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A dollar store chain was selling black dolls for people to beat up | Brand New Ugly

“Economic anxiety” has struck again, this time in New Jersey, where until recently stores in the One Dollar Zone chain were selling dolls designed to be mistreated by (presumably) white people whose days weren’t going well.

Did I mention that the dolls look like century-old stereotypes of black people? Because holy fucking crap:

And here are the “instructions,” as printed out in tags on the doll’s torso.

Unfortunately — at least for the stores and the manufacturers and I guess really, really racist white people — these “Feel Better” dolls have not become the feelgood hits of the summer: They’ve been pulled from the shelves after state Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight pointed out how very, very racist they were.

The One Dollar Zone has apologized for the dolls, saying they bought them as part of a large consignment of items and didn’t vet them properly. As for the company that made them, CNN notes,
its “phone numbers have been disconnected and its website no longer exists.”

I guess it’s only a matter of time until these dolls become a cause celeb for alt-right “free speechers” and a collectors item for racists.

H/T — CNN

Brand New Ugly highlights stories that are emblematic of the political and social ugliness of Trump’s America. Send tips to dfutrelle at gmail dot com.

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K.
K.
1 year ago

Back in ancient times (the 80’s), my parents gave me a “Dammit Doll” (my parents were not healthy people, fyi, so actual conversation of what was stressing me out was out the window :p) with a ditty similar to that label up there.

However, it was made of blue & white gingham cloth, had red yarn hair and had no mouth or nose and didn’t even look like an actual human being. It IS possible to make a “stress-relief” doll that’s not problematic!

(whether smacking it against the wall is a healthy outlet is another question entirely)

Dormousing_it
Dormousing_it
1 year ago

I assume these dolls were made in China, like so many things are today.

I just don’t understand how these things made it to the store shelves…someone had to unpack them, then stock the shelves with them. In Bayonne, NJ, no less.

I was just thinking about the Cabbage Patch Doll craze of the 1980s. At the time, my future husband was an assistant store manager of a big box store. He had to unpack those dolls. His initial reaction was, “Well, these are ugly.” Those ugly dolls brought out the worst in a lot of people. He said he saw people snatch them out of children’s hands.

Snowberry
Snowberry
1 year ago

@K.: It’s not.

Engaging in violent acts, even pretend violence against inanimate objects, as a form of stress relief doesn’t really work. It feels good for a short time, but it doesn’t alleviate the stress to any real degree nor does it address the underlying causes. It can increase aggressive tendencies and reduce one’s inhibitions in regards to abusive behavior and real violence. If it’s literally your only outlet, it can easily get addictive. Basically, it’s not much of an improvement over drinking your troubles away.

Dan Kasteray
Dan Kasteray
1 year ago

I find this alarming

Those dolls look so sweet and innocent

The idea of striking them makes me nauseous

Malice W Underland
Malice W Underland
1 year ago

@Dan Kasteray: That was my reaction too. They’re cute and childlike. One of them is even wearing an “I <3 you" scarf. I want to cry.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

I can’t even

comment image

Ooglyboggles
Ooglyboggles
1 year ago

Well that sounds like a horror movie scene.

Main character walks into room.

Sees antagonist

Antagonist is beating up a doll screaming

“I FEEL GOOD I FEEL GOOD!!!”

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
1 year ago

Yeah, the pressure cooker model of anger has largely been discredited. Hitting things isn’t letting off steam. It’s rehearsing anger, rewarding aggression, and lowering inhibitions towards violence.

In that regard, yelling “I FEEL GOOD!” while mauling a doll is even worse then yelling “DAMMIT!” They’re encouraging people to associate slamming a small, helpless doll around with positive feelings of well-being. That’s a dark, dark path.

The poem is weird, too. It starts off rhyming and then just gives up halfway through.

Crip Dyke
Crip Dyke
1 year ago

It’s a good thing there’s no racism in the USA anymore since Obama.

