I am chewing on a couple of more serious and thoughtful posts, but in the mean time I can’t resist wondering aloud why a critical marketing need isn’t being met.
After spending hours watching my 3-year-grandson level up through Angry Birds Original, Space, Seasons, Rio, and Star Wars (not to mention Bad Piggies) on his daddy’s iPad, devouring endless EvanTubeHD videos in which a young boy with either something nasty on the toy manufacturers or the most overindulgent parents in the world opens and reviews every variation of Angry Birds toy ever made, and lining up said toys across my coffee table and naming each one reverently, I am left with two reactions:
1. Whoever invented this stuff is fricking brilliant. Whether in an animated video game or with physical toys, Angry Birds takes what comes naturally to children (OK, to all of us)—setting stuff up and knocking it down and setting it up again—and gives it a backstory. The oldest backstory of all, actually: Good v Evil. In the world of Angry Birds, it’s the birds who are good and the pigs who are evil. When I asked my grandson about the root of this enmity (“Why are the birds so angry?”), he gave me the youngest version of a “Duh!” look I have ever seen, and answered, “Because the pigs keep taking their stuff.”
2. Why in the name of Rovio and Hasbro has no one come up with Angry Birds Biblical?
It would seem to be a “Duh!” proposition, especially now that The History Channel’s dramatized treatment of The Bible is pulling unprecedented ratings—not to mention making my head spin like Linda Blair’s when I hear “sneak peeks of this week’s Bible episode, featuring the birth of Jesus!” promoted on Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood in between news of Kim Kardashian’s Vampire Facelift and Michelle Obama’s latest “surprise” media appearance (was I the only one expecting to see her walk out between those red-velvet Vatican drapes a couple of weeks ago and announce “Habemus papam”?), and with exactly the same level of PR gush.
If the Easter Bunny is going to be filling my grandson’s basket with Angry Birds toys anyway, wouldn’t it be great if they could be Bible-based characters and scenarios? I mean, what do the Angry Birds use to launch themselves against the Bad Piggies, after all, but a tricked-out version of David’s shepherd-boy slingshot? And the Angry Birds toys, despite their high price and supposed diversity of plotlines, all feature the same neutral-colored blocks in a 4-pillars-and-an-arch construction module that could as easily grace the Holy Land-scape as Hoth or Tatooine.
The Bible is full of scenes and characters that would fit easily into the Angry Birds format. (And there’s the added fillip that Levitically-speaking, swine are Bad Piggies indeed.) Can’t you see it? David Yellow Bird (tiny but mighty) against giant Goliath Pig? Jesus Blue Bird (whose Trinitarian nature is revealed in the Blue Bird’s three-in-oneness) driving a legion of Demon Piggies over a Gerasene cliff? Joshua Black Bomb Bird leading his armies to topple a Jenga Piggy Jericho, with extra points for rescuing Exclusive Pink Bird Rahab before the walls come tumbling down? Judith Green Bird neatly decapitating General Holofernes Pig (not so gory, since the pigs are all head anyway) before boomeranging back to the Israelite city? St Michael the Super Red Bird Archangel defeating the Seven-Headed Pig Beast (Revelation set comes complete with Four Piggy Horsemen of the Apocalypse and a Piggy Ho of Babylon)?
When I shared my enthusiasm with my son, he had his doubts. “Doesn’t the Bible teach peace?” he asked. (35 years of Bad Catechesis began at home, apparently. . .) “People might be offended by associating religion with all this violence.”
Oh, son. Even if it were not true that “the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent bear it away” (Matthew 11:12), you take the Gospel to where people are. And no preschooler has ever been a pacifist. Jesus himself said (sorta), “I did not come to bring peace, but a slingshot.”
“They could call them Righteously Angry Birds,” I replied.
The more I think about it (and put off thinking about those chewy and challenging other posts), the more I’m convinced this could be exactly what The New Evangelization is looking for. It could end the rivalry for #1 between the two most frequently downloaded apps, Angry Birds and the Bible, by combining them, like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of catechesis. It could give overindulgent grandparents like me a chance to slip a little Scriptural nutrition into the Christmas and Easter (not to mention Hanukkah and Purim) festivities, like putting vegetables in cupcakes.
From my mouth to Hasbro’s ear.