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Do You Believe in Magic?

November 2nd, 2007 · Written by · 4 Comments

My memories are all artificial. Pre-packaged marketing tools designed to foster brand identity or sell toys. A twisted commercial entourage of ‘80s icons. Thundercats, TMNT, Transformers, Gumby, Ghostbusters, G.I. Joe, Smurfs, Care Bears, Popples. X-men comics. The Olsen twins. That impatient owl licking to the center of Tootsie Roll Pops. Me begging to stop at McDonald’s and get a Happy Meal. Or even better, to go inside and play in the ball pit.

These are the chronicles of my perfect upbringing. I am a walking, talking fulfillment of the American Dream. All those animations – that cheap, caricatured, red and blue wearing Italian plumber and his precious pink princess – competing with my fading impressions of time spent on Lake Michigan, playing on the dunes, building tree and snow forts. Hot chocolate on cold winter days.

In this world I’ve inherited, only six percent of children still play outside on their own.

Hasbro has undermined my mind. Mattel has stolen my childhood. And a certain redheaded clown and his crew of hamburger munching brethren have invaded my imagination. Even now, thinking of these fantasies conjured up by corporate executives and psychoanalysts, even now the nostalgia comes pouring out unwillingly. Mention Disney and I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. And no, it’s not because I know that their toys are made in sweatshops and the costumed actors manning their theme parks are underpaid and mistreated.

It’s because multinationals are taking a page out of the Big Tobacco handbook: You gotta hook ‘em young.

Ad execs have broken down nagging into seven different categories, and the golden egg of child marketers is evoking a full blown tantrum. When I think of all the whining and complaining and prissy pressure I used to put on my parents, I am ashamed.

When I think about eagerly shelling out $7.50 to sit through Michael Bay’s live-action Transformers movie – a two-hour travesty that was part car commercial, part military recruitment ad – I am disgusted.

My head is filled to bursting with manufactured devotion to Tyco tycoons and talking animals.

My head is filled to bursting with manufactured devotion to Tyco tycoons and talking animals. Anthropomorphic representations of species that will most likely be wiped out in my lifetime. And what have we gained from this commercialization and commoditization of developing brains? Sordid spikes in obesity, eating disorders, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. Dwindling attentions pans. Fear of unregulated environments and unconditioned air.

My parents tried the best they could, but their good intentions were subverted by multi-billion dollar ad campaigns. The promises of Reaganomics. I loathed being forced to go play outside and being denied access to the latest, greatest, coolest plastic contraptions.

And I know I’m not the only one who feels mentally raped. I see my generation wasting away in front of X-Box 360’s and MMORPG’s. Emphatically comparing former infatuations with Saturday morning cartoons. Getting stoned and driving through Taco Bell with overproduced radio anthems blaring in the background. Rebelling by dressing like whores or overcompensating with bling bling. Hooking up at bars to pursue meaningless sex. Pumping out babies and plopping them in front of TVs and computer screens.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

We might not be able to reverse the past. We might never again reclaim the rights to childhoods stealthily stolen from us. All the drugs in the world will never erase the images implanted into our neural tissue by the genius of free market profiteers. But we can change the future. We can break the cycle and make sure the minds of our children are no longer subjected to mountains of mental pollution and manipulative marketing.

Most of all, we can remember what it’s like to smell fresh air, sprawl out on a grassy hill, and conjure up our wildest dreams in the clouds.

For more about getting our kids to reconnect with nature visit:

Tags: Opinion · · · ·

4 Comments so far ↓

  • matt

    i absolutely love this blog i came to the same realization a little while back. and i inherited it again after i started west this year and found that nobody cared about the world and the only thing that kept punks different from hicks was what corporations they were supporting. i was devastated. i thought things would be different people are all to willingly to give in to the corporations. i played outside i hold nature as my living room i will never want air condition and i remain an outdoor kind of person taking random walks and hikes when i can find nothing else to do. hell i even remember not wanting to go to the movies or fast food restaurants when i was little i didn’t know why but i realize know it was because they were and are to fake for me. maybe this is why i realized this while my peers have not and remain in the holds of corporations. the saddest aspect of this is we are communicating through the internet the largest advertisement based arena in current times instead of having the sense of community like we used to. we can also relate this to our fear of everybody and everything. Either way great blog and we need to revolutionize beyond that of what hot topic and nike says we can and win back our world..


    also check out culture jammers a great book on this subject i surprisingly found in the west library.

  • 14r

    What a whiner! What a pedantic load! I think maybe the fact that you can’t separate your life from a few things in it is more a personal problem than a social one. I’m not here to flame, I’m just upset that I’m sure everyday you get pats on the back because you complain enough to get published.

  • JM Tohline

    Wash. Rinse. Repeat.


    By the way, “anyone who disagrees with this blog” is pretty much a complete moron. I’m going to guess “he” grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons and Disney Afternoon, and now he divides his time fairly evenly among Work, Beer, Bars, Bimbos, and Video Games.

    And what’s more, “he” probably feels wildly unfulfilled.


  • cbR

    I have to agree with Mr. Glover. After reading the responses, I have to add that until you have children of your own and you see how easily they are manipulated by “happy meals and toys” then you too will be grateful for acknowledgments such as this blog.

    Like the author, I too am a product of the eighties and remember many countless days spent playing with similar toys and games. I loathed being forced to go outside, when I could be playing the latest and greatest video game. Toys were something that came to be expected when I visited my grandparents. How embarassing is that statement?.

    I want to give kudos for the blog and the awareness that needs to be made about the amount of commercialism that exists in our culture. We no-longer know what we are losing everyday, since we only pay attention to what we see and hear in the media.

    Tune out and we may learn something about ourselves, hows that for a novel idea.

    Wash. Rinse…Breathe

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