Monday, February 02, 2009

Baby Mohammed's Cuddly Jihad...? Nah!

Remember back in the 1980s when everyone was aghast at "secret Satanic messages" hidden in rock music and whatnot? Well, there's a lady in Indiana who's currently aghast about "secret Islamic messages" hidden in her children's dolls and video games. You see, Rachel Jones heard this stock baby coo emanating from both a Baby Cuddle & Coo doll and a copy of the Nintendo DS game Baby Pals and has come to believe that's an insidious pro-Islam message meant to tear down the fabric of our society. Who would have thought that Mattel and Crave* were fronts for a shadowy Islamic organization? Presumably no one that isn't excitable.

Go ahead, listen to the clip without reading what Jones thinks it says. I guarantee you'll just hear a bunch of gibberish.

On the other hand, once you have it in your head that the unintelligible baby babble is actual saying "Islam is the light", you'll probably hear that too. This, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly the same way those silly "EVP" ghost tapes work. When you hear something that's hard to understand (or even just plain random) you'll naturally tend to try to make it sound like something, and if you have a suggestion as to what it ought to say then that's what you'll hear. Why do you think EVP shows always have the "ghost voices" subtitled? It's because without guiding the listener into hearing a certain thing, lots of folks wouldn't hear much of anything at all.

Think of it this way: Have you ever misheard a song lyric? Every time you listen to the song you "hear" what you think it says, but then one day you read the actual lyrics that came with the album and suddenly you can "hear" the correct words. It's magic! No, wait, it's just your expectations coloring your reactions to an ambiguous stimulus.

Oh, one last thing: If you watch the video clip in the sidebar of the news story in the first link, you'll see Mrs. Jones voicing her concerns about how she has to check out everything she gives her children (One would think you'd do that anyway...) and then hear the narrator solemnly intone that "[Baby Pals] received an E rating". But, even if the baby was telling everyone how awesome Islam is, why wouldn't it get an E rating? Overtly religious Christian games like The Bible Game and Revelations: The Demon-Slayer get E ratings all the freakin' time, and the second one is actually kind of violent. So why wouldn't an otherwise completely wholesome game with a throw-away line about how cool Islam is get the same treatment? Maybe because reactionary, conspiracy-minded Mid-Western housewives are scared of Muslims..?

*Crave has published such insidious games a Crayola Coloring Adventure and Defendin' DePenguin.

No comments: