Monthly Archives: September 2012

Oddly specific Job Trends in Films

I know this deviates from my main topic of media’s effect on children, but this article was too good to pass up. It also falls nicely into place with the SCWAMP style that we’ve been discussing in class.

Image

This Cracked article goes deeply into how films portray 30-something white males and females by analyzing job trends. Specifically, that “Creative, Handsome and Funny Guys Are Architects”. Women are also only given 3 jobs in movies, “Something Vaguely Related to Journalism”, “Something Vaguely Related to Wearing Lots of Pantsuits”, and “Founder and Often Sole Employee of a Cute Specialty Shop (Mostly Bakeries)”.

The author of the article says that these story lines are regurgitated again and again with very little deviation.And as we were discussing in class, the women featured usually need only the love of a man to make their pathetic lives better.

I clearly need to re-watch some of these films. I liked most of the ones that were mentioned and it makes me wonder… do I really want what those movies are selling? Perhaps.

(In case the link doesn’t work, here’s the address to the article. It’s very well written and worth the read. http://www.cracked.com/blog/3-bizarrely-specific-job-trends-in-movies/)

Clicked-On Kids

During the video we watched in class, Killing Us Softly 3, we learned that no one is immune to the reach of advertisements.

That got me thinking… what about kids? Adults are clearly targeted because we have money to spend, but what are kids shown?

I went to children’s TV network Nickelodeon to get some answers. Their ad site clearly states how they feel about ads targeted at kids.

“As sites catering to kids, Nick and Nick Jr. Playtime have additional, more stringent requirements concerning advertising. Young children must be informed when they click on an ad and are redirected to advertising content, even if they never leave the site.”

Awesome! Keeping kids from ad bombardment! What a novel plan! The site says that a 10 second bumper will appear onto the screen whenever a child clicks on an ad.

It looks like this:Image

Now I was able to read when I was 4, but in preschool, I would not have been able to comprehend this message if it was only up for 10 seconds. So I tried it out.

I first went to http://www.NickJr.kids.us where there were no ads whatsoever. It was all counting and music games and I played a couple to see if any ads would leap out. Nope. Ad-free.

My next trip was to http://www.NickJr.com, a site also created for preschoolers. As soon as the page opened, an automatic video player started playing a 30 second K-Mart commercial. After that one was over, it automatically started playing another one, this time for a Kenmore Washing Machine.

At the same time, during the first 15 seconds, an ad at the top of the screen for Thomas the Tank Engine’s Blue Mountain Mystery DVD expanded without my prompt and a moving Flash image began to push the giant blue train in my face. Simultaneously, a game called Dora’s supermarket Bingo began to move in the main part of the page with a small sign reading “Brought to you by V8 V-Fusion.”

All this took place within about 60 seconds. Where is the informative ad bumper? I didn’t see one so I explored.

I clicked on “Kids” and finally saw an ad bumper. But it was text only with a gray background; not the colorful image above. Right below it was an ad for some kind of pain reliever, but it was only up for about 5 seconds, not the promised 10 and then it was gone.

In the kids page, as loud carnival-like music played and a young girl’s voice prompted me to “Click on my friends (Dora, Blues Clues and the like) and play games.” The top of the screen had a bar marked as an ad for an UmiZoomi Firetruck Rescue. Clicking on it did not result in another ad bumper, but did prompt a 30 second video ad for Green Giant featuring a young boy playing basketball with his dad and eating green beans.

I played the game and noticed that the same ad space was now occupied by this ad:Image

Ooh, Dora loves her friends? Yes, please!!! I clicked on it and found the same gray warning, but this time it told me that I was leaving the site. Again, it was only up for 5 seconds.
Image

The link took me directly to the iTunes store and heaven help the parent that may still have their account open because the child could pick, click, pay and have hours of entertainment downloaded before a parent even realized what was happening.

I plan to elaborate on targeting children with ads, but suffice it to say that I do not believe Nickelodeon’s marketing site one bit. Kids are clearly their next target and one way or another, they’ll get the money they want.

It’s like taking candy from a baby.

Off to Canada!

“If John Kerry wins this election, I’m moving to Canada!”

Image

These were the words of a 16 year-old repeating something that was heard at church and  a few times on the right-leaning news channel FOX News back in 2004.

Forget the fact that she was still living at home and a move to Canada was highly improbable. That was the statement that she heard and it’s what she repeated.

Journalism should allow viewers of any age to objectively view an event and then make their own decisions about it. How many people do you know that repeat something verbatim that they heard on the news or read in an opinion column? Probably more than you realize. Keep an open ear and hear what people are saying. Ask where they got that information. Ask them to think about it.

Because that’s what journalists should do: hand out the facts and ask people to think for themselves. We have a very powerful tool that’s being bandied about right now. Are we informing or brainwashing?

Oh, that girl that was moving to Canada? That was me. And I didn’t go anywhere. I don’t plan to, either.

Image

You look fine

As one of five girls, you don’t have to tell me how to get ready in the morning. It’s a procedure that takes more planning than a Camp David Summit… but there’s more arguing. Our matching blue uniforms would be laid out the previous night but that did little to keep doom at bay. In the morning, we each reached for the wrong dress, tried to do our hair by stealing another sister’s comb, got all our barrettes mixed up, found a run in our stockings and much more. And this was just school. Sunday mornings were a fresh hell indeed. Take the frustration of a school morning and multiply it by 20 and, voila! Ready for church.

