Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bah Humbug

So it’s Christmas time again. So far I haven’t said anything about the holiday. Not the fact that ads started a week before Thanksgiving, or that it just doesn’t seem like the holidays to me since it is still 60 degrees and sunny here in Sacramento.

Though I would like to make a brief comment on mega store Wal-Mart. Since the chain drastically cut prices on toys and electronics the big box store may actually lose money this holiday season. This year’s loss would follow a gain last holiday season when the chain was actually protested by its decision to abandon “Merry Christmas” in favor of the more neutral “Happy Holidays.”

This year the company re-instituted the “Merry Christmas” message and it really seems to be working out for them.

However there is one thing this holiday season that is so absurd, so insane, it has me frothing at the mouth. So what toy could possible have pissed off me, the child slowly being dragged into the adult world?

Could it be the PlayStation 3 that had people losing their jobs to camp out for days for days in front of stores just to get their hands on one? Or that people were almost killed in trampling incidents when the store did open, and were killed in mugging incidents when the system was stolen? No…this toy is crazier.

Could it be the Nintendo Wii that in less then a week has begun to cripple many in our overweight, un-athletic, and obese, generation of gamers? The Wall Street Journal ran an article over the weekend describing the soreness some have experienced after playing the Wii. The article quotes adults and kids having soreness in their shoulders from using the motion sensitive controllers. One user said he was soaked in sweat and sore following a session of Wii boxing. Nintendo's response is quote: "If people are finding themselves sore, they may need to exercise more."

They also recommended stretching before playing. (Just wait in a year I bet the news will be lauding the Wii for helping our overweight generation lose weight.)

Still there is a more destructive force out there this holiday season.

The answer? Barbie. Yes that 11 1/2 -inch embodiment of every man and woman’s fantasy. But it is not just any Barbie. In fact it’s not a doll at all. It’s the Barbie ATM. That’s right. It’s a talking make believe Automated Teller Machine.

For too long Barbie has been creating unrealistic goals and dreams for our nation’s youth. Men will never find a girl who looks like Barbie, and girls will never grow up to look like her. Without massive and unrealistic surgery they will never match the dolls 39-21-33 measurements. They will most likely never own a dream house, or the hottest clothes that often stuff the diminutive blonde’s tiny closet in girl’s rooms around the world. She will never have the jewelry found on Bling Bling Barbie Styling Head or play on the Yankees, most likely won’t be an astronaut, and she will always have nipples.

Yes Barbie is unrealistic. However here have always been toys that have promoted unattainable fantasies. I know I played with Ninja Turtle X-men, and Spider-man toys my entire life. But no matter how many times I hung out in sewers rolling in medical waste or got bit by spiders I knew I would never become a mutant or a superhero.

On the flip side I doubt any child who play with Mc Donald’s make believe play sets dreams about working in fast food industry, despite that being the goal of the toys. Experts show if kids link flipping imaginary burgers with fun – they will be well groomed to take up the spatula when they are older. You can thank Spongebob Square Pants job at the Krusty Krab for spawning a full generation of imaginary and soon to be real life burger flippers.

However I don’t see what can be accomplished by playing with a make believe ATM. I mean, “Hey kids before you head out to the Barbie Mall don’t forget to get money out of the Barbie ATM buy more Barbie clothes and accessories!” I dread going to the ATM. I wonder will I get the dreaded INSUFFICIENT FUNDS message. All it reminds me of is how little money I have and I can’t see how playing with that could be any fun.

Barbie has always been the apex of materialism in the toy world. For every helicopter G.I. Joe had, Barbie had two cars and a yacht. According to Mattel’s website a Barbie is sold roughly every two seconds. After this Christmas Mattel and Barbie will be grooming a whole new generation of shoppers to take money out of very real ATM’s to go and spend at the very real mall, trying to live out the impossible dream of mimicking the life of their very plastic and fake childhood idol.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Trevor, I too moved from Syracuse to Sacramento (in 2004). Actually convinced a buddy to move out here from the 'Cuse as well just this year. Hey, if you are looking for some holiday cheer...just drive up 80 or 50 an hour or so! More snow on the ground here than in CNY. Later!

December 16, 2006 12:45 PM  

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