I went by Staples to pick up one of those fancy digital frame doohickies, because I shoot quite a bit with ye old Nikon 70ds. While there, I was instructed to pick up some colouring books for Owlet, since it's easier than trying to clean crayon marks off our carpet.
I wasn't hopeful to find anything at Staples; I think of cut-rate printing paper and poorly designed office furniture, not Dora or Thomas. Staples is the place where you buy overpriced pens to write out carefully considered grocery lists you can leave on the counter. A temple to paper and the pushing thereof.
But low and behold, off in the corner, they do have colouring books! Little cheap booklets of paper emblazoned with market-tested intellectual property protected edutainment franchises! That they are; but they're also a source of entertainment that I, young liberal hip dad, doesn't feel too guilty about plunking Owlet in front of (minus the cutting down of our natural oxygen producers and accelerating global warming, minus the eradication of a cultural craftsmen social strata that would usually produce quality toys for my brood, minus the overarching power grip that multi-million dollar conglomerates have on my toddler).
I mean, it's creative right? Kinda active?
Of course, I immediately think of the influence it might have on Owlet. She's impressionable. I don't want her to be a vacuous teenager, one of those living embodiments of the most heinous doll-selling contrivances developed, 'Bratz'. I don't want her middle aged, knocking back a forty of Wild Turkey, waiting for her shift to start and wondering where her prince charming is. I don't want her in the retirement home, wearing a mid-riff and trying to seduce the cabana boy while smelling of industrial strength Oil of Olay and Bengay.
I, like any parent, don't want her worldview warped for the worse.
So there I sit, staring at my choice of colouring books: 'Disney's Princesses' or 'Beautiful Fairies'. Both a comment on the beauty and youth obsessed culture that pushes many to despair or to plastic surgery or both. A paradigm that prizes beauty and ordained, given greatness. A stultifying way to view reality where only the beauty pageant winners are any good, and anything you work for or that you build up from yourself isn't even put on the score card. The tyranny of the Media! The trampling of unique souls, budding for a better way to live in this world! The squashing of the delicate flower that is Owlet's personality, reaching, growing towards a better light!
I pace, considering which is the lesser of two evils.
So I phone Mrs. Owl, who, overall, has a more conventional view of the world. She listened to me carefully, like I was the strange aunt who likes to drop hints about the Illuminati and smells like burnt pot pourri. After I'm done with my tirade about the possible mind control that Big Media is pressing upon our child, she says, "It's just a colouring book."
I got "Disney's Princessess", in case you're wondering.