Barney Is Back But Fans are Outraged He's Not How They Remember | Dallas Observer

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Barney the Dinosaur Is Back and People Aren't Happy – But Not for the Reason You Think

Mattel's new look for Barney the Dinosaur has horrified some people.
Mattel's new look for Barney the Dinosaur has horrified some people. Courtesy of Mattel
Barney the Dinosaur, the giant plush-lizard-thing created by Dallas mother Sheryl Leach, graced kiddie TV throughout the '90s and became one of the most polarizing pop culture icons of our time. Some fans hold Barney dearer and may even feel more protective of the character since he started getting so much hate online in the past few years.

This time, though, it's Barney's fans who are doing the hating.

Mattel announced a plan to reboot the Barney & Friends franchise with new movies, a TV show, YouTube videos, books, clothes and toys. The debut date for the onslaught is some time next year, according to a company press release.

The toy giant also released an image of the new iteration of Barney, which is animated, and some reacted as if they had given Barney tattoos and a mohawk.

To begin with, Mattel darkened Barney's violet hue from a mauve to a dark purple, made his eyes bigger with anime proportions, and gave him giant, hairless eyebrows and a tiny little dent in his top row of teeth. Mattel also changed Barney's eye color to blue and gave him a little bit of a tummy tuck since the new one is thinner than the original, live action costume.

The Cut went so far as to suggest that Barney has had buccal fat surgery, a new trend among celebrities that involves removing fat under the cheekbones to achieve a gaunt appearance.

"WHAT THE FUCK DID THEY DO TO BARNEY," wrote @shenintensexual on Twitter.

"They gave Barney contacts, a nose job and bigger veneers," wrote @Purify_toast17. "Sad."

"Maybe it's because I'm use [sic] to the OG Barney I grew up with during the 90s," @AniMat505 wrote, "but this new Barney looks like they gave him a face lift and some Botox."

The whole series is moving from live action to an animated version so it makes sense that there would have to be changes. It's also for a whole new generation of kids to learn how to exercise good manners and feel loved, and it's not for the people who are too old to watch Barney and hate his new look because it's not their Barney.

Can't we wait to be outraged until after the intended audience for Barney has a chance to experience it and express their own opinion?

Plus, it's Mattel that's taking a gamble on this new incarnation. And we know how they love messing with character's proportions, starting with Barbie.

Leach, Kathy Parker and Dennis DeShazer launched the TV show Barney & Friends on public television stations in 1992. The purple dinosaur and his human friends became TV icons almost overnight thanks to kids, who loved dancing and singing along to Barney's lovey-dovey tunes, and to older kids and grown-ups, who targeted Barney with heaps of scorn and ridicule — sometimes in ways that went well over the lines of basic decency, according to NBC's Peacock documentary I Love You, You Hate Me.

The Lyrick Corp. of Dallas owned Barney until 2001, when the company sold the brand to the British-based HIT Entertainment for $275 million, according to the Associated Press. HIT Entertainment also owned beloved children's TV and merchandise franchises such as Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends and Angelina Ballerina.

Then a decade later, Mattel purchased HIT Entertainment and all the intellectual property under its umbrella, according to Cartoon Brew. Barney now basks under the same parent company umbrella as toy brands such as the American Girl doll line, Fisher-Price preschool toys, Hot Wheels and Barbie, who will be getting the big-screen treatment this summer with Margot Robbie playing the iconic doll.

Will Barney be able to weather his most recent storm of hate? The new animated series and merchandise line won't come out until 2024, giving Mattel plenty of time to renovate the character if company suits think they can make him look better and put enough distance between the premiere and the outrage.

Paramount Pictures received similar backlash in 2019 when it unveiled the first trailer for the live action Sonic the Hedgehog movie based on the popular speedy SEGA video game. The film offered a horrifying version of Sonic, with a weasel snout and human teeth. The internet exploded in outrage, and animators created a Sonic that looked closer to the actual character, leading to a pretty good movie even for a video game adaptation.

We'll see if Barney gets his cheeks put back in.
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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