One weird thing about Toy Fair is all of the stringent gender norms that are pushed in marketing-speak. Trucks are for boys. Transformers are for boys. Nerf is for boys. So what do girls get? This exceedingly creepy robo-baby, designed to train them to be mothers. Seriously.
“Little Mommy introduces new innovations in nurturing play so that girls can more realistically experience the milestones of ‘mommy-hood,’” Mattel’s description reads. And how exactly does a little girl go about reaching this (somewhat weird and inappropriate sounding for a toddler) milestone of mommy-hood? By heeding the saccharine demands of this possessed sounding automaton. Not since HAL 1000 have I been so disturbed by the presence of a digital mind. Little Mommy asks to be kissed. Little Mommy’s mouth glows green. Little Mommy tells you she has to pee, and then tells you she was just kidding. Little Mommy has wires sticking out of her spine (prototype only, but hey, still super creepy)
Now of course, girls mothering dolls is an ancient form of play. But at least the lifeless, flopping ones required some form of imagination. Some mental summoning. They didn’t respond to touch sensors, or detect motion. They didn’t seem… demonically half-alive, twitching and blinking and cooing with all the humanity of a malfunctioning mainframe. Watching this Mattel rep interact with Little Mommy made me fear for an age in which my male role in the reproductive process has been banished – replaced instead with a fleet of these tiny, manufactured, insistant digital homunculi. FEED ME. TOUCH ME. KISS ME. WIPE ME. I LOVE YOU, MOMMY. I would be cautious about buying my daughter anything so eerie. Stick a Nerf gun in her hand instead.