To get American children (whom the Obama administration has creepily designated the "Homeland Generation") ready for a whole lifetime of surveillance, there's a grotesquely cute little plastic dude called Elf on the Shelf that parents are being urged to buy in order to get their kids used to a total lack of privacy.
It's up to Mom or Dad to place the Elf in a new spot every night after the children go to sleep. The little ones will never know when or where they'll be assaulted by his insipid little face as they go about their morning business. Some particularly abusive parents have even been known to perch the little gizmo on the toilet tank, setting the stage for a whole new generation of perverts and exhibitionists, not to mention kitschy bathroom artistes.
I wrote about this fascistic phenomenon last year. And despite the Ed Snowden revelations, the tradition of pediatric surveillance remains as popular as ever, with the doll now esconced in an estimated six million American homes. Parents anxious to score a $50 gift certificate from Amazon are still sending in their photos (Shelfie Elfie Selfies are always welcome) and providing reams of free publicity to the toy manufacturer. Do I even need to mention that the overpriced toys are made in China for pennies, and that the infomercial of a cartoon about them was outsourced to animators in India?
This got me wondering: are the parents/guardians who buy into this sick game the same people who think torturing other human beings is O.K.? It wouldn't surprise me.
It's good to read that some psychologists, besides condemning the torturer-shrinks in their professional midst, are also now coming forth and warning of the long-term deleterious mental health affects of creepy surveillance fetishes dressed in cheery Christmas red. Selina Nemorin and Laura Pinto of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives have written about Elf on the Shelf mission-creep, noting that the toy is now even included in Common Core curricula in many corporatized American classrooms. I guess it's one way to force bored kids to sit still and take those soul-crushing standardized tests.
It's also a way to register children for a master corporate data base. When families and schools sign up for the fun, they agree that all rights to privacy will be gladly relinquished. The corporation has the right to use your name and your likeness for sale and profit as well as for virtual mind control.
"Elf on the Shelf presents a unique and prescriptive form of play that blurs the distinction between play time and real life," the authors of the Canadian piece write. Children are forced to endure and contend with the rules of the game at all times. They may not touch or play with the all-powerful doll, because if they do, the consequences will be dire. The elf will disappear and report back to Santa. (who is called "The Boss" in the game... like a Tony Soprano kind of boss) It's designed to transform the average home into a virtual Panopticon, the model prison envisioned by Jeremy Bentham, where inmates are always docile because they never know when they're being watched.
What might normally be considered a toy has been subverted into The All Powerful Other. No cuddling and back-talk allowed. Or else.
|What Say We Permanently Shelve the NSA Elf?|