Meditations from Toys ‘R’ Us

Whenever Sara and I end up shopping near a Toys ‘R’ us, we inevitably find ourselves going in. This makes sense for Sara because she is an educator with a vested interest in learning what children are doing in their spare time. And I, uh…like…the Transformers. And the Lego. But I digress. The toy store is a fascinating journey no matter what your age. It’s like our entire society is delicately fileted into little bits and displayed for the entertainment of those who cannot yet participate in said society. So every time we soujourn into those aisles, several themes keep show ingup.

Reality show play-sets will end society as we know it

I saw a play set in the bargain bin for Animal Planet’s Dog Championships. It’s bad enough that adults without any perceptible skill or talent use reality television for play acting. If children start to idolize their antics, it could start some horrible feedback loop that our culture will never be able to escape.

There are no Lego sets for girls.

As we passed the lego display, Sara admitted to a small twinge of outrage that Lego didn’t make any sets that were exclusively for girls. However at the same time, Sara also acknowledged that when she was eight, she also did not care that there were no Lego sets for girls. We can pull our hair and gnash our teeth all we want about gender equality in toys, but what really matters to the kids and the toy companies is that they are any fun to play with in the first place.

Say what you want about Barbie, she’s still the original career role model.

Barbie gets a lot of flak for promoting rampant consumerism and anorexia. However, she’s also been a doctor, a teacher, and an astronaut. This is especially encouraging compared to the Bratz dolls, who only seem to be good at dressing up, and if the Bratz Babyz are any indication, getting pregnant.

The lack of controversy over Star Wars, GI Joe, and Transformers is rather disquieting.

There seems to be kind of a double standard going on between boys’ and girls’ toys. There were some murmurs about violent toys in the 1980s, but for the most part, toys for boys have been able to fire their spring-loaded missiles in peace. Then again, you’re not going to feel inadequate for not being able to change into a car or use the Force.