Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Marathon Views from a Cookbook Collector

While volunteering at the library the other day I stumbled across a book titled Forbidden Lego: Build the Models Your Parents Warned You Against! 



I checked it out, thinking it was something my son would have loved a few years ago (and maybe even still would now). It has all the perquisites for a geeky young man: Lego, the idea of parental disapproval, and weaponry.

The book is copyrighted 2007, a year when Time Magazine's list of top 10 video games included 7 which were based on violence and warfare. People talked about the negative impact of violent games, but their popularity was overwhelming. It was a time after Columbine and 9/11, but before Sandy Hook. It was the year of the Virginia Tech massacre. In an effort to be sensitive, the book's weapons are softened; the cover picture is a "paper plate launcher". The canon project shoots ping pong balls. The catapult is for candy.

Recently young children have been suspended from school for things like biting a Pop-Tart into the sideways "L" shape of a pistol. Presumably the way to stave off the epidemic of mass murders in schools is to ban all student-generated weapon arts and crafts, intentionally created or otherwise.

I've scoffed at these stories, remembering my son and how unimaginable it would be for him to commit anything close to the horrible scenarios which appear to be on the rise. It seemed silly to squelch what felt like a natural draw for boys.

But this morning I'm cringing from that idea of "natural", and having a hard time understanding what I could possibly have meant by the thought.

I started the day by catching up on the news from yesterday's Boston Marathon bombings. Such petty,  cowardly actions of violence and terror, the sick tantrum of an overgrown petulant child who hasn't gotten their way. And then I caught site of the Forbidden Lego book, and it's cover picture which looks like a cartoonized device of destruction.

Perhaps it will soon be pulled from the library's shelves.

I collect cookbooks because I like the way societal eras are captured within their pages. It's my favorite form of anthropology. Friendly. Non-threatening. But Forbidden Lego made me wonder if I should begin collecting toy catalogs.

Perhaps someone should do this. Looking at the shifts in children's toys would offer interesting cultural insights. But I don't think I'll do the collecting. It would just be too painful.

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