Wednesday, November 14, 2012

DONNA DAROVICH: Toys “R” revealing much more about us than is comfortable

By: Donna Darovich, columnist
As surely as Barbie dolls prompted a pre-occupation with vanity and fashion among little girls and Mr. Potato Head inspired future courtroom sketch artists, today’s toys reflect a direction that is as frightening as the Magic 8 Ball that we all know spurred an interest in the occult.
For starters, there’s the “Monster High” line of dolls (see the center photo) that evidently attend a creepy high school somewhere and are related to famous monsters (which sounds like the premise for “90210” but the monsters are Dracula, Frankenstein, the creature from the Black Lagoon, and zombies in general).
The coeds are ghoulishly glitzy, but have fangs, stitches, wolf ears, fins or bandages which  begs the question, ”Since  bullying  is already a big problem in our schools, isn’t showing up for class with fangs, fins,  and wolf ears awfully risky?”
Then there are the dolls whose hair makes them do things. 
 Donna Darovich
The Harmony B.  Sharp doll, talks, sings, dances and her hair spins – unless her best friend is holding it behind her head while she leans over the commode.  I made up that last part.  
The Harmonies Dolls sing when you brush the back of their hair and emit the sound of a musical instrument when you brush the sides of their hair. 
If you don’t brush their hair, they win a Grammy in the punk rock category.
Press the chest of Silly Hair Star and she sings and calls security. Brush her hair and she sings and tells jokes (for the record, tequila has the same effect.)
When I saw the “Little Stumbles Bumps ‘n’ Bruises”  doll, I almost called Child Protective Services, but seems that it’s a doll’s first, middle, next-to-last and last name (and I thought hyphenated names were awkward). She and her pet are frequent victims of minor, treatable ailments.
Give her a cup of milk and it appears to disappear as she drinks it. The next time she picks it up, it’s full again.
This can’t be a good lesson for a kid who will one day order a martini.
The Barbie Sisters Cruise Shipis probably the closest to reality of all the toys because the dolls on board only sunbathe and eat which is, if you’ve been on a cruise, the only things you really do.
The “Barbie Potty Time” ad repelled me until I read the next two words, “Training Pup.”  
It sounds like a good way to teach responsible pet ownership because the unhousebroken pup comes with a collar, a food dish, a water bowl, bone, newspaper training pad and “pretend poo.”
But the puppy potty training   also “features sounds,” and that can’t be good.  However, I don’t see any rabies vaccination tags, a city license or evidence of an imbedded chip so Friends of Arlington Animal Services may want to check out this one.
The “Loving Family Dream Dollhouse”has nine rooms, a solarium, winding staircase and chandelier which may send the message that a family living in a two-bedroom duplex with window unit air conditioning isn’t so loving.  
Not true, of course, and it gets worse. When I Googled the dollhouse, it’s called “Loving Family Dream Dollhouse with Caucasian Family.” Didn’t see one for a Latino or African-American family. Have they not seen the last election vote totals and demographics?
 The Dr. Mommy Dollcan be probed by your little Doogie Howser with a selection of medical instruments that prompt recorded responses ranging from “That’s cold,” to “Ahh” to “I’ll kill you if you stick me again!”
Sorry, I’m making up things again.
Speaking of responses, the Little Champs 3-in-One Sports Center includes baseball, football and basketball activities “with sound effects” which I hope aren’t realistic like “Get outta my face, *#%&+@6!”  or ”Drop the ball again, Dez and be afraid to open your locker post-game.”
But the toy that truly impressed me is the B. Symphony in B that lets kids select up to six musical instrument replicas and put them together to make different melodies (it’s the toy pictured on the left). It also teaches them about the different sections of an orchestra because as each plays it lights up.  And if you comb the musicians’ hair, you might be surprised as to what they are lighting up.
Too much reality: Baby Alive “eats, drinks and makes messy diapers.”  She also comes with a birth certificate but won’t release it until birthers back off.
But perhaps toys don’t influence our culture. Perhaps our culture that loves “CSI” and “Law and Order” “influences toys.
Exhibit One: The “Dr. Dreadful Alien Autopsy Set” (the toy pictured on the right) with a fake (I think) alien on a slab whose body can be dissected to reveal its active internal organs or, as the toymaker boasts, “Bubbling alien guts move on motorized alien stomach.”  It boasts,”Looks gross, tastes great” (it comes with recipes for making alien eyeballs and lung bugs.)
Which reminds me, I need to brush my hair.

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