Should a public figure's kids be off limits?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  January 27, 2009 03:12 PM

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Ty -- the makers of all things Beanie Baby -- has come out with a couple of new collectibles: "Sweet Sasha" and "Marvelous Malia."

I'm not kidding.

The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company says that the dolls are not meant to be a perfect likeness of the Presidents young daughters and insist that the newest editions to the Ty Girlz line aren't modeled on the Obamas. But come on... I don't buy it. And neither does First Lady Michelle Obama, whose spokesperson released a statement saying "We feel it is inappropriate to use young private citizens for marketing purposes."

I understand the desire to offer young girls a plaything that they can relate to, and there's no denying that much of the country is fascinated by Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7. But this just smacks of opportunistic marketing, consumerism, exploitation, and greed to me. (The dolls, which retail for $9.99, are already going for as much as $175 on eBay -- no, I'm not going to link to the auction.)

Remember way back, during the campaign, when both Obama and McCain declared that the candidate's families would be off limits? Yeah, it didn't exactly work out that way, but that constant barrage of "happy family" imagery seems different from the stream of PR pitches for Sasha- and Malia-related products and ideas out there right now.

For some reason, I don't feel the same way about child actors and the avalanche of consumer goods with their images plastered on them. Miley Cyrus makes a living as Hannah Montana; the Jonas Brothers made a conscious decision early on to be in the public eye. Isn't there a difference between kids who are celebrities and kids who are the children of celebrities?

Parents, what do you think? Should a public figure's kids be off limits?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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54 comments so far...
  1. I think they should be off limits. They did not get permission.

    Posted by kells January 28, 09 02:33 AM
  1. While I can relate to Michelle Obama's "Eww" factor on this, and think that Ty is pretty close to crossing the line, I don't think that they crossed it. These are dolls with first names. Ty knew what they were doing and knew that they could get away with it. Opportunistic? Certainly. Illegal or immoral? Not so much.
    Yes, Malia and Sasha are private citizens, but their parents knew when the decision was made to run for president that they would be thrown into the spotlight. I'm sorry, but if they're going to parade them out at their convenience for all the media to see, then they can't be surprised when people want to see more. Yes, the girls should be allowed to go to school without TMZ in their faces. Yes, they should be allowed to have private lives, but they gave up being "normal" kids when their dad ran for president.

    Posted by finny January 28, 09 01:32 PM
  1. They didn't put themselves in the spotlight so they should be off limits. Its not the children's fault their parents' are celebrities. As long as they do not break felony law, no celebrity's child should receive obsessive media attention or consumerism that they are not receiving money for. If they put themselves into the spotlight (actors, singers, etc) they have made a conscious decision to allow the public into their lives but they should still be allowed a greater degree of privacy than adults (whom i also think deserve more privacy than they are allowed). They are still kids and deserve to make mistakes without the whole world weighing in. Maybe we wouldn't have so many screwed up Britney Spears/Paris Hilton types if we allowed these kids to grow up without cameras in their face every second of every day.

    Posted by lunyme January 28, 09 01:33 PM
  1. These kids didn't ask to be in the public eye/domain. They are "celebrities" by default/association. AND, do we really want "celebrity" politicians and leaders -- but, that is a separate topic for a different discussion. As to the kids -- the Kennedy kids were off limits, so were Amy and Chelsea, after a while, so were the Bush girls. These two are little kids. Leave them alone!

    Posted by Bugaboo January 28, 09 01:43 PM
  1. I think his kids should be off limits; and the president and the first lady need to make that clear. They didn't make the choice to be in the public eye. Let them have the chance to grow up, without the blistering scrutiny; then when they are adults let them determine how publicly visible they want to be.

    Posted by JWS II January 28, 09 01:45 PM
  1. Any public figure who trotts their kid out publicly is making the decision to have their kids be fair game. When you make the decision to run for office or be a public figure in any other way, you are chosing a profession that puts your family in that position. The Obama girls and their parents have been in every publication in the grocery store racks. The President and his wife DID that. They have in no way restricted media access to the girls. They have allowed those girls to be photographed over and over again. Just like celebrities have done with their new babies. Why, if what they wanted for the girls was privacy? They themselves used the girls to further their own interests. The dolls are cute and kids all over the country are fascinated with Sasha and Malia. TY is not the ones selling the dolls for $175. Individuals are.

    Posted by katesmom January 28, 09 01:53 PM
  1. Maybe because of their age, but I don't recall any other Presidential offspring getting special treatment, especially those poor Bush girls. How about Chelsea Clinton, Amy Carter, etc. They were all treated less than fairly.

    Posted by Mike January 28, 09 01:53 PM
  1. Obama's kids should be off limits, no question about it. We shouldn't even know their names or what they look like. They deserve complete protection.

    Posted by macnh1 January 28, 09 01:54 PM
  1. Not only should pols kids be off limits, innocent 'celebrities' should be off limits too. The Globe's report on the arrest of the brother of a Red Sox player (no, I won't mention the payers name) simply because he was the player's brother is shameful. If this person had not been related to a 'celebrity' the story would have never made it into the paper.

    Posted by roxres January 28, 09 01:59 PM
  1. kids are kids. Go after the parents if you want but leave the kids alone.

