Greg Palast

Barbie’s not the only one celebrating 50 years this month – Tibet’s uprising against their Chinese occupiers began 5o years ago.

I thought I’d share with you one of the weirdest memos I’ve unearthed in my years of investigating corporate maledictions. Passed to me from inside Mattel, the toy company, with an August 12, 1997 time stamp. “TAR” stands for Tibet Autonomous Region.

– Greg Palast

Proprietary Content Confidential – Mktng only

To: Jongyol Rimpoche, JRimp@BarbieMttl.cn.TAR
From: BRab@M.IntlMkt.MttlCrp.com

Barbie Doll v Dalai Lama

Barbie's 50

Marketing greenlights your conclusion: Barbie can’t play Tibet until she replaces current culture idol. Research Div did tab on competitor; looks like he’s history:

Barbie: Over 2,000 outfits
The Dalai Lama: One outfit (orange bathrobe!)

Barbie: Sixteen hair-dos, including “growing ponytail”
The Dalai Lama: Shaved head (Yuck!)

Barbie: Two dozen pre-programmed and market-tested phrases. Changed annually.
The Dalai Lama: “Om Mane Padme Om” (“Hail the Fire in the Lotus” — whatever that means.) Never changes.

Barbie: Worshiped by 600 million Barbie owners.

The Dalai Lama: Worshipped by only 6 million Tibetans.

Barbie: Creator of cultural revolution.
The Dalai Lama: Victim of cultural revolution.

Barbie: Accessories- Shoes, handbags, battery-operated cars — you name it!
The Dalai Lama: Accessories- ZEE-RO!

Barbie: Lives in Dream House.
The Dalai Lama: Lives in a refugee camp.

Barbie: Position-Permanently on tippy-toes, firming thighs and derriere, pre-molded for high heels.
The Dalai Lama: Position-“Lotus.” (That means he squats on the floor — How attractive!)

Barbie: Ambitious, gregarious, perky, everybody’s friend. And the 21st Century Barbie is a career girl!
The Dalai Lama: Seeks to “transcend” ambition and career; troublemaker. (Put that in a Christmas gift-box!)

Barbie: Immortal.
The Dalai Lama: Just a guy.

The D.L. may be this year’s icon out there with the yak-milk set, but, when it comes to market share, BARBIE TAKES NO PRISONERS! Barbie Doll v. Dalai Lama – like, who are they kidding??

And, JR, no more of your “endless-cycles-of-pain-and-laughter” memos.


Greg Palast is the Nation Institutute/Puffin Foundation Fellow for Investigative Reporting.

Subscribe to Palast’s investigative reports at http://www.GregPalast.com

See also Chewing the Buddha by Palast.