Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Even I think this is a bad idea.

Neither my wife nor I particularly care for shopping. I mean, we get that we're supposed to be good little consumers right now and buy stuff to stimulate the economy but, by and large, there's just not that much we're interested in buying. That said, my wife does have a peculiar love of Target and, as a consequence, a simple trip in for one or two things can expand into a more elaborate affair. Note that I am not suggesting that she spends money frivolously, I just think there's something about what Target sells and how they market it that appeals to her on a primal level. It's a lot like what happens to me when we walk into BestBuy, with the exception that we can actually afford to buy things from Target.

In any case, because she sometimes gets lost in a Target coma I wander a bit when we're in the store. I can only, after all, offer an opinion on so many different subtle variations of the same kicky sandals before I go totally buggo. In the process of my wandering I sometimes find myself in unexpected parts of the store* and, hence, discover things I never knew, or cared, existed. Recently, I found myself wandering the toy section and I ran across something so bewildering that I actually demanded to return to Target later with a digital camera so that I could share it with all of you.

What I found, specifically, were religious toys. This, in and of itself, is only slightly weird since Target doesn't really carry a lot of that kind of merchandise. And at least some of them were relatively normal, such as this Noah's Ark Playset:



I have always, as a side note, thought that Noah's ark toys were more than a little perverse. I mean, think about it: god has just obliterated the entire f-ing planet. Everyone and everything that Noah, his family, and his animals have ever known has been buried under miles of water. Virtually the entirety of life on Earth has been destroyed, the survival of mankind will depend upon a really disagreeable amount of incest, and at the end of the whole thing god basically says, "Yeah. My bad. Sorry about that." Does this really seem like a great context for a playset? Click on the image above and take a look at their faces: not only have all of their worlds been completely destroyed, their species damn near annihilated, they're actually grinning like morons about it! What. The. Hell. What's next? "The Jolly Titanic Lifeboat Playset"?

That, however, is not the religious toy I found so mind-boggling. No, the toys that knocked my socks off were these rather large dolls. Dolls of who, you ask? Well, the first doll is of none other than Mary, the mother of Jesus:



And the second doll is of Jesus, god's son:



Now, a couple of things jump out at me here. First, holy shit is Jesus ripped! I mean, look at him! That dude has been hitting the weights big-time. It frankly looks like nothing so much as a slight modification of a toy from the G.I. Joe line. It's like they just gave Duke a mullet, dressed him in a bathrobe, and put him in a different box. Maybe one in every one hundred Jesus dolls comes with an accidentally-complimentary assault rifle attachment? Who can tell? Second, Mary looks like she's exactly the same age- if not younger- than the adult Jesus. Now, sure, that's presumably because all the "action" of the Mary character in the bible comes early-on. Hell, the box admits it: her importance is just that she gave birth to some other dude. Still, when you put them next to each other on the shelf it's a little... weird. What's suggested isn't a mother-son relationship, if you know what I mean. That said, though, if Lot has taught us anything, it's that parent/child relationships back then were a lot more complicated.

But wait, there's actually more! Not only do we have dolls of Jesus and Mary, not only are they physically ideal, but they both actually talk! I used the video feature on my camera to capture their monologues for your benefit. Mary, in addition to quoting bible verses- which is weird given that the bible wasn't written until long after her death- gives this truly creepy speech about how joyous she was at learning that god was going to impregnate her, whether she liked it or not:

video

The Jesus doll also quotes bible verses, meaning he quotes other guys who are quoting him. This is a bit strange. His main speech, though, is a rousing telling of his multiplication of loaves and fishes. Here, take a listen:

video

Now, having seen all of this my mind first went to the notion of ripped superhero Jesus. Then I wondered, what would happen if we had dolls for other major religious figures? Superhero Muhammad? Superhero Buddha? Maybe a doll of a really powerful Ganesh or Shiva? Hell, as long as we're at it, we could get Confucious in on it. And, of course, if there's a toy line then we have to create a cartoon to push it. I'm envisioning something like "Superfriends," a team of buddies who stop criminals. There are even neat super powers: Jesus can walk on water and transmute crackers into flesh, Muhammad can move mountains without moving himself, Buddha can see past the veil of tears, Confucious can use his powers of logic to defeat criminal masterminds and Shiva can just destroy everything- or sustain it! Shiva is multi-functional! Alas, I then realized that such a superhero team is simply not to be because, if history has taught us anything, it's that these guys couldn't coexist peacefully long enough to decorate the headquarters, much less deal with bad guys. It'd basically turn into "Real World: Hawaii" or something.

My second line of thought, however, is the one that gives me the most pause. Think about it for a second: what are kids actually going to do with these dolls? I posed that question to my wife, who immediately snickered and responded: "Undress them!" Indeed, yes, they will, and I imagine they will show as much flexibility in their use of the Jesus and Mary dolls as most of us did with our toys as children. Jesus WILL become an action hero, Mary WILL become a female love interest or side-kick or something. They'll have tea parties. They'll have babies. They'll have pets deriving from other injection-molded play sets. How long do you think it will be before the son of god is riding on one of those articulated barbie horses with his girlfriend, Skipper? Moreover, what happens when older brothers get involved? You think there won't be a re-enactment of the crucification using popsicle sticks and food coloring? And eventually these dolls will break, at which point inventive little kids are going to build new toys. We'll end up with an Optimus Prime who tells the story of loaves and fishes** or a truck with Mary's head pasted onto the cab.

I'm not saying that kids shouldn't be kids, but I think I see a lot of conflict coming down the pike between parents who buy these toys because they want their kids to revere Jesus, and kids who frankly play the hell out of their toys, whatever they may be. I mean, seriously, kids simply aren't reverential in the manner of adults and if you give them something that looks like a toy, feels like a toy, and acts like a toy they're going to treat it as a toy, with everything that entails. I suppose I ought to feel gleeful about this, since getting yelled at for playing with toys your parents gave you is likely to turn a lot of kids off of Jesus in the first place, but overall I just think it seems like a bad idea. Somehow I just don't think the solemnity people want to instill in their kids is quite compatible with action-hero Jesus with super leper-healing action.


* The exception to this being the lingerie section. I make it a policy to avoid wandering the lingerie section unless I'm in the company of my wife. It's a way of signaling, "Nope, not a random pervert! Got my wife right here!"

** I once had a conversation with a guy at a cell phone store who explained that when he was a kid he'd take the speech chips out of one toy and build them into other toys. Since he didn't have a soldering iron, he'd get a spool of solder and then heat a broken wire hanger with a cigarette lighter. I both admire the ingenuity and wonder about the lack of adult supervision that permitted that ingenuity to manifest.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Warbler said...

Seems like you'd appreciate this:

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/152726/?tag=Buddha

Thursday, June 11, 2009 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger scripto said...

Somewhere, some kid is going to run Jesus down a sliding board in Barbies Dream car with a lit M80 and a balloon full of gasoline. Is that blasphemy or destroying a false idol?

Friday, June 12, 2009 12:00:00 PM  

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