The most special things are the things that don't really belong anywhere but here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dolls



I’ve been thinking lately that I should really do a blog post about dolls, but I don’t even know where to begin. I think I’ve mentioned before how I had a horrible time being a teenager for various reasons, but the main reason was because no one wanted to play dolls with me any more.  Getting older did not stop me from playing dolls, and I know it didn’t stop you either. Over the years, I’ve gotten many confessions out of you. See, we’re not all as different as we think.

But as I said, I don’t even know where to begin, so I’m breaking this up into chapters.

Chapter One: Dolls as children

I’ve had many special dolls over the years, but in forth and fifth grade, me, my sister, and my cousin were very attached to our Baby Talk dolls and our Hot Tots dolls. Every month, my sister and I would dress up our three children, pack them their own suitcases (old lunch boxes), grab our giant brief cases and tape recorders because we were “detectives,” and head off to Ohio to see our cousins. Our entire visits revolved around fake lives where my name was Abigail Bishop. We had emotionally controlling ex-husbands wanting custody of our children, busy jobs solving crimes, and days spent taking care of our kids. We never forgot our Polaroid cameras, with which we carefully documented our children growing up.
Going to the beauty parlor!
Our children playing dress-up!
Fun on the swing set!
Going Camping!





















One Easter, we spent a VERY long time setting up this wagon picture, then taking turns getting shots with our Polaroids. My aunt witnessed this and told our moms that she was genuinely worried about us. We were too old for this. We got waaaay too into it. Maybe so, but what's wrong with being passionately enthralled in your own imagination? We had a good year and a half left before it was institutional-level. No lie, these days are some of the best memories of my entire life. Should I admit to that?

                                                




Chapter Two: Dolls as actors

For me, dolls were not just about playing pretend and having a good time--oh no-- they were means to a creative craft. Does that sentence even make sense? Of course it does. Don't question me. I wanted to create films, high-quality films, where I could control every aspect, including set design and actors. Step in dolls.

My first group of actors were the American Girl Dolls. I was an amateur. I had my big sister film, and she did a TERRIBLE job. My scenes were too long and boring. Nothing about them worked. Well, except the dialouge.
video

In case you didn't catch all that, here it is:
"Well, are you rich?"
"I don't know what rich is."
"If you flew all the way across--"
"Well, we live in an apartment."
"An apartment?"
"Yes, we do."
"Well, apartments are rough and dirty."
"Man, who would want to be your friend? You're nothing but a poor old immigrant."
"I'm not a poor old immigrant! What's an immigrant?"
"Oh you ARE a poor old immigrant!"
"Yes, you are a poor old immigrant."
"My mother and my father say that only the ones who come from different countries are the ones who are jealous of us."
"Yes, but I don't think you're jealous of anybody. Except for maybe a rock. THEY have more brains than you do."
"A rock does not have a brain."
"Oh. Well. Come on. Let's get away from this Swedish rubbish."
"Yeah."

Confused about who says what? I blame the camera man. WTF Liz?!

I realized as soon as I saw them these that the scenes were way too long. I was able to recognize at ten that they were painful to watch. That was a good sign.

By twelve, I found myself some new actors: The Playskool Dollhouse Dolls. I loved how realistic they looked, how creases in their clothes were molded into the plastic, how expressive their faces were. I even developed a crush on one of them: Handsome Doctor. We recently reconnected.  Don't we look cute together? 

The amount of videos I made with these dolls is obscene, and I’m sharing some with you now.

Not wanting to repeat the mistakes I made with my inadequate American Girl Doll actors, I knew the solution would be simple: keep it short. I was so desperate to keep my scenes short that I created a series called Saturday Night Mini Mysteries-- yes, "mini" was in the title. This series was widely successful amongst me, my sisters, and my parents.

Every episode was the same. The boneheaded basketball player, Hugh, did something awful, and Chuckey Lee, the Sheriff, came in to save the day.  Here's a sampling of one episode:
video

I even experimented with special effects, such as thunderstorm sounds and a red filter indicating nightmares, like this one where I totally rip off that episode of Cosby where all the men give birth to submarine sandwitches. I know you know what I'm talking about. 
video

My favorite though-- and the most popular Playskool Dollhouse Doll film of my career-- is UFO's and Aliens: The Real Thing, Little Chiddy, hosted by Black Grandma.



Screen shot of the man waking up in a crop circle with a cow...










And then there's this:





Did I enjoy doing accents? Yes, but my fear rewatching these as an adult is that I was borderline racist. Chong Wong Louie? Really, Brigette? Why does Black Grandma sound like a South Park character?
And how come the only thing we can make out Chong Wong Louie saying is "nightmares?" 
video

I exercised this craft until my creative needs were fulfilled...or until the video camera broke. Then, I just admired dolls from afar. I watched as the cool looking dolls in stores were replaced with ugly alien looking things. Aliens. What am I saying? I went to high school.

Chapter Three: Dolls as Children, pt. 2

A few months ago, my big sister and I were talking about my friends with children. I said, “I feel like we’re so young to be having kids.” My sister replied, “28? That isn’t young.” Oh god. It was like, the most shocking thing I had ever heard. I wasn’t young?!

I always wanted to have children, but women have this window. How many fertile years do I really have left? And while I want kids, babies terrify me. Basically, your body is taken over by an alien and then you have to push the alien out of your body. (Aliens again!) It’s completely dependent on you for EVERYTHING and then one day it grows up and decides to blame you for all its problems. 

