed with most everything? If you have something to say, don't pull a Scarah, say it.

So, I have the same beef with

So, I have the same beef with Monster High dolls, but at the same time, I find myself liking them if only in a kistchy, ironic sort of way. I would also like to say that the male MH dolls are just as weirdly proportioned. Also, also, one of the coolest things I've seen done with MH dolls are custom makeovers, where the original paint is washed or sanded off and new faces, along with new characters, are painted on, and the dolls are given new hair and outfits to match. Obviously this does nothing about the bodily proportions (although I;ve seen several instances where female heads are put on male bodies), but it opens up a discussion of the "monstrous," and how it is portrayed. My favorite custom design was named "Virginia Dentata."

Fun!

I like the idea of customizing them. I'll have to check that out!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Monster High re-builds saved the day!

I find myself in the same boat as Owl on this one.

I have two girls aged 7 and 5. My partner is the stay at home parent (male) and I am the one currently employed (female, military).

We had a early negative experience with subversive gender messaging in toy marketing.

My oldest was given a crap ton of Disney princess merchandise by well meaning relatives. When my oldest was about 2 1/2 we were talking about "what do you want to be when you grow up" , her predictable answer was "a Disney princess" however when we asked her why her answer was "All I have to do is look pretty and my Prince Charming will take care of me and buy me things!" EEEEEEEK!!!!

After a long discussion the disney princess garbage was dredged out of our life and replaced by more positive influences.

Fast forward to present day; now my kids are school aged with all the peer pressure to go along with it :

"Mom, Justin Beiber is sooooo cooooool"
"Really, why?"
"Vanessa said so!"
(Note, we have never listened to Justin Beiber, all she knows is that they sell toys and stuff with his name on it!)

My in laws, well meaning but hopelessly stuck to the gender binary 'pink=girl Disney is wholesome' mentality have been suffering for the last few years sending us star wars action figures and educational toys for holidays and birthdays (I'm so mean to them, LOL) so when they saw Monster High they went bat crap and bought a veritable army of them!

It started out with the plush dolls (which I remind me of the rag dolls my grandmother used to make and I am totally fine with) and then they started sending the fashion dolls......... oh boy.

They sat in the closet for a while we pondered what to do with them.

Eventually we gutted the boxes trashing all the supplemental material (the notebooks and literature, even the DVDs are terrible!) then we spent some time watching classic horror films to give the kids some context.

Some of the dolls were duplicates so we changed the clothes, re-painted, re-styled, re-named, developed back stories and generally turned the potential 'Disney 2.0' into something creative and unique.

The most recent doll on the chop block is a draculara who's legs were broken, once a suitable plastic cobra is found she is going to be an amazing gorgon.

They now have "build a monster" sets, hooray for spare parts!

In the end it has worked out to be a great time for all of us :)

with all due respect,

with all due respect, probably many many others have said this, but isn't "Cleo di Nile" and her parental figure, "The Mummy", cultural appropriation?
Egyptians are real people, too.

thank you.

My four year old son is

My four year old son is completely obsessed with Halloween, so it was no shocker when the toy flyers last Christmas came out, he was all about Monster High Dolls. At first I just found them to be a pain in the butt, for finding them in stores usually took a small miracle. (One evening a few weeks before Xmas, when finding a particular duo set he desperately wanted on sale, the last one on the shelf - I almost cried from sheer joy!) I became quite fed up with how quickly these dolls would fly, and how doll scalpers would jack up the prices on Amazon and Ebay.(as in $135 and more they could go for.) After many hours of calling around local stores and late nights of scowling at the computer, I simply gave up and realized my son is four. He doesn't care if I buy him the newest and coolest MHD. I can now leisurely log into Amazon and purchase the not so popular $14.99 dolls.

Now, with all that said, looking at these dolls I can see they're just the newest Barbie. Giving thousands of girls complexes and self esteem issues. Not only on the morphed body portions, but also the clothes aspect. For these dolls are primarily focused on fashion, and not all parents can afford such fashionable wardrobes for their daughters. Also, these dolls hair and makeup could rival a seasoned exotic dancer. Monster High is saying "be freaky and fabulous, be yourself" meaning:be thin, beautiful, and trendy... be our dolls.

I do worry and wonder if these dolls are impacting my young son in any way. If he's going to be conditioned to believe girls his age should resemble make believe dolls... "Sorry baby, I only date super thin girls with fangs and blue skin."

i think you all have problems

i think you all have problems dont you know how to parent and teach your kids right from wrong and real from make believe this is whats wrong with the world today kids arent allowed to be kids and people like you have nothing better to do than stir up drama over DOLLS parents should take responsibility for how their children turn out and not blame it on someone or something else!

nice doll

lol,,,,, nice doll i scared, lol when hollywood make on that doll Solar testing

nice doll

nice doll i think it will get success and when the hooly wood make movie on this doll Solar testing