B.K. Mullen offers a parent’s perspective on a Florida mother’s recent campaign to have “Breaking Bad” figures removed from a national toy store chain.
News broke nationally earlier this week that a concerned mother was taking Toys “R” Us to task about a particular line of action figures that it decided to carry in its stores—figures of the primary characters from the hit television series Breaking Bad. It is only now, in which I search for an article link to give you an idea of what I’m talking about (in case you live under a rock), that I see that one of the stars of the series, Aaron Paul, made a few of the same arguments that I am about to make.
My primary stance on the issue is this: If you don’t like the figures, don’t buy them. If you don’t want your kid to have them, don’t buy them. Don’t even show the figures to them. First of all, why would they recognize those characters if they weren’t aware of the series in the first place? And, while I have the understanding that some children pick out toys they don’t understand simply because the toys themselves appeal to their imaginations, why would that necessarily be a bad thing? If a little boy or girl, with no knowledge at all of Breaking Bad, points to a toy of Walter White and says “Mommy/Daddy, that guy looks like Lex Luthor! I need a Lex Luthor to fight my Superman,” what’s the harm in buying them the figure? In their minds, that figure will remain as Lex Luthor until years from now when they come to learn about its actual history, and even then, what’s the harm?
My secondary point: Stop teaching your kids to fear things they don’t understand. The last thing we need to do, especially in the age that we live in, is to try hiding our children away from the truth about the world. When we teach children fear, the only thing they will know is fear and they will always lead a fearful life. This also breeds the naiveté that infects individuals on a deep level of dealing with particular situations. If your child asks for a Breaking Bad toy, either buy it or don’t buy it. But, in either scenario, teach them what the toy is and WHY or why not you think it’s appropriate. When I was 16, I started drinking alcohol, not to excess, but far more than a kid that age should. My parents found out and their response was remarkable—they taught me everything there is to know about alcohol. How it’s made, what it’s made of, what it does to your body, how dangerous it is, and how disrupting it can be to one’s life. My grandfather was an alcoholic, and ultimately, alcohol was one of the primary reasons for the slow deterioration of his brain before his death. My parents did not make me fearful of alcohol. Rather, they made me informed about it, even going so far as to teach me how to deal with a drunk person.
“A person who is drunk is an animal,” my father once told me, “they aren’t the human that they were before they started drinking. Alcohol changes you in ways you don’t know of until it’s too late.”
So I say to this to the Florida mother who got Breaking Bad toys removed from Toys “R” Us shelves—I agree our children should not have to encounter negative drug culture in any form. Nobody should. But there it is. It’s on TV, it’s in our schools, it’s in our neighborhood, it’s in YOUR neighborhood, and it will always be there. From the time your child wakes up tomorrow morning, to the time he/she goes to sleep on their final day of life, drug culture will be there. I’m not trying to pull the “Get over it” card that you’re, no doubt, receiving from countless online commenters. But I think there is one major hurdle that we parents must all accept—We can shield our children from many things, but we can never shield them from the truth.
It is our duty as parents, as teachers, to open up the world to our children and show them everything. Because, from the dark little corners of the world to its golden heights, in all of these places, there are always truths, and understanding those truths can be one of your child’s most wonderful and powerful tools.
My third and final point, which Aaron Paul already discussed to some length, is this—There are many things in this world that many people find offensive, even more offensive than Breaking Bad toys, and yet we must all learn to tolerate each other and live in the same world together. For example, in my opinion, I would never buy a “Barbie” doll for my daughter, because I find them offensive. To me, and to thousands of other parents, they are a symbol of the de-beautification of the natural woman. “Barbie” dolls are a cornerstone of this culture forced upon young girls that they must conform to a certain image. They help to instill that feeling in young girls that they must look a particular way, or else they are not beautiful. I have yet to see a “Barbie” with acne, or stretch marks, or one that is heavy set. I have never seen a “Barbie” go through the same afflictions as an average girl.
That being said, the day may come when my daughter will look at me in the toy store, point to a “Barbie,” and say “Daddy, I want that one.” In that moment, I will probably pick it up, take it to the cashier, and pay the obscene amount of money for it. Because I am part of a generation of parents that must exist for the betterment of our society. I am a part of a generation of parents surrounded by ignorance, and we have taken to the ideal that teaching our kids to understand and to tolerate instead fear and hate, is the more progressive and safest way to live one’s life.
Credit: Image—Adam Barhan/Flickr