Sunday, June 20, 2010

Everybody's Doing It...

For no reason whatsoever, America’s youth (ranging in age between three and seventeen, by my accounts) have become insanely obsessed with collecting colorful bracelets vaguely shaped like random nouns. Bandz, as they’re called, are simply the latest commercial product in a long line of short-lived trends that serve to annoy teachers, rob parents, divide schoolyard friends and generally make the world a worse place.

Need further proof? Examine, if you will, today’s genre-centric list of films that capture the horror of materialism gone wild:


Joe Dante’s seminal Cabbage Patch Kids-inspired Christmas classic is the educational gift that keeps on giving, riffing on the dangers of irresponsible materialism with the cutest metaphor to ever squeak. As parents mowed each other down in shopping malls to deliver chubby faced baby dolls to their greedy kids, Dante captured the overly ambitious gifting craze with Gizmo, and adorable living teddy bear with a rule book even Santa couldn’t follow. Predicting--or possibly, inspiring--future toy fads like Tickle-Me-Elmo and, in an odd twist, the clearly Mogwai-based Furbies.

Child’s Play

It’s hard to be the fatherless poor kid at daycare in downtown Chicago, but even harder when mom’s idea of an appropriate birthday gift is a box of pants. Between delicious breakfast cereal and Saturday morning cartoons, it’s no wonder that young Andy Barclay becomes so fixated on obtaining a Good Guy Doll, a promised ‘friend to the end’ with a $50+ price tag. Misguidedly believing such a My Buddy knockoff will bring him peace, Andy guilts his mom into using her bonus in the back alley to purchase the toy. How to punish a child for his greed? Soul snatching, naturally.

Remember when your teachers, friends, neighbors, cousins, and kittens were shedding belly fat with the Atkins Diet? Didn’t it sound like the best idea since WOW Doritos? Then, just as you were about to declare jihad on bagels, you remembered that WOW Doritos were officially declared an agent of the devil (via your toilet). That’s the lesson you should remember watching Larry Cohen’s The Stuff, a gleeful satire that uses a delicious fat-free frozen treat to explore America’s obsession with lo-cal commercialism.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Perhaps the holiday’s best lesson at teaching kids to make their own costumes and avoid the temptations of everybody’s-doing-it store bought digs. What happens when your child wears the same rubber mask as 75% of the buying public? He or she turns into a rotten pumpkin. Serves you right for not thinking outside the box.

Suicide Club

Peer pressure has led to many a minor tragedy: feathered hair, bullying, Phish. But few lapses of individual judgement are quite as unfortunate as the events that occur in this 2002 surrealist genre glob, wherein offing oneself becomes way cooler than XBox, ‘N Sync, or talking to the hand. As usual, pop music is the main offender, with the sweet siren songs of girl group Dessert (or Desert) calling teens, comedians, housewives, and policemen to hurl their bodies in front of racing subway trains, chop off their appendages while slicing sandwiches, and leap to their deaths at the urging of their peers. Though the exact nature of the suicidal craze isn’t quite explained and the cure comes off as questionable, Suicide Club remains the thinking gorehound’s philosophical bible for exploring mass societal behavior with macabre humor and scraped off earlobes.


Sometiems it’s not just the kids that get hooked by ubiquitous marketing. Take Carrie Anne Moss’s June Cleaver-esque homemaker in 2006’s zombedy Fido. All this stay-at-home mom wants is to have the same merchant goods as the neighbors. In this case, that good is an undead servant to call her family’s own. Though most of the films on this list demonstrate the negative aspect of trends (and Fido’s premise basically equates to modern slavery), this quirky black comedy ironically results in the most positive outcome of all. Sometimes, true love truly does start with a price tag. 


  1. My friend's niece introduced me to them. They're cute... in moderation. But another young girl was ready to jack me for THE ONE said niece was gracious enough to gift!


  2. I think each Band contains a small dose of crack. Of course, I say that about the cha-ching theme that opens every Law & Order episode.