    Posted by maria January 28, 09 02:01 PM
  1. Ty is setting themselves up for a world of hurt here. They are using the likeness of private underage citizens to profit from. Looks like they also mis priced the dolls - $10 retail to $175 on ebay? I know companies like it when that happens (free PR) but still, charge $50 retail and don't leave as much on the table

    Posted by wrjohnston January 28, 09 02:01 PM
  1. WERE THE BUSH DAUGHTERS OR CHELSEA OFF-LIMITS???? YOU CAN'T PICK AND CHOOSE.

    Posted by FFED January 28, 09 02:10 PM
  1. I will not buy any Ty products ever again - they have actually admitted the toys were based on the president's kids before they got bad publicity and changed their story.

    The parent of a child whose image is exploited without consent and without compensation should sue Ty for all they are worth.

    Posted by HBX January 28, 09 02:35 PM
  1. They should not be off limits as long as they disclaim it:
    Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
    Is this already NOT America anymore?

    Posted by Ananonymous January 28, 09 02:36 PM
  1. WAAAAY off limits.

    Posted by Jim January 28, 09 02:47 PM
  1. I don't recall anyone up in arms about Chelsea Clinton's cameo in Beavis & Butthead Do America. Granted it was only for a few seconds, she said nothing, and they didn't "exploit" her to the same degree as is this case, but the point is that First Kids aren't off limits.

    This is the cost of being a public figure and while I'd agree that the right thing to do is to leave the kids alone, I don't see how you'd be able to do that in the real world. Paparazzi couldn't take pictures of celebrities if their children were in the shot? Seems off. There might be some right of publicity issue here at the copying of the childrens' likenesses and profiting from that, but that's a complex issue in it's own right.

    Posted by AB January 28, 09 02:49 PM
  1. YES!!!!!

    Posted by Paul31 January 28, 09 02:54 PM
  1. I also think they should be off limits. There was no Cute Caroline, Jovial John-John, Amiable Amy or Cherub Chelsea--the press and marketing vultures stayed away out of courtesy and good sense. What ever happened to those virtues?

    Posted by perfect pats January 28, 09 03:15 PM
  1. Young and underage childen, yes, however as they get older(college-age), no.

    I also feel a lawsuit should be filed against the TY company for their dolls.

    Posted by g05 January 28, 09 03:18 PM
  1. Kids should be off limits!
    Myley Cyrus's father is making decisions for her, and he has chosen that his daughter become a public person. He signed contracts for her, as she is a minor.
    What a funny question! How would you like somebody else making a profit off your kids without your knowledge and permission?

    Posted by Natalie January 28, 09 03:21 PM
  1. The Ty people are disingenuous. When the story was originally reported, they said that the dolls WERE modeled on the girls and that they hoped the Obamas liked them. When the First Lady said she did not approve, they backtracked.

    The girls have the right to their privacy -- they are the daughters of the president but they are not celebrities in their own right and they are kids. They have been in the public eye because of the campaign, but I imagine we will not be seeing much of them now that the inauguration is over -- just as we did not see much of the Bush twins or Chelsea Clinton. The Ty company was out of line.

    Posted by ramona January 28, 09 03:31 PM
  1. I agree; while in his position as President, it is almost impossible for Obama to keep his family out of the media. Rather, he approached the media as making his family accessible (keeps the pressure down so that there is not crazy media frenzy and competition to get a 'must have' photo opportunity), but at the same time, he wants them to have as normal a childhood as possible. We have to remember that these are children who have no say in their parents' careers, publicity, or otherwise, and who are made public because of their relation to public figures. As the adults here, marketers should definitely know better. .

    Posted by capnlizard January 28, 09 03:33 PM
  1. Off limits! These children are in no way endorsing, nor profiting from these products. Instead their "images" are being used. Using the children's names is indecent.

    Posted by Jippo January 28, 09 03:48 PM
  1. One side says:
    Of course kids should be off limits - except those who chose to be in the public eye. These dolls exploit the children and earn profits without the children having any input or receiving any benefit. Very, very sad.

    The other side says:
    Yes its exploitive, and sad that the manufacturer sets a further poor example by blatantly lying about it. However, each time a child plays with the dolls and imagines the Obamas in the White House there is another chip in the edifice of racism.

    Send the profits to urban education programs, at least some good can come of this sorry action.

    Posted by Craig January 28, 09 04:06 PM
  1. Did the media and blogger hype about the puppy count? On one hand, Obama told his daughters directly that they earned the puppy when he mentioned the puppy on election night, and he mentioned Malia's allergy later when mentioning his criteria for choosing a dog. On the other hand, Barack and Michelle are the adults who will be responsible for their family's pet's well-being (everyone, do not leave things like scheduling veterinary appointments to a 10-year-old).

    Posted by Colleen January 28, 09 04:21 PM
  1. Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia aren't modeled on the Obama children. They just coincidentally have the same names. I feel for the person who actually had to utter or write those words. A) Don't exploit little kids who aren't responsible for their celebrity and B) don't treat people as complete idiots when you are caught doing so.

