Yo dudes, we've got a problem. As the holiday season approaches, earlier every year it seems, I am noticing a trend in "creative" kids toys. Lately, when I've been searching the tele for some mind numbing schlop to engage in, I've been seeing lots of commercials for children's art toys. Now, lets examine this. "Art toys". When I was a kid, I had a cardboard box full of crayons. Every once in a while, my mom made me some play-dough. Occasionally I had markers. I used whatever paper I could get my hands on, and drew and colored the shit out of everything. I dabbled with potato stamps every now and again to satisfy the budding printmaker. And sometimes when I was feeling a little more "sculptural" I sifted through the trash and glued things together. Now, this holistic approach to art worked fine for me. It gave me a love for materials, freedom of expression, and creativity. I may not have a steady job now, but I do have an M.F.A.
O.K. So, now the situation is that I'm seeing all these toys that are like super technological anti-mess making, digitized, fake art makers. I'm pretty sure that this crap is manufactured by the devil. I've cleverly changed the names of brands because I don't want to get in trouble (I'm a rule-following square to the max). Farmer-Price is marketing a "digital art studio". Digital art studio? I'm sorry, no. Are you marketing laptop comptuers loaded with the Adobe Suite to 6 year olds? No? What they are marketing is crayons, markers, and paint, without any of the mess. These digital toys therefore deny the child of the tactile experience of learning the behavior of materials and developing all kinds of stuff in their brain (art ed folks, you can help me out with this developmental stuff maybe because if you can't tell I have no idea what I'm talking about here...). I'm not entirely sure why this sort of thing is wrong, but something deep in my gut knows it is. It is as wrong as the birth control pill that only allows for four menstrual cycles a year. Some of my favorite products that I've seen lately are: Farmer-Price Digital Arts and Crafts Studio, Crapola Color Wonder products (clear paint, markers, brushes - color only appears on "special" paper - which is undoubtedly infused with the tears of dying baby seals), Crapola Glow Station, and the list goes on. It seems that kids these days are unsatisfied with the old trusty standards. I am sad to see an age where a mint box of crayons with sharp fresh tips gets ousted by some light up digital glowing art magic disaster box.
I think I may need to get a job at one of these major corporations in order to infiltrate the system. Mark my words, in two years time the hot item will be "Baby Gutenberg". It'll be like letter blocks, potato stamps, and everything magical in the world all rolled into one. Kids will be putting out their own periodicals. And all will be well with the world.