Mattel, Recall this Doll!

In 1959, Mattel came out with the Chatty Cathy doll whose signal feature was a ring in its back that, when pulled, caused the doll to “say” certain phrases.  Those were probably things like “I love you” or maybe “Let’s have a tea party.”  Whatever Chatty Cathy “said,” her repertoire was quite limited.  She uttered a few (maybe a dozen) short phrases and nothing else.

Lately, Chatty Cathy has often come unbidden to my mind - like when Justin Trudeau opens his mouth.  Or, for that matter, when any woke individual does.  That’s because, like Cathy, they have certain phrases they say and nothing else that may or may not have anything to do with the topic at hand.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are plenty of differences between the Chatty Cathy doll and the Justin Trudeau one.  I would never demean Cathy with such an invidious comparison.  Cathy’s phrases were, quite benign, sweet, even – ahem - pablumatical.  By contrast, the Justin Trudeau doll’s canned phrases are all things like “white supremacist,” “racist,” “homophobe” and the like.  Cathy was someone you might want to know, Justin someone to avoid.

So, for example, the Canadian truckers protesting vaccine mandates became, in the Trudeau doll’s words, “white supremacists,” “Nazis,” “Islamophobes,” etc., none of which in any way described the truckers or had the slightest thing to do with their protest.  Trudeau used the terms because, like Cathy, he’s nothing more to say, but the similarities end there.

Another key difference between the two toys is that, while Cathy’s words are meant to draw children together with love and kindness, the Justin doll does the opposite.  His stock phrases denigrate and slander.  They’re meant to divide people into tribal camps, to make of the truckers a class of “others” whom the rest of the country can, with his imprimatur, safely hold in contempt and the government can imprison without fear of backlash.  My memory is far from perfect, but I’m willing to bet that Chatty Cathy never froze the bank accounts or destroyed the small businesses of men and women living paycheck to paycheck.

Then there’s the fact that Chatty Cathy, like most children’s toys, was meant to stimulate and be a vehicle for the child’s imagination.  Stuffed animals, toy soldiers, toy trucks, etc. all do that.  Again, the Trudeau doll is entirely different.  It seeks, not the antic, amazing life of a child’s imagination, but the dullest, strictest conformity.  All it wants is for listeners to, like dolls, nod in slack-jawed agreement at its most absurd iterations.  I must admit that it’s pretty successful at that.

The final difference between the two dolls is that, of the two, Cathy was the far more animated.  When speaking outside his hiding place or before Parliament, the Justin doll looks mechanical, positively glassy-eyed and speaks with all the verve of a junkie nodding out on a San Fransisco sidewalk.  But Cathy was personable enough to have become wildly popular with children all over the United States and beyond.  Justin, not so much.  If votes were sales, his creator would have recalled him long ago and put an end to his line of toys.

Come to think of it, that’s not such a bad idea.

 

2 comments

Peter

Inspired comparison, well expressed.

jorgen

Mattel now threatens to sue youtubers for reviewing their toys if Walmart accidentally realeases them a week early and the reviwer gets ahold of it. So Mattel is almost ad incompetent as government.

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