Excerpt from Consuming Kids by Susan Linn, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Consuming Kids

The Hostile Takeover of Childhood

by Susan Linn

Consuming Kids
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2004, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2005, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


The escalation of graphic violence in movies and television, for example, has occurred in part simply because the technology became available—just as the invention of the scroll saw enabled all that curlicue furniture of the Victorian era. It is now possible to graphically recreate a disembowelment or melt an eyeball on the screen—and so we do.

When the Reagan Administration deregulated advertising on children's television in 1984, programs could be created for the purpose of selling children toys. Within a year of deregulation, all ten of the bestselling toys were linked to media programs. Meanwhile, laws that might prevent the formation of media conglomerations grow ever more lax, and today, megacompanies such as Viacom, Disney, or Time Warner are likely to own several television stations, radio stations, Internet service providers, theme parks, record companies, and/or publishing houses—all of which cross-advertise each other as well as food, toys, books, clothing, and accessories. A few giant corporations control much of what children eat, drink, wear, read, and play with each day.

Through endorsements and licensing agreements, cartoon characters, pop singers, sports heroes, and movie stars are now icons for junk food, toys, clothing, and every imaginable accessory. There's also the fast-growing phenomenon of product placement: embedding product ads as plot points, scenery, or props within the content of movies and TV programs.

Marketing to children is not limited to electronic media; even traditional venues for spreading what used to be legitimately called popular culture—word of mouth, for instance—have been co-opted by corporations. Corporations engage in "guerrilla" marketing: ads and posters now get plastered on buildings and bus stops in a kind of corporate graffiti. There's also "viral" marketing, a term originally used to describe what happens when marketers invade Internet chat rooms and pose as ordinary kids to promote their products. Viral marketing also applies to the practice of handing out free samples of products such as CDs, for instance, to kids identified by other kids as "cool." Marketing companies actually comb neighborhoods to find what they refer to as trendsetters, knowing that when a trendsetter uses a product, other kids will want to use it. Of course, there have always been trendsetters—what's new is that they don't have to create a new look or discover a new band themselves. Now, adults may do much of the creating for them, paying the kids to set the trends.

What my colleague, psychologist Allen Kanner, first dubbed "the commercialization of childhood" got a boost from the political climate of the 1980s, which saw the beginning of a steady erosion of government support for public institutions and a glorification of the marketplace as the solution to and/or a model for solving social ills. Corporate support, however, usually comes with a price. Sometimes entire public and nonprofit institutions sell naming rights to corporations. If your child has had trouble in school, he or she might attend a Burger King Academy. Children who used to delight in Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum now visit the Please Touch Museum Presented by McDonald's. Also common are social campaigns born of odd marriages, such as the American Library Association's partnership with the World Wrestling Federation (now called World Wrestling Entertainment) to promote literacy.

Public schools, particularly, were urged by the Reagan administration to look to corporate America for rescue. Historically, public school budgets tend to increase over the years because of rising student populations, although recent years seem to be the exception. In any case, a large portion of any budget increase is designated to cover specific government-mandated programs from special education to competency-based testing. School administrators therefore routinely cite inadequate funding for general operations as justification for buying into such corporate intrusions in education as sponsored newscasts beamed into classrooms and a host of other marketing schemes that exploit our mandatory schooling laws. No wonder Consumer Union called their wonderful treatise on commercialism in schools Captive Kids!

From Consuming Kids by Susan Linn, pages 1-10. Copyright Susan Linn 2004. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher, The New Press.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood

    A memorable coming-of-age tale about loyalty, defiance, and the power of love.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach

    "An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut." - Kirkus, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.