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CMNS: 320 Children, Media and Culture

CMNS: 320 Children, Media and Culture

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CMNS: 320 Children, Media and Culture

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  1. CMNS: 320 Children, Media and Culture • Lectures: Thurs.. 2:30 -5:20 AQ 3159 • Steve • CC 7327 • 291-4793 • office hours: Tues. 11-1 • TA: Sara • CC 6216 • 291-3434 • Office hours: Wed. 12-2:00 • TA: Ben Woo • Office: RCB 6216 • Phone: 291-3434 • Office hours:Wed. 9:30-11:30

  2. Today • Review Objectives • Course Pedagogy? • Topics • Assignments • Grading • Course perspective/ biases • Children • Media • Culture • Why Study Children’s Media/ Culture? • Film: Jingle All the Way

  3. Crisis of PostmodernCulture Celebrating Affluence vs. Amusing Ourselves to Death

  4. Public Discourses on Postmodern Childhood • Professional and Scientific Discourses: Psychology, Education, Sociology, Anthropology, Law etc. • Parenting advisories (Books, TV, Advertising) • Corporate: Industry discourses on children’s media and marketing • Public Debates: media panics,(violence, literacy, addiction); child movements and mobilizations (Concerned Children’s Advertisers, Media Literacy, Alliance) • Family Life in mediated entertainment: Films, Drama and Sitcoms

  5. Course Objectives • This course introduces you to: • The debates about the role that communication media play in children’s lives. • The historical perspective on the development of children’s cultural industries • The critical writing on children’s media products and cultural practices • The research literatures on children’s audiences and cultural effects • The policy issues, programs and regulation pertaining to children’s media and marketing

  6. Lecture Topics Section I: History and Institutional Context of the Debates about Children’s Media and Culture • Jan 13 Week One: Introduction-Childhood, Socialization, Consumer Culture • Jan 20 Week Two: Historical Perspectives: The Changing Matrix of Modern Socialization • Jan 27 Week Three: Theoretical Departures: A Crisis in the Postmodern Family? Section 2: Children’s Cultural Industries • Feb 3 Week Four: Story-telling in Transition: Books, Literacy and Literature • Feb 10 Week Five: Play: Toys, Playgrounds, Games, Sports • Feb 17 Week Six: Television: Modernism in Translation • Feb 24 Week Seven: Digital Domesticity and technified ‘Spielraum’ Section III: Debates and Issues: Researching the Controversies • Mar 3 Week Eight: Marketing Lifecycles - Whose Rocking the Cradle? • Mar 10 Week Nine: The Canute Complex: Commercialization of Schools • Mar 17 Week Ten: Mediated Girl Culture: The Barbie Factor and Sexual Object-ions • Mar 24 Week Eleven: Mediated Boy Culture: Violence , Imagination and Identification • Mar 31 Week Twelve: McDisneyfication: Globalization, Immigration, and Cultural Diversity • April 7 Week Thirteen: Cultural Politics: Media Education, Family Dynamics, and Media Studies in the Schools

  7. Pedagogy and Approach • Expectations: workload is considerable, self and critical reflection, active engagement (no EXAM) • Readings: familiarity with key writers and research traditions • Lectures: provide perspectives, analyze case examples, provoke debate and questioning, inform research • Films Series: Crisis of Childhood? • Reading films as critical cultural texts: • Tutorials • discuss readings, films lectures • Discuss exercises • Assignments (Note Changes) • Log 30% • Cultural Product Review 25% • Research Report 30% • Tutorial Participation 15%

  8. What we expect You will engage with children’s culture by reading, watching cartoons, playing with children, talking to children; You will draw upon your own childhood experiences; You will read and take an active part in seminar discussions. You will position yourself within debates about children’s culture in academic and public literatures You will learn to defend your own ideas and judgements about children’s media culture and its effects on/ appeal to kids

