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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also a film journalist/critic for Cocktails & Movies and CinemaBlend, as well as the author of several short stories such as "The Devil v. George W. Bush". Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: mikereyeswrites@gmail.com

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rejected by Cracked!: The Dark Side of Toys

Another day I'm finding it hard to write something new, another rejected pitch from my Cracked days!

Note: This story has been renamed from its original pitch title, because I really didn't know how to capture the essence of this story in the typical "Top X" format.

The Dark Side of Toys

by Michael Reyes

We all still remember some of the toy fads that have come and gone in the past couple decades. We especially remember the ones that we kicked, screamed, and set fire to Daddy's limited edition lithograph of Stan Lee wrestling Captain America to get. Now, the thing about toy fads is that they get kind of brutal. Exhibited in the art house masterpiece, "Jingle All The Way", parents trying to get the ultimate present for their child will do ANYTHING to get those toys. People get hurt, some kids get their feelings crushed, everyone drinks...except for the victors. The only drink they get is the milk of the Gods. They got the toy, their kid is happy, they are the SuperParent. Unfortunately, if they had read the labels a little more carefully, or if perhaps they looked at what the toy actually was, then maybe they would have just sucked it up, swept away the ashes of Stan Lee's Greco Roman antics, and backhanded their child for wanting toys that would eventually send them the wrong message about life. These are the toys that could have unintentionally had some weird influences over kids .

Cabbage Patch Kids (released in 1978):

The Toy: Adorable, cherubic little tots that you could care for. These were one of the biggest toy crazes in the 1980’s, besides Teddy Ruxpin. Except all he did was teach you to read and shit. Who the fuck wants that?

The Appeal: Kids have always loved dolls, and thanks to Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, girls AND boys could play with dolls. Though, the boys probably weren’t too open about playing with them, for fear of being labeled a “fag” on the playground.

The Dark Side: Cabbage Patch Kids were rumored to be designed to adjust people to the horrors of children born deformed thanks to radiation poisoning. (
http://www.snopes.com/business/origins/cabbage.asp) According to the rumors, good ol’ Ronnie Regan wanted to prepare the world for babies that were born deformed because of radioactive fallout. This perverse (yet unproven) rumor also speculates that the CIA had radioactively infected people breeding, just to produce models. And there you have half the lameassed plot for The Hills Have Eyes 2.

Unintended Message: "Hey, radioactively mutated babies are cute. Why are we so afraid of nuclear weapons?"

My Buddy (released in 1985)

The Toy: Little boys can be called “fag” only so many times before they either kick someone’s ass, or conform to the label given to them. (Just ask Clay Aiken) So, in an effort to properly win the “boy doll” market, My Buddy was created. The main feature about My Buddy…he was almost as big as you. So carrying him around meant no strollers or baby carriers. He’s not a doll, he’s My Buddy!

The Appeal: Want a little brother, but Mommy and Daddy aren’t exactly getting along enough to make one for you? Get a My Buddy doll, you can do everything you would want to do with a little brother! And what’s better, My Buddy doesn’t tell on you when you stay up ultra late to watch Cinemax!

The Dark Side: Heeere’s Chucky!
That’s right, Chucky from Child’s Play had a more than passing resemblance to the My Buddy doll, causing many a nightmare in nurseries across America. What’s funny is according to the film’s director, Chucky was really inspired by the advertising blitz caused by the Cabbage Patch Dolls. Yep. So on top of being a Satan worshiping serial killer, My Buddy was deformed from the Chernobyl disaster.

Unintended Message: “Any of your toys in your room, and any given moment in the day, can fucking kill you. Good night, kids!”

Tamogotchi (released in 1996)

The Toy: The first in a long line of “virtual pets”, the Tamogotchi was another Japanese creation that would ensure our children would have no lives and remain virgins. (Nintendo took offense to this, seeing as they had previously cornered the market in this area.)

The Appeal: Tamogotchis and the Macarena ruled 1996, which automatically makes 1996 the most dangerous year to raise a child. (More on that with the next toy.)

The Dark Side: With no pause feature in the original Tamogotchis, and the requirement of constant care in order to keep them alive, kids Tamogotchi’s were dying left and right because of stupid things like school, chores, and Bible school. That’s right kids, your teacher, your parents, and your God are all in a grand conspiracy to kill your Tamogotchi. Shame befall you if you fail. This level of obsession, if unchecked, produces parents that are obsessed with their spawn and talk endlessly about them, as if anyone gave a shit.

Unintended Message: “No one loves you like I do, Tamogotchi. Nothing else matters in this world. NOTHING! Let us share our bond with the world.”

Tickle Me Elmo (released in 1996):

The Toy: A shrilling, screaming, overly sensitive Muppet; who is designed to entertain your children and teach them nothing but to be annoying.

The Appeal: What could be considered as a strong candidate for the world’s first mentally retarded Muppet, Elmo was introduced in the 1990’s to attract children to Sesame Street. After his fame took hold, the merchandising bonanza spat this unholy creature in the faces of parents.

The Dark Side: A black eye to the original purpose of Sesame Street, this toy taught kids NOTHING of educational worth. And what’s worse, people have been injured and even mugged to get this toy. (
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2006/09/25/2006-09-25_tickle_pickle_your_elmo_or_your_life.html) Plus, all it does is laugh and say “That Tickles!” Try using that on a test in elementary school. So in addition to making Jim Henson spin in his grave even faster, it also made kids into even more annoying little shits.

Unintended Message: “If I say everything in a grating, high pitched voice and follow everything I say with a loud cry of ‘YAY!’, everyone’s gonna love me and trust me with their kids.”

Furby (released in 1998)

The Toy: Tiger Electronics struck a goldmine with the Furby, a toy pet that was more functional than a Pet Rock, but wasn't quite on the level of a Super Toy Teddy. Through close interaction with its owner, its speech would develope as it moved merrily along its life cycle.

The Appeal: Hey, its Tamogatchi all over again, only it doesn't die, and it talks! Plus, these creatures beared what some saw as more than a passing resemblance to Gizmo, the mogwai from Gremlins, and who didn't love that little fucker? (Gizmo was later immortalized as a Furby, as well as Yoda...is there nothing Lucas or Spielberg have marketed?)

The Dark Side: Furbies could have caused a massive information leak in the NSA!
http://www.ijmc.com/archives/1999/January/15January1999.html. Due to their rumored ability to adapt their spoken language by listening to what's being said around them, Furbies were banned from Fort Meade, MD because of "built-in recorders that repeat the audio with synthesized sound to mimic the original signal." This was later dismissed as merely a rumor, but who's to say the possibility isn't still there. Hackers have screwed with Furbies in the past, and we all know how crafty those hackers can be! So while Daddy has his Furby from little Jimmy sitting on his desk, which he bought from this kindly old Korean man only $15, Furby could recording the launch codes that'll bring about North Korea’s epic victory against America."

Unintended Message: “Hey Mom, Kim Jong-Il said I don’t have to go to school tomorrow, so HA!”

These toys are just horrible examples of what you see not always entailing what you get. Though, it could be worse, we could be making toys that contain lead and cause them to have delusions that they’re overly sexual teen popstars…
…oh shit.

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