One of the perks of working on the editorial staff for the Echo Press is getting to write about whatever I want in this column once a month. But lately, I've had a really tough time coming up with column ideas.
If you don't know, I have a weekly entertainment column in the Lifestyle section called "QuaranTV." The sports editor, Eric Morken, typically lets me write a sports column if I ask. My bosses have a lot of trust in me to write columns, but when you write so many, your ideas run dry. Then came along state-rep Mary Franson, who put the ball on the tee for me.
On Mar. 9, her letter to the editor, which was part of her weekly legislative update, was published on our website demonizing "the woke Left" for canceling Dr. Suess and Mr. Potato Head. Her letter stated, "Our children need to play with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and read Dr. Seuss without interruption from the woke Left. Can we go ahead and cancel cancel culture already?"
While I do think cancel culture tends to get carried away at times, there's a huge problem with her message. Cancel culture isn't responsible for this.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises pulled the six books from publication on its own without pushback from the public. Hasbro announced it was releasing a new playset this fall without assigned gender roles to let kids create their own potatoes while still keeping the traditional set of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads. Both decisions were made internally and without the mass uproar of people fighting for social justice.
I'm at the point where I do not care if people are upset with brands becoming more inclusive. I think society is moving in the right direction. People can either get on board or get left behind. Either is fine by me. But Franson's letter is a cause for concern because she didn't care to do a simple Google search for either of these decisions. Instead, she wrote about the issue based on her own assumptions.
As a person she was elected to represent, I find this utterly embarrassing. Her letter was sit-com material. Elected officials are supposed to represent the people they serve, not just the people who voted for them. I have a hard time believing the discontinuation of Dr. Seuss books and potato toys are a genuine concern in Douglas County.
I find people's anger towards brand inclusivity fascinating. Grown adults are whining like children about books that aren't made for them. Are you guys winding down every night reading "The Cat in the Hat?" When you get out of work, are you eager to pick up your potatoes and play house?
If you weren't aware, there are other children's books and toys that aren't racially insensitive. You can even read other Dr. Seuss books that are still being printed. You can still put the mustache and top hat on your potato and call him a man while you eat your Gerber dinner at your high chair. How ironic is it that the people upset by toys are the ones who call people like me a snowflake? Grow up.
I find the rage over change to old children's products reminiscent of how kids act. When you're a kid, you have a bin full of toys that rarely get touched until you have a playdate with kids in your elementary class and they start playing with your old toys. Suddenly, you want to play with that toy. The point is, nobody cared about Mr. Potato Head until Hasbro played with the concept.
If you want to get mad about it, that's fine. I can't stop you. If you're going to write an opinion piece condemning worldwide companies for not being racist and becoming more inclusive, that's also fine. Just please do your research. A Google search won't kill you.
“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.