Ban on violent toys would not have deterred 'Donny'
Saturday, December 11, 1993 at 12:00 PM
Shawn Plank in Congress, Violent toys, parenthood, television, toys, violent toys

Congress is missing the point by trying to put restrictions on violent video games, television shows and toys they deem may be harmful to children. 

This is a job better left to parents.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “How the hell do you know? You have no kids! We parents should come beat you up and show you that we need bans against violent toys because they are a terrible influence on kids! Let me at him! Let me at him!”

It’s true parents can’t be expected to have complete control over everything kids see or experience. Kids inevitably meet someone like Donny Green, a kid who I knew growing up, who seemed to have unlimited access to toys and tools of violence.

I have no idea where Donny is today. For this reason, Donny is not his real name. 

Donny had real Ninja fighting tools, firecrackers, cap guns, BB guns and GI Joe dolls. Back in the days before cable television, he seemed to have a channel specially piped into his bedroom TV — unavailable anywhere else — that broadcast nothing but movies dealing with war, street violence or large sharp-toothed animals eating defenseless humans. 

Playing at Donny’s house was always a new experience in fear and pain. He used his weapons in wild games of cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, American GIs against Nazis and games involving any other two groups with even a trace of animosity toward each other. 

When Donny came to our house, it was a different story. We didn’t have tools of violence. We had a parking ramp in which you could push little plastic cars driven by tiny, smiling, armless figurines. They could drive around their village, get a hair cut, go to a movie, head out to the farm or take their car to the garage.

The village was the sort of place where you would want to raise your kids. The sort of place you would want to live so badly they wouldn’t need tax abatement. It was always a very pleasant, tranquil place — until Donny came over.

Suddenly, it became the village of the damned. Under Donny’s control, the figurines would fall out of their cars and get their heads caught underneath the parking ramp elevator. After watching many hours of gory television, Donny was able to make the appropriate blood-curdling scream as the figurines, still smiling, got their heads crushed.

He would arrange 10-car pile-ups in the village with multiple personal injuries. He would re-enact a natural disaster on the town. He would pretend he was Godzilla or King Kong and stomp his steel-toed boots on the little cars, crushing them. The smiling policeman, who was usually helpful and only wrote parking tickets, suddenly started bursting into stores and homes without a warrant, beating and shooting people.

Donny would have really enjoyed being a kid in the 1990s — the blood-and-guts video games, the ultra-violent cable TV movies and toys like the line of dinosaur figurines from Kenner inspired by the movie “Jurassic Park.” Sold separately are dinosaur-hunting human figurines with weapons that can cause realistic-looking wounds to form in the sides of dinosaurs. These wounds are so cool that Kenner gave them a name — Dino-Damage™ — and registered it with the government as a trademark.

The dinosaurs can also strike back against one of the human figurines, ripping his little plastic arms off. While it does not follow logically, Kenner calls also these realistic-looking wounds Dino-Damage™.

While Donny would like today’s toys, I think even if Congress managed to ban every toy that could be considered remotely violent, it wouldn’t help Donny. I think Donny’s violent behavior drew him to violent toys, not the other way around.

Donny could take a placid toy like a Barney doll, a Cabbage Patch doll, Lite-Brite or Yahtzee and somehow turn it into a toy of savagery, able to make the Christmas list of the 10 most-violent or most-warped toys.

This is why Congress is missing the point placing a ban on violent TV shows or games. Kids like Donny Green will always find ways to be violent. Congress should go to the root of the problem. It should place a ban on Donny Green. 

And, while I would not wish this on any other human, Congress should find some way to pay Donny back for all the toys he broke at our house and for all the needless pain he inflicted. I suggest Dino-Damage™.

Article originally appeared on shawnplank (http://www.shawnplank.com/).
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