Few toys were as imperative to girls' childhoods in the 1990s and 2000s as American Girl dolls.

I vividly remember the excitement I felt when I received my first and only American Girl doll for Christmas when I was nine years old. The character was Molly, an argyle- and glasses-wearing installment of American Girl's historical series and whose storyline took place in the 1940s. Molly's father was stationed as a doctor in England while her mother worked for the Red Cross, so she spent a lot of time with her siblings and housekeeper.

After getting Molly, I'd spend the next couple of years collecting as many of her outfits as possible, while also harboring a precocious fascination with World War II and Nazi Germany. Yes, American Girl dolls were unfortunately expensive and therefore only available to well-off families—but they really taught us history!

Since 1986, the Pleasant Company (now Mattel) has manufactured a rotating cast of historical American Girl dolls, with each one representing a significant decade in American history. The first was Samantha, a wealthy girl growing up in the Edwardian era. Some of the other first American Girl dolls released were Kirsten, a Swedish immigrant; Addy, whose family escaped enslavement during the Civil War; and Josefina, who lived in New Mexico prior to its acquisition by the U.S.

But now I must be the bearer of bad news: American Girl just announced their newest character, whose storyline takes place in 1984.

American Girl is clearly running out of decades, and I feel ancient. This new character is named Courtney Moore, whose primary hobby is playing Pac-Man at the arcade. She comes wearing an acid-wash denim skirt and white leather booties that I must begrudgingly admit are extremely cute. Her accessories include a stick of LipSmackers on a lanyard and a cassette player. Let me spell that out for you: There is an American Girl doll who makes mixtapes.

But honestly, as much as they might've been a status symbol growing up, American Girl dolls did a fantastic job at getting young girls interested in history (even if it means you've been weirdly wanting to visit Auschwitz since you were in second grade). Each doll came with a corresponding series of short chapter books that taught about crucial periods in American history, like the Great Depression and the American Revolution.

American Girl dolls were fairly racially diverse, too. In 2002, they introduced Kaya, a Native American living on a reservation during the 18th century; and in 2016, they released Melody, a Black girl growing up during the Civil Rights movement. (Their Asian representation, however, leaves little to be desired.)

Having an American Girl doll got me way more immersed in the details of World War II than any of my history classes did growing up, and I'm sure my fellow former doll owners could say the same regarding their doll's assigned decade. But, while I personally was not alive in the 1980s, I do realize that the '80s were very recent.

I own clothes from the '80s. I regularly listen to music from the '80s. I have friends who were born in the '80s. I don't recall learning much—if anything—about the '80s while I was in school. And now American Girl is so casually releasing a doll who looks straight out of Stranger Things, as if to personally offend me.

Not to sound like a boomer, but this is the oldest I've felt since...last week, when I remembered there are currently students in college who were born after 9/11. But what terrifies me most is the realization that, logically, the next American Girl doll to be released will correspond with the 1990s, the decade in which I was born. Will she wear Dr. Martens and be radicalized by the music of Nirvana and Bikini Kill? I can only hope.

If you're still nursing body image issues from your days of playing with Barbie's but are comforted by the fact that they're just plastic dolls, book a therapy appointment.

Barbie will soon be a living, breathing, perfect woman! It was announced Tuesday that Margot Robbie — a cruelly beautiful actress with a glorious Australian accent — has signed on to play Barbie in an upcoming live action film about the iconic doll.

Robbie will also co-produce the film, issuing a statement, "Playing with Barbie promotes confidence, curiosity, and communication throughout a child's journey to self-discovery. Over the brand's almost 60 years, Barbie has empowered kids to imagine themselves in aspirational roles from a princess to president. I'm so honored to take on this role and produce a film that I believe will have a tremendously positive impact on children and audiences worldwide. I can't imagine better partners than Warner Bros and Mattel to bring this film to the big screen."

While our own memories of playing with Barbie revolve more around impulsively chopping off her hair and using her as a naked, jointed-cudgel against siblings, we suppose confidence-building isn't out of the realm of possibilities for Barbie's uses.

