Come With Me If You Want to... Be Tickled!

It might be a little late in the game to post a video of the new Tickle Me Elmo; after all, there's already been a brandishing of a gun at a Target in Tampa, Fl., by a disgruntled shopper who couldn't get one of these puppies -- or whatever Elmo is. (He's some kind of Muppet, right?) But all the same I wanted to post this video because, quite frankly, it's hilarious.

This isn't your everyday Tickle Me Elmo. That one just shook when you pressed his tummy. And that's, like, so 10 years ago. This is the Tickle Me Elmo TMX, a name that almost alludes to some sort of model of Terminator, made to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the original Tickle Me Elmo. The TMX, besides shaking, bends over, slaps its knee, rolls around on the floor, picks himself up, and does it all over again. (Is it also programmed to hunt down the mother and son of the future human resistance of the future cyborg war?) Apparently Elmo has only now caught on to the gullibility of America's children to temper-tantrum their way into buying whatever crappy toy comes pre-packaged as the year's "It" toy. What else could throw an animatronic Muppet into such a hysterical frenzy?

But while I think the toy is a scam -- a tenth anniversary Tickle Me Elmo? C'mon, he's not Barbie! -- I do find the video of this little monster in action hi-larious. It's like watching Elmo as an old man. I mean, who slaps their knees when they laugh anymore? Did he just come out of a Harold Lloyd movie or what? So thank goodness for Internet video for allowing me to revel in this joy without having to go into a store and fighting little old ladies and Wal-Rats just to see it work. Oh, and watching the video from the comfort of home also prevents me from getting shot by irate customers unable to purchase a TMX to quell the hurricane tirade of their spoiled toddler.

It's unbelievable that this toy has come out now, in September, and is already selling out in anticipation of the holiday shopping season. How? The Tickle Me Elmo is a 10 year old idea. Is this some weird cash-in on the retro-izing of the original Tickle Me Elmo? VH1 already has an "I Love 1996 Part Deux"! If it is a retro cash grab, that's an awfully poor statement on the state of our national consciousness that 10 years ago, and a toy that was stupid even then, is being commemorated.

I don't think that's the case, as appealing as it is to think it and complain about it. No, it's all about the benjamins. (Hey, didn't that song come out in 1996, too?) All the TMX is is a cheap return to the same well marketed as a breakthrough in toy manufacturing. Instead of reinventing the Elmo, why won't toy manufacturers get on making lightsabers that really work? Or Transformers that transform on their own? Or, I don't know, something new?

It's a sad day when toys become as mindless, redundant, and repetitive as so much of the rest of pop culture, like movies, television, and theater. The TMX is like a big budget sequel that took way too long to make and can't live up to the the trailer, or in-action video in this case.