  9. Reading Logs: Critical Reflections on Readings, Lectures, Films (due April 7) • Grade allocation 30% • The reading log is submitted in lieu of an exam. The purpose of the reading log is to provide us with evidence of your active intellectual engagement with the course texts (which include readings, lectures and films). In this regard, the films you see and the materials presented in lectures are as much a part of the course texts as the readings. A good reading log is not simply a set of notes showing us that you have read the material. It should also provide evidence of the mental work you do while reading, listening and watching, including your interpretations, critical reflections (evaluations) and ideational associations that take place as you assimilate the theories and evidence encountered on this course – as you read, watch, listen to and discuss the course materials. We expect you to demonstrate that you understand and can define and paraphrase ideas/ arguments from these texts. We also expect you to provide a thoughtful commentary including situating these concepts in their cultural-historical context, explaining why you think they are relevant, providing other complex examples of these abstract concepts, as well as analyzing and evaluating arguments and assumptions. The application of a concept to a new example, or a refutation of it based on evidence or experience are strong evidence of ‘active’ engagement. Remember your written comments and responses to these texts are intended to provide us with evidence of your critical reflections – including your own understanding and analysis of these concepts/ theories.

  10. Assignment # 1: Assessing Children’s Cultural Products. Due Feb. 24 Grade allocation 25% • The purpose of this assignment research and write about a particular cultural product. The assignment will have two parts: • Part A (15%) Un-packing the Product: • The goal of this part of the review process is to analytically situate the creation of a cultural artefact in the context of current or past cultural industries practices (1500 words or less). By a children’s cultural product we mean any commodity which is designed for and sold to children – from a My Beauty Box to the animated film Polar Express. This critical cultural-historical analysis can have a biographical or institutional dimension. This means situating the product within the corporate structures and practices, the genres and forms, the design intentionalities and personal biographies, as well as the public debates, policies, and audience reactions to them. You can use other texts and on-line resources in developing your background research for this cultural-historical review. Trade associations, journals and business news reports (CBCA) are very useful sources of information about children’s cultural industries. Stats Canada and other industrial sources are also worth checking as well as on-line fan sites and corporate sources. As in documentary research, all on-line sources must be properly referenced – especially fansites and news and magazine stories. • Part B (1%) On-line Review for Parents. (1000 words or less) • Although children’s books, toys and the latest blockbuster films are sometimes reviewed in the press, these are frequently part of the promotional spin. For this reason, this part of the assignment asks you to write an independent critical evaluation of the cultural product you have just researched which might be useful to parents looking to make decisions about the merits, subject matter and appropriateness of the product. The assignment is first and foremost intended to get you thinking about and applying your own criteria for evaluating the qualities important in various children’s cultural industries – whether it be toys, TV shows, films or comics. But it is also intended to create a ‘public domain’ resource to which parents and industry might turn to find independent assessment of children’s cultural products. The reviews should be submited as PDF’s which can be posted on the media lab website as an advisory to parents.

  11. Assignment # 2: Pilot Research ProjectGrade allocation 30% This pilot research project requires you to engage in some primary research of your own – either qualitative or quantitative – using discourse analysis, surveys, interviews, focus groups, or ethnographic approaches. The main purpose of this pilot research project is to explain how you would now empirically address one issue/ debate about commercialized children’s culture that has been identified in the course by analyzing a corpus of material or a discourse (TV show, ads, newspaper stories) or by talking to/ observing children and / or their families. The main point of the research project is to involve you in the gathering/ evaluating research evidence that informs or contributes to an ongoing debate about children's cultural industries.

  12. Research Topics: • How do children under 2 watch teletubbies? • Is Media Literacy being implemented in BC high schools? • Attitudes of parents to their teens use of video games • the play arratives that girls (6-10) generate while socializing with Barbie • Imaginary Landscapes: Do children dream of television characters?

  13. Proposed Group Projects • A) Advertising Analysis: An in-depth analysis of food and toy advertising in the pre-Xmas period. • B) Fast Food Culture: family food negotiations and discretionary eating of children. • C) Cyber Kids: just how digitally savvy are they? • D) Consumer Literacy: what do kids understand about shopping, marketing and advertising directed at them? • E) Growing Diversities: cultural differences in the age of media saturated leisure. • F) Defensive Parenting: Strategies for raising children in the consumer culture?

  14. Participation in Seminars (Exercises) Grade allocation 15% • The seminars on this course have two purposes. The first is to encourage you to discuss the ideas presented in the lectures, films and readings with the TA and fellow students. Because the tutorials are scheduled before the lecture it is expected that the readings, questions and debates will take place in the week following the lecture. • The other purpose of the seminars is to explore/ apply in greater depth the key concepts, research approaches and arguments that are examined to this course. To this end a series of mini-research activities are specified and students are expected to come to seminars prepared to discuss their experiences and findings. Each exercise should also be entered in the weekly log in note form. • Exercise for Week 2: Family Oral History: Families are micro-cultures with their own traditions and philosophies but these continuities are subject to the forces of social change. Interview your parents about their own childhood experiences and culture – what they liked to do, play with, read etc. If you have access to grandparents, also ask them about their childhood focusing on what they did and experienced in their “spare time”. If you want to you might also ask your parent about their philosophies of childrearing as applied to yourself. • Exercise for Week 3: Managing Maturity: Marketers say that children are growing older younger. Analyze your family as a system of cultural regulation identifying the rules, rituals, and restrictions on leisure and cultural consumption. • Exercise for Week 4: Revisiting Literacy: Reading is often called the doorway to a child’s imagination. Reread your favorite/ best remembered children’s book. Bring to class and explain why it influenced you. • Exercise for Week 5:Game Play: Playing games is the child’s way of ‘socializing’ him or her self. Reflecting back to your favorite game explain the rules, social dynamics and quality of fun that defined your favorite game. • Exercise for Week 6: Saturday Morning Déjà vu: The Saturday morning TV ritual is one of the pillars of children’s culture. So spend a few hours turning on the TV Saturday morning and see what is available for children. Are the shows the same as when you were younger? If they are different describe how. • Exerise for Week 7: Digital Delights: The Internet and Playdium Arcades are two rather recent additions to the entertainment options available to children. Visit Playdium or search three children’s on line sites for the discussion in this week. • Exercise for Week 8: Discretionary Spending: Reflect back on your own childhood consumer behaviour. How much allowance were you given and how did you spend it. What were the major influences on your choices (friends, advertising, parents etc.) • Exercise for Week 9: Children’s Rights and Cultural Research Ethics: Reflect on the rights that children have according to the UN Convention. Discuss the ethical issues surrounding children’s research. • Exercise for Week 10: Pester Power: A major debate has emerged about marketer’s influence on children under 12 years of age because they are ‘vulnerable’ to advertising’s persuasion. But how vulnerable are children? Reflect on the strategies that you used to influence family consumption or to get your parents/ relatives to buy you what you wanted. • Exercise for Week 11: Cool Hunters: When do children learn to understand and perform class relations through managing cultural capital? What role did toys and other consumer objects play in your own understanding of social and economic capital? • Exercise for Week 12: Border Crossings: It is sometimes argued that media play an important role in a multi-cultural society by exposing children to other cultures. Reflect back on your own experience of ethnic diversity explaining whether you think media are a resource or a hindrance to multi-culturalism.

  15. Biases of this course: • Social -Psychological - appreciation of the importance of play, stories and imagination in the child’s maturation and learning. (not that child poverty, education, abuse and neglect, health etc. aren’t important) • Historical - interest in the social, technological and institutional factors that contribute to the emergence of postmodern childhood • Consumer Culture - focus on values, attitudes, cultural practices, and policy debates associated with the commercialization of media and commodification of children’s culture (marketplace as an agency of socialization) • Critical - explore issues of power, policy and morality associated with children’s development within the media saturated environment

  16. Progress and Tradition in Family Life


  18. The Visible Hand: Voice of Markets • Tuesday, November 23, 2004 • The Canadian Marketing Association says retailer La Senza Girl is making a mistake to phone girls as young as nine years old at home and invite them for "shopping parties" at the store. • "You don't try to telemarket [to] the nine-year-old," says John Gustavson, president of the Toronto-based CMA, which has 800 members. "You go to the parent. It's up to the parent to make that decision." • La Senza Girl, a division of Montreal's La Senza Corp., targeted at girls aged 7 to 12, has signed up about 50,000 shoppers across Canada to its La Senza Girl VIP Club. The colourful $20 VIP card gives the girls 10% off all purchases in the 73-store chain for a year, and 25% off at "shopping parties." • To promote the parties, the company calls those who have signed up to the club. • "We call," says a saleswoman at La Senza Girl in Toronto's Eaton Centre. "We call all our VIP members to let them know about shopping parties coming up. It's not any freaky telemarketing or anything like that." • Two weeks ago the phone rang at a Toronto home. Fiona, a mother of two, answered. She says that the caller asked, "Is Katie home?""I was pretty busy, I probably should have screened it right there and then," Fiona said. "I thought it was a school thing." Instead, she passed the phone to her nine-year-old daughter. "They said, 'This is La Senza Girl calling,' " Katie recalls. " 'We're going to have a shopping party on Sunday from 5 to 8 p.m. Because you're a VIP you get a special discount along with that. Ask your mom if you want to go and she'll probably take you.' " The call pushed the boundaries of good taste, says the • mother. "I found it pretty cheeky. I think they're pushing it." • The Canadian Marketing Association code of ethics says, "All marketing interactions directed to children ... require the express consent of the child's parent or guardian. • Marketing to children shall not exploit children's credulity, lack of • experience or sense of loyalty. Marketers shall not pressure a child to urge their parents or guardians to purchase a product or service." Karine Wascher, vice-president of marketing at La Senza Girl, says calling children is not company policy.

