Sample Press Release: Big Hugs Elmo ‘Most Wanted’ Toy for Holiday 2013

Written for course JOMC 711: Writing for Digital Media, at UNC Chapel Hill

Elmo is back as one of top 20 hottest toys of the 2013 holiday season, according to

Seventeen years after Tickle Me Elmo redefined the hot holiday toy, Sesame Street’s beloved red monster is poised to conquer sales yet again., “the number one source for all things play” has listed Playskool’s new Big Hugs Elmo on its 2013 Most Wanted List.

The site has been publishing its Most Wanted lists since 2009 and makes its selections based on thousands of reviews from its editorial staff. The 2013 list was announced at the site’s annual Holiday Showcase. At this event, representatives from over 50 companies including toy manufacturers and retailers showed off their wares in anticipation of crucial fourth quarter sales. It was hosted by’s CEO and editor-in-chief Jim Silver, content director Chris Byrne (aka The Toy Guy®) and senior editor Laurie Leahey.

“Retailers are already offering major incentives to motivate consumers to shop early this holiday season,” said Silver. “Last year, consumers took advantage of early layaway programs and sales didn’t pick up again until Thanksgiving weekend. This year, retailers have already initiated aggressive deals and programs to get shoppers buying early and often.”

Big Hugs Elmo’s Big Features

“Big Hugs Elmo is so cute,” says its review. “This toy does so many different things and really engages kids in lots of interactive and imaginative play with a favorite character.”

Big Hugs Elmo is designed to respond to movement. When you give Big Hugs Elmo a hug, he moves his arms to “return” the hug. At the same time, he moves his mouth and either says a phrase like “I love you like a big monster hug!” or sings a sweet hug-themed song. There’s more to this Elmo than just hugs, however:

  • Pretend with Elmo

When you press his left foot, you begin one of four “activities” meant to stimulate imaginative play. For example, he might say “Let’s play horses!” This is your signal to bounce Elmo up and down like he’s riding a horse; he responds to the specific movement with giggles and “clippety-clop” sounds.The other activities include playing astronauts, frogs and rabbits.

  • Sing and Dance with Elmo

Elmo could also say “Move to the beat” when you press his left foot, prompting you to make him dance while he sings one of three songs.

  • Nap Time

Like any good monster, Elmo knows when it’s nap time: lay Elmo down flat and he’ll sing a lullaby and makes snoring noises before finally going into sleep mode.

Big Hugs Elmo has also appeared on several other “top toy” lists, including Walmart’s “Chosen by Kids” list,Toy Insider’s Hot 20, Target’s Top Toys 2013 and the Toys ‘R’ Us Fabulous 15. It may not reach the same customer-trampling level of demand as its Tickle Me predecessor, but Big Hugs Elmo should certainly make a big splash this holiday season.

Both Hasbro and recommend Big Hugs Elmo for ages 18 months and over.

Horror Movies: The Presentation of the Human Body in Holocaust Films

Winner of the 2005 Joseph S. Kalina Prize at Syracuse University

It is not easy to watch a Holocaust film. It is disturbing, even traumatic, to see so many people endure the tortures of the ghettos and the concentration camps. And even though the pain of the victims and the grief of the survivors are not really happening to us, it is not enough to say “it’s only a movie.” It is a movie, but a movie can mean so much. In Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others, she brings attention to the fact that during the aftermath of 9/11, the gruesome occurrences of that day were often recounted by witnesses as “like a movie.” This is proof that, since WWII, both the near-elimination of domestic warfare and the cementation of cinema in popular culture have caused the Western—or American, anyway—concept of extreme suffering to largely be shaped by film depiction instead of by flesh-and-blood experience. Several hundred times more war movies have been produced in the last fifty years than actual wars waged. Even the wars that have been fought have been experienced by millions more through television broadcasts than on the front lines. As audiences, we have learned to rely on cinematic imagery and sound to arouse the raw emotions provoked by hatred and by violence inside of us.