Markets in everything (Reborn)

by on February 20, 2013 at 2:49 am in Economics, History | Permalink

We live in a diverse world:

Reborn culture started around 1990, with people stripping the paint and hair off store-bought vinyl dolls and painstakingly reworking them to be more lifelike. Now some people use kits with doll parts that when assembled are weighted to feel like a real infant when held.

After discovering this movement, Ms. Martinez bought her own doll for research and started exploring the burgeoning subculture, attending conventions, photographing baby-beauty contests, baby showers, owners and artisans.

“In general, most of the women are Anglo, conservative, Christian and right-to-lifers,” Ms. Martinez said. “All of the things that I’m not.”

When Ms. Martinez travels, she will sometimes bring one of her own five reborn dolls to photograph people’s reactions. She prefers to carry them in open bags because she feels uneasy putting them into closed containers, and her suitcases are always searched by airport security if a doll shows up in a scan. This leads to unusual encounters — like when other people in line get upset thinking that a real baby is about to be harmed by X-rays as they pass through security.

The full story, interesting throughout, is here.

babies

uffy February 20, 2013 at 4:48 am

It’s just art.

Ray Lopez February 20, 2013 at 5:23 am

Art imitating life. There was an article in Sci Am recently about how people view such “lifelike automatons” with disgust. In other words, something that looks like a cartoon is perceived as being more friendly than a lifeless object that looks like a realistic human. That’s why this sort of art feels to most (including me) ‘creepy’.

Andrew' February 20, 2013 at 5:47 am

I see everything in experiments now. None of those look lifelike to me. I wonder what that says.

Andrew' February 20, 2013 at 5:53 am

Correction: on that slide show that didn’t load the first time many are passable as sleeping. I would still wonder what the degree of uncanny valley says about personality.

Rob February 20, 2013 at 8:06 am

Yeah, the term is “Uncanny Valley”, though these aren’t robots, it still seem sto apply. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley

Rahul February 20, 2013 at 6:33 am

If I tossed one in the middle of the street would Google’s Driverlesss Car brake hard / swerve?

veobaum February 20, 2013 at 8:46 am

:)

+.75

And if the car swerved and hit an actual human, could the original doll manufacturer be included in the lawsuit? 1950s Doll Disclaimer: This doll could be refinished to pass for a human causing feelings of revulsion and driving hazards.

mrwiizrd February 20, 2013 at 11:46 am

genius

Urso February 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Good question. If you were driving down the street and someone unexpectedly tossed one in the middle of the street in front of you, would you brake/swerve?

Rahul February 20, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Yes. I probably would.

OTOH, I don’t swerve for chipmunks, cats, dogs, hares etc. Wonder if Google Car has been trained to distinguish between human vs non-human objects.

Thor February 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Only if “Android” dreams of electric sheep.

Brian Donohue February 20, 2013 at 8:42 am

Dear Ms. Martinez, cut the Anglo crap please. I, for one, ain’t Anglo, and, by all appearances, you’re as white as me anyway, so who you crappin’?

Ray Lopez February 20, 2013 at 9:11 am

yo yo yo he we be in MR, representin’ to all the econ playas. represent bro. sooo dumb. word up. 5555 (<–popular in Thailand, if you know what I'm sayin). Peace out.

Urso February 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

This must be a Californiaism. Shortly after I moved there I was talking to a Hispanic guy who was telling about about how CA had recently become a majority-minority state, and he was talking about “Anglos” when he clearly meant “white people.” It was the first time I’d heard it and I remember thinking “I don’t have a single drop of English blood anywhere.” It’s the exact equivalent of calling all Hispanics “Mexicans.” Even “Europeans” would be better.

It may be because so many Hispanics are part European themselves. So they can’t say “European” if half their ancestors were from Estramadura. I’m just guessing though.

chuck martel February 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Kind of like equating the son of a Kenyan college student and white American anthropologist with the descendants of 18th and 19th century African slaves from the Carolinas.

anon February 20, 2013 at 9:02 am

Advertisers have used pictures and drawings – drawings! – of babies and puppies and kittens for a long time because “Most human beings swoon at the first sight of a baby. No matter how homely — or loud — they elicit a primal response from pretty much everyone.”

And since we now kill so many babies in the womb, there are fewer real babies around to ogle and hold.

The main point seems to be that you’re a rube if you fall for dolls made to look like real babies. Predictable from the LA Times.

Tracy W February 20, 2013 at 9:08 am

As a mother of a 1 year old, I can see the attraction, though it’s not a hobby I’m going to take up any time soon. A baby looks so adorable, but grows so fast, that I was forever sadly putting away adorable little outfits he no longer fit (and now of course the little outfits get paint stains and mud splashes before I’ve turned around twice).

A living baby of course offers many advantages over these dolls, it’s amazing watching how babies develop, and new skills come online. But I also certainly got a lot of pleasure out of watching the baby blissfully sleep. Having a permanent baby doll seems as sensible a hobby to me as dressing up to attend Star Trek conferences or collecting stamps (which is another couple of hobbies I’m going to not take up any time soon).

C February 20, 2013 at 10:15 am

I just place this on the long scale of doll collecting cultures. If you have ever delved at all into ball jointed dolls, then you will know that it is a very intense subculture, and people spend much time in crafting their own unique versions (through painting, clothing design, hair styling, makeup, etc.) based off of generic types that are provided by various manufacturers (e.g., Volks in Japan). So, from my perspective, it seems like just another sub-sub-culture within the general sub-culture of doll collectors.

The typical response that the owners get from the general public is interesting, though; but again, if you carry a ball jointed doll in your arms and go into a restaurant, you will also get strong responses from the general public. The initial nature of the response will not be the same (“oh, look at your lovely baby. How old is she?” is the response these people typically elicit apparently, and this would be different from a response from a person carrying another type of doll) but the final responses will maybe not be too much different (“that is a little weird to say the least. Why are you into that?”).

Paul F February 20, 2013 at 12:10 pm

“We live in a diverse world” is such a nice way to describe this. I’m going to start using this phrase for situations like this. Thanks.

bunker brown February 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm

I bet none of these women ever give head

Realist February 20, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Someone should tell these women that there are medications now (minor and even major tranquilizers) which could help them return to fairly normal lives.

Seriously, this is what we get for emptying the mental hospitals.

Rich Berger February 20, 2013 at 4:18 pm

“In general, most of the women are Anglo, conservative, Christian and right-to-lifers,” Ms. Martinez said. “All of the things that I’m not.”

So nice that the Times sends out anthropologists to study alien cultures and report back to their progressive readers.

chuck martel February 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Cruising across town on my bike a few days ago I pulled up behind a minivan with a “Baby on Board” sign in the rear window. I moved ahead to take a gander at the kid and there wasn’t one, not even a car seat. I tapped on the passenger’s window and the lady driver moved it down a few inches. I asked her, “where’s the baby?” She said the baby’s at home. I responded that she shouldn’t have the sign in the back when there’s no baby. I asked her to describe the baby and she couldn’t. She finally admitted that she had no baby, but that she and her husband were hoping to have one soon and drove away with tears running down her cheeks. It seemed somewhat similar to a south seas cargo cult, where natives put model airplanes in clearings hoping that US military cargo planes would drop in with cases of Coca-Cola and Spam.

nobody important February 22, 2013 at 6:12 am

why do you care if somebody has a “baby on board” sign or not?

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