How Teddy Ruxpin Subliminally Taught Me the Generation Y Trait of Being Motivated By Happiness, Not Money

Whether you are motivated more by wealth or happiness, it’s still a pursuit.  No guarantees for either one.

Maybe Teddy Ruxpin is the reason why today I prefer vests over neckties. Back in the Eighties, all my friends would put their fingers and pencils and crayons in their Teddy Ruxpin doll’s mouth when he talked- but my mom wouldn’t let me do that to mine because she said it would mess up his mouth. She was right. My Teddy Ruxpin worked fine for years and years after my friends’ Teddy Ruxpins ultimately broke down for good. Since Kindergarten (1986) I have been having brief flashbacks of this live-action puppet after-school special of The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin I saw once where he and Grubby fly in an airship to find a hidden treasure and get captured by mud people.

Recently, some hero posted the one hour made-for-TV movie on YouTube. I watched it all the way through. Teddy Ruxpin and his friends discover a room full of golden treasures but choose instead to take only these crystal necklaces with words like “truth”, “honesty”, and “bravery” on them. Because “these things are the real treasures”. Right. Of course.  Then the bad guys take the real treasure (gold), but because their attitudes were wrong, the tresure vanishes into thin air once they touch it.

Golden treasures are typically a let-down in movies and TV shows, for the most part at least. From what I remember about most “treasure hunt” movies, the heroes ends up choosing some kind of abstract moral principle over the actual golden treasure, which is actually a trap or illusion for the villain. The only semi-exception I know of is the movie Without a Paddle. They get the moral treasure (which in this case was “life itself”) and also $100,000 cash, which the two richer friends give to the poorer friend.

Usually I am pretty quick to pick up on recycled plots, but it’s taken me until just recently to realize this one about “the real treasure”.  Interestingly, in my research about Generation Y (people born from 1982 and 2001), I learned that one of their main characteristics is that “being happy” is their main motivational drive, not money or wealth, as is the case with many of the older generations.  I would have to believe it was this common “love/life/joy is better than gold” theme in entertainment during the Eighties and Nineties that has something to do with the way Generation Y is wired.  Though I was born in 1981, I was still born close enough to the generational switch that I admit my main motivation in life is happiness, not material wealth.  And maybe that’s dangerous- because for some people, finding financial success could actually be easier than finding perceived happiness.

“The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”  –John Milton

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