Garbage Pail Kids trading cards were a play on the wild popularity of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. They started in 1985 and, at least in my home, with three boys aged 9, 10 and 11, they were a huge hit. They were also banned at their school, giving my 10 year old his first taste of a blackmarket profiteering, as he sold off his duplicate cards to the keeping-up- with-the-jonesing, lower-grade kids at 1000% mark-up.
But the real lesson of this viral meme for me, was the power of transgressive media. Kids loved how annoying and disgusting (albeit mostly harmless) Garbage Pail Kids were to their parents. The process of individuation, especially as they develop through Erikson’s Competence and Fidelity and Piaget’s Concrete and Formal Operational stages, often involves seeking semiotic mileposts that reinforce peer-based and weaken parent-based identity. Gangster rap, Punk Rock, and Rock and Roll all have typified the end of this period of development, that is often begun in the scatological fascination and humor, typified by Garbage Pail kids, in which the process begins for tweens.
So we want to embrace this phenomena in Schmience.