As an award winning journalist and father who has yet to win an award in either category, I am often asked my opinion on a variety of important and pressing topics that are in the daily headlines.
“So where do you stand on the Lego controversy?” my wife asked me one night at dinner.
Not wanting to blurt out an opinion without sufficient consideration, I responded as I usually do: “Huh?”
“The Lego controversy,” she explained. “The Lego toy company has introduced a line of pink and purple lego pieces with female characters specifically designed for girls. Some people think it excessively plays into dumbed down stereotypes. What do you think?”
I think I am walking into a Lego minefield . . .
For those unfamiliar with Legos, let me give a brief tutorial.
The Lego toy brick is the fundamental gene of all Lego creation. It is a small, hard cube with a female receptacle on one face and a male part just opposite. The Lego bio-chemistry enables children adept in genetic engineering to create colorful Lego life forms that often resemble White Castle Restaurants. It also encourages the insidious bricks to mate and reproduce faster than sex-starved gerbils on Spring Break in Cancun.
In the periodic table, element Lego is next to Kryptonite, which means it cannot be destroyed. Ever. This explains why we never see Superman, or Supergirl for that matter, playing with Legos. But while the tiny Lego atomic particles will survive the collapse of the universe, the genetic structures they spawn follow the law of entropy—they lose order over time. This means that no matter how Legos are sequenced, they will ultimately disintegrate into the elemental Lego brick. And in the Lego ecosystem, life starts and ends in the carpet.
Like many families, over the years we have endured serious Lego population explosions in our house. The genetic building blocks are everywhere. When the laundry emerges from the dryer, so do the Legos. When the disposal grinds to stop, breaking a blade and flinging uneaten oatmeal and soggy bread crust all over the ceiling, you can be sure that a Lego piece will be lodged, unharmed, within the motor. There were days when the Lego pieces magically swarmed together in fanciful structures, but most of the time the sharp-cornered Lego pieces were strewn on the carpet awaiting the end of the time. And my bare feet.
But I have endured Legos because my kids love them. To this day, it is not unusual for my children to be absorbed hours on end constructing elaborate Lego sculptures that will a day later lay in ruins on the floor. They never tire in their labors, and their imagination is boundless. And my daughter builds contentedly right alongside her brothers.
I thought more deeply about the significance of pink Legos specifically designed for little girls.
I recalled that a recent scientific study found that the male chromosome is evolving much faster than experts previously thought. It seems that while the male Y chromosome has far fewer genes than the female X chromosome, it contains elements of DNA that can easily separate and reassemble to create complex genetic structures.
Being a gene-challenged man, I don’t really understand what this means, but I think it could be somehow related to male-oriented Lego marketing practices.
Then I recalled an incident several years ago. My son had yelled excitedly to me from the basement, “Dad, Dad. Come see what I built!” I expected to see a retooled Ninja Transformer or a Star Wars Battle Tricycle. Instead, he had constructed a three-foot high mausoleum, completely enclosed on all sides with neatly arranged rows of white, green and red bricks. Except for the in-layed pieces that spelled out “R.I.P.” across the front, the structure resembled the Florence Duomo.
My son was beaming. “I call it Amantalado!” he exclaimed. I was amazed at the creation, and I couldn’t believe that he was able to build something so elaborately massive in such a short amount of time. “Did your sister help you build this?” I asked.
“Sure,” he replied. “She is inside!”
At least now, with the newly introduced Legos for girls, she could lock him deep within the dungeon of a pink and purple Lego Princess castle of her own creation.
“So what do you think?” my wife asked me again, anxiously pressing me for my opinion on the Legos for girls controversy.
“I think it’s a toy,” I said resolutely.
After all, I am an award winning journalist and father who has yet to win an award in either category.