in a world filled with nursery school- targeted marauder bombings, childs being used as tumble dryer filler, and various other non-safe child aimed events, it amuses to see the useless measures that society employs to keep the minds of our future-adults safe.
now, im all for keeping extreme violence from the eyes and hands of todays youth, be it films or videogames, the cutlery aisle at your local walmart or even germ-killing household products. however there is a line. on one side you have the efforts that are seen to make a difference, such as the above. however on the other side you have the less useful, efforts made to 'safeguard' the youngs. and a couple of these i will outline below.
lesson a. during my childhood i was in much enjoyment of many board games. from the plastic people of the game of life to the pink moneys of monopoly. however, none could compare to the joys and misty wonder that was brought about by a good game of snakes and ladders. rolling that dice, not knowing if i would climb the ladders or whether my fates lied within the belly of the serpant. i would sigh with relief at a close escape, shake my fist with anger when devoured by the evils, or smile with glory as i ascended those golden ladders. recently, i decided to rekindle the above emotions, with a friendly game of snakes and ladders. i walked into the local toymart and looked far and hard for the beloved game, but to no avail. my heart raced at the thought of the classic wonder never being held in my hands again. from aisle to aisle i searched and finally found a trusty shopkeep. i grabbed him and looked into his eyes. fear struck him as my tongue ran nonsensicle words. i slowed. i asked him if he had what i so desperately searched. his eyes gleamed with recognition of my description. he led to me to the very aisle i had so frantically searched only moments before. i reached down and pulled out a primary coloured box. he flipped it around and handed it to me, smiled and walked off. i looked down. could it be? was my panic all for nothing? my eyes danced over the precious box, children playing the much heralded game decorated the cover. the name written in so much glee. chutes and ladders. i laughed at the joke the clerk played on me. but then as i searched the shelves for the real thing, it dawned on me that this was no joke. the feared snakes were gone, only the slick chutes remained. i collapsed in a fury of tears.
the whole point of the game was that the snakes were to be feared. no one wanted to land on a snake in fear of their mighty forked tongues, their fangs of danger and their grasps of peril. sadly for milton bradley and other such board game companies, no one fears a chute. a chute is little more than a playground slide, or an extremely large drinking straw. bring back the snakes, bring back the undie-soiling fear. stop the violent video game sales to minors, dont stop the serpant.
lesson b. in a world filled with a green ooze, katana blades, pepperoni and bandanas, the teenage mutant ninja turtles were the kings. living large in the depths of the sewers, having mondo-parties, pizza-fests and the usual clobbering of the foot clan ninjas. when i was first made aware of these fabulous creatures, i was cautious. could turtles really be ninjas? of course, it was the ninja that really captivated me and drew me in. the jumpkicks, the secret codes, the mystery. nothing could come close in measures of coolness. the ninja turtles were the gods of my time.
after a seven hour flight and many foil packets of peanuts later, i found myself afoot in my homeland of the englands, without my collections of ninja turtle toys at hand. what a blessed place. newspaper wrapped fish & chips, fog, tall hats and biscuits, only some of the wicked inhabitants of this marvelous island.
on a routine shopping trip with my british/indian aunt i found what would forever be the ultimate dismay in my life. we happened upon the local everything-mart and of course i ran to the toy aisles as fast as my little legs could carry me, dodging people left and right, not heeding the backwards laws of englands traffic system. finally i found what i wanted, rows upon rows of action figures. the doors of childhood heaven had opened to me and i was about to step into its eternal plastic wonders. i crossed the threshold. i looked up and around. it was beautiful. so much colour, so much weapons, so much rapid-fire action. i hopped with so much glee as i surveyed the goods. then out of the corner of my eye i saw what i hoped for. the green, the shells, the turtles. they had my beloved ninja turtles in england. i would not be alone for this trip. i reached up and pulled down a michealangelo figure. that grin painted on his face was filled with mischief. oh mike, you rascal you. they were all here; leo, don, raph, mike, splinter, all of them. i pulled down one of each, along with a few henchman of the foot persuasion, and i was off to make my aunt purchase them.
but something was wrong. something was amiss. why did i not feel the warmth in my arms that was so familiar to me? i looked down at the card and plastic in my hands and tried to piece together the problem. at first it was not apparent, but then i saw that these werent ninja turtles at all. no, not ninjas, but heroes. thats right, these were the teenage mutant hero turtles. the land of eng had stripped away all that made these mutant creatures so great. without their ninja, they would be free to exercise any form of fighting, thus making them no longer ninjas. which, in turn would make them no longer anything but cheap plastic nothings.
why would they do this? i have since heard that it was because of bad british-japanese relations that they decided to use 'hero' instead of 'ninja', but i dismiss this like so many classes at 3pm. its an aim at less violence. heroes instead of ninjas. yet another way to soften things to the children. no, dont pull realistic toy guns from the shelves, instead label the turtles as heroes as opposed to the ninjas they were born to be. becuase ninjas are violent and heroes, of course, are not. sorry britain, you've lost a loyal customer.
what will be next? will batman become 'slightly-angry-night-bird man'?
its obvious that the direction the world is headed in, is ugly.