    Posted by Wendy January 28, 09 04:42 PM
  1. The Obama girls are in the public eye but I feel that the Toy company was wrong.... They are exploiting those kids and anything to make money.... I would be ticked off to if it were my kids.. ANy money the company makes off of those dolls they should donate the money to charity.

    Posted by Lori January 28, 09 04:59 PM
  1. .....if Bill Gates' children(?) are off limits then that should also apply to the President's daughters......

    Posted by Joe January 28, 09 05:07 PM
  1. I think that kids should be off limits, but they never have been before, so why the special treatment now? The job of a parent (or parents) is to protect their children - they chose to put their children in this position, so now they have to deal with it. I feel sorry for them, but Chelsea Clinton was massacred, the Bush daughters were ridiculed, so as much as I hate to say it, those kids better toughen up, because their parents chose this and now they have to live with it.

    Good point, blueeyedgirl2. I think this goes beyond the way the media and the public picks apart people and their kids, though, since the Ty company made these dolls to turn a profit, not to satisfy curiosity or make a point. Then again... there were paper dolls of Caroline Kennedy, weren't there? And all the fascination with Baby Ruth? So maybe it's nothing new, but just seems more galling given how quickly the dolls went to market? -- LMA

    Posted by blueeyedgirl2 January 28, 09 05:22 PM
  1. Absolutely. Off Limits. Ty company should be ashamed.

    Posted by mmann January 28, 09 05:55 PM
  1. The difference is that Bill Gates doesn't put his kids in the public eye when it benefits him. The Obamas thrust their children into the spotlight knowingly. Is it fair for the children? No. But, the same is true of any public figure. They relish in the attention when it benefits them, then immediately cry foul when it doesn't.

    If you don't like it, don't buy the dolls...and stop buying the celebrity magazines - they're one in the same. All are profiting from someone else's celebrity. And, make no mistake, those trying to earn celebrity (or in this case, public office) use those media to their advantage. At least the dolls are cute.

    Posted by Elsa January 28, 09 06:21 PM
  1. Maybe we should ask Sarah Palin's children what the press and others can do to young children.

    Thanks for commenting, Kayne East. That's a good point. What's especially galling to me about these dolls, though, is that they were created in order for a company to make a profit -- to me, that goes beyond the (ridiculously high, often unwarranted) level of curiosity the public has about celebrities' kids and the kids of public figures. -- LMA

    Posted by Kanye East January 28, 09 06:24 PM
  1. toy companies aren't allowed to market images of celebrities without their permission. you can't sell a britney spears or tom brady doll without their permission. why is this different?

    Posted by pms January 28, 09 07:05 PM
  1. Obama did not "thrust their children into the spotlight knowingly," the media and a public obsessed with the private lives of public people did. We were the ones that demanded that Obama demonstrate that he was a normal American with a normal American family. He brought them out only during reasonable moments. Were they supposed to stay home when daddy and mommy voted, or the night he won or during the Inauguration? Sarah Palin trotted her kids out as well. And who could forget Romney's ceaseless showing off of his sons? It's part of the electoral process. But even during the election, Obama insisted on certain limits when it came to his kids, especially during private times like vacations. The Bush girls were off-limits until they were older as were Chelsea Clinton and Amy Carter. These kids did not run for office, their parents did.The Obama girls are very young and are entitled to as much privacy as they can get. It says something very negative about us as a society when we are so cynical as to deny children their childhood.

    Posted by Nancy G January 28, 09 07:10 PM
  1. If Ty where asked to make these dolls and opted not too, you all would be calling them racist. Sorry for reminding you of your double standards.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, twp. But the issue isn't the color of the doll's "skin," but the fact that they're clearly being marketed to pick up on the popularity of the president's daughters. The dolls didn't have to be named "Malia" and "Sasha," that just seems a little more than a coincidence, no matter what the people at Ty say. -- LMA

    Posted by typical_white_person January 28, 09 07:14 PM
  1. Yeah the Bush twins were COMPLETELY off limits too, right? :::insert eyeroll here::::

    I don't remember... were there collectible Bush twins dolls right after the inauguration? Dolls aside... should the Bush twins have been off limits? I think so. Were they? Nope. -- LMA

    Posted by Lindsay January 28, 09 07:47 PM
  1. Clearly their image was being used w/o parental consent. The parents images are fair game as they are public persons. Neither parent gave consent to model a doll after their children. The children are not old enough to decide such things. I like the idea of another poster. Ty should send 100% of net profits to inner city schools or some charity of the Obamas choosing. At least then all this is for a good cause.

    I suspect if they wanted the Obamas would have one heck of a lawsuit against Ty toys. Maybe they would agree to a limited run for charity.

    Posted by dhallen January 28, 09 08:22 PM
  1. Off limits.

    Posted by amom January 28, 09 08:28 PM
  1. I tend to agree that the kids should be off limits in general, but these dolls aren't particularly distasteful or offensive. I don't usually defend the intentions of corporations, but if people are clamoring to get their hands on these dolls and bidding up eBay auctions, it could be argued that Ty was just adeptly responding to consumer demand, rather than resorting to "exploitation and greed." Certainly Sasha & Malia make better role models than Barbie or Bratz dolls; but if the parents object, well that should be that.

