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No Toys for Tots
July 2, 2007 12:38 PM   Subscribe

A parent advocacy group is upset that Transformer toys are being marketed to children. Group also rumored to dislike the fact that water is wet and that the Pope wears a big hat.
posted by Stynxno (70 comments total)

 
All kidding aside, the hat the Pope wears is way too fucking big. He has no business wearing a hat of that size.

If only I could provide a link that didn't work to help support my claim...
posted by flarbuse at 12:43 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Interesting. The group's issue is that they've gone and made a PG-13 movie about some toys, so now those toys are effectively promoting non-kid-appropriate content to kids.

For Transformers, OK, whatever. They're big robots with guns, duh. But what if the My Little Pony movie came out and they decided to go the obvious soft core porn route?
posted by gurple at 12:47 PM on July 2, 2007


My Little Pony + soft core porn = obvious?

What the fuck am I missing here?
posted by fusinski at 12:49 PM on July 2, 2007


What the fuck am I missing here?

An absurdist sense of humor.

Also, and without the silly, the Commercial Free Childhood folks seem to be interested in some real issues, like the disgusting Bus Radio (link to another interested organization).
posted by gurple at 12:50 PM on July 2, 2007


What the fuck am I missing here?

A love of gigantic pulsing pony cock, apparently.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:52 PM on July 2, 2007 [17 favorites]


What they're failing to realize is that the movie isn't really made for their children. Not really. It's made for those of us who were kids back in the Transformers heyday of the mid to late 80s. If their kids get hit with marketing shrapnel, well, I suppose they need to be ready to talk to their kids about the power of nostalgia.

The big, head-on "assault" on their own children won't happen for another couple of months.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:53 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Shopping around at Target for a birthday gift, I ran across a nascar toy car that had NICORETTE plastered all over it. If these people think that marketing movie-tie ins to young kids, they're going to have a stroke when it comes to the godawful ad-mobiles of nascar toys.
posted by boo_radley at 12:57 PM on July 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bitches need to not let their kids watch the damn TV.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:58 PM on July 2, 2007


(except for Mr. Roger's Neighborhood reruns, of course)
posted by Burhanistan at 12:59 PM on July 2, 2007


“The group's issue is that they've gone and made a PG-13 movie about some toys, so now those toys are effectively promoting non-kid-appropriate content to kids.”

Seems like typical hollywood thinking though. Transformers originally were toys. Cars/ et.al that transformed into killer robots with guns and such. Then it became a cartoon, to promote the toys. The cartoon caught on and it becomes a retro-kitch movie because the kids who played with the toys, grew up with the cartoon, are now older and want to see the movie. But they’re still making the toys, for kids. So parents want it stopped. Makes perfect sense.
Reminds me of the story about the guy who wanted to make “The Three Musketeers” as a kung-fu movie. Except he didn’t know there was a book. And futher didn’t know that it was likely in public domain. And upon discovery of Dumas’ work, decided to try and take it out of circulation, because they were going to do a book based on the re-make of the re-make (etc) of the movie and they don’t want people to be confused and pick up the wrong (read ‘original’) book.
Now if parents protested that - e.g. that the original work, being that it is violent, is associated with the movie, that’d be sort of the same thing.

Y’know, marketing.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:00 PM on July 2, 2007 [4 favorites]


Also, forthelulz tag is suspiciously employed by only one user...
posted by Burhanistan at 1:01 PM on July 2, 2007


Remember the animated Transformers movie from the '80s? Surely your memory would be jogged if I told you that it had voice work from Scatman Crothers and Orson Welles. Anyway, my point is, the producers intentionally stuck a 'shit' in there because they wanted the PG rating.