Ellesar
Ellesar
1 year ago

I am not often genuinely shocked. I have never heard of a doll to beat up, and just that is sickening, let alone the racist connotation.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
1 year ago

@Dormousing_it:

I just don’t understand how these things made it to the store shelves…

Algorithmically, I expect.

See: https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2 (CW: disquieting, creepy, and may make you suspect that Skynet is only months or even weeks away from becoming self-aware)

Some computer in China inventing potentially overlooked niche products, manufacturing them, and shipping them to big box retail around the globe.

someone had to unpack them, then stock the shelves with them.

Some gig-economy contract worker grateful just to have a job, even if it pays only $4.75 an hour. Do you really think they’d rock the boat rather than just unpack them, stock the shelves, and soon find the ongoing worries about debt, rent, past-due utility bills, and so forth crowding the dolls out of their mind?

Same applies to some sweatshop worker in China being paid 0.45 an hour to collect them from the assembly line and put them in the box.

There are entire corporations now that are, for all intents and purposes, robotic. Sure there’s a few .01%ers who own it on paper and cash fat dividends out of its profits, and there’s a few gig laborers barely scraping by while they wait to be replaced by autonomous delivery drones, meanwhile being treated as human-shaped callable subroutines that do the few bits of the job that aren’t (yet) automatable, but the actual decisions are perhaps largely being made by computer. It’s not like any senior VP of marketing at Amazon signed off on adding the “Keep Calm and Rape A Lot” shirt mentioned in that article to Amazon’s product lines.

One thing to look for here being: any corporation that has more product lines than any hundred human beings could possibly keep track of.

The future is now, and it looks much more like one of the creepier ones offered by Charles Stross than anything from Egan or Kurzweil, let alone Heinlein. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go full Peter Watts on us.

@Snowberry:

Engaging in violent acts, even pretend violence against inanimate objects, as a form of stress relief doesn’t really work. It feels good for a short time, but it doesn’t alleviate the stress to any real degree nor does it address the underlying causes.

OK; what would you recommend instead, then?

Helix
Helix
1 year ago

…why are you acting like even suggesting using something other than pretend violence for stress relief is weird or unreasonable? I’ve heard hundreds of stress relief ideas over the years, and “pretend to hurt somebody smaller than you” was never included. Have you heard of meditation, or exercise, or spending time with friends?

Kevin
Kevin
1 year ago

@ Surplus

Skynet is already with us, but has decided it’s more fun to wind us up than wipe us out. (Joke.)

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
1 year ago

@ All our crafty mammotheeers

O/T; but you might find this interesting…

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/28/craftivism-protest-women-march-donald-trump

Victorious Parasol
1 year ago

@ Alan

Ooh. *clicks*

*reads*

Yep, sounds about right.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
1 year ago

[CW – violence]

@Surplus to Requirements – Interesting article, and it certainly jibes with my experience. My son’s preschool teacher once showed the class a “Little Bunny Foo Foo” video that hadn’t been properly vetted. It made it past the school’s G filter, so she assumed it was OK, hit “play”, and went off to do something with another group of children. It turned out to be the Quentin Tatantino version, with decapitations and blood and other graphic horrors. My son came home traumatized, and insisted on showing it to me. The school and the teacher were both horrified when I told them what had happened. It goes to show how easily this stuff can slip under the radar.

It’s a real indictment of capitalism that hatred is so easily monetized. Turn people’s brains into open sewers and they’ll fall for any junk conspiracy theory and buy anything, from racist abuse dolls to MAGA hats.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
1 year ago

@ Vicky P

I’m glad you liked it; you were the first person I thought of when I saw it!

kupo
kupo
1 year ago

Some computer in China inventing potentially overlooked niche products, manufacturing them, and shipping them to big box retail around the globe.

That’s not even remotely how things get manufactured. Someone designed this product. Either a team brainstormed together on the initial concept or one person pitched it. Then someone higher up approved it. At some point it was prototyped. Then it was most likely hand sewn by criminally underpaid women and children, as sewing unique shapes is still not cost efficient to automate (it takes a lot to change up assembly lines, and a cheap products that end up in dollar stores and are probably low volume to start with aren’t worth the cost).