After all that terror, my philosophy now falls a little to the left of shirt, pants and shoes. And I don’t care if they match. But I know that my attitude towards fashion is not shared by most.

Most young girls, influenced by the media, go through much the same routine that I once did. However, they take measures to the extreme because their goal is not simply to look pretty, it’s to look like an adult.

Body augmentation, liposuction, hair extensions, tighter clothes, smaller clothes, higher heels, skinny waists, these are all desired in order to achieve perfection. Their deeds are only rewarded when they catch the attention of a man.

But it doesn’t end there. Men are recently coming under more pressure to fit a certain perfection to attract girls.

I recently found this video where not only is a woman objectified by her breasts, a man is objectified to the point where he is no longer a person. He’s just a head of hair. This is a horrible advertisement, but it’s almost something we now expect from Axe. The same way we expect sexism from Carl’s Jr. It doesn’t make it right… but as long as we’re aware, we can be above the bar.

Carefully Taught

ImageWhen I was a child, I was taught to tie my shoes. I was taught to leave a party cleaner than when I arrived. I was taught to say Yes, Sir and Yes Ma’am. The kid at the wedding yesterday was taught that it is okay to point at me and say, “She’s black. That means she’s cool.”

Most people would take that as a compliment, but as I am half Black and half White, I don’t like to choose sides, nor do I like being told that one races is “better” than the other. I shouldn’t have felt bullied, but I did.

 

In my last post, I mentioned that children are sponges. Every snide comment and stereotypical aside that was made by a parent gets added to an internal list that could be repeated at any time. But they learned it from their parents who learned it from their parents who learned it from…. I’m going to exhaust myself.

A character in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, South Pacific had a problem with inter-racial marriage. He blames his upbringing on how he was taught. This is no different than my statement that children naturally soak up these ideas. Even if someone doesn’t think that they are teaching, it’s happening. You don’t realize that you’ve been teaching anything until you take ’em out into public and check their report card.

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!”

-Lt.Cable, South Pacific

Riding in Cars With Boys

Everything I need to know about teenagers, I learned during a six-hour van ride across California. I was tasked with taking four 14-year-old boys to a military camp 330 miles down Hwy 5. I thought that a 6am start would mean they would be sleepy. I was very wrong. They did not stop talking. They read every street sign, every vanity plate, every billboard. They talked about guns, knives, farting, extreme sports, passing luxury cars, internet videos and told the worst jokes I have ever heard. But I was most surprised by the close-mindedness they showed. During one of their conversations, one of the boys made a comment that he would never buy a Toyota because he wanted to “own an American-made car that they hadn’t messed with.” “They”, to him, were foreigners trying to “steal our jobs and take our livelihood.”

Children are sponges. From the moment of birth, they will mimic whatever behavior they see and something will register that this is the norm. Not only in human young but in animals as well. One might say that two parties fight like “cats and dogs” but if a kitten and a puppy grow up together, they will not fall under that stereotype because they were raised learning a different norm. Cats and dogs raised separately and then thrust together usually do not fare as well. It is the same with children.

It’s not bad for children to pick up on things like human emotions, common sense or an accent. In fact, these things are encouraged.

But what about politics, religion and stereotypes? It’s entirely possible that the young man in the above anecdote decided for himself that he would only buy vehicles made in the good old US of A, but I’d bet you a shiny half-dollar that he was simply repeating a sound bite from a parent, a teacher or even a TV show. And I’ll match that bet and say that this probably isn’t a new idea for him and he didn’t just hear it yesterday.

Little pitchers have big ears. And just to make the analogy more complicated, one must be careful with what one puts in that pitcher. The only catch is… the parent isn’t the only one filling. We all (journalists) have a ladle and whether or not we know it, we’re adding whatever juice works for us.

Tokenism: Is it just me?

The popular cartoon, South Park, is now in its 16th season on TV. Even though I watch the show infrequently, one character has always been brought up in my presence: Token.

The Token character is so named because he is the only regular black character on the program. Tokenism is making an effort to include at least one member of a minority into a predominantly majority-heavy area.

But what does that have to do with me? My dad is white and my mom is black, but out of 6 girls, I’m the only one that “looks black”. One day, someone told me at lunch: I didn’t hang out with other black people. “Hah! That’s ridiculous!” I laughed it off and looked around. It was true. I had friends from India, Alaskan villages, and white friends, but that’s when I first heard that I was the Token Black of my group

After that, I looked around a lot. Was I the only black person in this board meeting? Yes. On this broomball team? Yes. In this classroom? Well, not always. The point is that I was looking. Was I really color blind before?

I’m  categorizing people based purely on their skin color because of something that was brought up over lunch. But did I do it before? Perhaps unconsciously as a kid. And that’s what I want to find out with this blog. Children are natural sponges in this world. Is there a difference between what is taught outright, what is subliminally taught and what children understand by themselves? More importantly, are any of those options considered “good” or “bad”?