Someday, my parents are going to die. Whose soccer practice will distract me from the fact that my parents are dead? I need to start building a family to replace the family that I will inevitably lose. Why am I still alone? Is it because instead of going out and meeting people, I sit in my room and write long-ass blogs about dolls? MAYBE.

Oh, this is too stressful. I should take pictures with my children. I’m going to get them out right now. Let’s pose on the couch and take a picture, kids. Smile! Ohhh this one's a beauty!


I’m fine, Auntie. Everything’s fine I’m great I’m healthy and well-adjusted I’m a functional adult woman. Shelly, stop hitting your brother! Bobby, stop pulling Megan’s hair!

Shelly, you were always my favorite daughter. Com'ere, schnookems! Let's get some candid shots!


Ohhhh maybe I should start a Facebook page for my alter ego, Abigail Bishop, and upload a million pictures of me on vacation with my children. No one will know it’s not real, right? Because the internet is realer than real life. Anyone seen that movie Catfish? No one will ever know. WHERE'S MY POLAROID CAMERA?!

I bet I can enroll my dolls in school and they can pass as real children. Especially if I creep by the door and make them talk and answer questions. Everything’s fine haha!

HANDSOME DOCTOR LET'S GET MARRIED YOU AND ME FOREVER WE CAN RAISE THE KIDS TOGETHER WHY NOT?!




So.....

What I want to hear from you now is obvious. How old were you when you stopped playing with dolls? Did you ever make movies with your dolls? Why are dolls better than real people? Why should we all have doll rooms as adults? Why can't we just be turned into dolls? And if we CAN be turned into dolls, how do you know this and who should I contact?

Roll credits!
video
"Brigette, this isn't Charlotte Townsend."

4 comments:

  1. Brigette, I love this! To answer your questions: a) I have never stopped playing with dolls. I got my new AG catalog in the mail this week and I just bought myself 3 Barbie sized dolls for my 28th birthday.
    b) I never made movies with my dolls, as my parents video camera was reserved for taping my brother's wrestling matches and was never for frivolous uses...plus I was never much of a filmmaker. Pictures of my dolls though? Oh yes.
    c) Dolls are way better than real people. You can give them any persona you want, and when you pose them for a photo, they don't move. They never look at you disapprovingly either.
    d) My doll room has been taken over by my baby (which by the way, I originally felt much the same about as you currently do, but I never felt like an alien had taken over my body, and due to her ridiculously large head, I didn't have to push her out). Some day, I will have a doll room once again, and then my lovelies can once again be on display.
    e) We can't be turned into dolls because that was the scariest episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?". It gave me horrible nightmares of my hands turning to porcelain. *shudder*
    Don't go through the attic door and become a doll Brigette, I like you too much.

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  2. Don't take this the wrong way... but whenever I am sad or mopey and down in the dumps, I think I am going to just play these videos on repeat because they make me smile and think "Ah, I am NOT that weird!'

    I love thissssssss. You def take the cake with the dolls... I actually was more of a clothespin people person (I made creepy figures out of clothespins.... still have them in a box). The few barbies I had, I chopped their hair off. And the only doll I had was an American Girl doll- Addy, the black one. I have no idea why I wanted the black one but I tried to put beads in her hair and ruined it.

    Obviously, I should just not do hair.

    THE EASTER PICS ARE MY FAVORITEEEE!!! Please, when I have babies, be the photographer for our Easter events.

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  3. That wagon picture is quite possibly the best picture ever! Totally worth the amount of time you spent on it.

    I was more of a Barbie person, myself. My mom wouldn't buy us the accessories and furniture, so my sister and I cut out pictures from the weekly grocery ads and glued them to cardboard and used our flat cardboard food in place of the 3D plastic food--which made our Barbies WAY cooler than other peoples' Barbies because our Barbies had BEER! And every time we played, we played The Cave Game, where our bunk beds became a cave in a mountain where our Barbies had gone camping and then there was a flood and they were trapped on the mountain and had to live in the cave for life and they gathered beads, which served as berries. And the Ken dolls chopped down trees to build beds and couches, which I had actually built and sponge painted for us using scraps of wood left over from things my mom had made. My actual baby dolls had to sacrifice their basket bed because it turned into the Barbie's car (which also served as a boat during the floods), but sometimes the Barbies could also ride in the back of my brother's dump truck. I think my sister and I played the cave game a couple times during Christmas/summer vacations when I was in college and every time I pass the Barbie aisle in Target, I feel the need to get new ones for us...but my favorites, Mandi and Kevin, are still in my parents' basement and would probably be jealous if I brought home someone new.

    I am a little concerned that you are going to start collecting Reborn Baby dolls, which you know terrify me--let me know if I need to organize an intervention. As long as you stick to Shelly, Bobby, Megan, and Handsome Doctor, I think you're ok, though :)

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  4. I love all the long responses! Erin, I have always appreciated your appreciation for dolls. I think it's okay that your real child is temporarily taking over the doll room, and YES, I remember that "Are You Afraid of the Dark" episode, and OMG I don't want to be a doll anymore. Lili, I'm totally cool with you using this blog to feel more normal yourself. And who DIDN'T want the Addy doll? She was the coolest! I would be honored to take Easter pics for you. Beth, I think the next time I visit, we should play the cave game with some old Barbies. And you know it's just a matter of time until the reborns are bought....just a matter of time...

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