    Posted by Boston Dad January 28, 09 09:10 PM
  1. It occurs to me that many people are saying that other first children weren't off limits, and therefore neither should the Obama children. Why are we more concerned about the fairness of media coverage to past presidential children than to the current ones? Why is there even a comparison? If we've since realized that such a thing is unfair to the individuals involved, why should it matter if there's a precedent for close scrutiny, or why we realized that there's a problem with how we treat the first family? If we really feel that it's wrong to publicize the lives of presidents' kids, then the best possible thing we can do now is to make the current one off limits, and maybe the fascination will go away by the time the next administration comes in

    Posted by Sarah January 28, 09 11:05 PM
  1. Yeah the Bush twins were COMPLETELY off limits too, right? :::insert eyeroll here::::

    Sure. It makes complete sense to compare two very young kids to college-age and up young adults who flipped the finger at photographers, used their dad's name to strongarm their way into nightclubs, and regularly attended naked college drunkfests. Exactly.

    Posted by Marcus January 29, 09 12:02 AM
  1. No, the Obama children did not give up their rights to privacy when their father became president. All First Families have requested that their children be off limits and that has always been respected. The Obamas should not be treated with any less respect just because they have beautiful children. Were there dolls of the Bush twin girls? Chelsea dolls? Amy Carter dolls? No there weren't. I will boycott Ty products - their denial that their new dolls are copies of the Obama girls is ridiculous.

    Posted by somewhere January 29, 09 07:36 AM
  1. Yes, the Obama children should be off limits. The twin Bush girls did not have a doll, nor did the Kennedy children. If these people must make dolls, why not make them after the president and their wives. The children did run for office. I for one as a mother, grandmother and great grandmother will boycott the dolls. The dolls look like the Obama girls. The girls need to be treated as children and be able to live as normal lives as possible which will be hard enough to do. There are no other presidant's children dolls, why now?

    Posted by posted by Boston January 29,07 8:50 AM January 29, 09 09:18 AM
  1. The Obama's should market their own line of family dolls, trademark all likenesses. Sell them for charity, and therefor take all ability from all other doll producers to make a desirable Obama product. Also, does anyone find the Obamania marketing disturbing. On some level, I feel that it can be good, for instance starbucks is promoting volunteering through their own organization. Then I saw Ikea's "change begins at home" ad on tv this morning. To me that is just disgusting drive for consumerism that got us into this mess. Not stating a political forum here! The dolls, the marketing its all just too much, I feel like we live as shadows of humans whose reality is defined by what we exploit and what we buy.

    Posted by ll January 29, 09 10:12 AM
  1. OSAMA STARTED YESTERDAYS CABINET MEETING BY QUOTING HIS DAUGHTERS QUESTIONING WHY THEIR SCHOOL WAS CLOSED WHEN IT WAS ONLY ICY. "in Chicago they did it this way." "why do they do it different in DC?" call the school like any parent if you have a gripe...don't bring 7 and 10 year olds comments to staff meeting. because, IF YOU ARE GOING TO "use them" to get what you want...then they will "get used" in return. what is really the harm in a little kid having a doll. Get over yourselves. give the money from the sales to charity - or to the economy...or to the poor.

    Posted by Meme January 29, 09 10:19 AM
  1. With Obama quoting them and talking about their little anecdotes every time he gets a chance, he's pushing them into the public spotlight. Whether they want to be or not, he's making them public figures with his constant references to them.

    Posted by AB January 29, 09 11:11 AM
  1. The bush twins, the clinton daughter, sarah palins childrn all faced a ton of media scrutiny and press. Why should obama be diferent?

    If th media is going to start havign a conscience now after so much unconscionable behavior, it will be nothng but an indictment of what the right wing had been complaining about the last 10 years.

    Posted by steveh January 29, 09 11:17 AM
  1. Why does what happened to the Bush girls, Chelsea Clinton, or the Palins have anything to do with whether the Obama dolls are appropriate? The question wasn't "Is there precedent for this?", it was "Is this appropriate?"

    Likewise, what does Obama mentioning his girls at a cabinet meeting have to do with it? He's not denying that he has daughters, he just wants the right to control how and when their likenesses are displayed in public. Wouldn't every single parent--save the Culkins, Lohans, and Cyruses of the world--want the same?

    Posted by Chris January 29, 09 12:46 PM
  1. Is it illegal? No.
    Is it wrong? You betcha! ;-)

    Posted by LynahFaithful January 29, 09 12:51 PM
  1. Ty should've gone to Michelle and Barack Obama, told them that they wanted to do this, that people have been asking and gotten their permission. If the Obamas said "No our children are not to be public fodder" then tough that's the way it goes, if they said "Yes" well go ahead create the dolls and then make sure to be courteous enough to see what ALL of the Obamas think.

    Posted by RayRay01 January 29, 09 01:33 PM
  1. I hear both sides of this loud and clear. I think that the kids need the opportunity to go through a normal development and the obsessive attention that our country gives to celebrities can be harmful on that front. On the other hand, the president has used his kids several times to curry favor with us, whether it was that contrived videoconference at the DNC or the anecdotes at the recent presser. I think that on this front the media should take its cues from Obama. When the girls are going about their everyday life, at school and home, leave them alone. Only when they are put in the spotlight by their parents (like at the convention, the inauguration, and other public appearances,) should the media be talking about them. In some ways, i think that this doll thing is better than publishing the menus at their school.

