Mr. Potato Head

Since the current national Republican Party has no policy initiatives or ideas to help the citizens of the United States, they have taken to claiming that the Democrats (even though they have nothing to do with any of the following) are pursuing a “cancel culture” to undermine American values. Just exactly what values those are depends on the Senator or Congressman speaking but, pick one, the Democrats are either fascists, communists, or socialists. Which, of course, totally ignores the fact that each of those is a totally different ideology from the others, but why should facts get in the way of “owning the libs,” which seems to be the Republicans number one goal. That, and continuing to push the Big Lie that the former guy actually won the 2020 election.

Recently, rather than put forth ideas to combat the ongoing pandemic, improve the economy or reform immigration, the Republican Party is focused on the “cancelling” of Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head. That neither of those things were cancelled is beside the point. In fact, the family trust that owns the rights to the Dr. Seuss books decided not to republish six books out of the more than sixty that he wrote because they believed some of the characters “portray people in a way that is hurtful and wrong.” No books were banned. No books were pulled out of libraries. No Seuss police took books away from the little kids in your home. But why ruin a good scare tactic?

Likewise, the hullabaloo and the gnashing of teeth over dropping the “Mr.” from the Potato Head brand was all about nothing. The Hasbro toy company did not make Mr. Potato Head gender-neutral. According to the company CEO, the company is expanding its brand to the Potato Head Family. There can be a Mr., a Mrs., and kiddies — all gendered as assembled by the whims of the kids playing with them.

End of discussion.

But why stop there? Did those cancel culture Republicans understand the insidious nature of what was really going on? That kids were being secretly indoctrinated? More on that in a minute.

First, it might help to know where the term “cancel culture” comes from. In short, it was created by the black community in the United States and became, like so many things, appropriated by the white community that has no understanding of what it means. According to the Washington Post, the black song writer and leader of the band Chic Nile Rodgers wrote a song in 1981 about a date that he had in which he was embarrassed by the actions of the woman he was with and included this line in the lyrics, “No, your love is cancelled.” The song was not a particular hit, but some in the black community started using the line to indicate that someone’s behavior was inappropriate and therefore, I am “canceling you” as a friend, acquaintance or whatever. It became more mainstream in the 1990’s with the gangster movie “New Jack City” when the drug boss played by Wesley Snipes tells a subordinate (in non-blog friendly language) to “cancel” his girlfriend because she offended him. As she is being taken away he says, “I’ll buy another one.” The screen writer Michael Cooper stated that he was listening to the song written by Nile Rodgers when he wrote the cancel line. The term was later picked up by a number of rappers in various forms and it took off as part of the vernacular.

As usual, its ubiquitous use by white Republicans who stand for nothing other than fighting the culture wars, do not know the culture that the words came from. It just makes a nice bumper sticker. It is easier than trying to articulate, you know, actual policies and solutions to problems. Anything that you don’t agree with can just be dismissed as another attempt at cancel culture. Never mind that the former guy tried to cancel a presidential election and was aided and abetted by 147 Congressional Republicans that now complain about everything.

Here is something for those complaining about the cancel culture to think about.

Mr. Potato Head was introduced to the public in 1952 by Hasbro, the Pawtucket Rhode Island toy manufacturer and it was the first toy advertised on TV. I was a kid in the 50’s and I most certainly played with my Mr. Potato Head. And there was also a Mrs. Potato Head. I really enjoyed them. In the early days, the kit supplied various plastic parts, but we used real potatoes, and some folks used other vegetables, as the body. It was supply your own. Later in 1964, after complaints about rotting potatoes and vegetables and wasting food, Hasbro began including a plastic body in the kit. Before that it was BYOP.

And it just didn’t matter what kind of potato one used. It was valid to use Russet, Fingerling, Red Gold, Yukon Gold, Idaho, Maine, Kennebec, Red, Yellow, Purple, White, Norland, Magic Molly, Yams and Sweet Potatoes to name just a few. Talk about diversity! Potatoes of all shapes, sizes and colors. Wait. What? Mr. Potato Head could be any color, shape or size? Yep. I thought he was a white guy. Nope. Here is another thought. As I recall, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head could come in the same package (I don’t know if they were actually married or just lived together.) Parts is parts. Especially if you are a little kid that just likes using her own imagination and putting together all kinds of interesting pieces of plastic stuck into a potato. A little of this, a little of that. Just playing. Hmmm. What gender is that Potato Head? If a boy played with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head was he playing with dolls? Talk about subversive!

Was Hasbro indoctrinating an entire generation of Americans into accepting diversity in culture, color and sexual identity? Was it it a secret communist plot to destroy true blue 50s American values? Or was it just a kid’s game that was fun and allowed for kids to use their imagination?

Maybe the Republicans should put together a special investigative committee to find out what nefarious methods Hasbro and other toy makers used to indoctrinate young kids into a society other than a white, male dominated, Christian one.

It makes as much sense as anything else that Congressional Republicans are doing today.

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