Oct. 14, 2009--On a rainy day in L.A., when everyone is making a ridiculously big deal about it--all the TV news programs are emblazoned with STORM WATCH--as if we haven't seen rain in 100 years or something--as if we were living in the desert!--I thought I'd share a couple of other things that have annoyed me lately.
Last weekend my younger daughter said she wanted a punching bag for either Christmas or Chanuka. ("Oh, you mean to replace your mother?" I said.) I was surprised, since she's not an especially violent kid, but I thought, why not? Get a little exercise. Let out some frustration. Doesn't cost much, doesn't make a mess, doesn't make much noise ... plus, I had one as a kid and was crazy about it.
"Sure," I said.
Finding none at Target, partly because I forgot to look and partly because I figured she'd change her mind in the next hour or two, I ended up searching online the next day when she again asked for the pugilistic plaything.
Ta-da! To my amazement, there, on Amazon.com, was the very same Bozo the Clown inflatable, can't-knock-'im-over, 4-feet-tall sock-me toy I'd had as a tot!
I called her to my computer screen. "How about that one?" I asked.
"Okay," she said, but she sounded unsure.
Well, you know Amazon. Plenty of alternatives are also displayed. So we looked. There was a Scooby one. And one that looked more like something you'd find in a men's gymnasium, if you were in a black-and-white movie from the 1940s or 50s.
Finally I noticed one with another cartoon character on it…and a very funny name scrawled across--wait!
I had to read it twice.
I had to take a closer look. It was horrible! Absolutely disgusting. So offensive it should be illegal. Is it for real? Why isn't anybody staging a boycott? Maybe I should.
All right, here was the offender: "Bam Bam Bop Bag Obama."
Yes, that Obama. As in President of the United States Obama. Kids could have fun socking the duly elected Commander in Chief and Leader of the Free World. For under $25.
I checked the small print. No, it was not brought to you by The Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney Toy Company. But how could you explain--how could I explain, to my daughter or to myself--the caricature on the thing.
Sure, Barack Obama is a sports nut. He plays basketball and encourages the White House staff to stay in shape. But there's his image, in cartoon, in boxing gloves and striped boxer shorts, and--I shudder to enter this into my computer--grinning stupidly with an orange-slice mouth of gleaming pearly whites. Yazzuh!
Can you imagine this with any other president? Was there a Bash Bop Bush? A Wollop W.?
Punch it hard, kiddies! Destroy this invidious piece of reactionary propaganda! But realize that what you're socking has a strong resemblance to the vilest stereotypes of a previous, prejudiced era. Because that's exactly what it looks like to me—an old segregationist joke.
Maybe I've lost my sense of humor. The product description explains thus: "Release all your stress from politics as usual! For or against Barack Obama? Either way, relieve some stress...! Yes, we can -- Bop with Bar..."
And get this: It comes with political bumper stickers. Doesn't say for which side.
Made by Rocket USA
Sold (via amazon.com) by
13303 Rosecrans Ave
Santa Fe Spring, CA 90670
Telephone: (562) 926-0888
Fax: (714) 475-5871