(I know all this because someone challenged it at my library.)
posted by box at 1:02 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I hate parent/child advocacy groups.
posted by ORthey at 1:07 PM on July 2, 2007


There was also a "damn it" in the original. The "shit" was delivered by a human character when Unicron was about to devour a moon or something, so while it felt obviously thrown in, it didn't really create a discontinuity. "Damn it" was said by a robot, which was especially odd.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:09 PM on July 2, 2007


The group's issue is that they've gone and made a PG-13 movie about some toys, so now those toys are effectively promoting non-kid-appropriate content to kids.

That doesn't seem to make sense. The toys are ok, but movie versions aren't? Wierd line of thoght.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:10 PM on July 2, 2007


My Little Porno
posted by KokuRyu at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2007


Megatron isn't even a gun anymore.
posted by smackwich at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2007


Reminds me of the story about the guy who wanted to make “The Three Musketeers” as a kung-fu movie. Except he didn’t know there was a book. And futher didn’t know that it was likely in public domain. And upon discovery of Dumas’ work, decided to try and take it out of circulation, because they were going to do a book based on the re-make of the re-make (etc) of the movie and they don’t want people to be confused and pick up the wrong (read ‘original’) book.

Is this true? That is fantastic. A whole 'nother level of stupid.
posted by longbaugh at 1:13 PM on July 2, 2007


Also, forthelulz tag is suspiciously employed by only one user...

one day, it'll catch on.
posted by Stynxno at 1:15 PM on July 2, 2007


What, they spend all their days shopping for the right clothes, the right cars, the right condos, the right booze ... are they trying to *stunt* their children's growth as oober-consumeristas? Deny them their birthright, peer approval?
posted by Twang at 1:16 PM on July 2, 2007


Remember the animated Transformers movie from the '80s?

I am totally bewildered by the trailers for the new movie. I thought the redeeming quality of the Transformers cartoon was that hey - here are these super-robots, that share qualities with human beings. They talk, and they have feelings. For the casual consumer, all preliminary indications are this is another pumped up War of the Worlds. John Turturro is the only slam-dunk selling point.

The Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood called on the commission to work with the toy industry and media companies to develop a uniform rating system so toys tied to PG-13 movies would not be marketed to children younger than 13. It also asked the FTC to investigate the marketing of PG-13 movies to children.

This makes complete sense to me.
posted by phaedon at 1:17 PM on July 2, 2007


Well, they're against the (completely evil) Bus Radio, which I only found out about just now, so they can't be all bad.
posted by interrobang at 1:18 PM on July 2, 2007


Transformers should be banned.

1)They promote an "alternative" lifestyle. Am I a car? Am I a robot? I'm so confused! When I'm at home, I'm a robot, but when I head on down to the 'ol gloryhole on I-87 I'm a car... sick, I tell you, just plain sick.

2) "robots in disguise" = "people in drag" (see below)

3)Trannies (©2007 Stephen Colbert)

'nuff said.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:19 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know what? I am pissed off about this as well!

There is no way Transformers toys should be marketed to kids that young, because THEY WON'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK THEY ARE! Transformers should be for kids my age, 25, and a no one else.

These "kids" can have their own damn toys, and lame ass TV shows.
posted by anonaccount at 1:20 PM on July 2, 2007


Geez, what a bunch of namsy-pamsies.
In my day, they used to market toys from "R" rated films to kids.
posted by numlok at 1:21 PM on July 2, 2007



In my day, they used to market toys from "R" rated films to kids.


... and the Alien toy was promptly pulled from shelves after complaints by parents.
posted by bobo123 at 1:24 PM on July 2, 2007


Little Pony + soft core porn = obvious?

What the fuck am I missing here?


From our own Lore Sjoberg.
posted by sourwookie at 1:26 PM on July 2, 2007


After letting my 9 year old neice watch Tetsuo: The Iron Man at her slumber party last year, there's no fucking way she's going to see those crazy puzzle robots!
posted by four panels at 1:33 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


... and the Alien toy was promptly pulled from shelves after complaints by parents.

Maybe in localized markets this happened, but definitely not any coordinated or widespread occurrence.

