Spice, Spice, Baby

Urban75's "Slap a Spice Girl" website

IF YOU'VE EVER felt like belting the Spice Girls when their single "Wannabe" plays on MTV, you're not alone. Now a Brixton, U.K. webzine called Urban75 has invented an interactive game where, if you've got the RAM, you can "Knock some sense into those Tory-lovin' girrrrls!!!"

Here's how you play: Severed heads of all five of the Spice Girls (plus Margaret Thatcher, "the first Spice Girl," per the band) randomly pop up and down from a black-dotted Twister board. Your weapon is a mouse-controlled hand that you use to cover their iconic mugs; you then punch your mouse button, give 'em a thwack, and the music of "Wannabe" playing in the background momentarily stops. You've only got 45 seconds to turn those facile Spice Girl smiles into flattened, contorted grimaces. You get one point for every one you hit, and 10 points plus a "zigazigah" every time you slap the Iron Lady. You can never really win; the game relies on the act of slapping for user gratification, and in doing so, makes a smart parallel between the game and the helplessness music lovers feel in the face of Top 40 power.

But isn't Urban75's joke misogynistic? Well, the zine regularly gives virtual slaps to any prominent figure--including John Major and politicos of both genders--who stops the flow of anarchy in the U.K. (Yes, John Lydon is quoted extensively in the site's mission statement.) So while the Spice Girls co-wrote all of the songs on Spice and push a watered-down feminist message, their pre-fab aesthetic does smack of body-conscious corporate packaging: With individual Girls dressed up as a cheerleader, a raver, a mod, a soccer player, and a sophisticate, their shallow design is geared primarily for demographic appeal. Barbie-doll knock-offs are no doubt in the works.

But it's probably their collective pre-Christmas statement in The Spectator ("Margaret Thatcher was the first Spice Girl, the pioneer of [our] ideology") that set off Urban75's wrath. It's doubtful the Spice Girls have plans to bomb the Falkland Islands; they're only a momentary (we hope) aural irritant--which makes websites like this simply good, cheeky fun.

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