Jewish World Review
August 22, 2000 / 21 Menachem-Av, 5760
Death Row Marv
DEATH ROW MARV is sitting on my desk, strapped to an electric chair,
staring at me. This "toy," marketed for kids ages 13 years old and up, came
from a local comic book store. It's a half-foot-tall replica of a violent
character created by surly graphic artist Frank Miller.
I feel sick just looking at this prison-gray chunk of plastic. And I
haven't even installed the batteries. These are the times that make you
long for the good old days of Cabbage Patch Kids and Betsy Wetsy dolls.
Death Row Marv can move his neck, shoulders, waist and wrists. He comes
with "the chair, wired helmet, floorboards and electrocuting switch." For
$23.95, you, too, can purchase the "deluxe box set" and share the cheap
thrill of executing a murderer: "Feel the burn as the electric buzz fills
the room and he starts to shake and convulse," an ad promotion for Death
Row Marv beckons. "Experience the pain as the shaking continues and his
eyes start to glow bright red. Enjoy the torment as he utters his famous
last words, 'Is that the best you can do, you pansies?' "
American kids squeal with delight when they encounter Death Row Marv in toy
stores. Todd McFarlane, an action figure entrepreneur based in Arizona,
rolled out the macabre novelty item earlier this summer. According to one
newspaper account, 65,000 Marv dolls have been produced and sold in the
U.S. There are waiting lists across the country.
McFarlane says the toy is "cool." Lighten up, Marv fans tell their
critics. I am not interested in seeing Marv toys or comic books banned by
government, and of course it is parents' responsibility to monitor what
their children buy and read. But have we grown so accustomed to bloodlust
marketed as youthful entertainment that nothing is beyond the bounds of
| The perfect toy?
The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children is one of the few
groups that has objected to Death Row Marv. "Is this the type of toy we
want our children playing with?," the group asked in a recent alert. "What
will they come up with next - a rape doll, complete with bottles of
'blood'? How about an incest doll? Why isn't murder just as disgusting as
these two examples?"
Death penalty supporters should be just as sickened by Marv as death
penalty opponents. The power of the State to punish is both its greatest
and worst power of all. Mockery of that power is mockery of the
administration of justice – and it is all too common.
In suburban Maryland, there's an arcade ride called "The Original Shocker"
that simulates the electric chair, down to the morbid detail of smoke
rising from the top of the rider's head. In Texas, the state Department of
Criminal Justice posts final meal requests on the Internet for readers'
amusement: "2 double meat cheeseburgers (all the way with mayo and
mustard), fries, fried chicken (well done), chocolate cake, onion rings, a
pint of vanilla ice cream, and a six pack of Sprite," one entry on the
voyeuristic site reads.
JWR columnist George Will notes that "(c)apital punishment, like
the rest of the criminal justice system, is a government program, so
skepticism is in order." So, also, is a sense of sobriety and
self-restraint. The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children
has a simple request: "If you are as disgusted with McFarlane Toys as we
are, and wish to let them know that murder is not entertainment, you can
contact them at: Todd McFarlane Productions, P.O. Box 27228, Tempe,
Help put market pressure on manufacturers to pull the plug on tasteless
humor for profit. It's not soft on crime to be tough on those who treat
the death penalty as a
JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate