There, I’m subjected to the every-eight-minutes commercial assault on our minds, dignity, and behavior so central to the TV “experience.”
This, HULU Plus calls “limited commercial interruption.” I call it Hell.
Ever since my HULU subscription began a few weeks ago I’ve been seeing a raft of hideous ads for a slew of unconscionable products that should have never even been conceived, much less actually manufactured, distributed, advertised and bought by some poor dumb hapless consumer somewhere.
The worst toy for Christmas — or any time
Of all of these despicable ads for despicable products, my personal love-to-hate favorite is the Apptivity toy by Mattel, a merging of hand-held toys with a technology interface — either an iPad, iPhone, or iPod — on which to enjoy digital play with a physical component.
If the Devil himself incarnated into a toy it would be the Apptivity (though I’m sure plenty of other toys can give him a run for his dirty money).
Touting the Apptivity as “the future of fun,” Mattel says it “…brings toys to life and turns tablets into moving digital worlds!” And its target market is the, “modern, tech-savvy family.”
Am I in this demographic because I like the show Parenthood? Blech!
Perhaps the worst in the suite of Apptivity nightmares is the Fisher-Price™ Laugh & Learn™ Apptivity™ Monkey (what, they couldn’t get the word “monkey” trademarked? Corporate slackers!)
The Monkey purports to be a learning toy for babies. When mom or dad (or your three-year-old sister) puts his or her iPhone or iPod inside the monkey’s belly, it’s time for the “interactive” e-fun™ to begin!
There are so many obvious levels of wrong to this toy that I almost can’t bear to go on to point them out. But I’ll buck up and do my best.
- The monkey is allegedly for babies 6-36 months old, that computer-savvy age! What gives? Why is an e-toy designed for learning abstract information targeted at infants? Babies need free movement, tactile play, and open ended exploratory learning, NOT information utterly beyond their developmental capacity and reduced to the screen sphere. Have Fisher Price’s toy developers ever met a baby?
- The monkey is a love letter to synthetics of all sorts — plastic e-interface, synthetic voice and music, synthetic fabrics, synthetic experience. Repulsive. Nothing with any life energy is in this toy.
- It inculcates the youngest, most impressionable persons into a screen-first relational paradigm, depressing true interactivity with humans, animals and natural objects when it’s most crucial to the infant’s development.
- The design of the monkey, all its graphics, and the tunage are typically garish, cartoonish, and lifeless, the polar opposite of the edifying examples of aesthetic pleasure that inspire a child to revere life and the world.
- Made of plastic, shipped from far-flung locales, and dependent on electricity, it adds to baby’s carbon footprint for no good reason. And the Monkey can live on endlessly in the landfill (no biodegrading here) once it reaches its planned obsolescence in like, six months to a year.
The rest of the Apptivity toys feature horrific hand held plastic figurines — tricked out matchbox cars, brutish wrestlers, a steroid-heavy Batman, ghoulish school-girly sexy figures aimed at tweenie females, a Ninja, and jaunty little monsters — which, when paired with an iPad and FREE! App downloaded from the App Store, feature hyper aggressive music and graphics along with implied or explicit story lines steeped in the worst in human nature.
Who makes this bunk?
And don’t tell me “that’s what kids want.”
Kids want what we adults model and affirm as having worth and value. With toys like Apptivity we’re affirming some of the most loathsome, irredeemable, immoral, plastic-soaked loads of crap imaginable. And, “as you sow, so shall you reap.”
The older-child version of Apptivity has its list of unforgivable sins as well:
- Screens, screens, screens, everywhere screens — does the corporate world not know or do they not care how this is dividing families and ruining kids more and more every day? Maybe at Fisher Price they don’t know how to spell ADHD.
- The developing child needs to move and interact with the world in three dimensions, not have its magical early explorations reduced to a finger and an endless series of bits and bytes. This is especially true for boys, who desperately need whole body movement for their development.
- Apptivity’s play paradigms are all about violence, death realms, speed, caricatured human relationships, monstrosities, and, surprising in the 21st century, disempowering girls — again, not only nothing edifying for the child, but things patently degrading to the child.
- An all-plastic, energy-dependent so-called “play” experience. Little Johnny and Little Susie’s global warming indulgence.
Even sadder, once they get it, kids will probably grow bored with Apptivity storylines in a few hours — that’s what e-attention spans get you. And new App stories (if developed) will likely cost upgrade fees or require new toy purchases, while the chance for lost parts, hampering the ability to “play,” is huge.
But that’s for the consumer to wrangle.
Let the buyer beware
I’m sure none of the tech-loving parents who would go so far as to buy this product and then defend its purported “merits” will care a fig for what I’ve written. But it needs to be said anyway: Apptivity™ sucks. It’s a resounding symbol of all that’s wrong in how we’re bringing up American children and living our broader lives — what we make, build, consume.
We could do so, so much better if just we cared. Or woke up.
Maybe there’s an App for that?
— Lindsay Curren™, Transition Voice