Cold-eyed Stare of a Plush in a non-Virtual World

Do stuffed animals have souls? Snort, and then consider how much energy is spent prompting children to look deeply into the glass eyes of the curly haired dog or bunny that will forever sit on its haunches before them. As the Skin Horse instructs in The Velveteen Rabbit, the promise made to stuffed animals, urged on by the adults who give them as presents, is, “When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”Right. And so when the old bunny in the story becomes “a mass of scarlet fever germs” threatening the health of a sick and actually real little boy, the lesson is that his bunny should not be safely replaced by a nice, clean, new bunny. Oh, no. This would be an act of betrayal, because as every good child knows, you are supposed to love your stuffed animal no matter how worn and dirty, and reject any shiny cheap-date substitute. This story doesn’t grow old. Check out The Jamie and Angus Stories, an updated (and, admittedly, quite lovely) rendering of the classic stuffed animal/child coupling.

The genius of Webkinz. – By Emily Bazelon – Slate Magazine

Great article about the emotional ties explored through plush toys going virtual (Anastasia from Ypulse must have like 7-senses, the 7th being article tracker). Back when I first started this blog I rambled about this often… and perhaps I will again soon, but for now I’ll let that link and the article it contains do the talking.

Needless to say, my webkinz (not even a stuffy) is 914 days old – and i go in every month to put it up in the presidential hotel in Neopets for the next month, AND spend more for extras (that have no consequence) only because I don’t like the idea of my neopet suffering, even in imagination land (anyone see that south park?).

Yes, I was that kid who thought (and still have the seed of wonder) my stuffed animals were/are/always will be alive. Sigh. I know, I know. Therapist. I know.

At least I’ve gotten over that whole “my car is alive” thing. I remember being 8, petting the family van while it was getting worked on – as if it were at the doctor or something.  Sensitive, imaginative child? yes. Gooftastic adult? Indeed.

Anyway – all my crazy VW products sit on my desk staring at me with cold black eyes wondering when I’m going to go take care of them – and i’m telling you– that cold black eyed stare is filled with dark hope and heavy guilt.

p.s. If you’re looking for an alternative VW for kids chores, check out this article about Handipoints. which is like a mesh between Club Penguin (roaming virtual world), Webkinz (plushy-looking animals), and Minyanland (parents opportunity to encourage through chores and good deeds).

p.p.s. DUDE– CLUB PENGUIN! They’ve totally made me a community fan girl professionally. They totally overhauled just about every visual in the site for April 1st – it’s all trippy, fun, and whacked out. I can’t imagine what their production schedule looks like, or their monthly schedules. Well done, once again, community staff – I envy you to the point of giddy greenness.

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