Monday, March 3, 2008

Hillobama Become Virtual Paper Dolls

Yes, the youth have become fixated on this presidential election in new and bizarre ways. Take my kids. Like many parents, I peek over their shoulders to see what Internet sites they're visiting -- only to find out they were playing games called "Dress Up Hillary" and "Dress Up Barack."

These computer games -- like old-fashioned paper dolls -- start out with Hillary or Barack in their undies. (Barack wears tightie whities; Hillary wears Grandma underwear.) The gamer then dresses the candidate from head to toe.

Hillary's options hearken back to her Gloria Steinem stage, and also include a poodle skirt, and an I Heart NY shirt. There is an ugly yellow blouse, but no black pant suit to complete the bumble bee look. As the game creators describe the choices,

Will Hillary have bare feet, or bear feet? You decide what she wears for her next big speech. Are you going to make her a voice to be reckoned with, or a complete idiot?

Barack's game includes the prediction, "Today he's a game, tomorrow he's a trivia question." Men's clothing doesn't lend itself to caricature to the same extent as women's, so in Barack's game, the emphasis is on hair and accessories: cornrows; an Afro; dreadlocks; some bling and a Black Panther hat. His white tribal outfit and turban are not among the options.

Like the candidates themselves, the games come with approval ratings. The 2.7 million people who have played Dress Up Hillary give her a 27 percent approval rating; a whopping 73 percent of players disapprove. The 1.4 million people who have played Dress Up Barack give him a 57 percent approval rating. It's unclear to whether the gamer is rating the game or the candidate.

The gamers can post comments, and some of them are harsh with respect to Hillary. The most recent comment said, "ok this was funny because Hilary looked fat and I don't like her!!!!!!" The chubbiness of the Hillary doll is a recurring theme in the comments.

Barack's comments generally digressed from the candidate; most of the players complained about a seemingly unrelated chain mail about a girl name Sarah, whose ghost comes up your bathroom drain if you don't forward the email.

In a year when the professionals look foolish every time they make a prediction, the youth who play the Dress Up games seem to have identified new ventures for the Democratic candidates, if they don't make it to the White House. Hillary can become a spokesperson for Jenny Craig and Barack can star in a remake of Ghost Busters.

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