    Posted by Daniel January 29, 09 02:40 PM
  1. In a word, yes.

    Posted by Slack January 29, 09 02:56 PM
  1. Who said that TY can make money off of the girls without an ok from their parents? I don't see any other president's kids having dolls made in their likeness with or without permission. In fact, a lot of people are making big bucks of the Obama's without their permission. Talk about taking advantage.........

    Posted by myvonnes January 29, 09 05:00 PM
  1. These dolls look exactly the same but in different outfits. I don't think they look like the Obama girls at all...

    Posted by melli_fera January 29, 09 05:10 PM
 
54 comments so far...
  1. I think they should be off limits. They did not get permission.

    Posted by kells January 28, 09 02:33 AM
  1. While I can relate to Michelle Obama's "Eww" factor on this, and think that Ty is pretty close to crossing the line, I don't think that they crossed it. These are dolls with first names. Ty knew what they were doing and knew that they could get away with it. Opportunistic? Certainly. Illegal or immoral? Not so much.
    Yes, Malia and Sasha are private citizens, but their parents knew when the decision was made to run for president that they would be thrown into the spotlight. I'm sorry, but if they're going to parade them out at their convenience for all the media to see, then they can't be surprised when people want to see more. Yes, the girls should be allowed to go to school without TMZ in their faces. Yes, they should be allowed to have private lives, but they gave up being "normal" kids when their dad ran for president.

    Posted by finny January 28, 09 01:32 PM
  1. They didn't put themselves in the spotlight so they should be off limits. Its not the children's fault their parents' are celebrities. As long as they do not break felony law, no celebrity's child should receive obsessive media attention or consumerism that they are not receiving money for. If they put themselves into the spotlight (actors, singers, etc) they have made a conscious decision to allow the public into their lives but they should still be allowed a greater degree of privacy than adults (whom i also think deserve more privacy than they are allowed). They are still kids and deserve to make mistakes without the whole world weighing in. Maybe we wouldn't have so many screwed up Britney Spears/Paris Hilton types if we allowed these kids to grow up without cameras in their face every second of every day.

    Posted by lunyme January 28, 09 01:33 PM
  1. These kids didn't ask to be in the public eye/domain. They are "celebrities" by default/association. AND, do we really want "celebrity" politicians and leaders -- but, that is a separate topic for a different discussion. As to the kids -- the Kennedy kids were off limits, so were Amy and Chelsea, after a while, so were the Bush girls. These two are little kids. Leave them alone!

    Posted by Bugaboo January 28, 09 01:43 PM
  1. I think his kids should be off limits; and the president and the first lady need to make that clear. They didn't make the choice to be in the public eye. Let them have the chance to grow up, without the blistering scrutiny; then when they are adults let them determine how publicly visible they want to be.

    Posted by JWS II January 28, 09 01:45 PM
  1. Any public figure who trotts their kid out publicly is making the decision to have their kids be fair game. When you make the decision to run for office or be a public figure in any other way, you are chosing a profession that puts your family in that position. The Obama girls and their parents have been in every publication in the grocery store racks. The President and his wife DID that. They have in no way restricted media access to the girls. They have allowed those girls to be photographed over and over again. Just like celebrities have done with their new babies. Why, if what they wanted for the girls was privacy? They themselves used the girls to further their own interests. The dolls are cute and kids all over the country are fascinated with Sasha and Malia. TY is not the ones selling the dolls for $175. Individuals are.

    Posted by katesmom January 28, 09 01:53 PM
  1. Maybe because of their age, but I don't recall any other Presidential offspring getting special treatment, especially those poor Bush girls. How about Chelsea Clinton, Amy Carter, etc. They were all treated less than fairly.

    Posted by Mike January 28, 09 01:53 PM
  1. Obama's kids should be off limits, no question about it. We shouldn't even know their names or what they look like. They deserve complete protection.

    Posted by macnh1 January 28, 09 01:54 PM
  1. Not only should pols kids be off limits, innocent 'celebrities' should be off limits too. The Globe's report on the arrest of the brother of a Red Sox player (no, I won't mention the payers name) simply because he was the player's brother is shameful. If this person had not been related to a 'celebrity' the story would have never made it into the paper.

    Posted by roxres January 28, 09 01:59 PM
  1. kids are kids. Go after the parents if you want but leave the kids alone.

    Posted by maria January 28, 09 02:01 PM
  1. Ty is setting themselves up for a world of hurt here. They are using the likeness of private underage citizens to profit from. Looks like they also mis priced the dolls - $10 retail to $175 on ebay? I know companies like it when that happens (free PR) but still, charge $50 retail and don't leave as much on the table

    Posted by wrjohnston January 28, 09 02:01 PM
  1. WERE THE BUSH DAUGHTERS OR CHELSEA OFF-LIMITS???? YOU CAN'T PICK AND CHOOSE.

    Posted by FFED January 28, 09 02:10 PM
  1. I will not buy any Ty products ever again - they have actually admitted the toys were based on the president's kids before they got bad publicity and changed their story.

