Malibu Osama’s Dream House!

American pop culture deconstructs the war on terror. And Barbie gets some playmates!

Oh, boy! Still don’t know what to get your favorite independent journalist for the holidays? How about this set of 12-in. action figures featuring Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush and other characters from the war on terror.
I don’t know about you, but I have one word to say about this: “Gimme!” Some may consider these the height of bad taste, and on some level they would be right. But who the hell cares? If anyone wants to send me a War on Terror action figure from these guys, feel free to have it shipped to

Christopher Allbritton
810 7th Ave., 6th Floor
New York, NY 10019

I love kitsch.
But seriously, these dolls have touched a lot of nerves, for obvious reasons. The letters to the company it has posted are a venomous lot, with this example:

From: musa ahmed
Subject: Herobuilders.com
To: sales@herobuilders.com
WE THE BROTHERS SAY, MAY THE CURSE OF ALLAH BE UPON YOU, AND MAY EVERY MUSLIM ATTACK YOU FOR THE WAY YOU HAVE PORTRAYED OUR MUSLIM BROTHER WHOM WE LOVE VERY MUCH FOR THE SAKE OF ALLAH...MUSLIMS ARE PURE, YOU ARE THE HOMOSEXUALS AND WIFE SWAPPING PIG LOVING SCUM.......WHY DONT YOU PUT A DRESS ON YOUR GAY BUSH.AND FORTHERMORE A MUSLIM DOCTOR SAID THERE IS A CURE FOR ALL OF YOU GAY AMERICANS. THE CURE IS , SUPER GLUE EVERY HOLE ON YOUR BODY, THAT WAY YOU WILL STOP BEING SODOMITES. BUT MAY THE AIDS VIRUS WIPE YOU ALL OUT....

Countered by this lovely letter:

This came from Nexus_of _Darkness
Don't Matter wrote:
You are one sad group of people! I am a cnadian and damn glad that I am not one of you racist americans!!! I know that Osama and Saddam were terrorists but that does not give anyone the right to make action figures from them in the style that you did! I am heavily reccomending that you clean up your act or I will report you to the human rights act!!! I hope that you burn in hell racist [explicit]!!!

I don’t see how making a doll out of someone is a human rights violation. I can see how Muslims would be upset, since there is a prohibition on depicting the human form, I thought, but the letter from the “cnadian” seems a typical example of kneejerk anti-Americanism.
Look, this is what America pop culture does. It takes horrible or offensive events or people and repackages them into easily consumable material objects. That’s how American culture deals with things. And this is at the heart of the world war in which we now find ourselves: a clash of cultures in which one considers many things sacred and beyond criticism and another which considers nothing sacred and everything deconstructable. (I think that’s a word.)