Ynon Kreiz, Chairman and CEO of Mattel, said in a statement about the movie, "Barbie is one of the most iconic franchises in the world and we are excited to partner with Warner Bros. Pictures and Margot Robbie to bring her to life on the big screen." He added, "We look forward to building on this collaboration with Warner Bros. Pictures as we tell the stories of our beloved brands. Mattel Films is on a path to demonstrate the enormous potential of our brand portfolio, as we continue to execute on our strategy of transforming Mattel into an IP-driven, high performing toy company." We can only hope that the "enormous potential of their brand portfolio" will include a live action film about that baby doll that does nothing but wet itself. These are the pressing narratives we need in this tumultuous moment in history.

Interestingly, Barbie was originally supposed to be played by Amy Schumer. In December 2016, ET announced that "the plot would involve Barbie getting kicked out of Barbieland for not being 'perfect enough,' and her then embarking on an adventure in the real world." But since people are broken and evil by nature, and even more so on the internet, Schumer immediately faced body shaming from people who felt she wasn't slim enough to play the doll. She later announced she was no longer going to be a part of the movie, "because of scheduling conflicts."

Now, it's clear that Mattel and Warner Bros., by casting Robbie, are taking a very different approach to the movie. We imagine the meeting to make that casting decision went something like this SNL skit:

Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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South Park: Fractured but Whole's surprisingly positive queer relationship

Who would have thought that a game based on the worst show ever would have a surprisingly sweet gay-centric side story.

So, listen...

I don't watch South Park. I will never watch South Park - and honestly, I don't think that my life will be missing out a lot from not watching South Park. My problems with the series and even the game which I am talking about today are endless. Do I take the show too seriously? Maybe. Yeah, I definitely do, but I have my reasons. Still, despite all of that I would be a liar if I said that Fractured but Whole managed to cover some pretty deep topics with a surprising amount of care - was it perfect? No. But there was definitely something there.

When I bought Fractured but Whole during this past Steam sale, I didn't expect to walk out of it with this odd amount of respect I now have. I expected to play a decent RPG with a mildly annoying amount of jokes - and it definitely delivered on that part. However, not having watched the show, I was surprised to learn that two central characters - Tweek and Craig (pictured below) - were dating and currently facing some relationship turbulence.

I proceeded with their quest line cautiously - after all, the few times I've encountered South Park, I was unimpressed (couch-cough Big Gay Al cough-cough Mr. Slave). In the beginning, you have to help Craig get his laptop back from Tweek, who requests their shared pet hamster in exchange. This struck me as funny and definitely reminiscent of the kids of childhood relationships that kids would have together. After you do this, you are given a note from their father - and you have to convince both of them to get some counseling.

They agree, but only if you go with them. After this, you have to go through the rest of the game before you can continue their storyline. It's very sweet, and I won't reveal too much more. I just kept waiting for the ball to drop and for it to take a gross turn. I kept expecting their relationship to be the butt of some sort of joke, or for their friends to make some sort of comment, but they seem to be okay. Even their parents are worried for their kids happiness - there's nothing mean spirited or offensive. You are just a friend helping out your two gay friends.

Of course, it wouldn't be South Park without that odd layer of creepiness. Craig's dad, whose name I didn't bother to learn, gives you a strange side quest of finding yaoi fan art of his son and Tweek throughout the town of South Park. It's not a huge part of the game, but there's something off about it. It may have been a throwback to the show, but it still really rubbed me the wrong way.

Luckily, the positive LGBTQ+ content in the game doesn't stop with Craig.

There's a pretty good bit in the game where you're able to decide your character - The New Kid's - sexuality and gender. It's played kind of like a joke, but it didn't really land and instead managed to be just a really good little section of the game. You basically pick both your gender and your sexuality through a slider. It only affects the game a little bit with dialogue options from your parents when they go home.

The best part is that every time you make a decision, a group of rednecks come up in a truck and you get to beat the crap out of them. It happens multiple times over the course of the game, and it never stops being satisfying. I don't know what Stone and Parker were thinking when they made this game, but honestly, they managed to make some parts of it cathartic. When you weren't beating up these red necks, you were playing as a character who could be a non binary pansexual.

Does it make up for the rest of the game? Not really. It's still South Park, and a lot of the other jokes tend to be more misguided and just plain unfunny. But I can say that these specifically queer moments manage to be a speck of gold in the mud - and at least added some limited enjoyment to my experience.

If you want my advice, just watch the YouTube compilations of Craig and Tweek's scenes in the game - you won't be sorry. Or if you really want to play, you can pick it up on any console. After all, we do need to support positive queer content. Even if it takes place in an annoying little mountain town.

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