I remember them on the shelves for some time after the movie came out, even to the point of sitting dusty on shelves, marked down due to poor sales (in fact, the one I have still has the "sale price" sticker on the box).

Still the best toy evar (imho).

See also "Merchandising" on the Wiki.
posted by numlok at 1:36 PM on July 2, 2007


Oh man. That headline makes me feel farked! :)
posted by The Deej at 1:38 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I thought the redeeming quality of the Transformers cartoon was that hey - here are these super-robots, that share qualities with human beings. They talk, and they have feelings.

That was my immediate reaction to the trailer. The original Transformers had more character and personality than any of the humans, and now they're just big scary machines.

The movie still looks totally sweet, though.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 1:41 PM on July 2, 2007


The only reason it's a PG13 movie is because of the waffle stomping scene.
posted by jefbla at 1:45 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the story about the guy who wanted to make “The Three Musketeers” as a kung-fu movie. Except he didn’t know there was a book. And futher didn’t know that it was likely in public domain. And upon discovery of Dumas’ work, decided to try and take it out of circulation, because they were going to do a book based on the re-make of the re-make (etc) of the movie and they don’t want people to be confused and pick up the wrong (read ‘original’) book.

What story is that? Surely you're not suggesting anything like that ever actually happened, right? If so I'd like to hear about it.
posted by delmoi at 1:50 PM on July 2, 2007


"Megatron isn't even a gun anymore."

And now he's called Mergatroid, and is worshipped by a pink lion!
posted by klangklangston at 1:53 PM on July 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


John Turturro is the only slam-dunk selling point.

Ah to be young and to never have seen Illuminata.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:00 PM on July 2, 2007


How do you spell the sound a classic transformer makes?

cr-cuh-CA-TCK?

What they're failing to realize is that the movie isn't really made for their children.

I think that's their point -- the movie isn't appropriate for very young children, but it's being advertised during programs aimed at kids as young as two.
posted by eddydamascene at 2:06 PM on July 2, 2007


Have to side with Industry here. This advocacy group, in addition to being an attention whore, is basically telling people that they don't have control over what their kids watch and is at the mercy of television programmers and advertisers. Bollocks, keep your kids as far away from TV as you can if you want them to have sharp minds and fertile imaginations.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:11 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Obviously the problem that these parents have with the film is that it includes 'gore that meets the eye'.
posted by Flashman at 2:26 PM on July 2, 2007


I wouldn't discriminate like that. I'm upset that anything at all is being marketed to children. In fact I'm upset that anything at all is being marketed, period. Actually I'm ready to volunteer any and all marketing droids anywhere as test pilots for that manned mission to an asteroid that I heard about yesterday. So call me fascist, it's useful sometimes.


> keep your kids as far away from TV as you can if you want them to have sharp minds and fertile imaginations.

Ayup. Kids, don't drink the water and don't breathe the air.
posted by jfuller at 2:31 PM on July 2, 2007


numlok - I had one of those, it was great. I also read the Alan Dead Foster adaptations of Alien and Aliens until I was old enough to watch it/VCRs were cheap enough for my folks to buy/it was on telly (I forget which).
posted by Artw at 2:40 PM on July 2, 2007


Megatron isn't even a gun anymore.

Biggest improvement they could make. I've been pissed about this since I was 9 or 10 years old--I mean, a fucking gun? Lamest transformer ever. How in hell were you supposed to use Megatron with the other toys, except as just a robot? Sure, in the cartoon, he just shrank up when he transformed, into a normal-sized gun, no problem.

But when I was playing with my transformers, being one of those unfortunate kids who didn't have the ability to warp space-time, he just turned into a giant-sized, useless handgun that wouldn't even stand up on its own, so couldn't be a cannon, either. And when you tried to use it as a gun, outside playing with friends, it kept falling open. So he was really only half of a transformer, a mere toy robot only.

