During my childhood, there was the North Pole, and there was the South Pole. There was the pole that heroic firemen slid down to race to their big, red trucks. There was pole-vaulting too, a spirited sport that dared immortal feeling young men and women to defy gravity and launch themselves high in the air.
Childhood was a Garden of Eden for energy, innocence and imagination, gently –ideally—guided by wise and loving adults who invented toys for us to play out our dreams.
Fast forward a few decades –not many– and a company called Tesco has succeeded in sucking the remaining oxygen out of a wheezing world of what we used to call “childhood.” Their new Peekaboo pole dancing kits, to be decoratively propped next to the Barbie Dream House under that Christmas tree, appeared this holiday season.
Their slogan: “Unleash the sex kitten inside…simply extend the Peekaboo pole inside the tube, slip on the sexy tunes and away you go!” Despite the fact that it was perched on a shelf in the toy section, it was rather defensively –or “gamely”– touted to be targeted at adults. Yes…perhaps particularly petite adults… maybe thrill seeking Munchkins… or vertically challenged strippers, all of whom apparently shop for adult sex games in the children’s toy department. This “game set” will let your sultry seductress of seven writhe her way out of innocence. Not for a seven year old? Well, why have it set on shelves amongst games such as Trivial Pursuit, toys like My Little Pony and faux jewelry sets for aspiring little princesses?
This tops all. Of course, wearing a top might be optional, flimsy perhaps, that is if you want that full “Soprano’s” effect of this childhood throttling diversion. But for that you might have to go buy a tiny push-up bra since the kit includes a “sexy dance garter,’” and not much more in the way of clothing. It does supply a DVD to learn provocative dance moves, as well as the requisite extendible chrome pole that lengthens to a full 8’6”. I suppose the cathedral ceiling living room won’t work. Well, there’s always the playroom. After all, it was being sold with the toy chests and jump ropes.
Toys come with all sort of fantasy-inspiring advertisements printed on the package and singing in commercials. Remember Action Jackson? “Action Jackson is his name! Bold adventure is his game! AAACTION JAAACKSON!” Hopefully, my memory doesn’t fail me. Some of those jingles and promises have been permanently registered in my brain. I remember Crissy, the doll whose hair you could grow by pushing the button on her back. Jingles for toys were soon replaced by ads such as Exxon’s “Put a tiger in your tank,” and “If you think it’s butter, but it’s not….it’s Chiffon!” Then finances came into the picture and we were told to “Get a piece of the rock.” I simply don’t recall considering generating income from gyrating my tiny physique as Tesco advises: “Soon you’ll be flaunting it to the world and earning a fortune in Peekaboo Dance Dollars.” I think I wanted a doll that would actually drink from a bottle. How childish of me.
So, what sort of fantasy is the obviously whacked out toy company promoting for our little girls….or for that matter, our little boys? After all, if we let Missy and Jennifer play with Tonka Trucks, and Jimmy can play house by feeding the baby doll, why should the Peekaboo pole be exclusively for girls? The real question is, why should the Peekaboo pole be out there for children at all?
Has the corporate world become so saturated with useless MBA’s, has journalism’s countless publication venues succumbed to the net and quick-fix tabloids? Has the shortage of research funding made parents rethink the porn industry as a viable alternative to something as unrealistic as a microscope for that promising young scientist in pigtails?
What about benefits?
Reading about the Peekaboo pole, I found myself glad that my own daughters have reached the age where gift certificates and cash have replaced such bizarre innovations as stripper starter kits. What next? Sequined and slimming diapers?
Remember when playing doctor was considered risqué? I suppose it’s come to that again, what with the malpractice rates and lawsuits chasing that profession down memory lane along with Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets.
Erector Sets…Now if those were ever considered hazardous because of some loose screws, then why the Peekaboo…
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