Universal Childhood: The Global Trade in Children's Television and Changing Ideals of Childhood

By Havens, Timothy | Global Media Journal, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

Universal Childhood: The Global Trade in Children's Television and Changing Ideals of Childhood


Havens, Timothy, Global Media Journal


Abstract

While the technical capacity for television programs to reach worldwide has existed for decades, the attendant cultural challenges of global television have proved more formidable. Nevertheless, a handful of program genres seem to be able to overcome these cultural barriers. This paper examines one such genre, children's television animation, the processes of program development and trade, as well as the assumptions about children's viewing pleasures that these industrial processes encourage. While these assumptions about what is "universal" in the experience of childhood have a certain plausibility to them, they are nevertheless ideological, in the sense that they carry particular ideas about race, gender, age, class, and other forms of social grouping and identity that not only reflect but also act upon the world we live in. As some of the most powerful gatekeepers of contemporary popular culture, these industry insiders are deeply involved in imagining prevalent ideals of childhood in an increasingly globalized world as well as the kinds of children and cultures that do and do not fit these ideals.

Introduction

While the technical capacity for television programs to reach worldwide has existed at least since the 1967 satellite broadcast of "Our World," the cultural challenges facing the export of programming beyond the boundaries of the nation-state have proved more formidable. Indeed, mainstream economic models of international television trade include a "cultural discount" in their formulae, while international communication scholars assume that various "cultural proximities" exist among nations that trade in television programs. Nevertheless, a handful of program genres seem to be able to overcome these cultural barriers, including action-dramas, documentaries, melodramas, and blockbuster films. What accounts for the seemingly universal appeal of these genres, and what are the broader practical and theoretical implications of the fact that certain programs can escape the limitations of their cultures of origin and find relevance with viewers across the globe?

This paper examines the global children's television animation industry and the processes of program development and trade, as well as the assumptions about child viewers' pleasures and identities that these industrial processes encourage. We begin from the premise that theories about viewers' preference circulate among industry insiders and provide crucial guidance about what kinds of programs to produce and purchase, how to market them, and how to schedule them, even though these theories are often only tacitly understood by those who use them. While such theories often have a certain plausibility to them, they are nevertheless ideological, in the sense that they carry particular ideas about race, gender, age, class, and other forms of social grouping and identity that not only reflect but also act upon the world we live in. In fact, as perhaps the most powerful gatekeepers of contemporary popular culture, these industry insiders are deeply involved in imagining prevalent ideals of childhood in an increasingly globalized world as well as the kinds of children and cultures that do an do not fit these ideals.

The argument of this paper is not that television industry executives impose their ideals of childhood on anyone. Instead, those ideals draw upon, rework, and recirculate certain definitions and not others. Moreover, the definitions of childhood that circulate in the children's animation industry derive from and reinforce particular institutional practices and economic arrangements. Consequently, this article begins with an overview of contemporary business practices in the children's animation industry, focusing in particular on the processes of program development, sales, promotions, and merchandising. Thereafter, we will see how these business practices lead to particular conceptions about the universal experience of childhood that help producers, distributors, and broadcasters decide what segments of the children's audience to target and how to target them. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Universal Childhood: The Global Trade in Children's Television and Changing Ideals of Childhood
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.