    The parent of a child whose image is exploited without consent and without compensation should sue Ty for all they are worth.

    Posted by HBX January 28, 09 02:35 PM
  1. They should not be off limits as long as they disclaim it:
    Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
    Is this already NOT America anymore?

    Posted by Ananonymous January 28, 09 02:36 PM
  1. WAAAAY off limits.

    Posted by Jim January 28, 09 02:47 PM
  1. I don't recall anyone up in arms about Chelsea Clinton's cameo in Beavis & Butthead Do America. Granted it was only for a few seconds, she said nothing, and they didn't "exploit" her to the same degree as is this case, but the point is that First Kids aren't off limits.

    This is the cost of being a public figure and while I'd agree that the right thing to do is to leave the kids alone, I don't see how you'd be able to do that in the real world. Paparazzi couldn't take pictures of celebrities if their children were in the shot? Seems off. There might be some right of publicity issue here at the copying of the childrens' likenesses and profiting from that, but that's a complex issue in it's own right.

    Posted by AB January 28, 09 02:49 PM
  1. YES!!!!!

    Posted by Paul31 January 28, 09 02:54 PM
  1. I also think they should be off limits. There was no Cute Caroline, Jovial John-John, Amiable Amy or Cherub Chelsea--the press and marketing vultures stayed away out of courtesy and good sense. What ever happened to those virtues?

    Posted by perfect pats January 28, 09 03:15 PM
  1. Young and underage childen, yes, however as they get older(college-age), no.

    I also feel a lawsuit should be filed against the TY company for their dolls.

    Posted by g05 January 28, 09 03:18 PM
  1. Kids should be off limits!
    Myley Cyrus's father is making decisions for her, and he has chosen that his daughter become a public person. He signed contracts for her, as she is a minor.
    What a funny question! How would you like somebody else making a profit off your kids without your knowledge and permission?

    Posted by Natalie January 28, 09 03:21 PM
  1. The Ty people are disingenuous. When the story was originally reported, they said that the dolls WERE modeled on the girls and that they hoped the Obamas liked them. When the First Lady said she did not approve, they backtracked.

    The girls have the right to their privacy -- they are the daughters of the president but they are not celebrities in their own right and they are kids. They have been in the public eye because of the campaign, but I imagine we will not be seeing much of them now that the inauguration is over -- just as we did not see much of the Bush twins or Chelsea Clinton. The Ty company was out of line.

    Posted by ramona January 28, 09 03:31 PM
  1. I agree; while in his position as President, it is almost impossible for Obama to keep his family out of the media. Rather, he approached the media as making his family accessible (keeps the pressure down so that there is not crazy media frenzy and competition to get a 'must have' photo opportunity), but at the same time, he wants them to have as normal a childhood as possible. We have to remember that these are children who have no say in their parents' careers, publicity, or otherwise, and who are made public because of their relation to public figures. As the adults here, marketers should definitely know better. .

    Posted by capnlizard January 28, 09 03:33 PM
  1. Off limits! These children are in no way endorsing, nor profiting from these products. Instead their "images" are being used. Using the children's names is indecent.

    Posted by Jippo January 28, 09 03:48 PM
  1. One side says:
    Of course kids should be off limits - except those who chose to be in the public eye. These dolls exploit the children and earn profits without the children having any input or receiving any benefit. Very, very sad.

    The other side says:
    Yes its exploitive, and sad that the manufacturer sets a further poor example by blatantly lying about it. However, each time a child plays with the dolls and imagines the Obamas in the White House there is another chip in the edifice of racism.

    Send the profits to urban education programs, at least some good can come of this sorry action.

    Posted by Craig January 28, 09 04:06 PM
  1. Did the media and blogger hype about the puppy count? On one hand, Obama told his daughters directly that they earned the puppy when he mentioned the puppy on election night, and he mentioned Malia's allergy later when mentioning his criteria for choosing a dog. On the other hand, Barack and Michelle are the adults who will be responsible for their family's pet's well-being (everyone, do not leave things like scheduling veterinary appointments to a 10-year-old).

    Posted by Colleen January 28, 09 04:21 PM
  1. Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia aren't modeled on the Obama children. They just coincidentally have the same names. I feel for the person who actually had to utter or write those words. A) Don't exploit little kids who aren't responsible for their celebrity and B) don't treat people as complete idiots when you are caught doing so.

    Posted by Wendy January 28, 09 04:42 PM
  1. The Obama girls are in the public eye but I feel that the Toy company was wrong.... They are exploiting those kids and anything to make money.... I would be ticked off to if it were my kids.. ANy money the company makes off of those dolls they should donate the money to charity.

    Posted by Lori January 28, 09 04:59 PM
  1. .....if Bill Gates' children(?) are off limits then that should also apply to the President's daughters......

    Posted by Joe January 28, 09 05:07 PM
  1. I think that kids should be off limits, but they never have been before, so why the special treatment now? The job of a parent (or parents) is to protect their children - they chose to put their children in this position, so now they have to deal with it. I feel sorry for them, but Chelsea Clinton was massacred, the Bush daughters were ridiculed, so as much as I hate to say it, those kids better toughen up, because their parents chose this and now they have to live with it.

