Monday, December 20, 2004

LRC pick for Christmas
War and social history as seen through war toys
Specifically how GI Joe (a cleverly marketed doll) has changed through the years: as American empire suffered a defeat the toymakers retreated into sci-fi and fantasy... until the 1980s:

Instead of the Russians or their surrogates, they chose to create a vaguer enemy – and in this, too, they were remarkably predictive. That enemy was a bogeyman called "terrorism" and it took the form of COBRA.
Interesting aside:

Hasbro researchers had discovered that a Springfield existed in every state – except Rhode Island, where the company was located.
Which is why the Simpsons live in Springfield — now we know they’re not in Rhode Island! (Which is where Peter Griffin lives, in Quahog.)

A couple of things are disturbing: how in a way childhood as measured by playing with toys has shortened for both boys and girls (but at the same time, not noted by Engelhardt, in real terms it’s unnaturally prolonged into one’s 20s*) and how a shared history across generations** even in corrupt form (as once taught through things like toys) has been lost.

*So you end up with young people with a lot of the vices of adults but few of the virtues.

**Religious and national culture: myth in the best sense.

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