They pulled it from the shelves, but never from my heart.
There is an art to finding the right gift for someone you care about, especially in these trying times. What can possibly convey convivial holiday cheer while still acknowledging the major depressive episode we are collectively surviving? Well, this dancing cactus doll is certainly trying. At the press of a button, it does a succulent little sway and sings in Polish about how it’s depressed and wants blow. Yes, at this point in the pandemipocalypse, even our toys are sad and craving a little drug-induced euphoria.
The problem with this singing coke cactus is that it’s supposed to be an educational toy because it sings to children in multiple languages. When it was released this summer by a Chinese manufacturer called Emoin, it was marketed as such. None of the marketing mentioned that one of the songs the cactus sings is, “Gdzie jest biały węgorz?” a rap by Polish artist Cypis. The title translates to, “Where is the white eel?” in English, which is appropriate for children in exactly zero ways.
There was a little bit of internet scandal about this sassy Saguaro over the summer after the toy was sold as a children’s toy in markets across Taiwan and was released on Amazon. “It should be stated CLEARLY in the description that there are three songs. One is instrumental. One is Spanish. And the other is a Polish song about cocaine,” wrote an irate Amazon reviewer who said they were sending the toy back. “Who the hell advertises as a toy for children that plays songs about cocaine?!?!?” asked another Amazon user.
These uptight squares are clearly missing the point of the cactus song’s extremely relatable lyrics. “The only thing in my head/Is five grams of cocaine/Fly away alone/To the edge of oblivion/I have thoughts in my head/When will all this end/Whenever I'm not alone/Because a white eel will fly in,” Cypis croons in the song. I ask you: Who among us has not felt this intense despair?
Who among us has not been forced to smile through that despair and dance — on Zoom, no less — through our pain? This perversely ironic stuffed and prickly chanteuse sings for all of us. Unfortunately, Walmart fails to see the uniquely postmodern humor in all of this and is removing the toy from their e-tail site after a Canadian grandmother complained.
"This toy uses swear words and talking about cocaine use," Ania Tanner told CTV News Toronto. "This is not what I ordered for my granddaughter. I just don't want anybody before Christmas to think this is a great toy and go online and have the same thing happen,” said Tanner. I respect the desire of this protective meemaw, but what about the rest of us?
Sadly, this little anthropomorphic beacon of hope is leading to a lot of hub bub and, potentially, legal action. Tanner told CTV that she wants a refund and for Walmart to stop selling the cactus. For its part, Walmart Canada said that it will remove the toy from its site while it looks into Tanner’s complaint, CTV reported.
Does no one see that all this apropos gift item needs is a little rebranding? Just rename it, “Coke-craving Cactus Dancer,” and let’s all put it on our adults-only list for Santa.
Even Cypis doesn’t want his lyrics used this way. “We knew nothing about this. It is a complete surprise for us,” a rep for the rapper told the First News, a Polish news outlet. "Certainly, the [toy] producer would not be allowed to use the song for this purpose,” said the rep, who is clearly a joykill.
The manufacturer told Newsweek in July that it was not aware of customer concerns, according to the outlet. Luckily though, you can still find the toy through third-party sellers on Amazon. This may be the one and only time I applaud the relentless momentum of capitalism. Sure, corporate big boxers like Amazon may totally destroy our lives and the planet, but they will also make sure supply of this googly-eyed icon meets demand this holiday season.