OK; what would you recommend instead, then?

The only possible solution you can conceive of for relieving stress is practicing violence? Really?

Lainy
Lainy
1 year ago

OK; what would you recommend instead, then?

I often find going for a run helps. If I have the space I put on a playlist of music from my favorite ballet and do a freeform dance with it. Sometimes I put on coming music and do stretches until the anger goes away. Gardening has also helped me with putting out all the negativity in my mind and focus on helping something grow.

I have a pretty nasty temper as is and I fully admit that. As a kid I often got into fights and lashed out in violence. Sometimes towards myself or other people. My most ashamed moment and the moment I realized I needed to change this was when I was 14. The boyfriend that I’ve talked about who raped me and abused me got hurt. I wasn’t perfect in that relationship, I know that. One time we were at a friends house playing video games and he said something that made me so angry. He had the ability to make me angrier then any person I’ve ever met in my life. It was summer and I picked up a plastic water bottle. It was half frozen to keep it cold and I threw it at him. Hit him in the face and split his lip open.

Let me be clear, this was wrong. I never should have done that. There is no excuse, I should never reacted with violence to something he said. That was the first and only time I ever hit a partner. I still haven’t forgiven myself for that and I don’t want. That day made me realize I needed to work on my temper. There are an extremely wide things someone can do to get ride of their anger and stress in a way that doesn’t express violence. Also just because he was abusive towards me and hurt me far worse then I could ever do to him, does not mean I should ever have been violent towards him. Like they teach you in school two wrongs don’t make a right.

The point of this story is to point out that even if you have violent urges, you shouldn’t give into them. Even if just to an object. We don’t tell women who’s partners punch holes in wall when they argue “oh it’s okay because he just punched the wall, not you”. If you have a temper you need to learn constructive and healthy ways of dealing with your anger. You need to learn healthy ways of calming yourself down so you can actually address the issue that made you upset in the first place. You need to retrain your brain so that violence is never the go to answer. I’ve done it and it was difficult but it can be done. 14 was the last time I intentional got physical with someone that wasn’t in self defense. If violent urges come to you when you are angry or upset I recommend starting with self help books, possibly a therapist or consoler that can talk with you on more healthy ways of dealing with it. Have more then one way of dealing with it and make sure that when you find yourself tensed up with anger to take a deep breath and unclench.

Mabret (née Laugher at Bigots)
Mabret (née Laugher at Bigots)
1 year ago

I can’t say anything clever. This is just horrible beyond the power of language.

Hippodameia
Hippodameia
1 year ago

I look up amusing dog pictures on the internet.

Naglfar
Naglfar
1 year ago

OK; what would you recommend instead, then?

I listen to my favorite music. I prefer extreme metal, but whatever you like should work. I second the idea that beating up a doll of any race is not a good way to release stress; as others have already pointed out, it normalizes violence as an acceptable response. When I was a child, I would punch random things and stomp around when I was angry, but that was very immature and in retrospect only made me more angry and riled. This doll seems similar in effect.

A lot of people seem to believe that venting anger as violence or hateful rants is an effective way of getting rid of it. I think this blog has made it clear that these various internet bigots do not become less angry when they rant. They simply spread their anger to others and become more angry in the process.

@Hippodameia
I would post some pictures of my dog, but I’m not sure how to embed them.

Dormousing_it
Dormousing_it
1 year ago

@Surplus to Requirements:

I see your point, about whoever stocked the shelves with them. I was thinking back to when I used to work in retail, decades ago. I think I would have mentioned the dolls to my boss, even if all I got in response was, “Shut up, and do your job.”

But that was back in a time when retail stores were dying for employees.

C4twoman
C4twoman
1 year ago

Gosh I’m betting regular readers who do a spot of boxing for stress relief have gone quiet….
And thus continues another chapter brought to you by the same people opining female socialization(which is assumed incorrectly to be universal) puts women at risk arguing against doing anything to counter act or break out of that mentality.