  19. Why study Children’s Media Culture? • Appreciating Creativity: For the same reason we study literature art forms and culture • Why Pooh is better than Thomas the Tank? • Practical: Because children’s cultural industries/ marketing are expanding rapidly • For those who want to work in Kid Kult • Personal: As a point of departure for self reflection on ones own cultural identity and cultural practices (unlearning socialization) • the child within-looking for the authentic in culture, play and life • Theoretical : Childhood is a site of ideological struggle in the consumer culture: conflicts over power, ideology and value in our society are transacted in media • parenting as spiritual and political awakening • Engaging in the politics of child’s culture as a political committment

  20. Are you really going to make me watch Teletubbies?

  21. And write about Thomas?

  22. Yes: Some questions we will ask • What makes a story good to read? • What kinds of marketing is acceptable? • What do children children in play? • What did children do before TV? • Haven’t boys always played war games? • Do Spice Girls empower?

  23. Issues in Children’s Cultural Analysis : Morality, Taste and Well-being? Kulture (civilization) vs popular culture (entertainment): Eg Should violence be banned from video games? Rethinking Texts : narratives, images, rituals, actions as meaning making eg Making sense of war play as narrative cultural practice with toys Socialization vs Self-expression: children making meaning but not always in conditions of their own making. - eg a child’s drawing reveals both encoding of culture plus decoding (culture made for children vs. the culture that children make on their own)

  24. Expanding Commodified Culture: Boom in Children’s Cultural Industries

  25. Animation is big business =$2.6 billion • Lion King 504 mill • Incredibles=$70 million in one weekend • Polar Express=$23 M in opening weekend • Finding Nemo: • Boxoffice=865/ DVD=324 • Shrek 2 =$880 mill box + ancillaries • Lord of the Ring and Harry Potter

  26. Children’s Culture is an Industry

  27. Jobs that require you to know about children’s culture • Writing (Rowling is richer than the queen?) • Education: teaching, libraries, policing • Marketing: research, advertising, merchandising • Clinical Psychology and social work (gender neutral dolls) • Leisure industries, travel, sports

  28. Researching Cultural Workers

  29. Children’s writers as celebrities

  30. Pooh Spirituality and Shrek Management?

  31. The Child Within?

  32. Postmodern Parenting: The personal is the political • Parenting is a biological necessity and a practical impossibility • Consumer culture as an alien landscape - the lived experience of family leisure and the ideologies of childhood are in conflict • Parenting can be radicalizing • The irrationality of having children: The cultural environment in which we raise our children has become conflicted • The value choices of of the media saturated lifestyle have become the central issues for parents who come to recognize the contradictions --Especially at Xmas


  34. From Out of the Garden to Jingle all the Way • Nurturing vs self interest • Sharing vs ownership • Responsibility vs Pleasure • Community vs. Individuality • Public Interest vs. Corporate Interest

  35. Critical Theories of the Marketplace as a Social Communication System • The Ambivalent Meaning of Things: The Paradox of Affluence (Schorr) • Crisis in the Family: Conflicting Values of education and leisure (Postman) • The Changing Matrix of Socialization: Policy conflicts over protecting the vulnerable child or liberating the competent one in the mediated marketplace? (Kline) • Authenticity and Resistance: Is there such a thing as children’s own culture?

  36. A Child’s Festival of Greed

  37. The Santa Clause

  38. Faustian Christmas

  39. Film as Text • What is the thesis of Jingle about the problem of postmodern childhood • How are the ideas expressed: • Through plot • Through character • Through dialogue • Through emotional point of view • Through resolution