Thursday, November 13th, 2008...5:06 pm
5 Screwed-Up Kid’s Toys From Hell
By Rassam Fakour-Zaker
Know Your Money Editor
Do you want your child to grow up to be a well-adjusted, emotionally-secure, happy, considerate, compassionate, principled, free-thinking, decent person? If the answer is an emphatic “NO”, then here are a few gift ideas for the coming holiday season…
Kid’s Pimp Costume
Does your son seem like a budding young entrepreneur? Is he a “people person”? Does he enjoy “smacking hoes”? Then why not inspire his inner-pimp with the beautifully-tailored Mac Daddy costume. Your boy will soon be commanding the respect of his peers with unabashed displays of misogyny and materialism. (Note: blinging jewellery, pimp-stick and dirty wad of money not included).
The glorification of pimp culture in our society is a noted problem; considered especially damaging to young children since it promotes distorted notions of sexuality and power and normalises the commodification of people and sex. According to psychologist Susan Linn, co-founder of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), this “normalization of men selling women is terribly destructive to boys and girls.”
However, if you are determined to encourage your offspring’s sex-trafficking aspirations then you can start them off even earlier with a lovingly-crafted blinging pimp pacifier.
Give your child a head start on the road to environmental ignorance and climate-change denial by buying them a ride-on SUV. Swell with pride as your child confidently drives their militaristic Hummer around the playground while giggling at their wimpy toy-hybrid-driving friends.
Featuring a 2-speed gearbox, 12-inch all-terrain wheels and a fake GPS receiver it looks like the manufacturers have done a good job of replicating the toy’s monolithic, gas-guzzling, real-life counterpart. I’m not sure if this accuracy extends to fuel requirements, but if it does you can expect the 12V battery to burn up the equivalent of Belgium’s annual electricity consumption for every 30 minutes of driving fun.
Perhaps I am being unfair though – since they’ve become such a potent symbol of environmental irresponsibility it’s very easy (and enjoyable and justified) to knock Humvees these days. Therefore, in the spirit of journalistic balance, I should defend this product by pointing out that in an era of endemic child obesity the supersized ride-on Hummer may represent the only practical mobility option for children of ample girth that lack the desire or will to use their legs for peddle-powered alternatives.
Can’t be bothered to waste time and money educating your child? Or perhaps you’ve achieved less than you hoped to in life and fear being outdone by Junior? Well, forget buying your child a toy stethoscope or some Meccano – hell, the jumped-up little git might want to become a doctor or an engineer. A wiser option is to start them off with a McDonald’s playset and watch those aspirations plummet in seconds. Just imagine how their face will light up as they make-believe a wonderful day of mind-numbing, low-paid, prospect-free employment.
As discussed in a previous blog, McDonald’s toy products (such as the Drive-Thru Food Cart pictured above) are clear examples of the fast-food corporation’s cynical, and vastly successful, efforts to market their brand to children at an early age. It is a sad fact that many parents and schools tolerate the corporatisation of children’s recreational activities by providing them with toys designed, ultimately, as exploitative marketing tools.
On the plus side, McDonald’s playsets do have the inherent benefit that any accidental ingestion of the toy food is not to be feared since they probably have more nutritional value than a real-life Happy Meal.
Many elements of the Bratz phenomenon are open to criticism – from the brand’s shameless promulgation of vapid consumerism to the shocking working conditions previously exposed within their manufacturer’s Chinese factories. However, I’m going to focus on the dolls’ embodiment of our society’s increasingly pervasive and detrimental sexualisation of young girls.
A report published last year by the American Psychological Association detailed the wide-ranging consequences of this trend, arguing that “ample evidence testing these theories indicates that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality, and attitudes and beliefs”. In direct reference to the overtly-sexualised clothing sported by Bratz dolls the report went on to express concerns over the “worrisome” association of “an objectified adult sexuality” in a doll designed for preteen girls.
So if you want your daughter to have a low self-esteem and distorted conceptions of attractiveness and sexuality, then get your credit card out and order her a Bratz doll this Christmas – she’ll thank you for it now, but probably not later when she’s racked with insecurities and eating disorders.
The great (and by “great” I actually mean hilariously awful) thing about Bratz is that this twisted sexualisation doesn’t stop with the standard doll products. Hell no – the unsettling aesthetic continues on even more disturbing lines with Bratz secondary products such as the Andalusian Honey Fun Horse. Take a look at that coy pose, doe-like “come-to-bed” eyes, luxurious mane and playfully cocked leg and tell me that that is not a slutty horse.
Clearly dissatisfied with merely helping destroy the self-esteem of a generation of young girls they’re also promoting bestiality. Go Bratz.
Iraq War Military Heroes Playing Cards
A deck of collectible playing cards make an ideal present for a young teenager. Especially when they come fully loaded with right-wing propaganda. Whether it’s Poker or Snap, your son or daughter can celebrate the perpetrators of one of the most controversial wars in recent history as they play with their friends. No doubt they’ll soon dismiss the war’s hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, the needlessly wasted lives of thousands of military personnel and the subsequent geopolitical turmoil as the necessary, noble acts of a heroic and altruistic administration. They’ll soon be praising the Ace of Spades as a man of vision, compassion and strategic genius.
A “companion piece” to the US military’s Most-Wanted Iraqi playing cards, this product was just one of many attempting to cash-in on the invasion of Iraq. Interestingly, your child could build a house out of these that would probably prove more stable than Bush’s grounds for war.