On Plastic Potato Heads, Seuss and the Machine of Manufactured Outrage, by Kenn Orphan – Dandelion Salad

“This is the end of freedom,” declared the definitive talking potato head himself, Glenn Beck. He was speaking about Hasbro’s decision to drop the “Mister” pronoun from their “Potato Head” toy. In fact, there will still be Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head characters respectively. The company just decided to remove the male descriptor “Mister” as the primary name of the brand. The same week, Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to drop six books from the popular franchise due to their obviously racist portrayals of Asian and Black people. And on the conservative end of the internet, all hell broke loose.

The machine of manufactured outrage at both decisions went into high gear. There were headlines. Talking heads gnashing teeth. Memes generated in a nanosecond. Apparently, civilization itself was crumbling before our eyes. Never mind the fact that actual potato plants are self pollinators and possess both male and female flowers. Never mind that gender is essentially fluid and conditioned on multiple factors. Never mind that the outrage was over a plastic toy. In regard to Seuss, never mind that thousands of Japanese Americans were thrown into concentration camps not long after the publication of his infamous cartoons, which came at the height of anti-Japanese sentiment in the US.

As far as Hasbro and Seuss are concerned, nothing has been canceled. No toys were buried. No books were burned. In truth, none of this is about censorship. It is about a cynical media machine that has been in the business of manufacturing outrage in order to distract the public from more pressing or dire concerns, atrocities, or the malfeasance of its ruling class for decades. After all, Yemen is still being decimated and starved by a murderous medieval kingdom supported by the West. Racist police state violence and the carceral state continues to ruin lives and cause immeasurable misery. Billions are still languishing under imposed poverty. Thousands of people are still dying from the pandemic, all as the biosphere continues to be polluted and burned for profit. But don’t pay attention to any of that.

On Plastic Potato Heads, Seuss and the Machine of Manufactured Outrage, by Kenn Orphan – Dandelion Salad