It’s been awhile since my last post. I’ve been busy in my non-virtual world, so my virtual world hasn’t had much of my attention. I still don’t have time, but I thought I’d at least comment on something relevant and current, of which I really have no real knowledge of, except my own experience. I’d like to hear your responses, for no other reason than I am just curious if I’m really out in left field on this one.
The topic: Whether Breaking Bad action figures should be on toy store shelves.
The background: Breaking Bad, was (the series finale aired in Sept. 2013) a hit AMC television series (by hit I mean that Guinness World Records ranks it the highest rated show of all times) about a chemistry teacher, dying of lung cancer, who turns to making and selling crystal methamphetamine in order to secure his family’s financial future before he dies.
Flash forward to present: Toys R Us started selling Breaking Bad action figures recently, complete with detachable guns, and bags of money and crystal meth. A Florida mom launched a protest petition, which, coupled with news coverage and social media chatter, successfully forced Toys R Us to remove the dolls from the shelves.
My opinion (it’s worth noting that my opinion is quite unscientific and can easily be swayed. I’d like to think I’m pragmatic, but the truth is, I’m non-confrontational and hate to tick anyone off):
I think it’s fair to say that most sane people would agree that the Breaking Bad dolls aren’t appropriate for kids. Do kids even play with “action dolls” anymore? I can’t say I saw either of my sons sitting around using their imagination in a living room surrounded by plastic dolls with movable legs and arms. They did, however, enjoy playing with balls- any size, shape or color, which could be turned into some sort of sport-like game with rules meant to be broken. But let’s say there are kids out there that like action figures. Would any reasonable, semi-intelligent parent purchase the Breaking Bad dolls over Marvel Superhero dolls? I think not.
My point is this– the dolls were produced and marketed for those select Breaking Bad fanatics out there who are mourning the loss of their show and looking to find collector items to fill their empty Sunday night time slot. The easiest place to slide these collector items onto shelves is in toy stores, because, after all, they are plastic and movable and a fun size of the original.
I, for one, commend the Florida woman, those social media moms out there, everyone who signed the petition, and, ultimately, Toys R Us, for realizing it’s a bad idea to sell drug-dealing action figures on our toy shelves. It appears I have a fairly straightforward, intelligent opinion thus far, right?
See, here’s where I might sway from the masses. I think the issue goes deeper.
Because, if you are a parent to a tween or teen, you know that right along side the ridiculously insane, meth.-bag-wielding, drug dealer, action figures there are equally appalling games and toys (that are indeed marketed to our kids) that include virtual and real images of drug dealing, murder, prostitution, gang crimes, car thefts and general, illegal and violent mayhem. Yet, sadly, few parents seem to be upset about any of it except for the Breaking Bad bandwagon!
What is the difference between this (“Breaking Bad” dolls)-
And this (Grand Theft Auto dolls)?
Or this (image of the Breaking Bad TV series)-
and this (image from Grand Theft Auto video game)?
All across our nation, little boys and girls as young as 5, 7, 10, 12 are playing violent video games while moms and dads cook dinner and clean the house (or worse yet, play along). Young kids are enjoying sleepovers where they spend hours playing virtual games of crime, murder and gang violence with total strangers in other states. They are buying action figures off toy shelves and acting out what they’ve spent hours playing in front of screens. Their brains are becoming numb to blood, brute force, guns, drugs, sex, scantily clad women and murder, all before they’ve reached puberty!
And very few parents seem worried. But an action hero toy made for adult collectors from a show few kids have ever seen is causing an uproar?
Call me crazy, but science doesn’t need to prove to me that violent “play” with realistic, virtual games is doing some a lot of damage to our kids mental well being. It’s sucking time away from real world life, real world problems, real world play and real world decision-making. It’s leading their developing brains to seek out the next “quick fix”, the next stimulation that will keep those endorphins pumped. It’s not too hard to understand that it doesn’t take much for an over-stimulated brain to jump from virtual highs to real highs in the form of real violence, drugs, illegal activity and sex.
And when some parents protest these games by refusing to purchase them, refusing to buy the X box, refusing to allow their kids to go to other kids’ houses where such play is permitted…well, they’re shunned, they’re talked about, they’re labeled as “radical parents” and their kids cry fowl because rules are too strict or antiquated!
Corporate world washes their hands clean of this mess by labeling such games “M” for mature. So, in essence, they can play the we-warned-you card when the few concerned parents out there start protesting having such games and toys on toy store shelves.
I don’t have an answer here, folks. I only have a concern that our society cares so much about a drug-making action figure that probably means nothing to the average kid, but we care so little about all the other stuff our kids are exposed to daily, and worse yet, we invite it all willingly and freely into our homes?
Feedback welcomed, encouraged and permitted, please.