Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Battle for the Contents of Evangelical Parents' Wallets

Someone posted about this on Theologyweb, and I think it deserves a mention here:

Instead of Spiderman or Bratz dolls, children in the US could soon be clutching a talking Jesus toy, a bearded Moses or a muscle-bound figure of Goliath.

From the middle of August, Wal-Mart, the biggest toy retailer in the US, will for the first time stock a full line of faith-based toys.

The Bible-based action figures will initially be given two feet of shelf space in 425 of the company's 3,300 stores nationwide.

There, the Tales of Glory dolls will take on what their makers are calling "the battle for the toy box" with some of the nation's most popular action figures.

"The battle for the toy box"? Makes sense. Ever since Skeletor joined forces with Megatron and Cobra-Commander, Kryptonite Batman and Rocket-Blast Spiderman have been having a tough time holding down the fort.

David Socha, founder of One2believe, the company which makes the dolls, is confident the demand is there for "God-honouring" toys which reflect Christian teachings and morality.

"We get a lot of people, even people who are not of faith, don't go to church, saying 'I've got a four and a six-year-old and I don't know what to get them any more'," he said.

"If you go in a toy aisle in any major retailer, you will see toys and dolls that promote and glorify evil, destruction, lying, cheating.

Let's see... Evil...







Check. Yup, that about covers it.

"In the girls' aisle where the dolls would be, you see dolls that are promoting promiscuity to very young girls. Dolls will have very revealing clothes on, G-string underwear."

Uh... David. If you're seeing dolls that have clearly visible G-string underwear, you're probably not in Toy's R' Us anymore.

But yeah, I see Dave's point about girls' dolls. Remember a few years ago when those talking Barbie dolls said "I can't get enough DP" and "I hope the tests comes back negative"? No... wait, that didn't happen. That's a weird thing about guys like David. He looks at dolls like Barbie that promote unhealthy body-images in young girls and empty-headed vacuous consumerism and all he sees wrong with them is "OMG I CAN SEE BELLYBUTTON!".

As for Bratz, the problem I have with people saying that the company that makes those dolls is intentionally trying to sexualize little girls is this: Nobody finds Hydrocephalus sexy. You never see chicks with head like that on magazine covers, you don't hear college frat-guys bragging about boning the chick with the fluid-filled misshapen forehead, You don't hear rappers release hit singles with lyrics like "I like big skulls and I cannot lie/ You other brothers can deny/ See a deformed honey and wanna meet her/ show her my ventricular catheter". That just can't be the case, it had to be accidental.

Toy Company Executive: Ready to show us the new miniature sex-dolls for our adult toy-line, Hojo.
Hojo: Here they are sirs. I call them Skankz.
What the Hell! Hojo, You made the wrong part of them large! Nobody can masturbate to this! We have to change the design before we start production.
Hojo: Uh sir, this is not the prototype. We have three warehouses filled with these dolls.
TCE: WHAT!!! What'll we do with all of those dolls?... I got it! Hojo, have the factory workers sand off the nipples and genitals. We'll change the name and market them as a doll for little girls.
Hojo: Brilliant idea, sir.

And that's how corporate greed works, kids. And to see how it can glorify Christ, just take a look at the one2beleive website:

We are one2believe, designers of Bible-based toys for young children, called Tales of Glory. Beginning this August our Tales of Glory toys will become available at select Wal-Mart stores and other retailers across the country.

This program represents a huge opportunity for the faith community as it is the first time a worldwide retailer has opened-up shelf-space for a strong Bible-based toy product, like Tales of Glory! However, this is only a test-run. In fact, Wal-Mart will only have Tales of Glory in about 425 stores and only for a limited time (August through January). They have temporarily made the product available, and are waiting to see the response from their consumers. The success of this program is up to us… we need to take advantage of this amazing opportunity!

This is a chance to let our voices be heard. By supporting this program we can send a message to other retailers and toy makers letting them know that we, as a Christian community, are truly concerned about the toys that our children play with! We are aware of the influence that toys have on our young children’s impressionable minds, so we would like to see more God-honoring options available. It’s a “Battle for the Toy Box”!

