Funny Money

Most people reminisce about sexual encounters, holidays in Spain or the general ‘good old days’. Not me. I apparently reminisce about old cartoons. And if they happen to be really bad straight-to-video releases then so much the better.

Today, seemingly for no reason, I remembered an animated series called Sylvanian Families. Now, Sylvanian Families were primarily a range of crappy doll house-type toys for girls involving various ‘families’ of woodland animals (oddly including bears). I played with my sister’s toys endlessly as a kid and usually made them all have sex in a big pile in the living room of the deluxe cottage. They liked it, the animal slags.

I guess the manufacturers of these toys tried to emulate the successful toy/cartoon partnership done so well by He-Man and the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Sadly, their cartoon was a load of bollocks so it never really got shown on TV and no one ever gave a shit. The wikipedia page doesn’t seem to know whether Sylvanian Families were a line of toys or a cartoon. I guess I’m the only person who knows. Que sera sera.

The one episode of the Sylvanian Families cartoon I can distinctively remember is one in which the Families’ common enemy, ‘Pack Bat’, decides to pull a bank heist. Yeah, hardcore. The kids watching the cartoon must have suddenly felt out of their depth: their happy animated toy-spin-off series about tree-dwelling woodland families had turned into Oceans Eleven.

At some point in the episode it was revealed that the standard unit of currency in the Sylvanian Families world is that of the leaf. That’s right – they use leaves for money.

Not the leaves from some magic tree owned by the Sylvanian bank, mind you. Not the leaves from the only Oak Tree in the Sylvanian Forest. Just leaves. The urban equivalent of this madness is a Londoner giving up on cash and taking up a barter system with a currency of carbon monoxide or pigeons.

And this is what Pack Bat wants to steal from the Sylvanian Bank? I’m pretty sure that at the time of watching it (aged eight) I realized that Pack Bat was a moron and that leaves would never have any financial value in a woodland economy. The Sylvanian Families (and Pack Bat) live in what you might call a Forest Democracy, but I say that they’ve made such a mockery of the concept of money that they might as well just ‘fess up to being communists right now.

I’m reminded now of Star Trek‘s similar attitude to money. Our main Star Trek guys have no need for money: they have replicators so that all of their food and material objects are free and so going to work is either (a) a total waste of their time and symptomatic of an ingrained slave mentality or (b) the result of a desire to improve the world they live in through working hard. They’re communists! They might look like little Utopian Americans going around the vastness of space, policing the galaxy in spandex pants but when you think about it they’re actually communists made good.

When our main Star Trek guys are forced to trade with civilizations who still have money on their home planets, they INVENT money to trade with. It’s hilarious.

“Still working for the old kablingy, eh? Well, no matter. Here is some precious money for you (haha) in the form of Federation Credits. We printed it this morning just for you.”

Why would any business-minded alien accept that crap? Seems to me that Star Trek‘s ‘Federation Credits’ have about the same value as Sylvanian Families‘ ‘Leaves’.

The phrase ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees’ must have never developed in the Sylvanian Forest. Or maybe their insistence on using leaves as currency was originally a response to the old adage. Who knows?

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