What I love about our new Pop Culture topic is that there’s so much material to choose from! So I’ve been paying attention this week. I’ve been scanning the National Enquirer in the Publix check-out line, I’ve pored over People magazine, I’ve eavesdropped on fourteen-year-old girls (btw, I have NO idea what they were talking about).
And I’ve found that the pictures of Mariah Carey and Courtney Love and their various liposuction successes and/or failures, and Miss Hilton’s antics, and Rosie’s possible mental breakdowns left me little more than profoundly sad. So, if celebrity pop culture has become all about the most embarrassing moment this week, then I think I might just bow out, until, you know, I get all morally outraged and change my mind. I do that.
And then, as I bought a cartoon cedar-sided pool with fake electronic money I’d won answering questions meant for 5-6 year oldo and placed it, carefully, in my cartoon outdoor room bordered by cartoon white-picket fence sections that I’d bought the day before with my fake money, and grew slightly concerned about the Hunger situation of my cartoon Chihuahua Nikki, I realized that my pop culture blog entry was staring me right in the face, with her lovely, beseeching fake brown eyes.
Webkinz! Judging from the responses I got last week when I mentioned it, there are a few of our readers who have no idea what Webkinz are. And really, what is the definition of pop culture but things that make people over a certain age go, “Huh?” Don’t get me wrong, I am most definitely of “a certain age” and nowhere is that more evident than in the Webkinz world, where I miss questions at Quizzy’s like “What is the name of Max and Ruby‘s sister?” and “What kind of animal is Arthur?”
But you don’t get much time to think about things at Quizzy’s. Answer and hit Next or you won’t be able to afford any cartoon food to feed your cartoon animal, and then where will you be? Perhaps contributing to society in a meaningful way? Or maybe writing the book that you’re suddenly under contract for (gonna make you come back for a Sunday News Flash to get the low-down on that one)? Or browsing the National Enquirer looking for pictures that will make you feel better about your own little roll of suspiciously spongy fat that’s taken up residence over your hipbone?
I will say this for the addictive little buggers, if I had children I would immediately buy them one, maybe two, Webkinz. The fact is, I am incredibly impressed by the quality of the educational games, especially the quizzes, which the Ganz people have cunningly made the most lucrative of the activities. If you want a lot of money fast, go test your knowledge and wind up learning at the same time. The quizzes are divided into age-appropriate time limits and categories, and the way the questions are presented, and often repeated within a set, are designed to enhance children’s deductive reasoning skills while mastering the skills necessary for future computer use.
And the quiz parts are just one of the worthy lessons in the Webkinz world. Children can also learn about health and money management simply by taking care of their pet on a daily basis. Pets get sick and you take them to the doctor, where you have to buy medicine. Hope you’ve saved some of that money for an emergency, kid.
If the pet isn’t as healthy as they should be in general, you can buy them things like treadmills, pools, and skateboards (they actually get on/in these things and run/swim/skate) to exercise them and keep them healthy (meters on the screen measure “Happiness,” “Health,” and “Hunger”). And of course you have to buy them food, and decide how much to spend on outfitting them and their various rooms.
All this cleverly disguised as the next “must have” for children. Frankly, I think it’s flipping brilliant. So, parents, go get your children some Webkinz, then supervise their play in an age-appropriate way (young children will need help reading the questions quickly enough), and if you wind up as impressed as I’ve been, don’t thank me.
Just send me the gorilla Webkinz.