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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

The Hidden Cost of Noisy Toys

photo by Huy Hung Trinh on Unsplash


If you’re not familiar with children, don’t care for them, or don’t have them in your life, you may not know that all kids’ toys that make noise are actually created in the depths of hell.

Think about it. There’s the maniacally laughing Elmo that struggles with the concept of consent as he threatens to tickle you until you go crazy. Or there’s the screeching Elsa doll that seeks the unknown, having stared too long into the abyss.

Or there’s even the endless rocket blasts from plastic military vehicles with radar screens locked on innocent villages. It’s all deeply unsettling. Don’t believe me? See how long you last in a room with the repetitive clack of little Shelby’s toy rifle or the chirp and croak of gentle Theo’s National Geographic-endorsed, nearly photo-realistic swamp set with moveable moss.

It’ll all slowly slink down your spine until you hear each whistle and pop while you sleep, ears ringing with the eerie chuckle of your friendly neighborhood clown doll (why do they keep making those?)  And we introduce these diabolical contraptions starting as young as possible with things like singing play-mats for infants,  encouraging each sweet kick and squeeze that successfully produces a deafening cadence. All those notes repeating to ensure that years later, darling Jackie will hum the pattern tunelessly on their morning commute as they think about creative and violent ways to quit.

Call me puritanical all you want, but each little song with its merry-seeming melody takes years off a soul—years. “It’s true,” confirmed Dr. Symbahl, head of ludology at the University of Chicago’s very southern branch. “Toymakers purposely craft the songs to stay with whoever engages with or is around the toys. It’s an earworm that actually destroys brain cells. It’s quite genius, really.”

And it’s meant to hurt. “There’s certainly no mercy or joy involved in most toy design,” agreed Hannah B. Lector, chief innovation officer for the large conglomerate Slaymobil. “We’re not looking to make it fun. If it doesn’t make an indelible impression like a Slip N’ Slide burn or a Lego to the foot, we haven’t done our jobs.”

But what are parents, caregivers, and loving family members to do? How will they entertain their sweet children without the whiz, toot, and bang of various stuffed animatronic gremlins, freakish plastic figurines, or remote-controlled vehicles of mass destruction? “Well,” said Dr. Lector, “there are always screens.”

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