"This is a chance to let our voices be heard. By supporting this program we can send a message to other retailers and toy makers letting them know that we, as a Christian community, have an unrealistic fear that letting our kids play with Pokemon and Polly Pocket will eventually result in them offering oral-sex behind the dumpster of a 7-11 in exchange for crack-money, so we passively acknowledge that we as Christian parents suck horribly at instilling our values in our children and are desperate enough to try anything- no matter how ridiculous and/or counter-productive it may be- to amend that."

When a secular toy company wants people to buy their products, they put an ad on TV that shows kids how cool the toys are. The kids then beg their parents to buy the toys and the toys get sold. One2beleive can't do this for one simple reason: Their toys suck so bad that no child would ever ask their parents for one. So they innovate in their advertising strategy and play to the basic human instinct of parental fear. Yes, these guys are actually using scare-tactics to sell action-figures. I don't think even the company that made The Incredible Crash-Test Dummies did that. How long will it be until we hear about the "G.I. Joe-agenda" from these guys?

Boy, evangelicals sure love their "Culture War" with its various "battles", don't they. There's Battle Cry, Every Man's Battle, and now "The Battle for the Toy box". The only things that want to fight as much as Evangelicals want to are male elk in mating season. Wait, I think I just found out what's wrong with the Church today: It desperately needs to get laid.

And the toys. Oh those wonderful, wonderful toys. First of all, the P31 dolls:

P31 are a new exclusive collection of high-quality dolls, based on the biblical teaching of Proverbs 31. P31 dolls were specifically designed to provide a Bible-based, Christian alternative to other secular toys on the market, and to encourage young girls to pursue biblical womanhood.

For those of you who don't know. the latter verses of Proverbs 31 contain an old Hebrew acrostic poem of "The Wife of Noble Character" which describes a woman who the author envisions as the ideal wife. Let's look at one of dolls, shall we:

Abigail stands 18 inches tall, has beautiful brown eyes, long red hair, and a contemporary outfit. Abigail comes with an accessory kit, containing a Bible lesson (based on Proverbs 31:20), two cookie-cutters, a cookie recipe, and a list of exciting activities. The activities are sure to be tons of fun for any young girl! It is our prayer that the Lord would use these dolls as a means to encourage the girls of today to become Proverbs 31 women of tomorrow! For ages 3+

Dear God! Those dark, soulless eyes! It has taken the form of a human in order to deceive us. We must kill it quickly.

Bratz dolls have misshapen heads and give off a creepy "child prostitute"-vibe. P31 dolls, on the other hand, have misshapen heads and give off a creepy "corn-cult compound child-bride of the damned"-vibe. If these dolls are based off of a poem describing an ideal wife, why are the dolls crafted to resemble pre-pubescent children? I mean, it's not like you have to give them a rack or anything, just change the face a bit, make the head smaller, and proportion the arms and legs to the torso a bit differently. Proverbs may not contain a poem describing a husband of noble character, but if it did, I doubt it would contain the phrase "raging pederast". Seriously, I know people married a lot younger back in ancient Israel, but they at least waited until the girl was able to freaking menstruate.

You may be asking "Hey Cynic, how much do these dolls cost?" Well, brothers and sisters, I shit thee not, you can receive on of these little cherubs for the incredibly low price of $39.99 American. Now at first the price may seem to high for something originally purchased from a K-mart bargain-bin for $3.20 and then re-dressed in something made by a retired Sunday-school teacher, but keep in mind that this doll may be the one thing in your daughters life that will keep her from ending up with a career that involves the use of a transparent high-heels and a metal pole. But then again, you can always try out the more affordable (at $19.99 a pop) Messengers of Faith:

A long time ago, God sent His only Son, Jesus, from heaven to Earth. He was born to a woman named Mary and a man named Joseph. His earthly parents raised Jesus until He became a man. Then, He left them to travel all around the land. He helped lots of people by teaching them, healing them and performing many miracles! (New Testament Gospels)

Now children can learn more about Jesus’ incredible Tale of Glory while they play! Jesus narrates his own biography, and also quotes key memory verses from the Bible, including Mark 12:30, Mark 12:31 and John 3:16. Our unique start/stop function allows children to pause and restart the story at any point.
I remember when I was little and attending Sunday school the teacher has a Jesus doll a lot like this on that she would use to act out stories from the New Testament. Of course, back then they just had the Jesus doll, so our Sunday school teacher had to be creative; She used an old X-men Cyclops as St Peter, Rainbow Brite as Mary Magdalene, Starscream the Decepticon as Judas Iscariot, and one of those Jurassic Park velociraptors that screech when you move their legs as St John, the Apostle of love. Man, that was one hell of an Passion play.

Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of God’s Son. One day, an angel appeared and told her that she was going to have a baby named Jesus. Mary and her husband were very excited! Mary finally gave birth to baby Jesus in a town called Bethlehem. She raised baby Jesus until He grew to be a man, and she loved Him very much. (Matthew 1:18-25, 2:13-15, 20-23; Luke 1:26-66, 2:1-52; John 2:1-10)
This doll raises one nagging question in my mind: How come in a lot of contemporary church art is Jesus often depicted wearing his mother's clothing?

Esther was a Jewish orphan. She was raised by her older cousin. He loved her and cared for her until she was all grown up. Then, the King of the land began to look for a beautiful Queen. He looked far and wide, but he could not find anyone who made him happy. Then, he saw Esther. As soon as he met her, the search was over! He had found his beautiful Queen at last. But the story does not end there. Someone came up with an evil plan to destroy all of the Jewish people. But Esther decided to be brave and try to save the Jewish people from destruction. (Esther 1-9)

The great thing about this doll is how empowering it is to young women. By using this teaching aid in Sunday school little girls can learn that, like Esther, they too can be used by God to make the world a better place by sleeping with a rich and powerful man.

Looking at the doll itself, with a chin like that, maybe Xerxes should have removed that freakishly large scarf and checked for an Adam's apple before declaring her his bride.

Paul used to be known as Saul of Tarsus. When he was younger, he did not believe in Jesus. In fact, he would persecute people who worshiped Jesus.

One day, he was on his way to a town called Damascus to arrest some Christians, when something amazing happened! Suddenly, a bright light from heaven flashed all around him. Saul did not know what to do. He was so terrified that he fell to the ground trembling. Then, he heard a thunderous voice saying, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?” Saul was terribly afraid and confused. He did not know who was speaking to him, so he asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.”

From that point on, Saul believed in Jesus and became a Christian. He stopped persecuting people, and began preaching to them instead. He traveled all over the land starting new churches and encouraging other Christians. His name later changed from Saul to Paul and he became a great missionary!
This one talks. Just press a button on the back to hear the following:
  • "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" Romans 8:35
  • "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:10
  • "I'm not even supposed to be here today!" Clerks 3:16
If these guys put out a Barnabas figure that looks like Randall Graves, I am so going to buy them both.

And now, the Tales of Glory figurine set:

David was a man after God’s own heart. He did not fear anything because he trusted God to always protect him. Even when the giant soldier, Goliath, wanted to fight, David trusted God to keep him safe! (1 Samuel 17)

Children can make this story come to life with our interactive “David” play set, featuring everything you need to help your child learn about this fascinating Tale of Glory. Set includes a “David and Goliath” mini-storybook and 3 PVC figurines (David, Goliath and a collection of 5 smooth stones). For ages 3+.
Goliath: Ugh! What is that?
David: I'd say it's a pile camel-droppings, but the coloring is all off.
Goliath: I dare you to touch it.
David: Eww! You touch it.
Goliath: No, you touch it.
David: Poke it with your sword.
Goliath: Screw you, David. I don't wanna get weird-colored camel-turd on my sword. Do you know how expensive this is?

A long time ago, the Son of God was sent to Earth to be born as a tiny baby named Jesus. It was a very exciting time! (Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-2:23; Luke 2:1-39)
Jesus: What, me worry?

There is no way that woman just gave birth. That Mary up there just spent more time in a tanning bed than in labor for crying out loud. What is it with the Nativity-scenes and a calm, smiling Virgin Mary? I swear, one Christmas I'm going to build a Nativity-scene that actually depicts Mary giving birth; legs spread apart, her nails digging into Joseph's arm like eagle's talons into a heavy bass, and a bared-teeth grimace that makes Venom look like Jack Nicholson brushing his teeth. And crowning, there will be crowning. Silent night my ass!

