Happy Birthday to Barbie - the doll turns 40 this year and she hasn't aged a bit. How does she do it? In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, the cultural longevity of Barbie. How one feminist turned the plastic doll into a subversive heroine. Also, physical marvels from the nineteenth century - the spectacle of freaks.
Historian Gary Cross tells Jim Fleming that Barbie (celebrating her 40th Birthday) was a unique doll in 1959 and that G.I. Joe was her counterpart for little boys. Gary Cross teaches at Pennsylvania State University and is the author of "Kids' Stuff: Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood." Also, cultural critic and feminist Andrea Dworkin tells Steve Paulson that she's not anti-doll, but she opposes anything that makes girls' worlds smaller. Dworkin's latest book is "Life and Death: Unapologetic Writings on the Continuing War against Women." And, Sarah Strohmeyer is the author/illustrator of "Barbie Unbound." She tells Steve Paulson about some of the alternative Barbie's she's created including Barbie of Arc and Barbie Hearst.SEGMENT 2:
Historian Rosemarie Garland Thomson tells Judith Strasser that in the past, people with unusual bodies were thought to have supernatural powers. Later they became sources of entertainment and objects of pity. Thomson teaches at Howard University and is the author of "Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body."SEGMENT 3:
Sharon Mazur gives Jim Fleming the lowdown on professional wrestling. She says it's a tribute to the male body. Mazer teaches (Theater Studies...why am I not surprised?) at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her book is "Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle."
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