Children are being adultified because our economy is depending on them to make purchasing decisions. So they’re essentially the victims of a marketing and capitalist machine gone awry. You know, we need to expand, expand, expand. There is no such thing as enough in our current economic model and kids are bearing the brunt of that….
So they’re isolated, they’re alone, they’re desperate. It’s a sad and lonely feeling…. The net effect of all of this marketing, all of this disorienting marketing, all of the shock media, all of this programming designed to untether us from a sense of self, is a loss of autonomy.
You know, we no longer are the active source of our own experience or our own choices. Instead, we succumb to the notion that life is a series of product purchases that have been laid out and whose qualities and parameters have been pre-established. —Douglas Rushkoff ☀
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Not really getting if this quote was chosen because of support for the position or amusement at the stupidity of the position. “Being adultified?” As if this is some recent thing. While most of “liberal” Hollywood’s fantasies have tended to downplay it, the reality is that before WWII, “children” (by which, I presume, Mr Rushkoff refers more to “tweens” and “teens” than to the “under 10” set) have been caught in a weird limbo between “unable to do the least little thing without adults to guide them” and “forced to do any and every little thing that an adult demands they do, regardless of actual ability.” Think about it. In the glorious frontier world of 18th and 19th century America, boys and girls as young as 5 were expected to “pull their own weight” around the homestead. Plowing the fields, herding the cattle, mending fences, baling hay–none of these were off-limits to any but the very youngest of boys. Their sisters might not have had as much expected of them, but milking cows, weeding the small vegetable patch, sewing clothes, minding the stove were things that were expected of all but the very youngest of girls. And their city cousins weren’t much luckier. Factory work was frequently expected of boys and girls as long as they were able to handle the equipment (and those who weren’t frequently found themselves doing menial work–picking up fabric scraps off the floors, pushing brooms around, fetching water or lubrication for the machinery) when the family needed money. And who can forget the horror stories of 4- and 5-year old boys being sent down into coal mine shafts where grown men weren’t able to fit?
And that “Beverly Hillbillies” attitude about Elly May being an “old maid” at the age of 16 didn’t stray too far from the cold, harsh reality of how life was, especially in rural/frontier areas until well in the early 20th century (even in the good old USofA; age of consent was as young as 10-12 and marriage for girls that young was NOT unheard of, although it wasn’t incredibly common either).
Of course, 30 years ago, people knew that children made for a very impressionable marketing audience which was one reason why changes were made to children’s TV programming so that programs like “Masters of the Universe” and “GI Joe” and “Transformers” could NOT carry advertising for the toys those shows were based on. It was also part of the background for the attacks on “Joe Camel” (the Camel cigarettes “mascot”), a character that seemed to be “child-friendly,” even aimed at kids to give them an entrypoint for smoking. It’s why the networks started monitoring other commercials for kid-designated products (especially breakfast cereals). The kids had enough intelligence to realize that commercials sold products but they didn’t always have quite enough intellect to understand the psychology behind why they would want a particular product.
As for the whole “no such thing as enough in our current economic model,” unless this guy is condemning the very idea of capitalism (which I very much doubt), he seems to miss the fact that our “current economic model” is little different from the same one that produced the massive economic boom following WWII. “Keeping up with the Joneses,” while being anathema to the foundation of good Christianity (that whole thing about “Thou shalt not covet” and don’t forget to check out some of the 7 “Deadly Sins”), is the very foundation of capitalism. If you don’t want the “newest” or the “latest” or the “best” of something, then you’re not engaging in the economy. While he was an idiot for telling people to go out and shop after 9/11, Dubya was merely reiterating the idea that people in this country are expected to spend, spend, spend. Most companies products don’t last more than a couple of years before the consumer is EXPECTED to replace them. TVs, computers, cell phones, cars, air conditioners, refrigerators. If the product itself doesn’t break down, then some feature will need to be replaced or “upgraded” in some fashion. It’s what’s known as “planned obsolescence.” And kids know this already. They outgrow clothes in almost no time. A toy they couldn’t live without a year ago holds no interest for them today. And yet, this guy seems to think kids are “being adultified?” Did he miss the whole JonBenet Ramsey story? Has he never heard of “Little Miss” pageants? He really should be more concerned with 4- and 6- and 8-year old girls being tarted up and trotted around a stage, showing off poses that aren’t even really suitable for women 2 and 3 times their ages.
Yeah. Let’s worry about kids being targeted to make “consumer decisions” when they’re “too young” because there’s plenty of time to worry about that when the kid’s 16 and doesn’t have any idea of how to make “purchasing decisions.” Or, we could do the truly responsible thing and EXPECT PARENTS TO DO THEIR JOB AND RAISE THEIR KIDS. (Oh, except for the fact that, in this “glorious” economy, most of the kids have parents who BOTH have to work outside the home–if they’re lucky enough to have a job in the first place.)
Sorry for the rant, Susie. But sometimes it just seems that when someone posts an argument, they either don’t remember the whole history or they willfully ignore some of the realities of the situation they arguing about.
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