Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Humor you hope your children don't understand...

It's an ongoing fad in animated films to tell jokes and give cultural references only the adults will get. In a preview for the Disney movie Cars, one car asks a seemingly stoned Volkswagen, "The 60's weren't good to you, were they?" You see a lot of that in animated films: unfunny, not-quite-a-joke jokes that only inspire laughter because they make the adults feel in-the-know. Yes, parents, compared to your small children, you might be relatively "with it" in the cultural references department. Good job.

Toy Joy works in much the same way, but this shop isn't designed to make the dumbest of adults feel superior in wit over their children. This is a toy store intended both for families and college students, so its inside humor is meant to go unnoticed by children and be mildly offensive to some parents.

Christian families won't always notice how their religion is mocked before they've even entered the store: homogeneous nuns pray just above a far more entertaining, but highly oversexed, robot-maid.

Nun Dolls III

Inside, it begins innocently enough.


Farther in, however, babies are where babies should clearly not be.

Baby and Snake

Yes, much of the humor is intentional. But isn't there something wrong with sexualizing a store clearly meant to attract children?

Big Boss

Is this not a pornographication of the American toy store? And what exactly is that man doing with those poor little monkeys?

Stuffed Animals

If you're progressive enough to let your children see a picture of a naked woman, you probably still don't feel comfortable with them looking at imagery that evokes inter-species sex and possibly pedophilia. Why can't things designed for children find a way to be entertaining without the "adults only" hidden references?


Blogger Goesh said...

The doll and snake head one is my favorite - the brilliant yellow vies strongly for attention with a very compelling visual pull to the snake's head, as much a drama of color as it is an almost biblical interpretation from the photo

7:59 AM  
Anonymous AusWill said...

I love Toy Joy. I go there every year to pick up cool little funky xmas gifts for people. You are reading way too much into the juxaposition of this or that. Or perhaps you are being facetious?

11:09 AM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

auswill: It is meant to be a humorous exaggeration, but I do think that people who work there arrange the toys in order to make little inside jokes, many of them sexual. If you click on the pictures and go to the flickr site, you'll find some even clearer examples. And I do really find this quite annoying in movies.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous AusWill said...

Cool. That's a relief. :-) That's the problem with blogs sometimes. You only have context clues to help judge the levity (or lack thereof). As for the adult humor in kid flicks, I like it. Plus, it is nothing new. I see movies or TV shows now that I loved as a kid, and I discover that there was this whole other level of dialog/humor that completely went over my head. It is a tried-and-true way to appeal to audiences of all ages. I think parents probably appreciate it most of all. Watching some of the inane garbage that passes for "kid TV" these days with your children/cousins/nephews/nieces is painful compared to watching the "multi-level" entertainment. That's just my though. I could be wrong. :-)

12:58 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

With my photo blogging, you can pretty much assume it's partly tongue-in-cheek, partly pointing out something true about the images.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

auswill: The fact that this is something that's been going on for a long time doesn't make it any better.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous AusWill said...

Very true. But in this particular case I think it is relevant as evidence for the effectiveness of the practice in question. Let me ask you this... Both as child and now as an adult, did you/do you prefer classic Bugs Bunny cartoons or classic Mickey Mouse cartoons? I don't know about you, but I fall squarely in the Bugs Bunny camp on both counts. Clearly, this is because of the manner in which it works on multiple levels.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

The greatest piece of children's entertainment--the Alice In Wonderland books--work specifically because they manage to appeal to both groups without throwing in jokes only one of them can get. The Wizard of Oz also does this. Most people who make entertainment for the "family" are not talented enough to pull this off, so they mix the bright, colorful stuff only children like with wink-wink jokes that aren't funny.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

...that should have been "pieces," not "piece."

1:45 PM  
Blogger Meade said...

I hate those [pieces] to [meeses].

Sorry. Inside humor only oldsters can get. (Hey, at least it's not pornographic.)

6:29 PM  

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