There is a sinister collection of character merchandise that continues to fall off department store shelves each Christmas and that should be cause for serious concern.
These days, it is difficult to find children’s clothing and basic toys that are free from character merchandising. Most display benign novel and movie characters like Winnie the Pooh and Cinderella. They cultivate the growing of little consumers in many homes, but apart from this, most have little impact on the personal and social development of the child who wears them.
The World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (WWE) range of products may have a different effect. The range includes clothing, action figurines, dvds and cds, sports equipment, calendars, books, posters, video games, manchester and jewellery. All products that children want and parents pay for. Or – perhaps more difficult to comprehend – that adults want and adults pay for.
The WWE dates back to 1952 and was formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation. With headquarters in Conneticut and offices in Los Angeles, New York City, Toronto, London and Sydney, the WWE employs over 550 individuals worldwide and in 2008 had a turnover of more than $500 million. Not a bad bottom line.
In the early 1990s, the WWE revolutionized sports entertainment and incorporated theatre, acting, swearing and a whole lot of bad attitude into its weekly televised wrestling matches. The programming continues to more closely resemble acting than sports.
Much of the WWE wrestler’s insignia combines Christian symbolism with a demonic twist, and names like Sgt Slaughter, Legend Killer, Hulkster, BossMan, Stone Cold and Undertaker surely must leave parents with a slightly uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach.
One wonders how parents can bear the black-painted nails, dyed hair, body piercings and tattoos that adorn images of larger-than-life males dressed in leather tights and knee-high boots. It is an interesting combination. Somewhat effeminate; mostly brutish. Not worthy of a child’s eyes.
Proper children’s toys are those which are grounded in reality and which enhance the personal development and social skills of the individual. How a half-naked Legend Killer plastic doll will enhance any child’s personal development and social skills is beyond comprehension.
© Eva Whiteley 2009