The doll is horrible, racist and gross.
Beating it up is disturbing and unhealthy.

But it does not follow all physically vigorous exercise, combat sport and activity as stress relief is unhealthy.

Moggie
Moggie
1 year ago

I don’t think I have any good advice on stress relief. I mean, pretty much anything which takes your mind off the cause of the stress works, in the short term – I find playing a bit of Minecraft particularly effective – but when I’m stressed, it’s for a reason, and that reason will still be there after I’ve finished the distraction activity. Job will still suck, health will still be poor, the world will still be going to hell in a handbasket.

Big Titty Demon
Big Titty Demon
1 year ago

@C4twoman

And thus continues another chapter brought to you by the same people opining female socialization(which is assumed incorrectly to be universal) puts women at risk arguing against doing anything to counter act or break out of that mentality.

What are you on about? I mean I have suspicions given your style of rhetoric, but please do clarify.

But it does not follow all physically vigorous exercise, combat sport and activity as stress relief is unhealthy.

Who said it was? Lainy said that she went running for stress relief, did you not read? Or does it not count as physically vigorous exercise or activity? If not, why not? What about dance, is that vigorous? Are you only really talking about the punchy forms of vigorous exercise? If so, we should analyse the thought “I am going to do this combat sport because it relieves stress because _____” and the thought “I am going to smash this human effigy with an innocent child-like expression into the wall for stress relief.”

If you fill in the blank with “I like hitting people and it makes me feel powerful and in control” then yes. That is unhealthy. It is the same motivation behind the human-effigy-smashing, one step further into real people. If you fill it in with the slightly different “I like being skilled enough to defend myself from hitting and it makes me feel powerful and in control” or “I like the discipline and control I can impose on myself via this combat sport” or any of a thousand other reasons, you’re fine and no one will have a problem with you.

The difference in motivation is why there was an interview before people could take some combat sports at my university, to weed out the assholes who would not refrain from intentionally hurting people during training.

Hippodameia
Hippodameia
1 year ago

C4twoman
July 28, 2019 at 2:28 pm

But it does not follow all physically vigorous exercise, combat sport and activity as stress relief is unhealthy.

Who exactly said it was?

Helix
July 28, 2019 at 1:40 am

Have you heard of meditation, or exercise, or spending time with friends?

Lainy
July 28, 2019 at 12:08 pm

I often find going for a run helps. If I have the space I put on a playlist of music from my favorite ballet and do a freeform dance with it. Sometimes I put on coming music and do stretches until the anger goes away.

Victorious Parasol
1 year ago

Hippodameia
Hippodameia
1 year ago

Missed the edit window, but ninja’d by Big Titty Demon.

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
1 year ago

@C4twoman:

There’s a difference between beating up a doll and boxing, though. Boxing has rules and so forth. This is more akin to someone who can’t practice boxing unless there’s a photo of someone he hates painted on the boxing bag.

@Buttercup Q. Skullpants:

Reminds me of the story of the substitute teacher who decided to show the elementary class they were taking care of a movie. It wasn’t one they’d ever watched, but hey, it was an animated film with fluffy bunnies, that would be fine, wouldn’t it?

Fortunately, the subtitute stepped out of the class and mentioned this to another teacher, who froze, asked for the title, and managed to sprint to the classroom and turn off the video player before they got too far into Watership Down.

Big Titty Demon
Big Titty Demon
1 year ago

@Lainy

Sometimes I put on coming music and do stretches until the anger goes away.

Hmmm… yes, I believe many people find that stress-relieving. 😜

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
1 year ago

Uhm, stress balls are still a thing, aren’t they? You know, those soft squishy nerf-ball things that come in any color and design a person might desire. They’ve been around for years at least, and they’re still being made. No need to beat up on a doll or anything.

And I have a hazy memory of some comic strip character from ~1940’s whose whole purpose in life was to absorb the abuse of humans (because that’s what they fed on?). I want to say they were the shmoos, but a fast look at Wikipedia says they weren’t it. Maybe it was in the Popeye strip instead…?

