Ideas are at the root of ideology. Ideas about right versus wrong and about how the world works. If ideology had an internet domain name it would be http://www.thewaythingswork.edu Media critics look at ideology as means of exerting power. Preserving the status quo and existing power structure is what’s most important. The culture that gets produced will reprogram citizens to accept the existing economic, social and political arrangements. The elites stand to gain the most from this system. The hidden agenda perpetuates a class system of oppression. By this I mean the only way to move up is to buy in and by buying in the elites continue to move up. This is a true win, win, for the elites.
By buying in I mean it figuratively and literally. We figuratively by in to the ideology of what is portrayed. To do this we must literally buy or consume something. What ever it is that we buy or consume is the physical representation of the ideology in which we seek to achieve. Ideology creeps into our social world and affects our everyday life. It helps use understand and make sense of those experiences.
Throughout the field of media criticism, political economists have expressed their views on the current trend of deregulation. Conventional wisdom is that these businesses know what is best for them selves and that the market can regulate itself. The concern that political economist have with this belief is that it does little to nothing to control the formation of media conglomerates. There is a loss of diversity and because of this the role of ownership is becoming increasingly more important. The goal of a political economist is to challenge the dominant ideas and confront the status quo.
Consuming Kids shines a bright light on the power media has to shape our social values as a society. Today there are out-of-control marketing practices that are aimed at children. There is a lack of consumer protection for children. Because children influence $700 billion in spending every year they have become targets. They are immersed in 360 degree marketing. Their childhood has become saturated with commercial messages.
Happiness has a price tag. The belief being marketed is that things or specific brands will make you happy. Emphasis is placed on material goods. The things you buy make up who you are as a person. You are defined by material things. The opposition to this message is that not having the thing or brand that is cool makes you less than others. This re-illustrates my statement about buying in. No other industrialized country in the world allows anywhere near the amount of commercialization to be aimed at children that we do.
The second motivating force is the notion of brand loyalty and the creation of life-long consumers. Children are bombarded with logos and brands from an early age on television, on their clothing, on their drink-bottles and other paraphernalia, and even in their schools (the one place where they can not escape.) The result is that a brand can get a consumer “from the cradle to the grave”.
Age compression is the belief that children are getting older younger. The age group of tween was developed. A tween may be as young as six and as old as twelve. The thought is that this group is in between childhood and adolescence. What is being sold to these tweens is a lifestyle that their brains may or may not be ready live in.
Girls are represented in a more sexualized manner. At an increasingly younger age girls can be seen in mini skirts or in halter tops with their midriff exposed, just as some of their favorite toys are. Some products that were originally only meant for adults have been pushed on them, such as finger nail polish, make-up, and a whole list of other beauty products. TLC’s show Toddlers and Tiara’s is a depiction of this. Boys are taught that power can be achieved through violence and that aggression is the proper response for conflict. They are bombarded with violent images and it is framed as fun and entertaining. An example of this would be the WWE.
The price of being a kid is getting more expensive. Children products rival adult products in cost. Children become emotional attached to commercial characters because they feel they understand them. Corporations leverage this attachment to make money. The conglomerates are not only able to make money but are also able to instill their own values, and belief system.
You should care because the world needs creation just as much as it needs innovation. New creations are reliant on creativity which is sparked by thinking. Thinking that is not constrained by preconceived notions of our world. The kind of thinking that questioned if earth was the center of the solar system. The same kind of thinking that allowed us to put a man on the moon. You should care because the concentration of power is in the hands of a few. The few that hold this power are loyal to their bank accounts. You should care because money should not compromise you. You should care because humans can not be bought nor sold. Do you really want to pay the price? In our lifetime we have seen an economic crisis unfold right before our eyes because of greed. Do we want a moral crisis as well? You should care!