Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff

The German newspaper whose website is now a little better organized (but no so well organized, you understand, that I can actually provide a link to the story in question) published what ought to be an interesting tale of changing tastes in toys, “Per Modellbahn aufs Abstellgleis” or, roughly, “By Model Train onto the Siding.” There would even seem to be comparative advantage in such a story, as toy-making is one of Germany’s traditional industries. Or as defenders of the romantic image would have it, handicrafts.

Unfortunately, the author, one Robert Luecke, seizes the opportunity to deliver an implied sermon on how far German society has fallen from the days when, supposedly, kids were real kids, men were real men and so on and annoyingly so forth.

“One-fourth of all toys, estimates Volker Schmid of the Association of Toy Manufacturers, are purchased by [though presumably the author means for] grown-ups. The reason, he says, is a growing unseriousness that is the result of rising prosperity: ‘Our society is increasingly play-oriented.’ Today, he says, no sixty-year-old is laughed at for going around on rollerblades. The infantilization of society is thus helpful for the toy sector.”

Let’s just stop right there. Notice how a rollerblading older adult is immediately equated with infantilization? Nothing about fitness, nothing about better health, nothing about people actually living longer. They’re all a bunch of babies, buying toys.

It’s not completely clear from the grammar whether or not Luecke agrees with the equation of rising prosperity and growing unseriousness. It’s fair to say that it’s not quoted in a disapproving context. So I’m left wondering, would he prefer falling prosperity? With something near 5M unemployed, that’s no idle speculation in Germany. Does the author seriously (you’ll pardon the word) think that serious poverty is a preferable state?

“…just count how many men about age 35 are buying videogames. The women of the same age are falling into a post-girlie behavioral pattern [no kidding, right there in the original German: Post-Girlie-Verhaltensmuster], dressing like teenagers, filling out their lips with silicon to make pouty mouths and talking in the shrill little voices of sixteen-year-olds.”

Hr Luecke, please call Dr Freud. This paragraph reveals entirely too much. I will just make the brief observation that Nick Hornby has made a good literary career on writing about buying records well past the teen years; yet when a later generation keeps buying the products they grew up with, it’s somehow the end of adulthood.

It goes on, on page 9 of today’s dead-tree edition, but it doesn’t actually get any better. Surely, one of Germany’s top two daily newspapers can do better?

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, Culture and tagged , , , by Doug Merrill. Bookmark the permalink.

About Doug Merrill

Freelance journalist based in Tbilisi, following stints in Atlanta, Budapest, Munich, Warsaw and Washington. Worked for a German think tank, discovered it was incompatible with repaying US student loans. Spent two years in financial markets. Bicycled from Vilnius to Tallinn. Climbed highest mountains in two Alpine countries (the easy ones, though). American center-left, with strong yellow dog tendencies. Arrived in the Caucasus two weeks before its latest war.

3 thoughts on “Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff

  1. Surely, one of Germany’s top two daily newspapers can do better?

    The FAZ? Do better, or let’s say be remotely rational when it comes to “twas all better in the olden days”? No way, no chance.

    TABITOD is a political programme. It has been for all of recorded history. And it was never rational. Of course looking for rationality in the FAZ (at least the political and economic parts) is just a very thankless and tedious task nobody in his right mind takes on.

    If you want to read well-argued and coherent conservative thought, the ZEIT and the NZZ are probably your only recourse.

  2. ’Our society is increasingly play-oriented.’

    Well, this isn’t an especially new phenomenon, in fact some even argue it is a defining characteristic of the species. See – eg – Johan Huizinga’s classic Homo Ludens.

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