    Good point, blueeyedgirl2. I think this goes beyond the way the media and the public picks apart people and their kids, though, since the Ty company made these dolls to turn a profit, not to satisfy curiosity or make a point. Then again... there were paper dolls of Caroline Kennedy, weren't there? And all the fascination with Baby Ruth? So maybe it's nothing new, but just seems more galling given how quickly the dolls went to market? -- LMA

    Posted by blueeyedgirl2 January 28, 09 05:22 PM
  1. Absolutely. Off Limits. Ty company should be ashamed.

    Posted by mmann January 28, 09 05:55 PM
  1. The difference is that Bill Gates doesn't put his kids in the public eye when it benefits him. The Obamas thrust their children into the spotlight knowingly. Is it fair for the children? No. But, the same is true of any public figure. They relish in the attention when it benefits them, then immediately cry foul when it doesn't.

    If you don't like it, don't buy the dolls...and stop buying the celebrity magazines - they're one in the same. All are profiting from someone else's celebrity. And, make no mistake, those trying to earn celebrity (or in this case, public office) use those media to their advantage. At least the dolls are cute.

    Posted by Elsa January 28, 09 06:21 PM
  1. Maybe we should ask Sarah Palin's children what the press and others can do to young children.

    Thanks for commenting, Kayne East. That's a good point. What's especially galling to me about these dolls, though, is that they were created in order for a company to make a profit -- to me, that goes beyond the (ridiculously high, often unwarranted) level of curiosity the public has about celebrities' kids and the kids of public figures. -- LMA

    Posted by Kanye East January 28, 09 06:24 PM
  1. toy companies aren't allowed to market images of celebrities without their permission. you can't sell a britney spears or tom brady doll without their permission. why is this different?

    Posted by pms January 28, 09 07:05 PM
  1. Obama did not "thrust their children into the spotlight knowingly," the media and a public obsessed with the private lives of public people did. We were the ones that demanded that Obama demonstrate that he was a normal American with a normal American family. He brought them out only during reasonable moments. Were they supposed to stay home when daddy and mommy voted, or the night he won or during the Inauguration? Sarah Palin trotted her kids out as well. And who could forget Romney's ceaseless showing off of his sons? It's part of the electoral process. But even during the election, Obama insisted on certain limits when it came to his kids, especially during private times like vacations. The Bush girls were off-limits until they were older as were Chelsea Clinton and Amy Carter. These kids did not run for office, their parents did.The Obama girls are very young and are entitled to as much privacy as they can get. It says something very negative about us as a society when we are so cynical as to deny children their childhood.

    Posted by Nancy G January 28, 09 07:10 PM
  1. If Ty where asked to make these dolls and opted not too, you all would be calling them racist. Sorry for reminding you of your double standards.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, twp. But the issue isn't the color of the doll's "skin," but the fact that they're clearly being marketed to pick up on the popularity of the president's daughters. The dolls didn't have to be named "Malia" and "Sasha," that just seems a little more than a coincidence, no matter what the people at Ty say. -- LMA

    Posted by typical_white_person January 28, 09 07:14 PM
  1. Yeah the Bush twins were COMPLETELY off limits too, right? :::insert eyeroll here::::

    I don't remember... were there collectible Bush twins dolls right after the inauguration? Dolls aside... should the Bush twins have been off limits? I think so. Were they? Nope. -- LMA

    Posted by Lindsay January 28, 09 07:47 PM
  1. Clearly their image was being used w/o parental consent. The parents images are fair game as they are public persons. Neither parent gave consent to model a doll after their children. The children are not old enough to decide such things. I like the idea of another poster. Ty should send 100% of net profits to inner city schools or some charity of the Obamas choosing. At least then all this is for a good cause.

    I suspect if they wanted the Obamas would have one heck of a lawsuit against Ty toys. Maybe they would agree to a limited run for charity.

    Posted by dhallen January 28, 09 08:22 PM
  1. Off limits.

    Posted by amom January 28, 09 08:28 PM
  1. I tend to agree that the kids should be off limits in general, but these dolls aren't particularly distasteful or offensive. I don't usually defend the intentions of corporations, but if people are clamoring to get their hands on these dolls and bidding up eBay auctions, it could be argued that Ty was just adeptly responding to consumer demand, rather than resorting to "exploitation and greed." Certainly Sasha & Malia make better role models than Barbie or Bratz dolls; but if the parents object, well that should be that.

    Posted by Boston Dad January 28, 09 09:10 PM
  1. It occurs to me that many people are saying that other first children weren't off limits, and therefore neither should the Obama children. Why are we more concerned about the fairness of media coverage to past presidential children than to the current ones? Why is there even a comparison? If we've since realized that such a thing is unfair to the individuals involved, why should it matter if there's a precedent for close scrutiny, or why we realized that there's a problem with how we treat the first family? If we really feel that it's wrong to publicize the lives of presidents' kids, then the best possible thing we can do now is to make the current one off limits, and maybe the fascination will go away by the time the next administration comes in

    Posted by Sarah January 28, 09 11:05 PM
  1. Yeah the Bush twins were COMPLETELY off limits too, right? :::insert eyeroll here::::

    Sure. It makes complete sense to compare two very young kids to college-age and up young adults who flipped the finger at photographers, used their dad's name to strongarm their way into nightclubs, and regularly attended naked college drunkfests. Exactly.

