Congrats Ken! You follow in the famous celebrity footsteps of Eddie Murphy, George Clooney, Meg Ryan, Woody Harrelson and Michael J. Fox who also turn 50 years old this year.
Factually speaking, Ken was born March 11, 1961. The year marks the “swingin’ sixties,” being a member of the baby boomer generation when John F. Kennedy was president, when race riots occurred throughout cities in the U.S., when the Peace Corps was established and the president advises American families to build bomb shelters as the cold war worsens when U.S.S.R. detonates a 50-megaton hydrogen bomb in the largest man-made explosion in history. Then the U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Cuba, twenty-eight men died on Texas Tower No. 4 in the North Atlantic and by year’s end there were more than 2,000 U.S. military “advisors” in South Vietnam.
In popular culture, 1961 brought the last episode of “I Love Lucy” to air, FCC Chairman (Newton Minow) claims that television is a “vast wasteland” (déjà vu all over again!), Johnson & Johnson introduced Tylenol, Harley-Davidson introduced the Italian assembled Sprint model, FM stereo is introduced and Ken got a hawt girlfriend, Barbie. Yeah that Ken & Barbie – Ken Carson.
It was 50 years ago when Mattel introduced Ken with his trim crew cut, stiff carriage, and vacant eyes ready to do Barbie’s bidding. That aging Ken now has a scruffy beard, shoulder-length hair and a patch of old-growth chest hair that might make Tom Selleck proud. It certainly looks a lot like the core targeted customer segment of H-D.
But what about the new Ken? The new modeling paradigm of American masculinity today seems to be that of men in their 20’s who hang out in a novel sort of limbo land – sort of a hybrid state of adolescence and responsible self-reliance — many still living at home with their parents! These so-called “men” talk about ‘Star Wars’ like it’s not a movie made for people half their age and their idea of a perfect guys-night-out is a hanging around the PlayStation 3 with your guitar “bandmates,” or a trip down to the local ‘bucks’ with college friends who have yet to complete two semesters and are perpetually looking to land that dream job… Yeah, the twenty-something’s have the appetite for luxury, but not the cash and given the slow pace of economic recovery it may be a long while on that job.
My advice? Mattel should consider partnering Ken up with the likes of BRP/Can-Am to promote Ken & Barbies electric-hybrid roadster sensibilities and showcase that it’s okay to be more fuel-efficient and have greener CO2 emissions on the open road.
Photos courtesy of H-D and Mattel.