Sunday, April 25, 2010

LightBoy vs. The Cruel, Cruel World

Vic Tokai, Inc. produced a number of memorable games for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System back in the late 1980's.  The company also produced the LightBoy, one of the many gadgets designed to throw light on the Nintendo GameBoy's muddy black-and-green LCD screen.

And to promote it, they ran this magazine ad, rife with dysfunctional symbolism:

You see, our hero's family is falling apart.  Without the LightBoy -- that small, battery-powered piece of plastic that focuses and settles his jangled nerves -- he would have to face the encroaching darkness that surrounds him.  The illustration makes that much clear.

His parents are on an endless road to nowhere.  His mother, bereft of dreams, mercilessly harangues his father as he tries to navigate the rush-hour traffic, fighting the urge to drive off the road, through the guard railing and into a nearby ravine.  His dull, weary eyes are reflected in the rear-view mirror, as if to say, "I am tired.  Tired of the stress, the money troubles, the fighting.  So kill me now, highway gods.  And kill this woman.  Kill my entire family if you have to.  Just make it stop."

His older brother sits disinterested in the back seat, looking listlessly out the window, trying to ignore the ongoing conflict in the front.  He blows a transparent pink bubble.  But is it really bubble gum?  It seems too transparent.  Too neat, somehow.  Extended consideration reveals that the older boy is a mule, an innocent drug smuggler, his stomach heavy-laden with its cargo of cocaine.  You know what they call it on the street:   Blow.

And our hero sits in the very back of the family's station wagon.  The football that his dad might have thrown for him to catch once upon a time, before the booze and the skanky other women, sits lonely and forgotten.  The boy's delicate features, caught somewhere in the twilight between male and female, between Brad Pitt and Sandy Duncan, hint at the confusion that tears endlessly at his formative soul.  For he is a hermaphrodite, and his ignorant, uptight parents are so embarrassed and ashamed that they force him to ride in the back, without a seatbelt, ensuring he will be the first one through the windshield if something goes wrong.

The LightBoy is his only friend.  It shuts out the rest of the world, the cruel, real world that force-feeds his nightmares and haunts his futile daydreams.

But, as the ad ominously intones at the very top, he can't stay in the dark forever.

Vic Tokai weeps for him.

1 comment:

  1. My God, that was hilarious!
    The evil look the mom is giving the dad is priceless. As is the kid sitting the back with no seat belt (something we used to do in the 70's...and we are still here to talk about it)