Sold Separately: Children and Parents in Consumer Culture

Sold Separately: Children and Parents in Consumer Culture

Sold Separately: Children and Parents in Consumer Culture

Sold Separately: Children and Parents in Consumer Culture

Synopsis

'An important book for those desiring an overview of the toy industry's impact on consumer culture... [it] presents a fair and well-balanced view of the industry.' --Kathleen M. Carson, associate editor, Playthings

Excerpt

The research for this book began during my first pregnancy, when I found, pushed through my mail slot every day, free magazines filled with cheerful advice and tempting offers for products that promised to cure illness, to provide good nutrition, to banish children's tears, and to turn my soon-to-be-born child into a person as clever as could be. Every time I watched television or picked up a magazine, I suddenly discovered that there were children everywhere: adorable babies in tender maternal embrace; laughing toddlers at play. Despite the fact that I am a professional media critic--a specialist in daytime television, in fact--I had never really noticed how many children and babies were selling not only diapers and baby food but soaps and detergents and shampoos and tires and automobiles. I had never listened to advertisers' messages so attentively before, because I had never felt spoken to so directly. In critical theory there is a term--interpellation--that refers to the moment in which ideology "hails" us, seems to say "hey, you!" When I had my first baby, I felt that advertising and advice literature buttonholed me in a way I never dreamed possible. When I had my second child, I learned that my ability to ward off this feeling through critical study had lessened only slightly. I was ready to listen. Struggling under the responsibilities of paid work, housework, and child care, I was really interested in advertising's promises of easier/better/quicker laundry, cleaning, and cooking. One of the most interesting and satisfying aspects of media depictions of children is that they portray emotional fulfillment through the experience of parenting. There is enormous promise held out in the language of advertisements0--for joy, intimacy, fun, tenderness . . .

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