A Florida mother is upset that Toys ‘R’ Us has action figures from the Emmy Award-winning TV show, Breaking Bad. CNN reports that Susan Schrivjer posted a petition on Change.org to have the figures removed from the shelves, because they’re inappropriate for children.
The specific problem is not that the figures represent characters from a show where a high school chemistry teacher turns to making and selling crystal meth to help his family after getting diagnosed with lung cancer. The problem is that these figures—particularly the figure of Walter White as his gun-toting alter-ego, Heisenberg—have accessories like little bags of “meth” and money. Schrivjer believes that this is inappropriate, and doesn’t mesh with Toys ‘R’ Us’ “family friendly values.”
Schrivjer, going by the name Susan Myers on Change.org, said, in her petition:
“Toys R Us is well known around the world for their vast selection of toys for children of all ages. However their decision to sell a Breaking Bad doll, complete with a detachable sack of cash and a bag of meth, alongside children’s toys is a dangerous deviation from their family friendly values. That’s why I’m calling on Toys R Us to immediately stop selling the Breaking Bad doll collection in their stores and on their website.“ [emphasis original]
She went on to say that parents and grandparents who shop in Toys ‘R’ Us shouldn’t have to explain why there are toys celebrating violence and drugs to children. Here’s a question, though: Why shouldn’t parents explain that to their children? Why not use it as a way to ease into discussing drugs and violence with their children?
This news apparently sat strangely with Breaking Bad’s lead actor, Bryan Cranston. He took to Twitter in what CNN called a joking manner, saying:
Well, gee. You know you’ve really done something when you get the attention of an Emmy Award-winning actor, and you’re just an everyday mom. Anybody who’s ever seen an interview with Cranston might be able to deduce whether Heisenberg’s portrayer is, in fact, joking. But, perhaps not. It’s hard to tell.
It’s true that Breaking Bad is not a suitable show for children, and neither are these figures. However, CNN also reports that Toys ‘R’ Us says the action figures are in the adult action figure section, and are specifically labeled as being for ages 15 and up.
What other violent toys does Toys ‘R’ Us carry, though? They sell Grand Theft Auto, a rather violent video game focused on, yep, stealing cars. They carry many other violent video games, too. They’ve also come under fire for selling a Dexter action figure that was complete with bloody gloves and hacksaw. In 2010, parents expressed outrage over that, saying that the figure was inappropriate for children. While that particular action figure is no longer on the shelves, other figures and even a board game based on the show are.
So what’s the difference between all that, and Breaking Bad? Likely the drugs and money, since Toys ‘R’ Us carries lots of other action figures with little guns, and that’s never really been a problem. Toys ‘R’ Us may yet pull these particular figures from their shelves, depending on how much pressure they get. But, like Dexter, depending on how popular the figures are, it’s not likely that Toys ‘R’ Us would stop selling merchandise from Breaking Bad altogether. Perhaps Schrivjer could use this as a teaching opportunity for her own children, since she herself is a Breaking Bad fan.