So earlier today I watched Jim Sterling's "Squirty Play" of Barbie Dreamhouse Party (seen here). The whole video was basically Jim forcing himself through the game's monotonous tasks while on powerful painkillers (he recently got a wisdom tooth removed).
As I watched I started thinking: "What if this is supposed to be monotonous because the game is actually a critique of modern American life?" That's when I started noticing more and more little details that supported this theory.
And I realized the horrifying hidden message of Barbie Dreamhouse Party...
They've... all had their eyes gouged out... why are they smiling?!...
The basic plot of the game goes something like this: Barbie and three of her friends (I don't know their names. Let's go with Beatrice, Sabrewolf, and Sharkeisha) are hanging out at "The Dreamhouse," when Sharkeisha accidentally activates an insidious computer AI named "Closet" that traps them all in the house. It them forces them to play games for it's amusement.
I'm not kidding. Jim described it as "The Barbie version of 'I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream." It's eerily fitting.
Still a preferable fate to the one Barbie and her friends suffer
In my theory, the computer is the society we have built for ourselves. Just as Barbie installed Closet into the Dreamhouse knowing what it was capable of, so too have we created a society that stifles us and creates unrealistic expectations for us. We are but mice running on wheels, never to reach the cheese that seems to be only inches from our faces.
Also, just like Closet, the world we live in watches us and judges eternally. We must keep our true feelings inside, lest we be punished mercilessly with no hope of escape.
He is always watching...
Before each mini game, the group must perform a ritual of sorts. They must search the room they are in for household items, like shoes or makeup boxes, and put them up on pedestals. Then the next game begins.
The symbolism is very obvious in this. Just like Barbie and her friends, we put up material items on metaphorical pedestals. American society glorifies money and consumerism. Clothes become defining characteristics of who we are, and brand names are raised to god-like proportions. Popular music "artists" will even write songs about them, just as travelling bards would write songs of gods and legendary heroes.
Here's a song about a particular brand of shoes:
After the ritual is completed, the mini games are unlocked. These are usually competitive and consist of simple activities performed over and over again. They symbolize our Capitalist system and the inherent daily struggle against each other to survive.
Much like the symbolism of workers being fed to Moloch in Metropolis, Barbie and her friends have dedicated themselves to repetitive labor until their bones turn to dust.
The first one shown in Jim's video consists of washing dogs. One after another, the dogs come up in a never-ending line to be serviced. This is similar to a retail job, where one must satisfy the needs of endless consumers every day.
The second mini game has the gang collecting shoe boxes as they fall from the sky. This symbolizes the constant wasteful nature of our society and the need for constant consumption to keep it running.
The third mini-game had them painting makeup onto a large idol as a sort of religious act, much like how we prop other people up as idols and dress them up as more than they really are before we decide to tear them back down again.
The dogs will never stop. Ever.
After each mini game the winner is rewarded with not freedom, but new clothing to wear. Much like society, there is no escape to the endless cycle of daily work until death. The only relief is through material items like clothing. Something petty we can distract ourselves with until the cold, sweet embrace of death takes us.
And there you have it. Barbie Dreamhouse Party is not a terrible game for extremely bored children, but an important work of social commentary that hold a mirror up to our faces and shows us what we don't want to see...