    Posted by Marcus January 29, 09 12:02 AM
  1. No, the Obama children did not give up their rights to privacy when their father became president. All First Families have requested that their children be off limits and that has always been respected. The Obamas should not be treated with any less respect just because they have beautiful children. Were there dolls of the Bush twin girls? Chelsea dolls? Amy Carter dolls? No there weren't. I will boycott Ty products - their denial that their new dolls are copies of the Obama girls is ridiculous.

    Posted by somewhere January 29, 09 07:36 AM
  1. Yes, the Obama children should be off limits. The twin Bush girls did not have a doll, nor did the Kennedy children. If these people must make dolls, why not make them after the president and their wives. The children did run for office. I for one as a mother, grandmother and great grandmother will boycott the dolls. The dolls look like the Obama girls. The girls need to be treated as children and be able to live as normal lives as possible which will be hard enough to do. There are no other presidant's children dolls, why now?

    Posted by posted by Boston January 29,07 8:50 AM January 29, 09 09:18 AM
  1. The Obama's should market their own line of family dolls, trademark all likenesses. Sell them for charity, and therefor take all ability from all other doll producers to make a desirable Obama product. Also, does anyone find the Obamania marketing disturbing. On some level, I feel that it can be good, for instance starbucks is promoting volunteering through their own organization. Then I saw Ikea's "change begins at home" ad on tv this morning. To me that is just disgusting drive for consumerism that got us into this mess. Not stating a political forum here! The dolls, the marketing its all just too much, I feel like we live as shadows of humans whose reality is defined by what we exploit and what we buy.

    Posted by ll January 29, 09 10:12 AM
  1. OSAMA STARTED YESTERDAYS CABINET MEETING BY QUOTING HIS DAUGHTERS QUESTIONING WHY THEIR SCHOOL WAS CLOSED WHEN IT WAS ONLY ICY. "in Chicago they did it this way." "why do they do it different in DC?" call the school like any parent if you have a gripe...don't bring 7 and 10 year olds comments to staff meeting. because, IF YOU ARE GOING TO "use them" to get what you want...then they will "get used" in return. what is really the harm in a little kid having a doll. Get over yourselves. give the money from the sales to charity - or to the economy...or to the poor.

    Posted by Meme January 29, 09 10:19 AM
  1. With Obama quoting them and talking about their little anecdotes every time he gets a chance, he's pushing them into the public spotlight. Whether they want to be or not, he's making them public figures with his constant references to them.

    Posted by AB January 29, 09 11:11 AM
  1. The bush twins, the clinton daughter, sarah palins childrn all faced a ton of media scrutiny and press. Why should obama be diferent?

    If th media is going to start havign a conscience now after so much unconscionable behavior, it will be nothng but an indictment of what the right wing had been complaining about the last 10 years.

    Posted by steveh January 29, 09 11:17 AM
  1. Why does what happened to the Bush girls, Chelsea Clinton, or the Palins have anything to do with whether the Obama dolls are appropriate? The question wasn't "Is there precedent for this?", it was "Is this appropriate?"

    Likewise, what does Obama mentioning his girls at a cabinet meeting have to do with it? He's not denying that he has daughters, he just wants the right to control how and when their likenesses are displayed in public. Wouldn't every single parent--save the Culkins, Lohans, and Cyruses of the world--want the same?

    Posted by Chris January 29, 09 12:46 PM
  1. Is it illegal? No.
    Is it wrong? You betcha! ;-)

    Posted by LynahFaithful January 29, 09 12:51 PM
  1. Ty should've gone to Michelle and Barack Obama, told them that they wanted to do this, that people have been asking and gotten their permission. If the Obamas said "No our children are not to be public fodder" then tough that's the way it goes, if they said "Yes" well go ahead create the dolls and then make sure to be courteous enough to see what ALL of the Obamas think.

    Posted by RayRay01 January 29, 09 01:33 PM
  1. I hear both sides of this loud and clear. I think that the kids need the opportunity to go through a normal development and the obsessive attention that our country gives to celebrities can be harmful on that front. On the other hand, the president has used his kids several times to curry favor with us, whether it was that contrived videoconference at the DNC or the anecdotes at the recent presser. I think that on this front the media should take its cues from Obama. When the girls are going about their everyday life, at school and home, leave them alone. Only when they are put in the spotlight by their parents (like at the convention, the inauguration, and other public appearances,) should the media be talking about them. In some ways, i think that this doll thing is better than publishing the menus at their school.

    Posted by Daniel January 29, 09 02:40 PM
  1. In a word, yes.

    Posted by Slack January 29, 09 02:56 PM
  1. Who said that TY can make money off of the girls without an ok from their parents? I don't see any other president's kids having dolls made in their likeness with or without permission. In fact, a lot of people are making big bucks of the Obama's without their permission. Talk about taking advantage.........

    Posted by myvonnes January 29, 09 05:00 PM
  1. These dolls look exactly the same but in different outfits. I don't think they look like the Obama girls at all...

    Posted by melli_fera January 29, 09 05:10 PM
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