Skip to content

“I’m Not A Monster, I’m A Mummy” A Moving Message To The Makers Of Moshi Monsters

May 7, 2013

This is a guest post by Victoria Wright.

My 2 year old daughter has just started nursery. Recently when I went to pick her up, a little boy aged 3 or 4 years old came up to me and started asking me questions about my facial disfigurement.

“Why is your chin big?”

“Because I was born with a poorly face sweetheart. But it doesn’t hurt and there’s no need to be scared of me because I’m a nice person”

“Why are your eyes big?”

“Because I was born with a poorly face darling. Have you met my daughter yet?”

A confused look flashed across his face.

“Like a monster?”

“No sweetheart, I’m not a monster. I’m a mummy”

He walked off and I continued to get my daughter ready to go home.

What the little boy said was with complete innocence. He was not being insensitive. He was not being cruel. I could see in his face that he was just trying to understand why Emmy’s mummy looks strange and the only way he could do this was by linking me to some ‘monsters’ he’d probably seen in books or cartoons.

Or perhaps as toys?

A few days later I was chatting to a friend with a disfigurement who is also a mum to a little girl and I told her what had happened.  She told me about a range of children’s toys called Moshi Monsters and said there were some characters who clearly had facial disfigurements. She wondered if that was where the little boy had picked up the idea that I was like a ‘monster’.

I assumed from the name ‘Moshi’ that they were probably made by a Japanese company. That evening, I googled Moshi Monsters and this is what I discovered.

The company that make them are called Mind Candy. They’re not Japanese, they’re British. They have made nearly a quarter of a billion pounds from Moshi Monsters.

 

According to Wikipedia:


“Mind Candy created the online world of Moshi Monsters, which has over 75 million users around the world and has expanded offline into best selling toys, the number one selling kids magazine in the UK, a best selling DS video game, top 5 music album which has gone gold in the UK, books, membership cards, trading cards and much more. In July 2011, Mind Candy was valued at $200 million.”

 

Basically, Moshi Monsters are an online game for children and young people with a huge range of merchandising. Stores including John Lewis and Argos sell Moshi Monsters in the UK.

There are apparently dozens of different Moshi Monster characters. But I’ve found that at least 3 have what would be considered in the ‘real world’ to be ‘disfigurements’ and they’re from a sub-range called the Glumps.

There’s about 12 Glumps in total but there are 3 in particular that have ‘disfigurements’ – Bruiser, Pirate Pong and Freakface. They are the bad guys in the Moshi Monster world – like Bond villains for kids!

 

Bruiser has a facial scar. Bruiser


This is what the Moshi Monsters website says about Bruiser:

‘Cheer up Bruiser, you look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. What’s that you have? Oh dear, it’s probably because you can’t help causing mayhem with your Scarface Smashes and Scowling ScrimScrams.’

Pirate Pong has a missing eye and wears an eyepatch. Piratepong

 

 

‘Poo, what’s that smell? Oh, it’s Pirate Pong, the stinkiest Glump in town. Capable of clearing a room in seconds with a Stinky Winky Squint, this pongy pirate reeks of rotten fish and hot trash, so keep your distance.’

Freakface has a droopy right eye and dribbles. Freakface


‘This greenish globbish Glump must have graduated with honours from the School of Drool because it can’t stop dribbling. Not that manners matter because Freakface is a master of the Burbling Gurgling Gobstopper. Yeew, slimy!’

Now compare them to a Moshi Monster called Poppet and spot the difference. poppet

 

To paraphrase a woman who tweeted me in response to my blog, you look at Moshi Monsters like Poppet and think ‘Nah, nothing wrong with them!’ Then you look at the Glumps listed above and think ‘hmmmmm…’.

 

According to the official Moshi Monsters website, there was a ‘Name that Glump’ contest in 2011.

Presumably the people who won the naming competition were mostly children and young people. But the person listed as naming Glump No 12 as Freakface is listed as ‘Mr Moshi’. I looked on the website and found that Michael Acton Smith, the founder of Mind Candy and the creator of Moshi Monsters, is AKA Mr Moshi and so it was he who came up with the delightful name of Freakface for a children’s toy.

I doubt that Mind Candy who invented Moshi Monsters purposely sat in the boardroom one day, doing a bit of creative mind mapping, and thought ‘hey! Let’s invent some characters with facial disfigurements and make them the bad guys!’ They probably just thought coming up with monsters with strange faces, including one with an eye patch, one with a facial scar, and one with a droopy eye and dribbling mouth called Freakface, was funny and would appeal to the kids. To give them the benefit of the doubt, I’m sure it’s an ‘awareness’ thing rather than intended to cause offense.

According to the parents sections of the website, “The three core elements at the heart of Moshi Monsters are FUN, EDUCATION and SAFETY”.  I would like to know how creating 3 characters with disfigurements, calling one of them Freakface and aiming these toys at children fits into their ‘education’ element.

The bullying of children with facial disfigurements is a very serious matter. I realise that Moshi Monsters are just toys and seem pretty innocuous. But if a child with a disfigurement attends a school where children are playing a popular online game featuring a character called Freakface, how long do you think it will be till that kid gets a new nickname?

I don’t blame the little boy for what he said to me. I have no way of knowing if he plays with Moshi Monsters and I realise that ‘monsters’ with strange, wonky faces crop up throughout children’s literature, animated films and so on.

But I do think the makers of Moshi Monsters have a responsibility for the impression their toys can have on young children.  Creating toys which clearly perpetuate damaging myths about facial disfigurement – that having an unusual face means you’re baddie, a monster, a ‘Freakface’ – was a misjudgement.

As I said to the little boy last week, “I’m not a monster – I’m a mummy”.

Since writing this blog, I have tweeted the CEO of Mind Candy who has responded by saying “Sorry if any offend. That’s not the intent”. I’m sure that was the case but I’m hoping that my blog has at least made him aware that toys like Bruiser, Pirate Pong and Freakface can have an impact on how young children think and treat people with facial disfigurements. I hope that Mind Candy will take this into consideration when they design their future toys.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Black Metal Valkyrie permalink
    May 29, 2015 7:11 am

    If this game is giving any “education” its on how to bully and Other people with disabilities. As if society doesn’t indoctrinate people in hating people who are different enough.

  2. October 15, 2017 3:27 pm

    Thank You for bringing this to my attention. I will try and bring awareness to it also.

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: