Angry Birds have eclipsed their tipping point.
The phrase, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, means “the moment of critical mass” or when the object of human interest goes from the marginal to the mainstream.
Have no doubt that these Angry Birds have launched themselves into the consciousness of the developing world. (Holy crap, I just uncovered a cinematic trailer!) The simple game, produced for $100,000 by a small Finnish company called Rovio, involves six different types of birds being launched by slingshot into shaky or sturdy fortresses of the pigs who stole the birds’ eggs. You get points for slaughtering the pigs and mass destruction. There are many levels and themes, from cowboy pigs to urban nighttime pigs, there’s a free version, a new seasons version, and an advanced for-pay version. And now comes the tipping point: merchandising. Stuffed birds with their trademark angry eyebrows and their angry squawking, Facebook pages, and the tell-tale sign that the craze is on the decline—because once a craze goes mainstream it’s already dying—a family of four clad in a family of Angry Bird t-shirts.
To be clear, we never put our kids in matching outfits(except Halloween—which is our parental right for another year or two), Wife and I never wore matching cardigans, and we have no tattoos that complete us. But Wife bought the shirts and we donned them in the most obnoxious venue possible: Six Flags Great America. Oh yeah, and we wore them with as much genuine pride as hipster irony, a contradiction that cannot co-exist so the pride won out. At least 12 different people, different genders, race, ages, and roller coast preferences, complimented them. I’m sure there was double that number mocking us.
The Birds tipped into our lives from a 2010 NY Times article. I tried it, downloaded it, and now suffer my five-year-old’s daily demand. We play live versions now, in snow forts, where I’m the big fat bird and the kids are pigs, or in the living room, constructing crude Lego shelters protecting piggy banks. It is that rare game—simple enough to play, challenging enough to keep playing—that appeals to multiple generations, from the cashier at the diner playing on her iPad to the group of four kids huddled over a phone as parents make nice dinnertime talk.
And now it’s dead. I reckon there’s only a month left in those t-shirts before we start getting egged, or bombarded by pieces of raw pork.