So I was thinking about Happy Meal commercials the other day (I was hungry) when I decided to look up some of the Happy Meal commercials from my childhood.
I started thinking about all of the cool happy meal toys and the movies that were made in the late 90s and early 00s and the straight up capitalist revenue engine that I grew up in. Seriously, there was a good movie out four times a year, and between McDonald’s, TV, and the movies there was no way of escaping the mass of content that was targeted to children. Every children’s character put out by a movie studio is engineered for maximum cuteness, which translates to easy marketing and easier consumption. There is something about these toys and stories that distracts us from what we’re eating and what we’re driving, or even how our bills are going to get paid. Whether it’s Mickey Mouse or a Minion, these symbols make for a great discussion about material culture and desire.
What makes these objects so desirable? Is it the promise of pocket sized fun? Or is it the promise of happiness?
In my search I found a cool website where a web user curates all of the happy meal toy information for cataloging purposes. The idea is that the catalog will help people who collect the toys keep a record of what they have and don’t have. In some ways, it’s the same idea about collecting that’s discussed in the collector. Without getting to deep into the psyche of each individual collector, collecting this type of object is more than likely for reasons of nostalgia and some sort of cultural appeasement (seeking happiness, etc.). We usually don’t think about desire when it comes to collection because we pass desire off as a momentary inclination, something in the same vein as whimsy.
I collect Swatch Watches. I don’t think this is whimsical at all, and while some people think it’s strange that I collect swatches, I disagree. Like the art collector, my swatch collection is as priceless as the Louvre (although I’m sure an art collector could be bought out). When I see a new watch that catches my attention I have to have it. My desire is motivated by a kind of art project mentality. Each Swatch I own is an individual part of a greater collection, chosen from among the other works of art that are sold.
What do you think? Do you collect anything? What are your feelings on desire when you relate it to the things that you collect?