Fun Fact: In the early days of the Church there was a gnostic cult that believed Christ's mother to be divine. The followers of this sect distinguished themselves by mimicking her appearance. Persecution from the Roman Catholic Church drove this sect into to the east, where they settled in Japan and started the Ganguro fashion trend.

Noah was the only good and honest man on the Earth. Everyone else was so bad that God decided to send a great flood to cover all of the Earth. But God remembered Noah. God saved Noah and his family from the great flood by giving him a very special assignment! (Genesis 6-9)
Now, it's been a long time since I last attended Sunday-school, but I just don't remember that the "very special assignment" God gave Noah was to feed donkeys cocaine.

And there's more:

I don't trust that camel on the left. Camels are not supposed to smile like that. That camel has things planned. Dark, sinister things. Sins against God and nature.

Rest easy, Young-Earth Creationists. If an evolutionist gives you the old anti-global flood argument of "how could Noah take care of all the animals on the Ark?" just tell him that all Noah had to contend with were two camels, two sheep, and a pair of coked-up donkeys.

Samson was the strongest man to ever live! He loved a woman named Delilah, and he was used by God to do some really amazing things. (Judges 13-16)

Children can make this story come to life with our interactive “Samson” play set, featuring everything you need to help your child learn about this fascinating Tale of Glory. Set includes a “Samson, The Strongest Man to Ever Live” mini-storybook and 3 PVC figurines (Samson, Delilah and a column). For ages 3+.
For someone who was forbidden to have a razor touch his head, Samson sure is displaying a surprising lack of facial-hair. And this children's toy-set for kids three and up not only comes with a Samson figurine but also what appears to be a young Mrs. Claus. It doesn't really say who exactly this woman is though, so I'll have to guess she's either Delilah or the prostitute Samson banged before meeting her.

Seriously though, I understand Jonah and maybe David and Goliath, but Samson? David Socha complains about secular toys that "promote" sex and violence and yet he puts out a toy of an antihero that puts Wolverine to shame. Samson dicked his girlfriend's family around with an riddle before killing them, destroyed their fields, and made most of his decisions using the wrong head. Yeah, his actions did catch-up with him, but then he redeems himself by killing even more people. A reeaaal great role-model for the kids, eh? Heroes of the Bible.

Speaking of which, since they already have figurines for one of the stories from Judges (which is basically the "Frank Miller" book of the Bible), why not shoot for another? I recommend a "Rape of the Levite's Concubine" playset. You could press a button on the back of the Concubine doll and her head, legs, and arms pop right off.

Which leads us to this:

With Tales of Glory Spirit Warrior Action Figures children can bring the greatest stories of the Bible to life. Each 13” action figure comes with a mini-storybook. Spirit Warriors are big tough toys that boys will love to play with. Add a Tales of Glory Play-mat to Spirit Warrior action figures and watch your child’s imagination soar.
Here we see a different Samson toy (on the left), this time with a beard, yet surprisingly short hair (this probably explains why Goliath appears to be having his way with him). This gives me an idea (no, not that you pervs). To all the other bloggers gifted with the "mad photoshop skills", I suggest we start a photoshop Samson and Goliath internet meme. You can find photos to start with from here, here, here, and here. And since I suggested it, I'd better start things off:

Post your 'shops on your blog and drop me a link in the "comments" section. Have fun. ;)


Anonymous said...

I think my entry will win.

Rachel said...

You know, give Jesus a contemporary haircut and lose the bathrobe (is that lace on his sleeves and hem? And these are the same people who eschew anything less than Total Manliness?), he'd actually be passably hot.

They're still not getting my Transformers, though. *clutches Bumblebee*

Cat Vincent said...

Loved. Pimped.

Anonymous said...

Super Freak said...

WOW...... uummmmmm.... As a fellow Christian I would like to formally ask these people to PLEASE stop representing us.... It would be for the best.
And did anyone notice how much that Ester doll looked like Diana Troy after a 3 week bender?.....

Anonymous said...

Dang.... Why are the skin color of those toys dominantly WHITE?!?!? Isn't that a tad racist to have them an ethnicity they weren't?

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