I heard a delightful talk yesterday by Michael Levine, a wonderful man and an important innovator in educational media technologies for young children. One thing he spoke about was the great power of characters that children love. This power can actually be measured — and is. For example, at one point in his talk he reported:
“Elmo when paired with broccoli beats a neutral character when paired with chocolate.”
I found this to be a particularly powerful statement in what it says about how much children like Elmo. Particularly given that I really, really don’t like Elmo. Of course I’m not the target demographic here. I was talking to a colleague after the talk, and she and I agreed that, much as we both love chocolate, our version of it might be:
“A neutral character when paired with broccoli beats Elmo when paired with chocolate.”
I love this entire analogical approach to things, and I wonder how far you can take this way of thinking. Does Darth Vader when paired with Oreo cookies beat Han Solo when paired with stinky tofu?
Does Josef Stalin when paired with Princess Leia beat Mahatma Gandhi when paired with Jar Jar Binks? These are difficult questions, not to be decided lightly.
And of course, the question that just had to be asked: Does Paris Hilton when paired with the 1975 Cincinatti Reds beat the Buddha when paired with the 1962 Mets?
Guess that might depend on whether you’re a baseball fan.