May seems a little early to declare worst Toy of the Year

Less than half-way into the year and The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (aka Don Quixote Inc.) has called it. They gave the award to Nickelodeon’s

Nick won because “voters were aghast that Nick allows children such easy access to the horrific content on, including the Perry the Sneak series, where gamers take the role of a peeping Tom trying to catch revealing glimpses of naked women showering–and successful voyeurs are rewarded by getting in bed with their prey; Stick Dude Killing Arena, the object of which is to "Train to Kill Until You Die"; and Kitty Cannon, where players can "make Fluffy bloody" by shooting a kitten out of a cannon onto a row of metal spikes.”

Without ruling on the merits of CCFC’s argument I do have a slew of issues with its rhetoric. First there’s the issue of giving out an “… of the Year” title in May. What do they do if Disney launches a line of crack-dispensing Mickey ears? Or American Girl comes out with Cindy The Street Walker?

Then there’s the name of the award. It’s the “TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children)”. I’m guessing they highlighted the initial letters for those of us who couldn’t figure out it was an acronym – well, a partial acronym. Here’s my problem with the name. To toady is to suck up to and this award clearly has nothing to do with that. If you’re going to go to all the trouble of coming up with a stupid acronym at least make it a relevant stupid acronym. How about DANGER (Dumb Acronym Never Gives Everyone Roses)? Or STUPID (Suddenly Toys Underwhelm People In Denmark)?

Finally there is the claim that TOADY was chosen by vote – yet they never mention how many votes were cast.

With an astounding 64% of the vote, easily outpaced its TOADY rivals:  The Little Tykes Young Explorer (18%), the BARBIE DOLL’D UP NAILS Digital Nail Printer (8%), the EyeClops Mini Projector (5%) and the Halo United Nations Space Command Turret (5%).

64% is only an astounding number if more than 100 people voted. This just smacks of the kind of hyped-up nonsense that marketing organizations generate. I know CCFC is trying to fight fire with fire but was this kind of over-the-top nonsense really necessary.

Oh and by the way, I think Susan Linn, the director of CCFC, is really smart and highly recommend her books The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World, and Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood .


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