Magazine article Marketing

Toys Turn to Social Concerns

Magazine article Marketing

Toys Turn to Social Concerns

Article excerpt

Toys turn to social concerns

With the imminent arrival in the UK of the long-awaited Teenage Mutant Ninja (Hero) Turtles film, and the announcement of the forthcoming Barbie Summit in New York, the toy market is making the headlines.

Although the time of year is fast approaching when one expects a visual bombardment of the latest fads and fashions from toyland, the above examples indicate a more fundamental trend. Current interest highlights the way in which children's mass culture seems to embrace increasingly wider cultural and social issues.

The turtle adolescents, who are transformed from their previous incarnation as common pet turtles by a chance encounter with a blob of "retromutogenic" slime, seem to indicate that the phenomenon of post-modernism has arrived in children's markets.

The essence of post-modernism is the freedom to appropriate meanings from a broader canvas of images. In the turtles this manifests itself in the mixing up of elements of different cultures and histories. Turtle-speak is infused with references from black and chicano cultures.

While the average eight-year-old is unlikely to see the turtles in these terms, and while the turtles themselves may one day find themselves relegated to the ranks of redundant superheroes, it is likely that they will set the trend for post-modernism in children's popular culture. …

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