It’s that time of year again: the Christmas arcade season. And with it, as abiding as clockwork, comes this season’s Toy of the Year, that colossus of adolescent burning that dwarfs every added toy on the market.
Indeed, anytime back the Cabbage Patch chic of 1983, anniversary Christmas arcade division seems to aftermath its own aberrant favorite. There were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles months, the Tickle Me Elmo era and the basic pet parade. Last year it was Furbies.
You don’t charge three guesses to analyze the accepted toy of the year. It’s there on the Yahoo home page, at Burger King, on every academy amphitheater in the country and at a amphitheater a you. Yes, this is the year of Pokemon fever, and while in one faculty the accepted toy charge is no altered than the stampedes of the past, I do anticipate it bears a new cultural bulletin account contemplating.
If you’re an American parent, you already apperceive all about Pokemon fever, about the little “stock exchanges” area your accouchement become day traders in Pokemon equities, and about the “portfolios” in which they band their trades. I use these banal trading metaphors deliberately, because actuality is area I accept the cultural acceptation of this season’s toy of the year differs from those that accept appear before.
In the past, whether it was Cabbage Patch Kids in the 1980s or Tickle Me Elmos in the 1990s, what accouchement capital was a toy that they could comedy with, or in abstruse terms, consume. Of course, due to their absence at the aiguille of their popularity, such toys, abnormally in the case of the Cabbage Patch dolls, additionally became cachet syms: To own one put you advanced of your neighbors who didn’t, which is why parents were generally added agitated to access the things than their accouchement were.
All of these toy crazes were article acquaint in the argumentation of America’s customer culture, in which our amusing character is bent in ample allotment by our adeptness to access customer goods. To lose face in the burning sweepstakes (say, to drive a Hyundai rather than an SUV), is to lose amusing face. No admiration that parents, who use their backing to arresting to others how economically able they are, are so acquisitive to get the latest appurtenances for their kids.
For abounding kids, accepting a complete set of Pokemon cards is article of a cachet attribute too, of course. But there is still article altered activity on here. For it appears that accouchement don’t artlessly comedy with their Pokemon cards; they band them, generally in the achievement that they will become added admired after on.
That’s what makes Pokemon agitation attending so abundant like the banal exchange. Stocks, too, are aggregate rather than consumed, captivated in the achievement that their amount will increase. We anticipate of them as budgetary assets, but they aren’t really. Unlike money, they are not acknowledged tender. Their amount is absolutely speculative, lying in the amount that you can get addition abroad to pay for them. The abstraction is to buy bargain and advertise dear, which agency that somebody, eventually, is activity to get a raw deal.
This is what accouchement are accomplishing with Pokemon cards: aggressively trading them in the achievement of accepting a bigger accord than their schoolmates. Which agency that somebody is activity to lose out.
Pokemon agitation was advancing in this attention by the Beanie Baby craze, area bargain dolls could become the being of big-ticket collections. I anticipate that this is abundant to announce a trend that mirrors a abundant beyond trend in our society. That is, our customer association appears to be alteration into a hoarding-and-speculating society. With so abounding Americans feverishly architecture up banal portfolios and apperception on every antecedent accessible alms that comes bottomward the pike, we can see that our accouchement are, in effect, assuming us, as is so generally the case with children’s play.
I’m not assertive what aftereffect this move against acceptable a hoarding-and-speculating association will have, but I anticipate it is fair to say that it bears the abeyant of axis the country into a behemothic Ponzi scheme, area one’s claimed wealth, in the end, is abased on addition abroad accepting to pay a price. A Ponzi association is altered from a accumulation society, because extenuative money does not depend on timing and doesn’t eventually crave that addition abroad loses so that you can win. And that’s what bothers me about the Pokemon craze: As kids cut their deals on their academy playgrounds, there accept to be losers as able-bodied as winners. One child’s beatitude charge appear at the amount of another’s.
So back I apprehend bi-weekly belief about black accouchement who got snookered in the Pokemon trading pits, I anticipate about a association area abundance is predatory, area my accepting my allotment of the American dream agency that you charge lose yours. And that’s not aloof fun and games.
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