We take a lot from American culture here. We watch American sitcoms and dramas, eat American style fast food, read American authors and even drive American cars. The gun culture, though, is not something we’ve adopted and I’m happy about that because guns scare the bejesus out of me, personally. I’ve written before about my feelings on toy guns so it was with interest that I read about Toys R Us being petitioned to stop selling Breaking Bad figurines in the US. The figurines were marked to be for ages 15+ but one mum was completely outraged they were being sold in a toy store, because they came with matching guns, a cash bag and a bag of meth.
Over 9000 signatures later and they did remove the products. What I find interesting is the toys NOT being petitioned against. Take this for example- a Walking Dead Carl figurine (another show aimed at adults) of a 12-14 year old boy- see the knife on his hip? How about these Predator figurines, one covered in blood, aimed at 17+ year olds? They’re ok? How about this TMNT Soldier, aimed at age 3-8 years? What’s that- 3 different guns AND a knife? What about the classic G. I Joe? Here he is, aimed at ages 4 and up- check out how many weapons he comes with!
I’m the first to admit, again, that I’m no fan of toy guns. Research in this area is limited and of mixed results. So maybe toy weapons are bad for kids…but maybe not. I still don’t like them, personally and what others do is their own choice. Still, it seems strange that in America someone had such strong objections to ONLY this toy line, citing it a “dangerous deviation from their family friendly values”. The person that started the petition is a Florida mother- Florida being considered fairly accommodating when it comes to guns.
It really doesn’t seem that weapons/violence was the issue here, despite the wording of the petition:
“While the show may be compelling viewing for adults, its violent content and celebration of the drug trade make this collection unsuitable to be sold alongside Barbie dolls and Disney characters.”
And Predator figures. And Walking Dead figures. And literally hundreds of other action figures bristling with weapons and combat gear. Family friendly??
“Florida mom petitions against Toys ‘R Us over Breaking Bad action figures.” I’m so mad, I’m burning my Florida Mom action figure in protest— Bryan Cranston (@BryanCranston)
Touche, Mr Cranston, touche.
This lady hasn’t gone on to start other petitions about the action figures aimed at older teens or even the ones aimed at 3 year olds, despite them clearly referencing violent media. It’s the meth and cash bags she was upset about. I get that- no one wants to glorify drugs to their children or have them exposed to illicit drug culture. Even older teens who one would hope would know better.
The USA is embroiled in an ongoing “War Against Drugs” that it is, by many accounts, losing, with massive numbers of drug-users flooding the prison system while rates of drug use increase. I can’t tell them what to do (though I’d like a stab at it!) but I can certainly see why a toy seeming to glorify the drug trade would be a scary article for a mum in the USA.
I guess what I don’t get is why the guns aren’t the issue. America has the highest gun related mortality rate in the developed world.
I saw a thread, recently, within an international babywearing facebook group, that was devoted to sharing photos of Mums and Dads who wear their babies while also openly carrying firearms. I actually found it difficult to contain my shock and, I admit, horror. The discussion that ensued got pretty interesting, with American mamas horrified at the idea of Australia being a place where “only the bad guys have guns”. They couldn’t believe how much lower our rates of gun crime really are or that firearm related suicide and homicides have decreased steadily and that mass shootings are practically unheard of here since the laws surrounding guns changed.
Nothing I said would change anyone’s mind. Pointing out America’s gun mortality rate was water off a duck’s back. Another Australian mama pointed out this recent study showing almost 10,000 children in America are hospitalised or killed due to gun injury each year but people ignored it. I can’t fathom it. The culture surrounding guns seem so ingrained and entrenched and I just can’t help but think this petition was missing the point- if you want to get upset and drug culture, fair enough. Research into drugs may or may not surprise you but even so, living where you do, I get that concern, when something like half of a massive prison population is in there for drugs. The petition page mentioned a “celebration of the drug trade” but honestly, anyone who has ever seen Breaking Bad has to admit it’s no party. It’s one of the most devastatingly sad things I’ve ever watched! But why ignore the fact that guns are a huge and deadly problem in your society too?
N.B- It’s also worth noting that their is a counter-petition going strong too, with almost 6000 signatures at time of writing- I wonder if this will see the toys reinstated?