A Blessay by Michael Stahl
A recent Newsweek article about falling levels of creative aptitude in American children over the course of the past two decades is incredibly alarming if one subscribes to the thought that there is a correlation between a person’s creative ability and their chances of constructing a thriving life of productivity. E. Paul Torrance did and he was dubbed “The Father of Creativity.” Torrance was able to whip up a series of tests that have become the “gold standard in creativity assessment,” which are still used today. Scores have been decreasing, after holding steady for thirty years, which likely comes with little surprise to even the most casual of pop culture observers, who have watched sitcoms dematerialize into reality television and Hollywood produce countless unoriginal movies either based on already-published works of literature or previous films. In the first week of 2012, Jersey Shore unleashed their fifth season on the universe with promises of more “crazy” antics and nine of the top ten grossing films in America are either film versions of another’s written work or a sequel, with the lone exception, The Darkest Hour, having “a flatlining screenplay and [an] absence of even a single compelling character.” (Perhaps the next winter solstice will bring a more favorable “spiritual transformation;” the doom and gloom is already here.) However, a subtler trend has also emerged that further exploits a lack of priority placed on creativity and it lies in the recent advertising campaigns for one of the nation’s most beloved toys: LEGO bricks.
Currently, LEGO heavily promotes their play sets, which come with pieces more intricate than ever before and instructions that are similar to those for IKEA furniture.
The advanced LEGO technology has made it difficult for children to create their own unique toys because the pieces included in the sets are specifically designed for kids to construct the model on the front of the box, with the directions also stifling independent thought on the part of the builder. Furthermore, the commercials barely have the presence of a child at all. Faceless fast-motion hands put together a toy that resembles something kids have recently seen in a movie or a cartoon that miraculously comes to life on its own. Capitalistic cross-promotion is at work here, creating a greater disconnect between the builder and the authenticity of what they have assembled.