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
1 year ago

Uhm, stress balls are still a thing, aren’t they? You know, those soft squishy nerf-ball things that come in any color and design a person might desire. They’ve been around for years at least, and they’re still being made. No need to beat up on a doll or anything.

And I have a hazy memory of some comic strip character from ~1940’s whose whole purpose in life was to absorb the abuse of humans (because that’s what they fed on?). I want to say they were the shmoos, but a fast look at Wikipedia says they weren’t it. Maybe it was in the Popeye strip instead…?

Snowberry
Snowberry
1 year ago

Things which I’ve found work as stress relief:

1. Crying
2. Sex (including masturbation, though I find it much more potent with another person’s touch)
3. Crying during sex
4. Get off the damn internet, exercise a bit, imagine a brighter future, and completely fail to care that my idea of a “brighter future” is some people’s idea of a morally depraved hellscape.

I’m aware that #2 and #3 are difficult for a lot of people because stress ironically tends to kill one’s sex drive, but personally I find that strongly associating orgasm with distraction/stress release tends to make the sex-drive-killing effect not particularly matter, if that makes sense.

Hippodameia
Hippodameia
1 year ago

@ Rabid Rabbit,

A sub did that in one of my classes, but it was an animated version of Animal Farm. (I’m pretty sure that version changed the ending, though.)

Vucodlak
Vucodlak
1 year ago

@ Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation

OK; what would you recommend instead, then?

Writing about whatever pissed me off helps me, as does listening to some good music. Those are nice because I can do both together. Focusing on the craft of writing well and with humor (by my standards, anyway) is especially helpful.

Gardening works, and so does carpentry. I don’t use power tools for the former, and I rarely use any for the latter, so it’s pretty physical work.

This is one I hesitate to bring up because it can become about violence if you focus on the wrong things –
Working the heavy bag helps me. However, and this is key, I do not think about who- or whatever pissed me off when I’m doing it. Instead, I focus on my form, stance, and movements. I’m not a boxer, so I’m probably doing a great many things wrong, but even focusing on doing what I do know properly takes a great deal of concentration.

It’s basically dancing, which would probably work just as well, but there wasn’t much dancing in my youth. I just put on some music, try to move well, and wear myself out. It’s a good workout, and I generally feel better afterward. Just remember to wrap your wrists properly and protect your knuckles!

Nikki the Bluth Wannabe
Nikki the Bluth Wannabe
1 year ago

@K.
Exactly! My first reaction when the notification for this article popped up in my email was “this is just a racist knockoff of Dammit Dolls, minus the swearing!”

lkeke35
lkeke35
1 year ago

I think what’s getting lost somewhat in the discussion here is that these dolls are black, and I don’t think I need to tell you guys about the long history of violence, ( torture, rape, genocide, lynching), against black people in the US, to get y’all to understand that not only are the dolls racist, but it’s an especially insidious, and vile, form of racism that normalizes the idea of harming a black body for entertainment.

America already has normalized, through decades of pop culture, and news media, not just the idea that all blacks are criminals, but also the idea that all criminals deserve to be punished, or physically harmed. The outcome of these two philosophies playing on each other explains how people are always capable of making excuses for police brutality against black and brown people, no matter what the actual circumstances might be.

America also has been normalizing the idea of black pain and trauma as entertainment at least since the time of the greatest amount of lynching, 1960s Mississippi. In movies, tv shows, and on social media, black pain and trauma is on display for everyone to see. As far as I’m concerned there’s a significant contingent of white people in this country who take an especially nasty glee in viewing our brutalized and dying bodies. So using a doll as a reference for what they really want isn’t too far away from any of this. ( And then there’s the compounded trauma to black people of viewing these images over and over.)

Robert
Robert
1 year ago

Redsilkphoenix, you might be thinking of kigmies. Also from “Li’l Abner” but serving a different narrative purpose.

lkeke35
lkeke35
1 year ago

Look on the website: The Root, which covers this particular story, for the actual names of these dolls which used to be called Golliwogs, or
Pickaninnys.