Fucking lame.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:40 PM on July 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


Also, and on topic: I wouldn't discriminate like that. I'm upset that anything at all is being marketed to children.

I agree. Why is it OK to market to children at all? They don't have any money, it's obviously meant to manipulate the kid into manipulating the parent to spend their money on whatever bullshit fad is being manufactured. If anyone tried to manipulate kids as thoroughly, directly, and consistently as advertising and marketing do, they'd be run out of town on a rail. But consumption? Fine, peddle that all you want.

I would think that this advocacy group might have more success (and certainly appear a little less shrill, and be more morally consistent) if they addressed the fundamental issue moreso than any specific manifestation of it.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:46 PM on July 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Here is a good, in-depth review of the Original Transformers movie. I like the reviewer- he reminds me of some of the friends I had back then. He makes a hobby (or career?) of giving in-depth reviews of old, bad video games and movies. More here. He's quite vulgar and childish. Which makes me nostalgic for some reason.
posted by jiiota at 2:47 PM on July 2, 2007


At least they didn't do something crazy, like take a story about a Vietnam vet with PTSD, a very large hunting knife, and unresolved anger issues, and try to market it to kids.
posted by Partial Law at 2:54 PM on July 2, 2007


LooseFilter:

Thank god! I thought it was just me!
posted by Bugbread at 2:56 PM on July 2, 2007


Try not to dislike parent advocacy groups outright, because most (not all) of them are made up of parents who recognize a simple fact: unless parents band together, share information and learn a great deal about what their children are exposed to when outside of the home, they will be ill-equipped to help their children understand the context of that which they're exposed to.

As a parent, having groups like this is terrific, because they often inform me of things that I want to know about, but that I might not have been aware of otherwise (even the most diligent parent will miss something, and there's a bit more safety in numbers.) If that means occasionally having to discard information about things that don't bother me (like this Transformers thing), so be it. I'd rather discard the useless than not have the useful.

This Bus Radio thing is a great example: without this group's issue with Transformers, this thread wouldn't have existed, and who knows how much longer I would have gone before finding out about it?

That doesn't mean I'm always on the "I don't want this for my kids, so it should be banned" bandwagon -- just that I need to know about these things, so that I can make sure to talk to my kids about such things when it's still soon enough to make an impact.
posted by davejay at 3:01 PM on July 2, 2007


You couldn't warp space time as a kid because the TV dispossessed you of that power.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:09 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Biggest improvement they could make. I've been pissed about this since I was 9 or 10 years old--I mean, a fucking gun? Lamest transformer ever. How in hell were you supposed to use Megatron with the other toys, except as just a robot?

Soundwave, dude.

The problem with this theory, of course, is that Soundwave + tapes was pretty much the best Transformer out of all of 'em, useless alternate form nonwithstanding.
posted by furiousthought at 3:13 PM on July 2, 2007


I'm fairly sure there's a link between the Transformers and the rising popularity of drag queens.


and this says it all about the Transformers, frankly.
posted by jonmc at 3:18 PM on July 2, 2007


These parents, their tvs don't have an "off" button? Or control over when their kids visit a movie theater?

Hey, sit down when your kids are little and EXPLAIN what advertising does and what it is for. Raise kids with healthy sales resistance!

(And tell your spawn you can't hear whining.)
posted by konolia at 3:19 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


furiousthought writes "Soundwave, dude."

Nah. Sure, Soundwave turned into a giant fucking radio, but it would still be usable. In fact, it would be a fucking awesome giant 80's boom box. Only problem is that conventional tapes would be too small for him to play. But for his dedicated tapes, or the radio, he'd work fine, put out a lot of volume and some heavy bass, and the buttons would all be huge and easy to push for the other robots.

But Megatron? He's a gun. Being big and outsized doesn't make him easier to use, it makes him impossible to use. Nobody can lift him. Nobody can point him at a moving enemy. Once he's a gun, you have to set him aside, because there's no way for him to interact with the other robots.

