Activist Protests War Toy Link : Fast Challenges Violence on TV

Times Staff Writer

Captain Power has had a lot of success in his children’s TV battles with the evil Lord Dread. But now he has a new foe--Santa Monica peace activist Jerry Rubin.

Rubin, who is not related to the ex-yippie of the same name, announced Sunday at the Universal Studios Tour that he has begun a 43-day fast to protest Captain Power and other television programs that feature violent characters that are also sold as toys.

He chose to protest at Universal because Sunday was the final day of a “Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future” exhibit that has run throughout the Christmas season. He said Captain Power is the most violent program on television with 130 acts of violence per hour.

Seeks Ban on Toy Weapons

“I think that it is very important now that the holiday season is over that we remember the negative impact war toys have on children,” Rubin said. “Through shows like Captain Power, thousands of children have been exposed to the myth that violence can solve our differences.”

Rubin said he is asking for a ban of the manufacture of toy weapons, which he says is a $4.1-billion-a-year industry. He also wants the Federal Communication Commission to outlaw children’s television shows that are tied to toys.


“Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future” is a futuristic space fantasy in which Captain Power fights Lord Dread’s plans to take over the universe. It combines both live action and animation.

Rubin is particularly upset by a device that can be attached to a television set that allows children who are viewing the show to join Captain Power in shooting Lord Dread’s soldiers.

“They call it interactive TV,” Rubin said. “What we need is interactive parents.”

Rubin, a local leader in the anti-nuclear group Alliance for Survival, is no newcomer to the war toy controversy.

Steamroller Protest

He helped organize a West Los Angeles protest in November where hundreds of war toys were crushed by a steamroller. Rubin staged a 50-day hunger strike last year to protest the manufacture of the game “Laser Tag” after a Rancho Cucamonga teen-ager was shot to death by a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy when the youth pointed one of the game’s realistic-looking guns at the officer.

Rubin was convicted of battery in 1980 for hitting physicist Edward Teller--the “Father of the Hydrogen Bomb"--in the face with a cream pie during a Teller speech at UCLA.

The Universal tour was doing brisk business Sunday, with the people lined up to enter intrigued more by the television news cameras covering Rubin’s news conference than they were by his message.

Children at the park who are familiar with Captain Power said they see nothing wrong with the program.

Rione Gifford, an 8-year-old visitor from New York City, said Captain Power teaches him the difference between good and evil.

“Captain Power is a good guy,” Rione said. “Dread is the one who is violent.”

‘Not . . . Just Cartoons’

But Rione’s mother, Ann Atherley, said she is disturbed because her son often acts out the battles he sees on many children’s shows, not just Captain Power. She said she tries to limit Rione’s viewing.

“I think TV as a whole is too violent and it’s not limited to just cartoons. . . . Children don’t understand that what they are seeing is fantasy, not the real world,” Atherley said. A Universal employee said the studio would have no comment on Rubin’s protest as its public relations department is closed Sundays.