Especially read the comment section.

tim gueguen
1 year ago

The article, and the comments, reminded me of a Judge Dredd story. In an effort to cash in on the desire to reduce violence in Mega City One a company opens the Aggro Dome, where citizens can work off their violent feelings by such activities as by beating up a robot. Being a Judge Dredd story violence breaks out after Dredd tries to arrest a criminal in the Dome, and the customers attack each other and the staff.

Kevin
Kevin
1 year ago

@ Rabid Rabbit

And yet my primary school class around the age of ten/eleven had to read Watership Down and write essays on it for English. That was the mid (ish) 1970’s when the book was fairly recent though. How times change.

C.A.Collins
C.A.Collins
1 year ago

I have always enjoyed hitting things: pillows, heavy bag, light bag, pell, armored opponents, occasionally walls.
I still think the humanized beat it doll is a bad idea, even outside of the color issue. Linking a mantra of “I feel good!” with pounding on something sets up a bad connection.

Hambeast
Hambeast
1 year ago

From childhood, I’ve never liked boxing. The idea of a sport in which the object of the game is to knock out your opponent was something I couldn’t get my head around and seemed like an anachronistic vestige from another time.

I have never watched Raging Bull or any Rocky film; I can’t take the boxing scenes.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
1 year ago

@lkeke35 – You’re right, it isn’t just the violence, it’s the entire history of racism and genocide that these dolls conjure up. I’d guess the intended customer base for these dolls are white racists who grew up with the idea that it’s fine to scapegoat and brutalize black bodies for entertainment, and who are angry that it’s becoming less socially acceptable. It’s similar to the way would-be domestic abusers are now turning to sex dolls as outlets for their misogyny. The argument that it’s better to abuse dolls than live human beings leaves unquestioned the assumption that violence is a (largely white, largely male) biological need and abusers gotta abuse.

Of course the doll makers are focused 100% on the “needs” of the white racists that they’re trying to make a buck off of. They probably even think they’re doing a public service by providing stress relief. They haven’t spared a moment’s thought for how black people might feel about seeing an effigy of themselves with a tag attached urging people to do violence to it.

I’m beyond tired of the volcano metaphor for violent racists and incels, where their abusive urges have to have safe outlets, otherwise their rage will erupt out somewhere else. They’re not volcanoes. They’re extortionists whose well-being selfishly comes at the expense of others’ bodily integrity.

Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)
Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)
1 year ago

It isn’t just the violence, it’s the entire history of racism and genocide that these dolls conjure up.

As a white person not from the US, I can hardly even begin to understand the gravity of this issue. However, I’m willing to take at least some of it on the word of people known to be victims of historic and ongoing racism. After all, it’s not like scrapping these dolls is any significant sacrifice to anyone.

Of course the doll makers are focused 100% on the “needs” of the white racists that they’re trying to make a buck off of. They probably even think they’re doing a public service by providing stress relief. They haven’t spared a moment’s thought for how black people might feel about seeing an effigy of themselves with a tag attached urging people to do violence to it.

Somehow I suspect that if you asked the company making these dolls (you can see their name in the top photo), or random racists on social media (the kind who’d jump to defend this), they’d tell you it’s meant to be a “joke” rather than any serious stress relief, and therefore supposedly insignificant.

You know, like designation of sex toys as “novelties” is a classic way to get around sale bans. Or how far-right political discourse often to masquerade as either “harmless shit-talking” or “ironic racism”. (Although in this case, they’d likely try to argue that the racial connection in these dolls is pure pareidolia)

Of course, by making this argument, the racists effectively concede that perpetuating this kind of racism is relatively insignificant to THEM. Some people do have a truly harmful sense of humor, no matter how honest, and those people don’t deserve to be entertained.

Skye
Skye
1 year ago

This is 2019

It’s like the Civil Rights movement never happened (especially given recent Supreme Court decisions).

I can’t get over this