Just in time for the holiday season, some wag came up with concept of a Fisher Price bar for toddlers to belly up to. If ever there were a toy company that represented sweetness and light, that would be Fisher Price. No weaponized toys promoting violence. No “sexy” dolls with pouty lips and suggestive poses. Lots of toys that are old school: non-electronic, non-digital. Just toys that leave it all up to the kids, their manual dexterity, their curiosity, their imagination, their problem solving. (Hey, if you’re only seven months old, it may not be all that obvious which colored ring goes on the bottom of the stack. And, come to think of it, let’s hear it for the infants who come up with their own peculiar ordering…)
Anyway, it’s Fisher Price’s primary-colored reputation for goodness, age appropriateness, and let-kids-be-kids that makes the fake Fisher Price bar such a preposterous and funny an idea – so far off the mark that no one could possibly believe it’s the real deal. (Unlike Saturday’s SNL fake ad for toys for sensitive boys, which included a wishing well, which actually could have been something that was more or less real – even if there is about zero likelihood that anything would ever be marketed as a toy for sensitive boys. Or for girls who like to roughhouse. It’s up to the parents (and the kids) to figure out – and accept - what will work for their kids.)
Anyway, despite the obvious fakery of the Fisher-Price bar, there were some adults out there in dear old girl and boy land who took the picture – which took off as an Instagram meme – pretty seriously.
The picture prompted some Twitter complaints to Fisher-Price. The toymaker’s account responded that the product wasn’t ‘‘endorsed, produced or approved by Fisher-Price.’’
Fisher-Price says it appreciates ‘‘the suggestions as obvious love of the brand.’’ (Source: Boston Globe)
This mini-brouhaha, quite naturally, brought to mind (actually, to my sister Trish’s mind) an earlier, recurring Saturday Night Live sketch:
In each appearance of this sketch, the moderator of the show would interrogate toy maker Irwin Mainway, played by Dan Aykroyd, while he defended his company's extremely dangerous products aimed at children. Toys included "Bag O' Glass", "Bag O' Vipers", "Bag O' Sulfuric Acid", "Mr. Skin Grafter", "Pretty Peggy's Ear Piercing Kit", "Doggy Dentist", "General Tranh's Secret Police Confession Kit", "Johnny Switchblade Adventure Punk", and "Teddy Chainsaw Bear". Halloween costumes included: a military outfit that included an actual working rifle ("very popular in Texas and Detroit!"); an entirely black and non-reflective uniform called "Invisible Pedestrian" (which had a warning on the package that read "NOT FOR BLIND KIDS"); an airtight plastic bag that was to be affixed over the head with a rubber band called "Johnny Space Commander Mask"; and an oil-soaked costume called "Johnny Human Torch", which came complete with an oversized lighter. (Source: Wikipedia)
Those sketches started 40 years ago, back before memes existed, and, apparently, more people a) recognized fakery when they saw it; and b) knew enough to Google/Snopes something if they had any doubts.
Hey, wait, 40 years ago we didn’t have the Internet to search.
So how did we figure out how to take a joke?