Babes in Toyland

Do you know any first-graders who are in love with a stripper—or at least like to sing about it?

Then you’re in luck. On the shelves this Christmas you’ll find the “I Am T-Pain Mic,” a toy microphone marketed by Grammy-winning rapper T-Pain, whose oeuvre includes such charmers as “Take Your Shirt Off” (sample lyrics: “I know you don’t care when your titties everywhere home girl/Take your motherfucking shirt off, hey”); “Apple Bottom Jeans” (“Work the pole, I got the bank roll/Imma say that I prefer them no clothes/I’m into that, I love women exposed”); and the aforementioned “I’m in Love With a Stripper.”

The “I Am T-Pain Mic” goes for about $40 at retailers, including Toys ‘R’ Us and WalMart, which recommends it for ages seven and up. It’s also one of the nominees for the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood’s 2011 TOADY award.

A takeoff on the Toy Industry Association’s highly coveted Toy of the Year, or TOTY, award, the TOADY—as in Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children—is a welcome voice of dissent in our hyper-commercialized culture, where companies spend $17 billion a year marketing products to kids.

“From thousands of toys that promote violence and/or precocious sexuality to children and push branded entertainment at the expense of children’s play, CCFC has selected five exceptional finalists” for this year’s TOADY, the nonprofit recently announced.

Among those vying with T Pain for the honor is the Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet, a “learning system” for kids aged four and younger, which includes games, music videos and “storybooks.” (“Can’t wait for the day your child starts tuning you out for technology? Give your infant a head start with the Vinci, the first ‘iPad’ designed especially for babies,” says CCFC, which also slams the toy for its “bogus educational claims”).

Also in the running is the special Coca-Cola-themed edition of Monopoly. “Why give your kids the classic version of America’s favorite board game when you can immerse them in an ad for Coca Cola?” CCFC asks. “Type 2 diabetes sold separately.”

Then there are Mattel’s Monster High dolls, the latest in a long line of creepy sexualized dolls marketed to preschoolers. To see all the nominees, and to cast a vote for the 2011 TOADY, go to: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/toady2011. Voting ends Nov. 28; the winner will be announced Nov. 30.

Author: Maureen Turner

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