With Soundwave, though, you can have robot break dance competitions. And a breakdance competition goes to a whole nother level when one of the breakdancing moves is doing a headspin while transforming.

konolia writes "Hey, sit down when your kids are little and EXPLAIN what advertising does and what it is for. Raise kids with healthy sales resistance!"

The only problem with that (which you're aware of if you have kids) is that those kinds of lessons sink in, but they sink in when the kids are older. That is, you teach them young, and the lessons take effect years later. There are plenty of things that my parents taught me, which have affected my way of thinking, which differs from how other adults who weren't raised that way think (for example, how I think of credit), but most of them didn't sink in until I was older.

(This isn't directly addressing this particular Transformers issue, just the difficulty in teaching big lessons to kids who are still grappling with concepts like "don't pull the hair of the girl you have a crush on")
posted by Bugbread at 3:34 PM on July 2, 2007


These parents, their tvs don't have an "off" button? Or control over when their kids visit a movie theater?

How does simply telling parents to be better parents address the same issues that trying to restrict advertising to children addresses? Magically, millions of parents across the world will suddenly improve because you just told them to?

Unless you're advocating increased funding for institutions that try, in an organized fashion, to help parents be better parents. That, I guess, is a solution that can be expressed as "why aren't these people just better parents".
posted by gurple at 3:36 PM on July 2, 2007


You couldn't warp space time as a kid because the TV dispossessed you of that power.

Burhanistan, I've been admiring your fine soapbox, as I've been looking to acquire one myself. I assume it's as durable as it is pleasing to the eye, since you're standing on it so much. Might you recommend a trustworthy vendor?

With Soundwave, though, you can have robot break dance competitions. And a breakdance competition goes to a whole nother level when one of the breakdancing moves is doing a headspin while transforming.

Now that's funny.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:26 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


With Soundwave, though, you can have robot break dance competitions.

Like this.
posted by jefbla at 5:08 PM on July 2, 2007


I don't have an issue with the transformer toys. They are obviously fantasy, and pretty much for 10 year old boys.

They don't look like humans, and are pretty innocuous anyway, and the violence is highly stylised, and pretty abstract.

Far more insidious is the Shrek advertising that MacDonalds et al use. These target a much younger age group, and essentially equate eating a shit-sandwich to a fun cuddly fellow with an appalling Scots accent. Three crimes in one.

I hate advertising - especially when one doesn't have a choice to turn off.
posted by mattoxic at 5:14 PM on July 2, 2007


Funny, when I was young my dad wouldn't let me watch Transformers because it was 'too violent', even though I made the point that it was targeted at my age group.

My six-year-old self showed my stubborness and the first sign of my coming love affair with tv by somehow managing to pick up the tv and take it to the other end of the house to watch the show undisturbed.
posted by Lucie at 5:14 PM on July 2, 2007


and essentially equate eating a shit-sandwich to a fun cuddly fellow with an appalling Scots accent.

Of course they do. All Macdonald's sells is shit sandwiches.
posted by IronLizard at 5:34 PM on July 2, 2007


Didn't you see Shrek2(1?) when he drank the diarrhea flowing from a log? It's an obvious match up. McDonalds + Shit = PROFIT!
posted by IronLizard at 5:38 PM on July 2, 2007


He drank the diarrhea flowing from a log?

Is it just me, or is are there a lot more shit jokes in children's entertainment these days?
posted by box at 5:43 PM on July 2, 2007


Well, it COULD have been mud.
posted by IronLizard at 6:11 PM on July 2, 2007


Greg Nog writes 'A love of gigantic pulsing pony cock, apparently.'

