Does playing shark-killer cause kids to hate and fear sharks? Mattel is marketing a “MegaRig Shark Ship Building System,” which comes with a harpoon-ship, a giant plastic shark, and a diver to be eaten (which, once eaten, is pooped out whole from shark’s stomach!). The animations on Mattel’s site are cheesy & amazing – the harpoon can also be mounted on the shark’s head to have a frickin’ shark with a frickin’ laser beam!
However, the person who emailed this around studies sharks, and was concerned that kids playing with these toys were being taught to hate and fear sharks. The world’s sharks are undergoing a precipitous decline because of destructive fishing practices – for example, hammerhead, white, and thresher sharks have declined 75% over the past 8-15 years. It’s a disaster for beautiful and ecologically critical species.
I really want to believe that this is just a toy and has nothing to do with real sharks, mostly because I want a shark with a laser beam. Of course, I also want to believe that I am a special unique snowflake not influenced by the crude world of advertising, but that’s not true. (Incidentally, subliminal advertising apparently works! Isn’t that terrifying?)
People are just so scared of sharks, while the really scary things in the water are bacterial counts and toxic algal blooms. Maybe Mattel is indeed encouraging the mass killing of the world’s sharks with their mean-shark toy. Maybe they should be required to put a “sharks good!” subliminal message in their commercials. What do you think?