JF Ptak Science Books Post 1497
I do not know the precise date when displaying the death of children was used to sell detergent. There were deep hints of a child's death in a Twilight Zone episode (selling Borax) in the ate 1950's, but in general I think that killing kids on television for story development and entertainment is more an '80's creation than anything else. Children dying in stories on television had been verbotten, a non-starter, for decades; now kids die in Dr. House's hands and all over the rest of that wasteland place and there's barely a wrinkle in the entertainment continuum.
Killing children in literature is entirely different, and of course much older. Given the overwhelmingly and horrible basis of the news reports of the Old Testament, I wonder what the great flood would've looked like on OT TV? After all, it was reported that the creator did away with almost everything on Earth--men, women, and of course every child and baby on the planet, drowned like rats in a bag, but without a bag--kids left to float away from their parents, and then drown, sinking into the cold black sea created by the very thing that created them.
Kids killing things in play is another matter, especially since it is done so for fun. I guess they smote or smitted things for time immemorial, but it wasn't until very recently, and mostly with the invention of the middle class and the creation of disposable income, that killing toys were sold to kids in stores. Toy guns and knives and other implements of destruction at least made whatever the kids were doing a face-to-face activity. When the atomic bomb toys started to appear in the late '40's, killing stuff took on the potential of worldwide destruction. Of course I doubt that any kid playing with these atom bomb toys had an inkling of what it meant to use the weapon in the real world, but the appearance of atomic bomb toys--while not quite yet at the level of Auschwitz board games--is on the revolting side. On the other hand the destruction of entire galaxies has been witnessed by kids in any number of movies and television programs, what with billions of living being killed in the process.
I don't know what the effect is of exposing children to mass killings in the name of grand theft auto, let alone opening apocalyptic floodgates by putting nuclear weapons within their reach. It just isn't right.
Does these things, below, seem appropriate to you? Take for example a simple matter in this detail from a U.S. Patent Office report for game pieces for a board game--the pieces were described; the game wasn't. The inventor, Verne Sellers, provided tanks, artillery, an air power of some sort, a "shield", a general, a few undesignated items, and of course an atom bomb. The atom bomb would make things all right.
And then there is the "Safe, Harmless, Giant Atomic Bomb", which is something that is made to sound so much like nothing that it gives "nothing" a new meaning.
Then this lovely thing, a small and cheap dexterity toy that places atomic destruction in the sphere of a semi-mindless time-killing toy, a real neutralizer to the significance of the thing it portrays:
I can't imagine many people wouldn't feel some sort of sympathy for this gigantic King Kong, who looks up just in time to see the massive nuke falling on his head, personalizing the delivery system of mass destruction:
Total destruction as a game, or game piece; an oxymoronic trivial pursuit.