Dude, My Little Pony is hung like a gnat.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:14 PM on July 2, 2007


He drank the diarrhea flowing from a log?

dear liza, dear liza...
posted by jonmc at 7:15 PM on July 2, 2007


That's a hat?
posted by stavrogin at 11:22 PM on July 2, 2007


As expected, the ironic Gen-X faux-veneration of stupid crap (A shitty cartoon created exclusively to sell shitty plastic one-joke toys to children? Oh, that's perfect!) has lost its amusing archness and collapsed into unironic real veneration of stupid crap, and millions of dollars are spent knocking the whole goddamn culture one notch further down into the river of shit.

I love it. The only way to keep ahead of it all is to wind it up to another level of meta-irony and keep laughing all the way to the fortified camp in the woods.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:34 AM on July 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


In Canada Transformers is rated G, so maybe it's a problem with your rating system or mores, or maybe it's a problem with ours, or maybe this is just a good example of excessive regulation creating new exceptions and more regulation.
posted by furtive at 5:37 AM on July 3, 2007


stavrosthewonderchicken writes "shitty plastic one-joke toys"

You know, Stav, back in my day they made the shitty toys out of metal. (Well, mostly.)
posted by caution live frogs at 5:52 AM on July 3, 2007


stavrosthewonderchicken writes "As expected, the ironic Gen-X faux-veneration of stupid crap...has lost its amusing archness and collapsed into unironic real veneration of stupid crap"

I parse that whole irony thing totally differently: Gen-Xers don't start out with ironic faux-generation and then move to real veneration, they just pretend to find things ironic and amusingly arch because they're embarrassed to just admit that they really do like certain things. Then, once everyone is admitting that they like something ironically, they feel a little braver and admit that actually, they just like it.

It's like the straight guy in high school who sometimes puts on a flamboyant homosexual persona as a joke, and then when he goes to the class reunion years later, admits that while the flamboyance was just for laughs, he really was gay.
posted by Bugbread at 6:29 AM on July 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


You may be right. I'm on a business-trip alcoholiday this week, and my normal laserlike acuity is somewhat occluded.

Still, you know, river of shit and all that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:31 AM on July 3, 2007


Still, you know, river of shit and all that.

Yeah, I agree, but what can you do? My childhood was spent in part playing with these toys and swimming in the rivers of shit unleashed by the 80s marketing deluge. I think perhaps you're mistaking the object of the veneration: it's not the transformers or any other toy, it's my childhood itself.

Speaking in enthusiastic terms about Star Wars toys or transformers or GI Joe or whatever, is only proxy for voicing positive memories of one's childhood. It wasn't the toys, be they "good" or "bad"--it was the fun I had playing with them that matters. I had fun playing with them, and my friends, and thus I recall them with affection. Plus, my mom got down a couple of my old transformers from the attic this past Christmas and cleaned them off for my niece and nephew (twins, 4 years old). My nephew had been playing with one of the jets, but didn't know it wasn't only a jet. When I arrived home for the holiday, and turned his jet into a ROBOT, it blew his mind--it was hilarious. He played with that toy off and on all week.* And that's with no marketing whatsoever.

If I have fun memories of playing with my friends, and those memories happen to involve toys that were mostly about marketing, what am I supposed to do, exactly? Disregard my childhood? Call my mom and chastise her because she Should Have Known Better and purchased more quality toys?

*-also, before the poor-child-you're-stunting-his-beautiful-imagination-by-giving-him-crappy-toys crowd objects, he also spent much time that week (and I with him) drawing, building things with blocks, kicking a ball outside, climbing all over the swingset, etc. He uses his imagination plenty. He also likes cool toys. (a lot like his uncle, actually)
posted by LooseFilter at 9:56 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cool toys are groovy, but parents put so much thought into selecting them that you seldom get to really really play with them. I had an awesome cloth and wood kite, which I think I got to fly twice, ever, because my dad was so protective of it. Transformers, on the other hand: my parents didn't care about them, so I got to play the hell out of them, and then make additions and modifications, and then I got to go through a phase of disassembling them completely with a screwdriver and reassembling them.
posted by Bugbread at 2:12 PM on July 3, 2007


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