Saturday, April 22, 2006
Aggressive promotion of an acquisitive, consumerist culture among television viewers, children in particular —‘Must have', ‘I want it now'—Mantras of instant gratification supported by merchandising without mercy. Someone describes what now obtains in America as “the corporate seduction of kids”. Take Pokemon for example. For the life of me I couldn't understand why these ugly little things were so popular among children. Then I studied the marketing strategy and the way everything was bundled and interrelated and I did get it. Television was one just one part of the overall mix. There were the trading cards, the branded clothes, the little ‘Pokemon people', websites, chat room, newsletters and the list goes on and on. Originating in Asia , this product took the children market by storm. But Pokemon on television in Sweden didn't end with the standard jingle and clever extortion to kids, “Gotta catch ‘em all.” That was deemed to be stealth advertising, being used to push the Pokemon playing cards and was therefore banned.
We've all seen the mayhem in toy stores and supermarkets when parents refuse to acquiesce to the pressures from their children to purchase products seen on TV. While the United States is big on child abuse and anti-corporal punishment, we in the Caribbean tend to be more lax. So we have children being bashed around and brutally beaten for wanting the very things which television tells them they ‘must have'.
[Is this horrendous or what?]
This double standard and mixed messages are confusing for children and harmful to their health. In the same way they told that they must have the toys, video games etc. being advertised, children are also told they must have the food and the caffeine laced sodas in order to be ‘cool'. The world is now faced with an epidemic of obesity and television advertising has come in for a fair share of the blame. For American children the obesity rate for 6 to 12 year olds has tripled over the past thirty years, moving from 5 to 16%. While unable to source the current figure, twenty years ago approximately 20% of girls in the 10 to 19 years age range in Barbados were already obese. Today the figure is likely to be higher although this island has pretty much managed to keep out American fast food chains. But for how long? Not long, if Barbados intends to remain in WTO where the fundamental philosophy is market liberalization.
• Sex sells, and underage sex sells even more.
In Jamaica we hear of school girls exchanging sexual favours for money so that they can buy the latest ‘bling' things that they see paraded by young girls like themselves in music videos and on TV in general. The clothes, the hairstyles, the jewellery all fall in the category of ‘must have' for many teenage boys and girls. The kinds of behaviours they see in television advertising and on music videos, which I argue have now become largely soft pornography programmes and virtual infomercials for fashion designers, are fast becoming ‘must do' behaviours. A supplier of Jamaican programmes to cable television in New York once told me that he didn't need to market pornography because he had the Jamaican dancehall music videos. Many music videos positively position sex alongside cigarette smoking and drinking alcohol. Research conducted in 1994 found that almost 26% of MTV videos contained smoking, while 20% of the 500 different music videos selected at random from four TV networks showed drinking. In one third (1/3) of the cases alcohol use occurred in conjunction with sexual behaviour.
What do these statements tell us? The adolescents believe that music videos give them the OK to have sex, after all everybody they see in these videos are ‘doing it', furthermore the videos encourage unprotected sex since as one girls pointed out, you hardly ever hear a video talking about use a condom. Interestingly, even the young ones in the 10 to 12 years age range mentioned the ways in which music videos are beginning to promote homosexuality.
Shoving homosexuality down's girls throats is more like it.
We hear girls blaming the way men behave on what they see and hear in the music videos. And we hear boys blaming the increased sexual activity among girls as a consequence of what these girls see portrayed in the videos. One really bright and eloquent older adolescent boy told me that in his attempts to court a girl he presented himself as someone very driven. Her response was that rather than a man who is ‘driven', she prefers a man who drives. So a hard working man is no longer an attractive option, rather it's men like those in the videos that girls aspire to catch; The ones with the fancy, fast cars, the bling and the ‘bitches'—that's how women are referred to in many of the rap/hip-hop songs.
The ugly minds of liberals/pro-homosexuality people.