Saturday morning television (and, I’m sure, Sunday through Friday too), is not quite what it used to be in the olden days. Since my grandkids have lived with me, I’ve seen weird talking sponges, bunnies and squirrels using cell phones, human families with wild superpowers, princesses and pirates, and idiotic starfish, to name a few.
Now, I don’t expect it to be much like when I was a kid. With the ease of computers, poppy music, and an overabundance of adorable, obnoxious, little kid actors and actresses, it’s not hard to put together a half hour of babble. There is money to be made in morning TV land, and somewhere there must be a study that says to sell to kids you must be loud, colorful, hip, and overbearing. It is a sugar-filled, rude, sassy, whirlwind trip through psychedelics and jammin’ music, fast talk, and junk food.
And it’s sooooo grating on my nerves.
I suppose commercials were obnoxious to my parents’ ears, too. Things like AlphaBets and Cabbage Patch Kids must have sounded like tires squealing across the parking lot to them. And I imagine I was taken in by slick commercials and TV shows, too. But today’s kids need louder and bolder to catch their attention. It seems like they are pounding out cute funny kids and dumb parents, and cute obnoxious kids and dumb grandparents, and slick beautiful kids and even dumber parents. Poor oldsters still don’t get credit for being able to breathe, no less save the world.
According to a recent article in the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/10/donna-stevens-kids-watching-tv_n_7544888.html), Australian-born photographer Donna Stevens says, “The images (photographs she took) capture the children not as the curious budding humans we hope them to be, but comatose zombies, cast in the alien glow of artificial light.”
A lot of attention is paid to how hip and sparkly girls are, their skirts up to the ying yang in middle school, countered smartly with a pair of tights that are supposed to make the shorties okay; vests and hats and bling and sparkled eyes and oversized glasses that make a little kid even more “adorable”. There is always a “lesson” in the half hour variety shows, so their obnoxiousness (or adorableness) makes their antics okay.
Herein lies the problem: the lessons are given by kids who are thin and adorable (with an occasional chubby kid thrown in), sparkling and sassy. Quite the opposite of those who are watching.
Most of the kids I know are somewhere in the awkward, insecure, and gawky stage. That’s part of being a kid. They want to fit in. Eventually they do, yet some do, some don’t. And from these mindless television shows comes more pressure to be cool, fun, smart, and well-dressed. A lot of kids can’t draw the line between “pretend” cool TV characters and their own life. And that’s where I see trouble lurking.
I’m not saying that the trying state of childhood is based in artificial worlds created on TV and in the movies. Far from it. Television is a place where dreams form; a place for information, for adventure, and entertainment. It’s a world separate from our own. A world we visit, but, for all practical purposes, do not stay. Kids’ worlds are made of parents, siblings, soccer and singing, school and swimming. Life is formed from all experiences combined.
But I just wonder what is accomplished by loud, colorful, hip commercials aimed at the young and impressionable? To someone who doesn’t have outside activities or a family life to get involved with?
Of course, this blog is written by an oldster, in of herself quite removed from the innocence of childhood. A lady who prefers sitting on the deck watching the branches bend in the breeze. A granny who has always stood at the edge of popularity in all its rainbow forms, yet has never quite crossed over the line.
Maybe I just need some Fruity Pebbles to make my life complete…